Austrian Boy Scouting

Figure 1.--These three Austrian Scouts were photogrsaphed during an outing in the Alps. They wear the uniform of tan shirts and brown corduroy short pants. One boy wears Lederhosen. The caption read, "sola ramsau_vor der wand". That means "Summercamp in Ramsau" (a place in Styria. Notice the red badge with the white cross. The red badge with the white cross is the coat of arms of Vienna. Every Scout wears the coat of arms of his federal county. As Vienna is the capital of Austria and also is one of the nine Federal Counties of Austria, Viennese Scouts and Guides are/were supposed to wear the badge. The Scarf is the groups own scarf, there are just incidently the Austrian national colors.

The Austrian Boy Scouts were founded before World War I, but I do not know if there was a national Austro-Hungarian Scout organization or separate organizations in the constituent parts of the Empire like Austria and Hungary as well as other areas of the Empire. After World War I there was an Austrian Scout organization which functioned until the Anchlyss (1938), after which Scouting was outlawed. The boys wre required to join the Hitler Youth. After Wotld War II (1939-45) the Scouts were restablished in the Western occupation zone. Today the only Austrian youth group we know of is the Scouts.

Historical Information

We have little historical information on Austrian Boy Scouts, but we have begun to collect some basic information. The first important German youth movement was Wandervogel which I believe was also active in Austria, but have few details at his time. The political history of Austria is somewhat complicated and had significant conswquences for the Scouting movement. As a result there have been major changes over time. Scouting was founded by Baden Powell in ngland during 1906. The movement spread rapidly and by 1910 there were Scouting groups in most Europen countries. The Austrian monarchy was overthrown in 1918 at the end of World War I. The Treaty of Versailles reduced Austia to a small republic south of Grmany. The rest of the Austro-Hungarian Empire with non--German populatons were divided into new nations. We believe Scouting was the principal youth group. I am not sure if there was more than one association. Hitler and the NAZIs carried out the Anschluss in 1937 which independent Austria to the Reich. As a result, the Hitler Youth became the only legal youth group. Scoutting was banned. I am not sure to what extent Austrian Scout leaders joined the Hitler Youth organization. Also I am not sure if Scout troops converted to the Hiler Youth en masse or the boys made individual decissions to join. There was no separate Austrian Hitler Youth organization, although HJ boys wore badges and units had banners identifying where they were from.

Major Associations

We have little information on different Austrian Scout asociations at this time. Scouts in Austria as in several European ccountries were organized in part on a religious basis. After Scouting was founded in Austria after World War I, several different Scout associations were organized. Two of the most important associations were: Österreichischer Pfadfinderbund and Pfadfinderkorps St. Georg. Scouts formed only one national association (by agreement of all former associations). The association was called Pfadfinder Österreichs (PÖ) (Scouts of Austria). There was also an intependent Girl Guide Association (re)formed Österreichischer Pfadfinderinnenverband St. Georg (Austrian Girl Guide Association of St. George). The former religious division was not congtinued after the War. Austria is predominantly a Catholic country, but Protestants and Catholic youths joined together in the new Austrian Scouting movement as did the few Jewish boys who survived the Holocaust. [Slanec] The Scouts and Guides decided to unify and form Pfadfinder und Pfadfinderinnen Österreichs (1976). This is the only Austrian scout group associated with the World Scout Movement. There are some smaller groups like Österreichischer Pfadfinderbund, Euro(pean) Scouts (Scouts Europeenne?), and some other small groups not well known because the number of members is so small.


The Austrian Scout movement in 2004 has has about 50,000 Scouts and Guides including leaders and other volunteers. I'm not sure what the size of the movement was in earlier years.


Austrian Scouts appear to have the same basic levels as other scout groups around the world. The Scouts were founded in 1919, but we do not yet have any images of early Austrian Scouts. Our firsr images at this time date from the 1930s. The first level beyond Scouting thatt we notice are the Cubs. We are not sure when they were founded. We first we note them is the 1930s, but our archive is still very limited.


Austria had separate Scouting movements for boys and girls until 1976. The two movements in 1976 joined to form "Pfadfinder und Pfadfinderinnen Österreichs".


Austrian Scouts persued the same major activities that other Scouts around the world. Camping and hiking were the mainstay of early hiking. The program gradually became much more extensive. Here we have few specific details about Austrian Scouting. Outdoor outings like the one here into the Alps, however, continues to be important to the program (figure 1). Cub activities are more hime-based such as games and crafts with trips to local attractions such as museums and zoos.


We have some basic information on Austrian Scouts. As with Scouts in other countries, there were changes over time. We do not have any details on the early Scout uniform, but Scouts by the 1930s were wearing the same basic uniform that was worn by Scouts in many other countries. Scouts wore shirts with short pants and kneesoicks. I'm not sure what kind of shorts were wirn, but some look like brown corduroy shorts. Some boys wore Lederhosen, but they were not part of the formal uniform. Since the 1990s most Austrian Scouts have worn jeans. Austrian Scouts introduced a major change in the uniform during 1995. The unifom shirt changed from beige to dark red. Cubs in the 1930s wore the standard British peaked cap and jumper like the British Scouts. I'm not sure about the color, but would guess green., but the uniform was different than the British Cub uniform.

Individual Experiences

European boy: Post-war era


Slanec, Hansi. Groupleader, Pfadfinder und Pfadfinderinnen Österreichs, December 19, 2004.


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Created: July 28, 2002
Last updated: 4:07 AM 12/28/2004