Seitz, Karl

(1869–1950)
   A teacher, socialist political leader, and mayor of Vienna from 1923 to 1934, Seitz began his legislative career in the regional parliament of Lower Austria in 1897. He was a member of the Imperial Assembly from 1901 to 1918. Here, he argued toward the end of World War I for granting extensive autonomy to the many nations within the Habsburg Empire as a way of saving it in some form. From 1918 to 1920, Seitz was one of the three presidents of the Provisional National Assembly in the new Austria. Until December 1920, he served as the first president of the Constituent Assembly. From 1923 to 1934, he was the head of the Austrian Social Democratic Workers’ Party.
   It was as Vienna’s mayor, however, that Seitz had his greatest impact on the country. He oversaw the massive public works program for which the city acquired a worldwide reputation in the interwar years. Along with Otto Glöckel, Seitz had been a member of the Free School (Freie Schule) movement before World War I. This program called for the complete secularization of public education and for extending the opportunity for schooling to all Austrians, regardless of social class or economic background. Seitz continued to support these ideas and gave Glöckel the opportunity to implement them. During the armed conflicts with the ruling Christian Social Party in 1927 and the brief February Uprising of 1934, Seitz generally argued within the Socialist leadership for caution and continued negotiation with the opposition. He was arrested in 1934, then detained in a concentration camp between 1944 and 1945. Following the end of World War II, he served in the parliament of the Second Austrian Republic until his death.

Historical dictionary of Austria. . 2014.

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