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The Republic of Austria (Österreich) is a landlocked country in Central Europe, bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Hungary and Slovakia to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the west. The territory of Austria covers 83,871 km2 (32,377 square miles) and in 2014 the country had an estimated population of 8,504,850.

In terms of religious affiliation, 64.1% of Austrians in 2011 were members of the Roman Catholic Church and 3.8% were Lutherans. Sunday church attendance was 9% of the total Austrian population in 2005. Muslims, primarily from Turkey, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Kosovo, have settled in the country in recent years and constitute approximately 4% of the population. Other affiliations include Orthodox Churches (mostly Serbian) and Jews.

1955 Article


The term Austria (German, Oesterreich) may be understood in five different senses: (1) the house of Habsburg, the imperial dynasty, with a history from the early Middle Ages; (2) the Austrian Empire 1804-1918 composed of the crown domain (Erblande), Bohemia, Hungary, Galicia, etc.; (3) the Austrian republic established in 1918 which contains about 60 per cent of the old crown domain; (4) the Austrian crown domain, composed of the territories or provinces of Austria proper (sense 5), plus Styria, Carinthia, Tyrol, Carniola, Trieste, etc., and since 1805 also the former archbishopric of Salzburg; (5) Austria in the narrow sense, viz., the oldest crown territories of the Habsburg house, being subdivided into the two provinces of Lower and Upper Austria (Nieder- and Oberösterreich). Vienna (Wien), the capital and residence of the Habsburgs, is situated on the Danube at the far eastern end of Lower Austria. Both provinces are archduchies, whence the Austrian line of the Habsburgs got their title of archdukes. (In 1526 they also became the kings of Bohemia and Hungary.) Since most of the territories included under the fourth sense are treated in separate articles, the present article will deal exclusively with Austria in the narrow sense of the fifth definition, namely, the archduchies of Lower and Upper Austria, with Vienna and Linz as their respective capitals. The Danube runs through the entire length of both provinces as their main artery of traffic (important as such particularly in earlier centuries). The population is of German (Bavarian) stock, representing the inhabitants of the old Ostmark (Eastern March), the territory protecting the southeastern frontier of the Holy Roman Empire.

Austria, 2004.
Source: The World Factbook.
Source: Wikipedia Commons

As everywhere in German-speaking lands, Anabaptism flourished also in these two provinces, though it was a strong and vital movement only during the short period of 1526-1530. While Anabaptism continued in Tyrol until the second half of the 16th century, and in Moravia until 1622, it gradually vanished from the two Austrias, Styria and Carinthia at a rather early date, due more to the lack of outstanding leaders than to the severe persecution by the Habsburgs. As is well known, martyrdom was never an effective deterrent for the Anabaptists.

The story of Anabaptism in Lower and Upper Austria has been but little studied. Prof. Johann Loserth published a research paper in 1899, and J. Jäckel published his findings in a few papers between 1889 and 1895. Valuable material was then added by Loserth in his article, "Oesterreich" for the Mennonitisches Lexikon, and by Dr. Paul Dedic in his two extensive articles, "Niederösterreich" and "Oberösterreich" also for the Lexikon. Dedic based his statements to a great extent upon original, as yet unpublished research in Austrian archives. Since the three articles partly overlap, and in their original form are also too extensive, a condensed summary of them is offered here, with some added viewpoints. For more details, the Mennonitisches Lexikon should be consulted. In studying Austrian Anabaptism, a significant distinction must be made between the movement of the 1520s, which stood in the main under the influence of Hans Hut, and the movement after 1530, dominated by the Hutterian Brethren in Moravia, which felt itself responsible for all Anabaptist groups in Austrian lands. While in the 1520s there were some chances for an indigenous Anabaptist movement, particularly in Upper Austria (Steyr), these chances no longer existed when the exceedingly harsh "mandates" of the Habsburgs and the Imperial Diet of Speyer (1529) became operative. From about 1530 onward the two Austrias became a transit area between Tyrol or Bavaria on the one side, and Moravia on the other, rather than a place of direct Anabaptist congregational activities. No permanent settlement was possible in Austria after 1530, neither could the missionary activities of the Brethren record any major success. Incidentally, the same holds true also for the provinces of Styria, Carinthia, and Salzburg.

Lower Austria

The most intense activities of Anabaptist leaders fell into the two years, 1527 and 1528. It was then that Hans Hut, Oswald Glait, and Leonhard Schiemer worked so successfully for their new doctrine in Lower and then Upper Austria. Before coming to these countries, these three outstanding missionaries had lived for a while in Nikolsburg, Moravia, on the estate of the lord of Liechtenstein, where also Balthasar Hubmaier had found a refuge and place of activity. Yet not one of these three men can be called a follower of Hubmaier even though the latter might have been a strong stimulation and challenge to them. The issue of "the sword" made cooperation with Hubmaier impossible.

The first place of work for Hans Hut was Vienna, where he is said to have baptized more than 50 people (1527), thus establishing a small independent group. Then he moved on toward Upper Austria where we find him again in the city of Steyr, active all along his route thither. In the meantime also Oswald Glait became active in Vienna, baptizing among others Leonhard Schiemer, a former Barefoot Friar, later one of the outstanding witnesses to the truth among the Anabaptists. He, too, soon moved toward Steyr on the Enns River (Upper Austria), the most important center of Anabaptism at that time. Other places of Lower Austria besides Vienna mentioned in the records of those early years, were two cities on the river Danube, Krems and Melk, in which latter place Elder Jörg Krautschlögel is said to have baptized not less than 400 persons.

The Austrian government soon became alerted. Archduke Ferdinand (since 1526 also king of Bohernia and Hungary, and a generation later emperor of the Holy Roman Empire) was particularly intent on eradicating these "heretics" without, however, comprehending in any way their issues, their spiritual needs, and the reasons for their defection from Catholicism (the conditions of the Catholic Church). From 1527 onward Ferdinand issued one "mandate" after another (details in "Oesterreich," ML III, 314 ff.) enjoining strictest compliance with his orders to the very last detail. It is well to remember that in his own crown domains Ferdinand held more sway over the nobles than elsewhere, e.g., in Moravia. Hence his comparatively quick success, achieved by the most relentless methods. In this year (1527) the martyrdom of Hubmaier begins. Driven from Nikolsburg, Hubmaier entered Lower Austria where he soon was jailed and finally executed at the stake (March 1528). It was a major event in the history of Anabaptism, even though it had not the consequences which the government had hoped for from this "object lesson." The Anabaptist movement actually gained new followers. The authorities, however, were not slow in proving their determination: the Hutterite Chronicle reports for 1528 as many as 91 executions, 28 of them in Vienna alone.

It became obvious that the struggle against this religious "revolt" was harder than anticipated. The government was as yet not as thoroughly organized as in the 17th and 18th centuries, and the administration of the mandates by the local officials was inefficient, though often very brutal. This lack of efficiency was the real opportunity for the spread of the new Anabaptist movement. In spite of ever repeated mandates and "general orders" new groups appeared at many places. The authorities did not understand the movement, but sensed it as dangerous because it challenged the rising princely absolutism ("one prince, one church"). The shortcomings of government and church, however, in allowing all the corruption in the parishes such as absence of priests, and in the dioceses such as absence of bishops, not to speak of the immorality of the clergy at large, were at first not recognized and remedied.

Anabaptist centers in Austria.
Source: Mennonite Encyclopedia, v. 1: 194

Roving bands of constables on horseback hunted down the Anabaptists but with little success. It became clear that more systematic work was needed. About the time of Hubmaier's execution the government decided to entrust the fight against the new "sect" to a specially appointed "provost" (head of military police) with full authority, Dietrich von Hartitsch of ill repute, who thus became the first professional Anabaptist hunter. He was appointed by the King Ferdinand himself. The Chronicle of the Hutterites has but this to say about him, "He brought much affliction and grief upon the Brethren. Whenever he caught one in the fields or on the road, he had him beheaded. But those in the villages who refused to give up their faith, he hanged on the door post. That prompted many to emigrate to Nikolsburg, while others fled with wife and children into the mountains, leaving their homes behind. . . ." Many did not know whither to turn, but very few were intimidated. This is confirmed by a government report to the king that "the Anabaptists show no dread but rather a readiness to be arrested. They occasionally denounce themselves to save others. They confess willingly, without fear and without torture. They do not listen to instructors (clergymen). Few backslide, the majority seem to desire death. And even if one recants he cannot be trusted in the long run. Neither teaching nor punishment shows tangible success." And yet, the executions continued with all their senseless brutality. In 1528 the martyrdom of 18 brethren is reported in one place alone, viz., the town of Lengbach (Lembach) in Lower Austria. It was the same at many other places.

Persuasion by good priests might have effected better results, but the government could not find capable clergymen for this work. Moreover, the noble lords did not give much support to this work, for they appreciated the Brethren as most valuable farmers or farmhands whom they disliked to lose. The government had also an eye on the sale of "heretical books" (tracts), which sale was punishable by death. From Hutterite manuscript books we know that a good many Anabaptist tracts must then have circulated all over the country, in spite of all surveillance.

At long last the government received the strongest legal support: the Imperial Diet of Speyer in 1529 published its far-reaching decrees against the Anabaptists with the name "Constitution of Speyer." This gave the legal basis for nationwide persecution. Attendance at Holy Mass was supervised from now on, and the reception of the Sacrament was ordered and recorded. Whoever stayed away came under suspicion and had to be reported to the authorities. The same held true for the supervision of the confessional.

The Münsterite tragedy of 1534-35 gave the government new impetus and justification for intensified persecutions. Now they claimed to believe that the Austrian Anabaptists taught basically the same doctrine as the Münsterites, hiding it only from the inquisitors. The truth, however, was that at that time the indigenous Anabaptist movement in Lower Austria had already died out. The martyrs whom we will meet from now on are but Hutterite missionaries on their witnessing journeys everywhere. In 1536, three such brethren were caught in the city of Vienna, and soon afterwards executed: Hieronymus Käls, Hans Oberecker, and Michel Behem or Seifensieder. Their story is told in great detail in the Chronicle and is worth reading. Two more Hutterite Brethren were caught in this year: Jörg Fasser and Leonhard Lanzenstiel. They soon managed to escape, but in 1537 Fasser was caught again, near Pöggstall in Lower Austria, where he had worked with great success. He was executed, but his activities led many people to start for Moravia to join the brotherhood.

In December 1539 the provost Hartitsch could finally boast of a major strike. This was the famous attack upon an Anabaptist meeting at Steinabrunn in Lower Austria, near the Moravian border. One hundred and thirty-six Anabaptists were captured and were collectively taken into custody in the nearby castle of Falkenstein. The fate of these persons is a true epic and deserves wider attention. The Hutterite Chronicle as well as Loserth's great study of the Moravian Anabaptists dwell with much detail upon this story. Many of the brethren escaped later on, but a great number of them were still sold as galley slaves to Andrea Doria, Doge of Venice, to serve on his naval vessels in the Mediterranean.

Ever more Brethren turned from the German lands toward Moravia, the "promised land" of Anabaptism. Their route led them along the Danube up to the city of Krems, whence they turned north. Naturally the authorities became soon alerted and watched all the boats landing in Krems or nearby to catch the Anabaptists. Their success, however, seems to have been but moderate when the growth of the Hutterite colonies at this time is considered.

The 1540s brought renewed activities by the authorities, and increased suffering for the Brethren. Vienna was again the scene of pathetic martyrdom—or supreme triumph—by committed disciples. Oswald Glait, Antoni Keim, and Hans Staudach sealed their faith with their blood in 1545. Again it is a story worth retelling, and reference is made here to the articles in this Encyclopdeia on these cases. It seems that Vienna was still considered by the brethren as a place worth trying to win converts in. In the same year the brother Andreas Kofler of Tyrol was beheaded for his faith in Ybbs on the Danube (Lower Austria). Also the Carinthian brother Michael Madschidl, his wife and their companion Gurzheim were kept in prison in Vienna for several years. While Gurzheim finally was drowned in the Danube, Madschidl and his wife managed to escape to Moravia. Many more Brethren were lying in chains in Vienna. The Chronicle tells us that the women were later freed, but the men were led to the block. They were of good cheer and sang so that the executioner felt sorry for them and carried out his assignment "with a heavy heart."

But Ferdinand was tireless in enjoining strictest compliance to his mandates, calling constantly for greater alertness and energy. The Austrian national archives abound in official correspondence in this matter, and one is amazed at the minute details which found Ferdinand's attention. For instance, he reprimanded certain noble lords for employing Anabaptist farmhands for making hay. Persecution continued, mainly by the ill-famed Dietrich von Hartitsch. The Chronicle has this to say about the situation: "They drove the brethren from Moravia to Hungary, from Hungary to Moravia, from Moravia to Austria, from Austria to Moravia. In summa, God-fearing people have nowhere to go." And yet the community in Moravia grew (tolerated by the nobles there) and was increased even by many newcomers from Austria.

But eventually the Catholic reform (or Counter Reformation) became more effective. Soon after 1550 the Jesuits came to Austria to undertake its re-catholization. The noble lords were now under still heavier pressure to yield to government orders. Likewise the Catholic Church as a whole began to intensify her reform work, improving the spiritual care of the parishes. Thus Anabaptism in Lower Austria declined and eventually vanished altogether during the second half of the 16th century. In 1622 the Hutterites were expelled from nearby Moravia, and only in Hungary (i.e., Slovakia) did Anabaptism find a precarious refuge up, to the 18th century.

Upper Austria

The story of Anabaptism in Upper Austria is somewhat different from that in its sister province. In Lower Austria, the most important factor in the vicissitudes of Anabaptism was the close proximity of Moravia. From here the Hutterites exerted a noticeable influence, entering the borderland whenever possible. Upper Austria, on the contrary, is rather open toward Bavaria, whence strong Anabaptist forces influenced the life of the neighboring land. In fact, a large part of today's Upper Austria, namely, the Inn district, was in the 16th and 17th centuries a part of Bavaria proper (with the area of the cities of Schärding, Braunau, and Ried, all so well known for their Anabaptist activities).

As was mentioned earlier, the outstanding Anabaptist leaders Hans Hut and Leonhard Schiemer, who had come from Nikolsburg to Vienna in 1527, did not stay long in that city. Soon they moved on toward Upper Austria, making the old steel city of Steyr on the Enns River the very center of their missionary activities. It is not beyond possibility that this city had been a center of Waldensian activities in the 15th century, thus preparing the soil for later evangelical work. This is at least the contention of Alexander Nicoladoni in his book, Johannes Bünderlin (Berlin, 1893), following ideas first proposed by Dr. Ludwig Keller. Also Hubmaier is said to have preached here in Steyr prior to his coming to Nikolsburg. In 1527 Hans Hut arrived, and soon after him Schiemer, the erstwhile monk, himself a native of Upper Austria. Also the well-known brother Thomas Waldhauser, a former Catholic priest from Lower Austria, worked for some time in this city before moving on to Moravia (where he was burned at the stake in 1528). As assistants of Hans Hut are named Hieronymus von Mansee and Eucarius Binder, both of whom had to die at the stake in Salzburg (see Lang, Matthäus). Of the "four apostles" chosen by Hut, Schiemer became the most successful missioner in Upper Austria of that time, until he, too, met the fate of nearly all early leaders—martyrdom (1528). Regarding the Anabaptist activities in Steyr, it is worth noting that they were directed mainly to-ward urban lower middle class elements such as craftsmen and working men in the steel mills, in contrast to the situation in other countries (Tyrol or Switzerland) where Anabaptism found most of its adherents among the rural population, the peasants.

From Steyr Hut went on to Linz, the provincial capital, where in 1528 he won Ambrosias Spittelmaier. Hut did not stay long in Linz but went on to Freistadt in northern Upper Austria, where he was particularly successful. A strong Anabaptist group was established there, which caused much concern to the provincial government. Hans Schlaffer, a Catholic priest in nearby Kefermarkt, was soon won for the cause of Anabaptism. Although an early martyrdom did not leave him much time for "work," he must be counted among the outstanding representatives of Anabaptism of the early period, and his writings, together with those of L. Schiemer, were much read by the Hutterites and are still extant in many of their manuscript books. From Freistadt Hut turned farther west, going through Schärding, Braunau, and Passau into Bavaria (Augsburg) until he, too, met the fate of nearly all the Anabaptist leaders, death as a martyr.

Even before Hut's arrival in Linz, Anabaptist groups must have existed there, for we learn that in 1526 Hans Bünderlin, the humanistically trained native of this city, had become an active elder of the local congregation. But soon he had to flee, and some years later severed his connections with the Brethren altogether. His work was continued by the schoolmaster Leonhard Freisleben, called Eleutherobios, who is said to have been baptized by Hans Hut. In 1528, he, too, had to flee, joining his brother Christoph Freisleben, former schoolmaster of Weis, Upper Austria, in his exile. The next elder of the congregation in Linz was Wolfgang Brandhuber, the outstanding representative of early Anabaptism in this area. His activities all over Upper Austria and the adjoining bishopric of Passau left deep marks. His assistant was Hans Mittermaier, in the Chronicle called Niedermaier, who had just recently come to Linz from the famous, yet ill-fated martyrs' synod of Augsburg (1527). In 1529, the entire Linz congregation came to a tragic end with the martyrdom of the two elders and 75 other members.

Persecution set in in Upper Austria at about the same time as in Lower Austria (1527). From government archive records we learn of Anabaptist groups in many places such as Gmunden, where Peter Riedemann lay in chains for three years, Lembach, Mauthausen, and Ried. The story is about the same everywhere: mandates by Ferdinand, decrees by the provincial diet or the Estates, roving bands of constables, trials, executions. And yet the brotherhood groups persisted. The Catholic Church was in a deplorable state, in no way giving spiritual help or guidance to its parishioners; good priests were rare; many parishes had no priests at all or very ignorant ones; the dioceses were without episcopal supervision. Ferdinand again recognized the need for more systematic procedure against the Anabaptists. This time he sent his capable jurist Magister Wolfgang Künigl as chief prosecutor to Upper Austria to take care of the Anabaptist trials in the cities of Steyr and Freistadt. (The local judges had been too lenient toward the Brethren.) Among the defendants were craftsmen but also clergymen who had turned away from Catholicism, first to Lutheranism, and then to Anabaptism. The procedure was strictly prescribed, particularly in cases of recantation. Künigl, himself of mild nature, soon understood why the royal mandates were of so little effect. He suggested to Ferdinand certain alleviations of the utterly inhuman and repulsive requirements to be applied in case an Anabaptist was ready to return to the official church. But Ferdinand, narrow in outlook and understanding, was unrelenting and did not allow any softening of the stipulations of his "mercy." J. Loserth (Mennonitisches Lexikon II, 316) gives a detailed description of this so-called Horber Busse, the penance as prescribed for the first time in Horb in Württemberg for those who recanted. For some years Steyr still remained a major center of Anabaptist activities, but the fervor of the 1520s was no longer observable. The great leaders were by now all dead.

From 1528 onward the Hutterite Chronicle records a great number of martyrs in nearly all places mentioned above. Peter Riedemann, the author of the great Rechenschaft, was kept as prisoner in Gmunden, Upper Austria, for several years. In his prison cell he drew up the document now known as Gmundener Rechenschaft. He escaped from his bonds only through exceptional circumstances (1532). In 1529 the brotherhood of Linz was destroyed as reported above. And so trials and affliction were without bounds. Many lower courts were loath to pass sentence, and tried to evade doing so by many means. But the authorities became ever more intent and stern, urging a "total" solution.

When, in 1535, the great persecution set in also in Moravia, many Brethren began their trek back to their native countries of Bavaria, Württemberg, and the Rhineland. These Brethren took their route along the Danube, and had to pass through the two Austrian archduchies. Among these returning Brethren were also the followers of Philipp Plener, the so-called Philippites. Some of them stopped their march back in Upper Austria, hoping to be able to carry on their brotherhood in this country. We meet them soon again when Riedemann became interested in them. Others went on, but were caught in the episcopal city of Passau and thrown into a deep dungeon. It was this group which in the dungeon of the castle of Passau composed the oldest hymns of the Ausbund (1535-40).

Although the Anabaptist movement gradually died out in the cities it continued for some time in smaller places. Since these groups went more and more into hiding, we learn about their life mainly through the Hutterite Chronicle. Here we find, for instance, under the year 1537, a lengthy Sendschreiben an die Brüder im Land ober der Enns, an epistle to those Philippites who had broken away from their former leader and were now ready for a closer connection with the Hutterites. They had settled down in Upper Austria, but soon found themselves involved in many internal troubles, since strong leadership was lacking. They therefore sent a brother to the communities in Moravia asking for advice about organization and discipline. Peter Riedemann, the Chronicle reports, wrote the letter and gave it to the messenger, "to warn the brethren against further damage." In the next year, 1538, Riedemann came personally to Upper Austria to visit these former Philippite settlements, helping them organize their communities along Hutterite patterns. In 1539, he looked them up again while on his way to Hesse. Also the brother Christoph Gschäl from Moravia, engaged on a missionary trip, stopped with these brotherhood groups in 1539 and again in 1541, urging them to join the Hutterite brotherhood in Moravia. It seems that he met with but little success. From the text of the Chronicle it becomes obvious that these Upper Austrian (Philippite) groups were a real concern to the Hutterites, who felt themselves in a sense responsible for all Anabaptist groups anywhere in Austria. Some of these former Philippites actually went to Moravia and became Hutterites, while the others "ran away and joined the world" (die Anderen aber sind verronnen und haben sich der Welt zugesellt). "In this way," the Chronicle continues, "the congregation and meeting in Upper Austria ceased and came to an end."

But individual witnesses to the Anabaptist cause continued to appear in the following period. For instance the brother Hans Blüetl was burned at the stake in Ried in the Inn territory in 1545. His story is told in great detail in the Chronicle as a great example, for "he went to the place of execution with a laughing mouth." In general, however, the Estates of Upper Austria were right in reporting to the emperor in 1554 that the region "was no more infested with the deceptive sects of Anabaptists, Sacramentalists, and the like." The relentlessness of the Habsburgs and the growing Counter Reformation of the Catholic Church (after 1545) had achieved a full triumph. Anabaptism as a living force had disappeared from the two Austrian provinces.

The archives contain still later records about Anabaptist trials, mainly in Steyr, Schärding, and Ried. In the latter city two brethren were beheaded for their faith even as late as 1605. But all these later victims were, as a rule, but missionaries passing through the country and leaving hardly any local influence. All in all, between 150 and 180 Brethren suffered martyrdom in Upper Austria, of which number about 100 died in the years 1528 to 1530 alone. As for Lower Austria the Chronicle reports a sum total of 105 martyrs up to 1542. One may assume that this figure did not essentially increase in the later period.

Modern Period -- 20th Century

After World War II the Mennonite Central Committee's response to the need for relief paved the way for Mennonite Brethren mission work in Austria. In 1953 J. W. and Martha Vogt and the John Goosen family began a ministry in the refugee camps where they found a positive response to the gospel. Linz, the capital of Upper Austria, became the first church center. Abe and Irene Neufeld continued evangelizing and church planting. A church building was erected in 1958. Expansion led to new church centers, and additional workers were sent through Mennonite Brethren Board of Missions and Services. Gerhard and Anna Jantz led the congregations in Linz, and Lawrence and Selma Warkentin gave leadership in Wels. The Vienna and Steyr congregations were led by Helmut Funck and Wolfgang Rüschhoff. These congregations formed the Austrian Conference as part of the Bund Europäischer Mennoniten Brüdergemeinden. Joint projects were the radio ministry over Radio Luxembourg; the conference paper, Quelle des Lebens; and participation in the International Mennonite Organization, the Europäische Mennonitische Bibelschule at Bienenberg in Switzerland, and Mennonite Brethren mission work in Spain.

Expansion through the Austrian churches continued in the late 1960s when the Lawrence Warkentin family established new congregations in Salzburg and in Traunreut, Bavaria. A Mennonite Brethren witness had thus been established in five strategic Austrian cities: Vienna, Linz, Wels, Steyr, and Salzburg. They experienced a slow growth, but expanded their ministry to Amstetten, Liezen, Braunau, and Gmunden, where new churches developed.

In 1972 a new group of churches, closely connected to the Austrian conference, developed in Vienna under the ministry of Abe and Irene Neufeld. This work is best known as "Tulpengasse," the location of the first church. The church in Cottagegasse dissolved, and the building was later used by the Tulpengasse congregation.

A Christian book store, Christliche Bücher-Zentrale, was started in Wels in 1966. It started as a ministry of the Wels church, but subsequently became a private business of Georg Emrich, who is a member of the church. It has become one of the most prominent Christian bookstores in Austria. Tent ministries proved effective in evangelism, so the Austrian churches bought a tent with a seating capacity of 150. It was used from 1966 to 1974 and then sold to another mission.

The need for biblical training led to the development of a Bible School in Linz, 1975-80. In 1983 a joint Bible school of the evangelical churches in Austria was established in Ampfelwang, with Mennonite Brethren Board of Missions and Services supplying teachers. In this way the Austrian churches trained workers to serve the Austrian churches, and to reach out into other cities in Austria. Total membership in 1988 in Austria was 197.

2020 Update

Between 2000 and 2020 the following Anabaptist group was active in Austria:

Denominations Congregations
in 2000
in 2000
in 2009
in 2009
in 2020
in 2020
Mennonitische Freikirche Österreich 8 385 6 424 6 402



Epp, Margaret. Eight Tulpengasse: A Church Blossoms in Vienna. Scottdale, 1978.

Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. III, 243, 285, and 314.

The Hutterite Chronicle (any edition).

Jäkel, J. Kirchliche und religiose Zustände in Freistadt während des Ref .-Zeitalters. Freistadt, Jahresbericht des Staatsgymnasiums, 1889-90.

Jäkel, J. "'Zur Frage der Entstehung der Täufergemeinden in Oberösterreich." Jahresbericht des Staatsgymnasiums zu Freistadt, Ob. Oest., 1895.

Jäkel, J. "Zur Geschichte der Wiedertäufer in Oberösterreich und speziell in Freistadt." 47te Bericht des Museums Francisco-Carolinum. Linz, 1889.

Kraybill, Paul N., ed. Mennonite World Handbook. Lombard, IL: Mennonite World Conference, 1978: 282-84.

Loesche, G. Geschichte des Prot. in Oesterreich. Leipzig, 1930.

Loserth, J. "Wiedertaufer in Niederösterreich von ihren Anfangen bis zum Tode Hubmaiers." Blätter für die Landeskunde v. Niederösterreich (1899): 417-35, and all the other works by Loserth about Hubmaier and the Anabaptists in Moravia.

Mennonite World Conference. "2000 Europe Mennonite & Brethren in Christ Churches." Web. 27 February 2011. [broken link].

Mennonite World Conference. "2003 Europe Mennonite & Brethren in Christ Churches." Web. 27 February 2011. [broken link].

Mennonite World Conference."Europe." Web. 27 February 2011. [broken link].

Mennonite World Conference. "World Directory: Europe." Web. 13 June 2010. [broken link].

Mennonite World Conference. World Directory = Directorio mundial = Répertoire mondial 2012: Mennonite, Brethren in Christ and Related Churches = Iglesias Menonitas, de los Hermanos en Cristo y afines = Églises Mennonites, Frères en Christ et Apparentées. Kitchener, ON: Mennonite World Conference, 2012: 14.

Prevenhuber. Annales Styrenses. Nurnberg, 1740: 233-41.

Schornbaum, K. Quellen zur Geschichte der Wiedertäufer, II; Markgraftum Brandenburg. Leipzig, 1934 also contains some pertinent material.

Toews, John A. History of the Mennonite Brethren Church, ed. A. J. Klassen. Fresno, CA: Mennonite Brethren Board of Literature and Education, 1975: 434-36.

Wiedemann, Th. Geschichte der Ref. im Lande unter der Enns. Vienna, 1879.

Wikipedia. "Austria." 17 May 2014. Web. 17 May 2014.

Author(s) Robert Friedmann
Lawrence W. Warkentin
Date Published February 2011

Cite This Article

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Friedmann, Robert and Lawrence W. Warkentin. "Austria." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. February 2011. Web. 25 Jul 2021.

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Friedmann, Robert and Lawrence W. Warkentin. (February 2011). Austria. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 25 July 2021, from


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, pp. 193-199; vol. 5, pp. 44-45. All rights reserved.

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