History

The Austro-American Society was founded on January 6, 1946, in a grand ceremony in the main concert hall of Vienna’s Musikverein. The program featured music of Wolfgang A. Mozart and Johannes Brahms. The Society’s first president, University Professor Dr. Otto Kauders, delivered the inaugural speech. The admission fee at that time was "50 Groschen" (cents).

The first club newsletter was published in May 1946. The title page contained the following welcome message by General Mark W. Clark, U.S.A.:

 

 Portraitfoto von General Clark    

Mark W. Clark, General, USA
Commanding

  General Clark to the Austrian-American Society, March, 16th 1946

 

The Society’s prime task in the post-war years was to coordinate the CARE Packages, of which many Austrians have fond memories to this very day.

During the following years, the Society grew into a major international friendship society with a full calendar of events. Many young Americans enjoyed the campus of the "Salzburg Summer School“ at Kleßheim castle, taking advantage of the great opportunity to learn about the Austrian culture and the chance to study German. The Society continued to be a leading Austrian institute of language courses well into the 1990s.

As a contribution to the bicentennial celebration of the United States, and together with the Austrian Federal Chancellery, the Society sponsored two chairs at the Universities of Stanford and Minnesota.

In 1996, the Austro-American Society celebrated its 50th anniversary with a commemoration program celebrating the past but looking to the future. After an extensive competition, four children in the 10-14 year old age group were selected to be “Junior Ambassadors” and to cover the caucuses and primaries of the US presidential election. Together with Austrian television's Mini-ZiB (children’s news program), and the daily newspaper “Kronenzeitung”, the Austro-American Society's election coverage created quite a stir among the general public. At the same time, four young Americans of the children’s newspaper “Children’s Express” were invited to report on today’s Austria. The highlight of our anniversary program was the big “Kids Party” at the Stock-im-Eisen square in the heart of Vienna’s city center.

During the tenure of our long-time president Professor Dr. Manfred Mautner Markhof, the Society established excellent contacts with the US ambassadors serving in Austria, which in many cases continued well beyond their official terms. In honor of his memory, our club room has been named the "Prof. Dr. Manfred Mautner Markhof Room“. After Prof. Mautner Markhof’s death in early 2008, Dr. Albert Rohan, former Secretary General of the Austrian Foreign Ministry, was elected president of the Society.