Selected Projects

of the Institute of Conflict Research

2019: Customer Survey of the Court of Audit Styria

Project Management: Dr. Birgitt Haller
Implementation: Mag. Dr. Helga Amesberger
Dr. Birgitt Haller
Petra Frischenschlager MSc (WU) Bakk. rer. soc. oec. BA
Funded by: Federal State Styria
Completed: August 2019

The Court of Audit Styria is assigned by law a testing expertise for financial control, which encompasses more than 20 billion Euros (Activity report of the Court of Audit Styria). This figure underlines its high economic and social responsibility. The Court of Audit Styria proves the financial management of bodies of general administration, outsourced legal entities and projects funded by the state, to name but a few. It considers auditees as its clients. In addition to this, there is a second group of clients, namely members of the state parliament, for whom the audit reports serve as the basis for their political work.

A survey (online and anonymous) was conducted in both groups in February and March 2019. Central to the survey was for both of them the perception of the activities and of the public presence of the Court of Audit Styria as well as its accuracy, competence, transparency and objectivity. Additionally, auditees were asked questions about the concrete preparation and implementation of the audits. Furthermore, they had to evaluate the audits’ benefit for their institutions and the feasibility of recommendations. The survey was intended to show the Court of Audit Styria opportunities for improvement as well as possibilities for further increase in efficiency and effectiveness. For the members of the state parliament the focus was on the benefits of the audit reports for their political work and comprised questions about the quality of the reports and the impact in regard to prevention and sustainability. Here, too, the main focus was on room for improvement.

The high response rate of both clients, which illustrates the importance of the activity of the Court of Audit Styria, is impressive: about 53 percent in the auditees and almost 44 percent in the members of the state parliament. The respondents of both groups declared themselves predominantly (very) satisfied with the work of the Court of Audit Styria. The respondents among the audit clients certified – to highlight only two aspects – a high degree of objectivity and transparency in the auditing as well as the practicability of the recommendations. Almost all members of the state parliament recognised lasting improvement for Styria through the work of the Court of Audit Styria. The tracking of the overall costs for the state projects was assessed very positively as well: It would contribute to the best possible use of the state’s financial resources.

2019: Political Participation. Between Frustration and Commitment

Project Management: Mag. Dr. Helga Amesberger
Implementation: Mag. Dr. Helga Amesberger
Mag. Elke Rajal
Funded by: Bildungsverein – Offene Gesellschaft
Completed: June 2019

The study on political participation was undertaken on behalf of Bildungsverein – Offene Gesellschaft. Political participation is defined as the core element of democracy; numerous international documents such as the Rio Declaration, the Aalborg Charter or the Aarhus Convention reinforce the need for the inclusion of the public in political decision-making processes for a sustainable development of the environment. In part, these notions have found their way to national laws and policy fields by this time. Without the involvement of the public in political decision-making processes, democracy lacks legitimacy and a driving force. Hence, the scope of political participation is often used as a benchmark for (the quality of) democracy and more political participation is considered the solution for the frequently stated democracy crisis. Simultaneously, social hierarchies reduce opportunities of participation in the political process. The question also arises, whether political participation – according to normative expectations – is per se always progressive, egalitarian and inclusive or whether it cannot also cause, in its part, exclusion.

The investigation delivers next to a definition of political participation also a description of the central problematic situation about the input legitimacy and connects this with quality of democracy. The extent of political integration was examined and, based on already existing literature and various research reports, described who can take part in which forms of political participation in Europe and who is excluded. Besides, parameters, which can foster or hinder the interest in participation processes, were introduced and factors of individual willingness to participate were brought together with effects of frustration and the phenomenon of disenchantment with politics. On the one hand, political participation is regarded as the answer to politics, in the sense of disenchantment with political parties; on the other hand, disenchantment with politics constitutes self-evidently an obstacle to participatory processes.

A core element of the study is the description of various models of political participation. As case studies, the following were selected: 1.) the already time-tested Austrian referendum and popular vote, 2.) the Irish referendum, a form of voting that is preceded by an extensive, heavily government-formalised deliberative procedure, 3.) the Citizens’ Councils in Vorarlberg, which exist since 2006 and have already developed solution ideas to numerous issues, as well as 4.) an in Germany tried and tested model of Liquid Democracy (usage of new digital communication tools), the "Enquete Commission on Internet and Digital Society" of the German Bundestag.

2015: TACOD – Promoting Open Data as a Tool to Detect and Prevent Corruption in Europe. Analysis of law, practice, public perception and
         impact in four EU countries

Implementation: Mathias Huter, Mag. (FH), MA
Funded by: European Commission/ ISEC within the framework programme
   "Prevention of and Fight against Crime" via RiSSC
Partners: Research Centre on Security and Crime – RiSSC (IT)
Transparency International Italia
Transparency International United Kingdom
Centre for the Study of Corruption and Transparency, Kellogg College of the University of Oxford
University of Nottingham
Blomeyer & Sanz (ES)
Completed: June 2015

The project studied the current use of publicly accessible information and published government data (Open Data), in particular by civil society actors and journalists, and its possible impact on the prevention and identification of corruption in four EU member states (Italy, the UK, Spain, and Austria).

In the individual countries, the following dimensions were analysed and compared:

  • Legal frameworks including freedom of information laws and provisions for a proactive publication of relevant administration information;
  • Extent and quality of data and information available in practice, as well as their relevance regarding the fight against and
    prevention of corruption;
  • Description of stakeholders using this information and their views on the effects and potential of Open Data regarding the
    reduction of corruption;
  • Conclusions and recommendations on how to strengthen the potential of Open Data in the field of anti-corruption measures
    and how to benefit from it.

The research report concluded that in Austria, publicly accessible information and Open Data de facto have no role in the prevention and identification of corruption so far. To change this, the report recommended a number of measures, amongst others the introduction of a strong freedom of information law and the automatic publication of information on public subsidies, procurement and privatisation. The report also emphasised that Austria so far has no national strategy regarding transparency in administration and Open Data. Data-based investigative journalism and civil society organisations in the field of anti-corruption are underdeveloped compared to international standards not only because access to relevant information is often lacking, but also because funding for non-profit actors is insufficient.

2010: International Civic and Civic Education Study (ICCS)

Participating institutes within
the Austrian network:
Institut für Erziehungswissenschaften der Universität Innsbruck
Institut für Konfliktforschung
Project Team at the IKF: Mag. Walter J. Fend
Financed by: Austrian Federal Ministry for Education, Arts and Culture
Concluded in: June 2010

The ICCS is a study that investigated the ways in which young people are prepared for their roles as citizens in modern societies. It tested student knowledge and understanding of civics and citizenship as well as student attitudes, perceptions and activities related to civics and citizenship. The ICCS report is based on data collected about more than 140´000 students in more than 5´000 schools in 38 countries. These data are augmented by data collected about more than 62´000 teachers as well as about school principals. In Austria the study covered approximately 3´400 students, 1´000 teachers and 110 principals at 142 schools.

The Austrian team crafted a specific national module in addition to the international and European questionnaires. The idea was to find out, which issues are discussed at school and who are the interlocutors with whom students talk about civic and citizenship issues within their social milieu. Moreover, students were asked about their attitudes towards politicians and political issues.

With regard to knowledge, including knowledge of facts as well as the ability to reason and analyse, the Austrian students ranged at an average level among the 38 countries. However, they showed an above-average level of interest in political and social issues. Under the heading of students´ trust in institutions, the Austrian students followed the international trend. By contrast, they outperformed many countries in terms of their trust in the government, the police and the courts. Asked about their current and future participation, the Austrian students were mostly in line with the international trend. Their political engagement is focused on their schools, i.e. participation in class and school elections. Regarding the future, a vast majority considers taking part in general elections. On the other hand, they display little interest in joining political organisations, such as political parties or trade unions.

2009: Quality indicators of democracy: Discussions of democratic reform and perceptions of democracy by the people

Project Management: Univ.Prof. Dr. Anton Pelinka
Project Team: Dr. Karin Liebhart
DDr. Hubert Sickinger
Financed by: Dr. Karl Renner-Institut
Concluded in: December 2009

The project is divided into two parts: Europeanization of political systems, trends towards multi-level governance and the rise of new digital media (Web 2.0), which are common framework conditions in states such as Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Sweden, France, and the United Kingdom, are the subjects of case studies in Part I. These developments have strong impacts on the quality of democracy as well as on the political culture, political attitudes and potentials for political action on the part of citizens. The study traces selected national traditions of political discourse and compares key discussions of democratic quality and democratic reform in the above-mentioned countries. Gender and minority issues and the instrumentalization of democratic mechanisms by (right wing) populist parties are additional subjects of study.

Part II describes the options of an Austrian "democratic climate" index: Based on a discussion of comparative surveys of "political culture" and (global ⁄ European) value studies, this part of the report describes options of measuring the short-term as well as the long-term development of the "democratic climate" in Austria. The text provides possible versions of a questionnaire that could be regularly used in ("omnibus") public opinion polls.

2009: Europe and its "Other" – Conflicts over Gender and Religion – Conference and Discussion

Project Team: Mag. Karin Bischof
MMag. Dr. Karin Stoegner
Dr. Florian Oberhuber
Financed by: Federal Ministry of Science and Research
City of Vienna, MA 7, MA 17 and MA 57
Concluded in: March 2009

The Institute of Conflict Research initiated and organised this Conference together with the Institute of Political Science at the Vienna University and with Demokratiezentrum Wien.

The objective was to collate research results related to gender and religion issues, which are quite frequently the focus of media debates, to discuss the outcome and to communicate it to an interested target audience beyond the academic community (e.g.: teachers, social workers, etc.).

The following academics and experts addressed the Conference: Sabine Strasser (METU Ankara), Valerie Amiraux (Université de Montreal), Nora Gresch, Sieglinde Rosenberger, Leyla Hadj-Abdou (Vienna University), Karin Bischof, Karin Stoegner, Florian Oberhuber (Institute of Conflict Research), Lydia Potts (University of Oldenburg), Barbara Thoth (Der Falter), Stefanie Mayer, Elisabeth Röhrlich, Gertraud Diendorfer (Demokratiezentrum Wien), and Cengiz Günay (ÖIIP).

2008: Education for Democratic Citizenship: Implementation and perspectives

Project Management: Univ.Prof. Dr. Anton Pelinka
Project Team: Dr. Günther Sandner
MMag. Kathrin Stainer-Hämmerle
DDr. Hubert Sickinger
Institut für Empirische Sozialforschung (IFES)
Financed by: Federal Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture
Concluded in: May 2008

The research project has four main sections:

The first section contains the results of a representative survey among advanced students attending teacher accreditation study courses at universities as well as at University Colleges of Teacher Education („Pädagogische Hochschulen“), which was conducted in cooperation with the Institute for Empirical Social Research (Institut IFES). The students’ own training in education for democratic citizenship as well as their knowledge of its subjects and aims as well of its status within the Austrian school system are the main themes of this survey. The majority of the students are aware of the main objectives to be reached by education for democratic citizenship. Nevertheless the answers reveal a remarkably negative picture of the topic’s significance in their own training. Only a very limited part of the respondents has received interdisciplinary and systematic training in education for democratic citizenship. In particular, stronger linkage between theory and practice as well as the handling of controversial issues have been identified as priority desiderata or objectives. As a result, the students’ own competences in education for democratic citizenship have been evaluated to be poor. Only future teachers of core subjects, such as history, geography and German language see clear linkages of their own subject with education for democratic citizenship, and scarcely only half of the students have shown any interest in the topic as part of their own training.

The research team also conducted a qualitative study among teachers, based on semi-structured interviews. The interviewees are teaching different subjects in various school types in selected parts of Austria. Topics of the survey were form and scope of practical implementation and students’ self-evaluation of their competence in education for democratic citizenship, but also the perspective of the main target group, i.e. the pupils ⁄ students. Furthermore, practical demands on the teachers as well as their needs for advanced training and further support, designed to enhance the quality of education for democratic citizenship, formed part of the questionnaire.

Both empirical studies reveal major deficits in education for democratic citizenship in the curricula at universities and University Colleges of Teacher Education. Although respondents expressed doubts about the options of teaching education for democratic citizenship at school, they held a positive view of introducing education for democratic citizenship as a separate curricular subject. However, this does not necessarily imply that (future) teachers consider education for democratic citizenshippart of their own responsibility.

Exchanging information with other colleagues, who had worked in parallel on a model of political competence for pupils, the research team used the results of both empirical studies to formulate the basic format of such a competence model for teachers. The competence model should be based on both academic as well as didactic competence. Didactic competence covers the fields of didactic theory, diagnostic competence and communicative competence (), which can be further divided into more specific competences. To meet the requirements of the interdisciplinary character of education for democratic citizenship, academic competence is equally essential as didactic competence. To be sure, such competences would require a fundamental reform of the teacher training system.

The extension of the right to vote to young people from the age of 16 implies that, so far, pupils ⁄ students have received most of their education for democratic citizenship only after having reached their voting age. As a result, it is being considered to teach education for democratic citizenship as of the 8th grade (mainly students aged 14). The last section points out models of implementation (which are not limited to grade 8) and discusses their pros and cons against the background of the Austrian regulatory framework.

2008: "Measuring democracy?"

Project Management: Prof. Dr. Anton Pelinka
Project Team: DDr. Hubert Sickinger
Financed by: Renner Institute
Concluded in January 2008

Since the early 1990s, measurement of democracy has been an increasingly important topic of comparative political science. The research project gives an overview of important approaches. On the one hand it describes widely used democracy scales (Polyarchy, Freedom House, Polity, Bertelsmann Transformation Index, Index of Defective Democracy and Vanhanen). In addition to the basic functions of "electoral democracy", these indices – to varying degrees – also include basic associational and communication rights as well as individual civil rights and aspects of power sharing. These indices are based on different political intentions (i.e. some of them are promoting models of liberal democracy and paths of development/good governance). They are very well suited for the purpose of measuring the approximation of political systems towards the benchmark of liberal, constitutional democracy on a worldwide basis. But they are not sophisticated enough to measure differences in the quality of democracy between mature, western democracies.

For this reason, the project report also explores alternative approaches to evaluate the quality of developed democracies. One approach lies in in-depth country studies conducted in compliance with well established criteria, such as the British "democratic audit", which has been further enhanced by International IDEA. Other approaches can be based on comparative public opinion polls as well as on indicators of inclusiveness of the political system and society. Equality of political representation of women or the degree of inclusiveness/universality of basic social security systems might be such indicators, which can be used as an "index of social democracy" (T. Meyer).

Basically, there is more than one way of measuring democracy. There are some well established comparative scales, which can be applied to different degrees (and in potentially modified formats) in addressing different research questions and to different country samples.

2006: Integration as a policy area at community level

Project Management: Mag. Dr. Brigitte Halbmayr
Project Team: : Mag. Karin Bischof
Mag. Dr. Brigitte Halbmayr
Mag. Kerstin Lercher
Mag. Barbara Liegl
Financed by: Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Culture
Concluded in: December 2006

The project deals primarily with the responses to a questionnaire for municipalities in Lower Austria. The survey was addressed to responsible policy makers, asking for their assessment of the status quo of integration, the identification of challenges as well as needs for support at community level. It was part of the EQUAL project “different origin – common future”, which had policies at community level as one of its priorities (the aim was to develop guidelines for the integration of immigrants into the communes of Guntramsdorf, Hainburg, Krems, and Traismauer). In a further step, the results of the survey were linked with concrete data of the communes, concerning the percentage of immigrants, their national background, their activity rate, the political parties represented on the municipal council, the economic structure of the communes, etc.

Eventually the experience gathered with the EQUAL process and the data of the municipalities were analysed in an article, entitled “Integration as Community-Level Policy Field – Conditions of Development, Problems and Models” (see The article deals with the policy area of integration at community level and tries to highlight its relevance for future developments in communes and cities. Integration is understood as a two-way process but the focus is on efforts by the receiving society, which is a necessary precondition for the (active) integration of migrants. Therefore, activities undertaken by communes or municipalities to achieve equal opportunities, equality under law, and a new resource-oriented understanding of diversity are presented and analysed. Another aspect that is important for the development of integration policy are the perceptions of the majority populations (of migrants). Based on the data analysed and the experience gained during the process of developing integration guidelines, the authors assume that integration policies in communes and municipalities are becoming ever more important in the context of preventing exclusion and discrimination of migrants.

2017: Just & Safer Cities for All – Prevention of discriminating violence on the local level: best practices and recommendations

Project Management: Mag. Dr. Helga Amesberger
Implementation: Mag. Dr. Helga Amesberger
Dr. Birgitt Haller
Funded by: European Commission/ DG Criminal Justice via
   European Forum for Urban Security (EFUS), Paris
Grüne MigrantInnen Vienna
Partners: French Forum for Urban Security (FFSU)
Belgium Forum for Prevention and Urban Security (FBPSU)
Italian Forum for Urban Security (FISU)
Spanish Forum for Urban Security and Prevention (FEPSU)
Jagiellonian University, Poland
Ufuq e.V, Germany
Associação portuguesa de Apoio à vitima – APAV, Portugal
Concluded in: December 2017

Currently, Europe experiences an increase in racism, xenophobia, homophobia and other forms of intolerance. The "Just & Safer Cities for All" project – led by the European Forum for Urban Security (Efus) – aimed to raise awareness of these forms of violence at the local and regional levels and to identify promising practices of municipalities and regions to counteract intolerance and to promote social cohesion.

The result is a collection of good practice examples on the prevention of discriminatory violence at the local level. 50 of them have been published in a publication that is accessible via the IKF and the Efus website. The booklet, which is available in several languages, includes, in addition to the project presentations, an analysis of discriminatory violence and of hate crime as well as recommendations for local politics and administration. Another 90 good practice projects are published on the Efus website.

Link to project-website (EFUS)

Link to publication

Blog entries – CPD Policy Blog:

Social cohesion in heterogeneous societies (Link)
European initiatives to promote social cohesion (Link)
The Strategic Role of Local Authorities and Institutions in Promoting Social Cohesion (Link)
Recommendations for Promoting Social Cohesion at the Local Level (Link)

2017: Paternity leave in judiciary and prosecution

Project Management:   Dr. Birgitt Haller
Implementation:   Dr. Helga Amesberger
  Dr. Birgitt Haller
  Justina Kaiser MA
Funded by:   Federal Ministry of Finance
Concluded in:   December 2017

The starting point for the conceptualization of this study was an article on paternity leave in the public service. The daily newspaper Der Standard published on July 18, 2016: "Public service: More paternity leaves, part–time being a women´s issue". In the public service, the number of paternity leaves has increased: in 2010, only about 17 per cent of parental leaves had been taken by men, whereas in 2014 and 2015, their share had risen to more than 31 percent. The five ministries with the highest number of staff – Education and Women´s Affairs, Interior, National Defence and Sports, Justice, and Finances – were analysed in detail: From 2010 until 2015, in the Ministries of National Defence, Interior, and Finances, the share of paternity leaves had increased, in the Ministries of Education and Justice it had decreased.

As a higher share of paternity leaves is desirable for reasons of gender equality, the project aimed to analyse the reasons for and against taking paternity leave. The applied mix of quantitative and qualitative methods included an online questionnaire addressed to all judges and state prosecutors, interviews with experts in the Ministry of Justice as well as other ministries, and interviews with parenting fathers.

2017: Expert function for the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE)

EIGE signed on Birgitt Haller as an external expert for the study "Improving administrative data collection on intimate partner violence" (EIGE 2016/OPER/07), which focused on the improvement and harmonization of data collected by police and the justice system. EIGE is the European Union agency for the promotion of gender equality.

For detailed information, see:

2012: International comparative study of the Effects of Prostitution Policy

Project Management: Univ.-Prof. Dr. Hendrik Wagenaar (Leiden University)
Implementation: Univ.-Prof. Dr. Hendrik Wagenaar and
  Dr. Sietske Altink (Netherlands)
  Mag. Dr. Helga Amesberger (Austria)
  Dr. Susanne Dodillet and
  Dr. Petra Östergren (Sweden)
Financed by: Cities The Hague, Utrecht, Rotterdam
  NICIS (Institute for Urban Research and Practice)
  Leiden University
  Municipal Department 57 – City of Vienna Women’s Department (MA 57)
Concluded in: December 2012

The concept for this international comparative study evolved in close cooperation between Hendrik Wagenaar and the cities of Rotterdam, Utrecht and The Hague, which are, alongside NICIS, also the main funders of the study. The aim of the study is to compare measures in the area of prostitution policies in the Netherlands, Austria and Sweden, which are often influenced by moral impetus, and to examine their effects on the working and living conditions of sex workers. We based our work on the assumption that there are substantial differences between the formulation of policies and their factual implementation.

The starting point of the study was that so far, the – intended as well as unintended – effects of prostitution policies have not been studied on an international level. There is no knowledge about the level of efficiency of specific measures, nor do we know about the correlation of political instruments/measures, as e.g. criminalisation of clients or licencing of brothels, and their effects. We also questioned whether similar political measures have the same impact in different countries.

The study shows that the political field of prostitution is extremely resistant to political measures – independent of the respective preferred "prostitution regime" on the national level. Prostitution is a field that is to a large extent also determined by external influences like work migration or the development of communication technology. Changes thus sometimes occur at a speed which politics and administration cannot keep up with, so they often can only respond reactively. Another factor for the low and slow efficacy of legal measures is that brothels, clients and sex workers – for different reasons – continue to (have to or want to) operate for the most part in the shadowy areas of economy, in spite of their simultaneous high visibility. Information on the milieu is therefore hard to generate. This shows in the quality of existing data (in all three examined countries): data collection in Austria with health authorities, State Offices of Criminal Investigation and the Federal Office of Criminal Investigation showed that even rudimentary data like the number of enterprises and sex workers are not very trustworthy. These statistics provide no information on the ages of sex workers (with the exception of Vienna) or on the average number of women working in the sex business every day, nor on the average weekly working hours etc. This poses a problem insofar as numbers often are used as a strategic means in order to enforce a specific policy orientation. Dependable statistics are essential for policy development and effective political measures, and they could represent a counterbalance for the moralising discussion on prostitution. Until now, there has been no study on sex work in Austria that interviewed sex workers on a comparable scale. By conducting 85 interviews with sex workers, we were able to at least partly correct this lack of information. The interviews shed light on migration processes, paths into sex work (decision, motivation, supporters), working conditions (working hours, earnings, working atmosphere, obligatory health checks etc.), the (reasons for) mobility and the like.

In addition, policy development in the area of prostitution is a difficult undertaking, first because of its heterogeneity and complexity, and second because it is highly emotionally charged. This leads to extremely diverse problem definitions and measures. No matter which path is pursued, effective prostitution policy continues to be a politics of small steps, as interviews with "informed outsiders" (from the fields of politics, the executive, administration, health authorities and NGOs) impressively demonstrate.

Nevertheless, political measures have considerable influence on sex workers’ living and working conditions, especially of immigrant ones. The Dutch and Austrian interviews with sex workers (a total of 129) illustrate that the mobility of sex workers, which is often stated and rated negatively, is amongst others, but to no small extent, caused by legal measures or their implementation.

A close examination of the implementation of laws in the Netherlands and Austria (Vienna and Upper Austria) showed that prostitution policies in both countries are very similar in large areas. In our view, both countries pursue a regulatory prostitution regime. It was also shown that the impact of laws and regulations significantly depends on their local implementation, and that too little attention has been paid to the process of implementation and the careful choice of political instruments (this is true to a larger extent for Austria than for the Netherlands).

These are only some of the results. Besides a comprehensive description of sex work in the Netherlands and in Austria as well as respective national and local prostitution policies, our research report extensively deals with the conflictive area of prostitution – migration – exploitation and prostitution policy as moral politics.


2011: Communities in Dialogue: How to bring People at the Margins into Policy Making

Implementation:    Mag. Dr. Brigitte Halbmayr
Financed by:    Open Society Foundations London
Concluded in:    December 2011

In 2010, NGOs of five European countries (Austria, Great Britain, Germany, Slovakia and Romania) cooperated on the project "Integration and Diversity in Education in Europe" (IDEE). The object of the project was to work with disenfranchised youths from newcomer and minority ethnic backgrounds, with the focus on their ability to achieve educationally in traditional and societal competences. Core activity in each country was a facilitated exchange between the project target group (disaffected young people) and adults in positions enabling them to potentially influence their future chances of leading a better life (e.g. teachers, social workers, local politicians). For this exchange we opted for the citizens’ panel methodology – aware of the fact that this method had to be tailored to our target group. The success of the panels encouraged us to reflect on further adaptations of the method with a view to deepening exchange and political participation processes.

The essay "Communities in Dialogue: How to bring People at the Margins into Policy Making" describes the characteristics of this new concept (Communities in Dialogue – CiD) and presents further implementation settings (other target groups, other topics).

Communities in Dialogue (CiD) pursues three objectives: 1) self-reflection – to raise the target group’s awareness of their "specific situation", of their "specific potential", of their commonality; 2) exchange of ideas, values and interests – to inform other people (stake-holders, politicians, experts etc.) about their situation; 3) change – to co-produce knowledge designed to improve life in the communities, relationships, the local administration etc.


2011: "Integrationsimpulse Schwarzatal"

Project Management:   Mag. Franjo Steiner (Interkulturelles Zentrum, Vienna)
Project Team:    "ARGE Integrationsberatung", consisting of: Karin Bischof (Institut für Konfliktforschung)
Leo Baumfeld (ÖAR-Regionalberatung GmbH., Vienna)
Mag. Franjo Steiner (Interkulturelles Zentrum, Vienna)
Financed by:    Municipalities of Ternitz, Wimpassing and Neunkirchen
Concluded in:    November 2011

The project was aimed at developing regional integration measures, with eight municipalities in the Schwarzatal region participating in a process that comprised the following steps:

  • Talks including both local/regional decision-makers and practitioners, held at sites especially relevant to integration
    (e.g. schools, kindergartens etc.)
  • Finding starting points for joint regional measures
  • Finding ways in which to use existing resources and expertise (local, regional)
  • Utilising synergies

During the first phase of the project, various types of data collection (e.g. structural data, "integration check") were employed to provide the basis for identifying critical points in the context of integration. As a result of the project, concrete measures were developed at the regional level (e.g. a common concept for a youth centre, a regional "Integrations-Kompetenz-System" (integration competence system), a regional forum concerned with housing issues – all of them involving local/regional stakeholders as well as practitioners).


2011: Antisemitism in Austrian Media Discourses on the Financial Crisis

Project Management: Univ.-Prof. Dr. Frank Stern (Institute of Contemporary History, University of Vienna)
Implementation: MMag. Dr. Karin Stoegner
Mag. Dr. Karin Bischof
Financed by: Jubilaeumsfonds der Oesterreichischen Nationalbank, Project No. 13549
Concluded in: July 2011

The background of the project was a wave of antisemitism that started in the summer of 2008 in the course of the international financial crisis. In the autumn of 2008, the Anti-Defamation League warned against the newly increasing antisemitism and provided proof of this worry in the form of a number of articles in US, South American and European print media and on internet forums, where more or less open antisemitic resentments were articulated in the course of debates on the crisis. The range of these resentments was quite broad, extending from traditional antisemitic stereotypes, such as the "greedy Jew", to the "Jewish world conspiracy". Against this international background, we focused on the Austrian media discourse on the financial crisis in the years 2008-2010, with the aim of analysing in what way these discourses were employing antisemitic stereotypes. The project combined a sociological and historical study on the relationship between antisemitism and economic crises with a discourse analysis of current Austrian print media. The key issues in this context were the characteristics of antisemitism in periods of economic crisis.

One of the major outcomes of this analysis was that the Austrian print media largely refrained from direct or manifest antisemitic statements. Hence there were few direct references to the antisemitic stereotypes of the "greedy Jew" or of the "Jewish world conspiracy". Nonetheless we found a number of encoded statements that could be interpreted as antisemitic or at least as provoking antisemitic thought. So we scrutinised the Austrian media corpus on the basis of several thematic categories that traditionally occur in connection with antisemitism:

  • Division of capitalist economy into two clear-cut spheres: financial and industrial capital; in what way does this correspond to or reproduce the antisemitic division of "raffendes" and "schaffendes Kapital" (exploitive and creative capital)?
  • Is there an identification of "Jewishness" with the financial sphere?
  • Nationalism and the völkisch discourse: here we also highlighted the hatred against the intermediary spheres, anti-intellectualism and the constraint to unity, identity and unambiguousness.
  • Furthermore we focused on globalisation critique,
  • as well as on anti-Americanism and anti-Zionism in the discourses on the economic crisis.
  • We also concentrated on markers of secondary antisemitism within the discourses, i.e. in what way the discourses referred to the Nazi past and thereby played down German and Austrian guilt and responsibility.
  • And, last but not least, we looked at specific intersections of antisemitism and sexism and/or at mechanisms of gendering in discourses designed to conceal antisemitism.

By way of summary we can say that antisemitism is still a major device in the discursive handling of the economic crisis. While open antisemitism is mostly avoided, it occurs camouflaged by nationalist discourses and pseudo-anticapitalist argumentation. The role of secondary antisemitism has turned out to be as important as the instrumentalisation of gender images when it comes to transporting antisemitic content.


2010: "Integration and Diversity in Education in Europe" – International Overview

Implementation:   Mag. Dr. Brigitte Halbmayr
Financed by:   Open Society Foundation London
Concluded in:   December 2010

The project entitled "Integration and Diversity in Education in Europe" (IDEE) is a joint venture of NGOs in five European countries: the Integrated Education Fund (IEF) and the Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education (NICIE) in Belfast (Great Britain), the Intercultural Centre (IZ) in Vienna (Austria), the LIFE e.V. organisation in Berlin (Germany), Nadácia Škola dokorán (Wide Open School Foundation) in Žiar nad Hronom (Slovakia) as well as the Reading and Writing for Critical Thinking Association (RWCT) in Cluj-Naboca (Romania). These organisations have for many years been active in the field of education, mainly dealing with young people living on the margins of society – Roma youth in Slovakia and Romania and young people with migration background (especially from non-European countries) in Austria, Germany and Great Britain.

The project, which was co-financed by the Education Support Program of the Open Society Foundation in London and EACEA (Education, Audiovisual & Culture Executive Agency) and run under the European "Europe for Citizens" Programme, was launched with a view to stimulating the above mentioned young people to give thought to their living and educational conditions. In a process of exchange between young people, on the one hand, and experts, school and local authorities as well as politicians, on the other hand, modes of political participation were being rehearsed. For this exchange we used "citizens panels" – with key aspects as well as topics modified to accommodate our target group – as the method of choice. The aim was to apply the format of citizens panels not just as an instrument of direct participative democracy but also as an instrument of empowerment. In the implementation on local level, the consideration of the regional as well as the European dimension was sought to be considered during implementation at the local level.

The Institute of Conflict Research was tasked with the methodological adaptations, with crafting the templates for organising and documenting the panels and with writing the international comparative report, in which preparation, agenda, aims, and local specifics of the citizens panels were analysed. The analysis shows that the young participants as well as the stakeholders highly appreciated this mode of exchange, which they found very inspiring and conducive to creating mutual understanding. They frequently expressed the whish for a follow-up of the encounter. Especially the young people acclaimed the often novel experience of being asked for their ‘expert’ opinions on their own living situation and for their ideas and wishes concerning ways of improving it. The main topics discussed in the citizens panels were: forms of segregation in schools and the demand for inclusive education; language problems and the demand for intensified language training; experiences of discrimination and the need for anti-discrimination measures, also in schools; the need for intercultural competence on the part of school teachers; the importance of empowerment and mentoring; the cooperation with media and networking.

The results were presented to the colleagues involved in the project and to professional audiences at the final project conference in Brussels in November 2010; the report is published under the title "Integration and Diversity in Education in Europe. Bringing Disaffected Youth to Policymaking." Open Society Foundations, New York 2010.


2010: Developing a general principle of integration and a strategy for a "partnership for integration" in the Austrian federal land of Styria

Project Management: Mag. Franjo Steiner (Interkulturelles Zentrum, Vienna)
Project Team: "ARGE Integrationsberatung", consisting of:
Mag.a Marelli Asamer-Handler (ÖAR-Regionalberatung GmbH, Graz)
Mag.a Sabine Aydt (Donau-Universität Krems)
Mag.a Karin Bischof (Institut für Konfliktforschung)
Leo Baumfeld (ÖAR-Regionalberatung GmbH, Vienna)
Mag.a Brigitte Halbmayr (Institut für Konfliktforschung)
Mag. Franjo Steiner (Interkulturelles Zentrum, Vienna)
Financed by: Styria Regional Government
Concluded in: March 2010

Since 2007, a "platform for integration" - assembling 16 representatives of NGOs and 15 members of administrative and policy units - provides advice to Styrian politicians who are involved in integration matters. This platform invited the "ARGE Integrationsberatung" ("working group for integration consultancy") to craft guiding principles for integration and a strategy for a "partnership for integration" in the federal country of Styria. Starting point of our work were the demands the platform formulated in its initial paper ("Eröffnungsbilanz"). Our aim was to establish so-called "integration partnerships" with the effect of Governance Arrangements, i.e. including accurate implementation directives and therefore going beyond the concept of general principles.

"ARGE Integrationsberatung" consequently devised a procedural structure which permitted (leading) integration stakeholders to be involved in an efficient modus operandi. We designed several instruments and provided specific information in support of the work performed in the different panels and stages of the process: a survey of basic and structural data re Styria as a starting point for discussions; interviews with experts on specific topics; feedback on results of working groups; process evaluation; a configuration matrix ("Gestaltungsmatrix") (i.e. graphical illustration of all fields relating to integration and their interdependencies, stakeholders as well as beneficiaries); continuous support with regard to content and administration. Coordinating the overall working process in Styria was an important part of our work.

So-called "themed groups" ("Themenfeldgruppen") set up the core of the process. They dealt with the policy fields of labour and economy, education, health and social care, housing and settlement development as regards integration as well as with anti-discrimination, anti-racism and prevention of violence. Experts on the given topics (NGO representatives, politicians and members of the administration, representatives of special interest groups, etc.) analysed the status quo and formulated the measures and options required for their implementation. The results were presented to a broader audience in five Styrian regions, where those attending were invited to give feedback and to request further measures regarding the needs in their region. In so-called "planning workshops" ("Planungswerkstätten") held towards the end of the development process, additional people holding responsible positions in the above-mentioned integration and administrative policy fields were invited to discuss specific implementation guidelines and to prepare the planned integration partnership agreements.

The final document in which the entire process is set out, consists of several parts: the formulation of the general principles for the Styrian integration policy; the specifications for the policy and administrative units in charge of implementing the new concepts; several recommendations for short-term as well as long-term measures to be put into effect. The work of the "ARGE Integrationsberatung" was rounded off with a process evaluation and a monitoring concept for the implementation phase.


2010: Szenario:i – Policy advice on integration in municipalities

Project Management: Mag. Karin Bischof
Mag. Dr. Brigitte Halbmayr
Project Team: Mag. Franjo Steiner (Intercultural Centre Vienna)
Mag. Sabine Aydt (Danube University Krems)
Leo Baumfeld (ÖAR-Regional Advice)
Financed by: EIF (European Integration Fund)
Federal Ministry of the Interior
Concluded in: January 2010

The project was funded under the EIF (European Fund for the Integration of Third Country Nationals) focus on integration at community level, and was carried out in cooperation with Interkulturelles Zentrum (Intercultural Center, IZ), the Danube University Krems and ÖAR Regional Consulting.

The aim of the project was to upgrade the integration policy of three Austrian municipalities – Wr. Neustadt, Kapfenberg and Bruck/ Mur. In the course of its implementation, which involved the application of methodological management consultation tools, the status quo as well as possible scopes of action, influencing factors and key actors were systematically analysed with the participation of relevant stakeholders and decision makers in the municipalities concerned.

What has emerged from this process are formally established "Integration-Partnerships" for long-term cooperation between key agents in a single, selected area of action (e.g., housing).

In addition, a "self-check" system for integration policy at community level was developed as part of the project. The fifteen Austrian municipalities that went in for such "self-checks", have all been invited to a conference designed to support networking, exchange of experience and cooperation among the municipalities concerned.


2009: Evaluation of the Third Mentoring Programme for junior women academics and researchers at the Vienna University (muv3)

Project Management: Mag.a Karin Bischof
Financed by: University of Vienna, Department for the Promotion of Women and Equal Opportunities
Concluded in June 2009

Just as previous programmes, the third Mentoring Programme was attended by forty junior women academics and researchers from different disciplines and from all university departments with a view to advancing their academic careers.

Building on the evaluation results of the second programme, the aim was to survey the impact of the programme on the participants and their careers in quantitative terms and also to examine the effect of programme modifications (resulting from the recommendations made after the previous evaluation) designed to avoid structural problems in the mentoring process. The evaluation was done at a representative level, based on an online questionnaire.

Altogether, the Mentoring Programme lived up to its set goals and was very favourably assessed by the mentees. Compared with the second Mentoring Programme, the third one was improved in many respects.


2008: Evaluation of the area renewal offices responsible for communal housing in Vienna

Project Management: Birgitt Haller
Project Team: Birgitt Haller Helga Amesberger Evelyn Dawid
Financed by: City of Vienna, MA 50
Concluded in December 2008

The aim of this study was to evaluate the situation of the area renewal offices responsible for communal housing (short: ARO/CH). At the beginning of 2007, the area renewal offices were restructured, and so the main point of interest was to identify - and counteract - problems that might have been caused by these changes.

During June and September 2008, we interviewed 23 agents and employees of the nine ARO/CH as well as two representatives of the City of Vienna. The topics of the guided interviews were the structure and the tasks of the ARO/CH, their experience with the contracting authorities and with different partners, their central fields of activity, as well as the working conditions of the ARO/CH employees.

The most important changes since 2007 had been the separation of the “classical” ARO, now called ARO/urban renewal, and the ARO/CH, as well as a considerable increase in the funds of the ARO/CH, a reduction of their numbers, so that their areas of activity match with those of “Wiener Wohnen”, and some other changes regarding content and organisation. Interviewees that had already worked in the ARO/CH before 2007 regarded the restructuring as a success, the ARO/CH now being both more independent and more appreciated.

The major tasks of the ARO/CH are general counselling, the settling of conflicts and work in the field of prevention, networking as well as public relations, and - within their respective institutions - administrative work and quality management. As in 2004, both the managers and the employees criticised that the settling of conflicts took too much time that should be used for prevention, as only prevention would lead to sustainable changes. Many interviewees argued that the long opening hours of the ARO/CH offices required excessive staff resources which could otherwise be used for preventive work.

The ARO/CH cooperate with “Wiener Wohnen”, with politicians at the regional level, as well as with various public and private institutions. Work relations especially with “Wiener Wohnen” have considerably improved since 2004, although some problems that existed already then were mentioned again. According to the Annual Report 2007, 45 percent of the general consultations conducted by the ARO/CH have to do with “Wiener Wohnen” - so it is evident that this institution still has problems as regards its information policy. Politicians at the regional level are regarded as important partners, but their individual commitment seems to vary a lot, and most interviewees mentioned the risk of being monopolised by politicians. There is hardly any cooperation among the ARO/CH: Due to lack of time, networking only takes place on “jours fixes” (which are regarded as important). Cooperation with the ARO/urban renewal only takes place if the same agent manages both AROs - and in these cases synergies are considered to be of great value.

The main focus in the interviews was on the activities of the ARO/CH. With regard to conflict solution it was mentioned that it was not easy to find out, whether a conflict was really caused by noise (the most important cause of conflicts) or whether the tenants had racist feelings against the persons they were complaining about. Irrespective of the underlying reasons, the ARO/CH could only deal with the noise problem. (By the way, also employees working in the ARO/CH sometimes were confronted with racism.) Although mediation competence was expressly mentioned in the tender, and although mediators are employed in most of the ARO/CH, classical mediation is only rarely used - mostly only mediative techniques are applied.

As already mentioned, many interviewees held that community work should be enhanced, as it was the only field of activity producing preventive and sustainable effects. On the other hand, most ARO/CH work on projects and organize events that can be classified as community work.

A new focus in the activities of the ARO/CH is on working with tenants’ councils. Cooperating with them is helpful for the ARO/CH, as the councils provide information, act as ombuds bodies for the tenants and in many respects as multipliers.

Finally, as regards the working conditions of the ARO/CH employees, it became evident that their job satisfaction is very high, although sometimes complaints were uttered about the high workload. Rather often the interviewees wanted more commitment and support from their employers and criticised low wages as well as the lack of monetary incentives.


2008: Secularization and the Gender Specific Construction of the “Other” Religion

Project Management: Prof. Erika Thurner, Institute of Political Science, University of Innsbruck
Project Team: Mag.a Karin Bischof
MMag.a Karin Stögner
Dr. Florian Oberhuber, Research Centre "Discourse, Politics, Identity"
Dr. Irène Bellier, LAIOS, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris
Dr. Nacira Guénif-Souilamas, Université Paris 13
Dr. Friedhelm Kröll, Institute of Sociology, University of Vienna
Financed by: Austrian Ministry of Sciences
Concluded in December 2008

Research questions:

Since our main research interest was to decipher current configurations of European identity, we decided to analyse the discussions on Turkey’s accession to the EU in French and Austrian print media. The main focus was on the context of current disagreements which are often interpreted in religious terms. The implicit Christian grounding of the concept of secularity and the corresponding construction of the “other” religion was of particular interest, and gender-specific representations of the self and the other were found to be crucial. Why and how do “private”, “typically Islamic” gender relations play a central role in the discussions on whether Turkey meets European standards? Are these gender-specific discursive strategies country-specific or European? These were the questions central to our research project.


In the course of the project, the news coverage from 2004 to 2006 in seven Austrian and seven French daily and weekly newspapers has been analysed. The methodological approach combined an inductive, open mode of theoretical sampling (Strauss & Corbin) with qualitative content analysis (Mayring). Small amounts of data were chosen for an inductive construction of categories. We referred to the methodological tools of text and discourse analysis. In addition, assumptions derived from our literary study of collective projections and constructions of the “other” were included in the construction of categories. After a pre-test, the whole material was analysed, case studies were drawn up and a a cross-national analysis was performed.


As gender critical nationalism studies have shown, the demarcation of nations works via an intersection of the constructs of "gender" and "nation". Similar mechanisms can be found in the demarcation of the transnational entity of European Union.

Our analysis of the media in France and Austria revealed that in both countries, national conceptions concerning Europe, secularity and gender images come to the fore in discussions on Turkey’s accession to the EU. Whereas in the Austrian discourse the EU tends to be viewed as a “federal patchwork”, the French discourse emphasises the “common political mission”. The discursive modes of inclusion and exclusion vary accordingly. In France, Islam and Turkey are often represented as defying the universalised standards of an ancient colonial power and its laic/secular construct of the political public. In Austria, on the other hand, the accession of Turkey to the EU is often construed as a potential threat. Here we find a defensive idea of the EU instead of a universalistic ‘mission civilisatrice’, and frequent references can be found to the historical experience of defending the (Christian) Occident. Beyond these national discursive modes of inclusion and exclusion, we also found some cross-national, “European” aspects: Orientalist perception based on specific moments of European enlightenment. Hence, the discussion on Turkey serves as a way of constructing the European and national self in terms of religion and secularity. Gender-specific representations of the self and the other are crucial to these discursive strategies. Furthermore, constructs of masculinity and femininity are linked with the semantic fields of civilisation/barbarism or modernity/tradition.


The knowledge gathered in the course of the project has to be seen, primarily, as a contribution to a “reflection of the European self”. During research and analysis the image of the “other”, in the given case of the “other religion” turned out to be influenced by specific fears stemming particularly from an area of the “own” being uncomprehended and not sufficiently consolidated. Actual and alleged peculiarities of the “other” work as a contrasting foil. Hence, the outcome of this research project will help to understand interferences of the “own” and the “other”, which obstruct the view of the other’s real qualities.


2007: Antisemitism and Antifeminism: On the Intersection of Prejudices

Project Management: Univ.-Prof. Dr. Frank Stern (Institute of Contemporary History, Vienna University)
Project Team: Mag.a Karin Stögner
Financed by: Jubiläumsfonds der Oesterreichischen Nationalbank, Project No. 11801
Concluded in December 2007

It was the aim of this project to analyse the multilayered intersections of antisemitism and antifeminism from the perspective of political, economic, and socio-historical approaches. These approaches were analysed according to the specific peculiarities, correspondences and differences of antisemitism and antifeminism in order to reconstruct the subjective and objective structures of both prejudices and thereby to relate to their coherent interactions.

The main focus of the analysis was on two corresponding aspects: the way, society deals with a specific construct of nature and the social compulsion to unity and unambiguousness. In the 19th century, women and Jews alike were identified with "nature" and were thus categorised according to hegemonic structures of naming and defining. Thereby, the concept of nature turns out to be ambivalent: on the one hand it represents an idea of overwhelming omnipotence, strength and power; on the other hand, "nature" is a conglomerate of all those elements which society has judged as "impure" and "foul", as "retarded" and "uncivilised", as "weak" and "unfit". Paradoxically, Jews and women were identified with both weakness in social and physical terms (thus they contradict the "right of the strong") and omnipotence as well as superiority, the latter being intertwined with imaginations of destructive power. Due to this ambivalent combination of antithetic moments the paranoid imaginations of a "Jewish world conspiracy", or of an "evil and devouring female omnipotence" and "women’s regime" receive an impermeable character.

The apotheosis of strength and the corresponding construct of masculinity, as well as anti-intellectualism play an equally important role in antisemitic and antifeminist prejudice. These strands are held together by an aversion against the body, which is stylised and put on a pedestal, but which is not loved and appreciated. In antisemitic and antifeminist constellations the body figures only as an object that is being adapted to the machinery, viewed solely from a functionalist and instrumental perspective. "Jews" and "women", are perceived as "the other", which in these contexts is the non-identical, ambiguous, uncategorised.

The specifically gendered and racialised images of the "Jew" and the "woman", which played a central role in the antisemitic and misogynist discourses especially of the fin de siècle, but which are still perceivable in today’s discriminatory discourses, are to be analysed as performative acts of antisemitism and antifeminism. Against this analytical background it becomes evident that anti-Jewish and misogynist images do not only express the discriminatory practices of a society, but have the potential to (re-)produce domination and discrimination. These images, therefore, have an important share in institutionalising and enhancing antisemitism and antifeminism


2008: "Hot spots" of social conflict and area renewal offices in multi-storey blocks in Vienna

Project Management: Birgitt Haller (IKF)
Project Team: Evelyn Dawid
Mag.a Kerstin Lercher
Dr. Harry Schranz (TrendCom)
Dr. Wolfgang Tomaschitz
Financed by: City of Vienna
Concluded in January 2008

The study is based on the assumption that in Vienna there are "hot spots" of social conflict or at least a potential for conflict, which can be located in certain districts as well as in certain residential facilities. The study aims at identifying the factors that are perceived as constituting a reduction in the quality of life. Furthermore we wanted to find out whether these factors are overlapping in certain districts, generating potentially risky areas.

We interviewed residents of five Viennese neighbourhoods where we expected housing and living conditions to be determined by several unfavourable factors: in two council houses in the 10th district and in one in the 21st district, in a council house as well as in a private multi-storey building in the 20th district, and in various private multi-storey buildings in the 16th district. The 25 interviewees represented both locals and immigrants, various age groups and both sexes.

The interviews focussed on their expectations of "good housing" and their satisfaction with their habitation - the apartment as well as the general living environment -, experiences of conflicts related to housing, their sense of security in the living environment, and their experience of deprivation as well as their fear of the future. So we tried to survey different relevant factors which are experienced as reducing the quality of life.

In the end we did not find any "hot spots" of social conflict in Vienna that can be compared to the "banlieue" in Paris or risk areas in other European cities. The interviewees often talked about conflicts in the style of "actions speak louder than words", but they rarely reported arguments that had escalated. None of the conflicts mentioned were even aimed at "destroying the enemy". "Hot spots" are areas that are perceived as dangerous or at least as insecure, and the interview zones were not perceived as such by any of the interviewees.

But in nearly all of the interviews, on the one hand interferences with regard to "good housing" were stated, and on the other hand efforts for their communicative resolution were widely missing. However, housing policy cannot solely be held responsible for "peaceful coexistence". Other policy areas need to be involved as well. This applies especially to the status of migrants -many interviewees see "the foreigners" as "the main problem" in living together. Migrants remain foreigners who are held responsible for all annoyances. This is mainly because they are socially marginalised and outclassed.

Satisfaction with the apartment does not seem to influence the disposition to getting involved in conflicts. Some interviewees are highly satisfied with their apartments and nonetheless are regularly involved in conflicts. Others criticised their apartments, but never got into arguments. Most of the interviewees find themselves between these two extremes.

Identification with the housing estate plays a more important role, especially with regard to council houses. When the housing estate is highly valued by the individual even if it has a bad reputation, the identification seems to be strong. Such high esteem may generate high satisfaction among the inhabitants, but it may cause a higher inclination to criticism and conflict, when it comes to preserving what is valued as beautiful and good. When the housing estate is not perceived as attractive and valuable, annoyances - e.g. dirt - seem to play a relatively smaller role.

Elderly people in particular or residents who have been living in council houses for a long time perceive a change for the worse of the image of council houses. Some interviewees are proud of the concept of council houses, and are upset by the negative image, which is predominantly influenced by the media. They find it more and more difficult to identify themselves with their tenement and therefore an essential part of their lives gets lost.

In this context the subject of "foreigners in council houses" is a highly emotive one. The loss in reputation of certain town districts as well as of council houses is blamed on the moving in of migrants. The coexistence of different life styles is perceived as problematic by some interviewees, but at the same time they are vague about what exactly is the problem of living together.

All in all, there is only little systematic arbitrage between conflicting parties. The interviewees, too, reported only rarely that somebody had intervened in a conflict as a third party. This is a role played mostly by caretakers - but not necessarily in order to arbitrate; sometimes they also instigate conflicts. Nevertheless, in most cases the interviewees appreciated the caretakers’ interventions.

It was a big surprise that the area renewal offices are hardly known. Out of 18 interviewees who live in council houses, only three (all of them native-born Austrians) have contacted an area renewal office; it was obvious that most of the others had not even heard about this institution.

Having analyzed the conflict potential that had come to the fore in the interviews as well as the handling of conflicts and the expectations of the interviewees, we drafted recommendations for the housing department of Vienna, designed for the efficient settling of social conflicts. For example, we suggested a campaign for improving the image of council houses, and the re-introduction of the role of the caretaker, albeit not the "old kind of caretaker", responsible for cleaning and for the maintenance of order who would assume communicative and social duties only when he/she felt like it. It is fundamental to redefine the role of the caretaker as somebody still responsible for order, but also trained in social work and mediation.


2007: Handbook on Prejudice

Project Management: Univ. Prof. Dr. Anton Pelinka
Project Team: Mag.a Karin Bischof
Mag.a Karin Stögner Birgitt Haller
Financed by: voestalpine AG via Sir Peter Ustinov Institute
Concluded in September 2007

The editorial work on the English Handbook on Prejudice was terminated in autumn 2007. The preparation of the manuscript lasted two years; it contains 13 academic articles by internationally renowned researchers, an introduction by the editor and a conclusion.

The aim of the Handbook is to shed light on the prejudices prevailing in society. These are pooled into the following six categories: anti-Semitism, racism, gender / sexual orientation, class / social stratum, religious prejudice and outward appearance / handicap / illness/ age. The six contributions on these categories in the first section of the Handbook provide basic insight into each type of prejudice in question from a contemporary as well as from a historical point of view, and they also selectively focus on similarities and differences between these particular prejudices as compared to other forms of prejudice with regard to their social function and structure. Moreover, some contributions also briefly outline good practices in combating a particular type of prejudice.

In the second section of the book the term prejudice is delineated from the perspectives of different academic disciplines and/or groups of academic disciplines.

These groups of disciplines are Psychology / Psychoanalysis / Pedagogy, History and History of Art, Linguistics / Literary Studies / Communication Science, Law and Religious Studies, Sociology / Political Science/ Anthropology/ Economics, and Natural Science and Medicine.

The general essays in this section outline the theoretical shaping of the term "prejudice" in the respective academic disciplines and describe causes, effects and social functions of prejudices, as seen in the respective discipline. Some of these articles throw light on controversies about the term "prejudice" within a given discipline. This section centres around prejudice in general, whereas particular types of prejudice are dealt with only in an exemplary way.


2007: "Integrationsleitbild" / Mission Statement for Integration in Lower Austria - Evaluation and Data Collection

Project Management: Mag.a Brigitte Halbmayr
Project Team: Mag.a Karin Bischof
Mag.a Brigitte Halbmayr
Financed by: Federal Government of Lower Austria
Concluded in October 2007

The aim of the project which has been carried through in cooperation with Interkulturelles Zentrum (Intercultural Center, IZ), the Danube University Krems and the ÖAR Regional Consulting was to draft guidelines for integration policy and to develop measures for the Federal Land of Lower Austria.

The part of the project covered by the Institute of Conflict Research consisted, on the one hand, of collecting and interpreting structural data on integration-relevant areas (i. e. schooling, employment, housing, naturalisation, demographic data in general) to provide a basis for the process of framing measures and drafting guidelines for integration in Lower Austria. With a view to gathering relevant information also at the regional level, these data have, whenever possible, also been provided for districts of lower Austria.

Beyond this, the process of framing measures and drafting guidelines has been evaluated in diverse steering and working groups (including different stakeholders in the field with and without migration background). Methodically, the evaluation is based on standardised records of these meetings. To the extent permitted by this (written) material, conclusions have been drawn concerning the guideline drafting process, for example its participatory structure.


2006: Evaluation of the second Mentoring Programme at the University of Vienna

Project Management: Mag.a Helga Amesberger
Project Team: Mag.a Helga Amesberger
Mag.a Karin Bischof
Financed by: University of Vienna, Department of Women’s Advancement and Gender Equality
Concluded in October 2006

Forty junior women researchers and women scientists from different disciplines and from all departments took part in the three-semester Mentoring Programme. The underlying idea was to advance the academic careers of the participants, who were divided into ten groups, each of them supported by a professor from the University of Vienna, by assisting them in building career networks and setting up mentoring relationships. It was for the first time that the programme was evaluated at a representative level. The emphasis of the evaluation was on the impact on the participants and their careers as well as on structural problems which arose during the mentoring process. Using a mix of quantitative and qualitative research methods, we surveyed the acceptance and satisfaction of the mentees as well as concrete changes and advances in their individual careers generated by the mentoring-programme. Moreover, we examined how personal/individual expectations materialised and in what way the participants benefited from the programme. Finally, we proposed a number of recommendations for future programmes. Altogether the Mentoring Programme lived up to its set goals and was very favourably judged by the mentees.


2006: Integration as a policy area at community level

Project Management: Mag.a Brigitte Halbmayr
Project Team: : Mag.a Karin Bischof
Mag.a Brigitte Halbmayr
Mag.a Kerstin Lercher
Mag.a Barbara Liegl
Financed by: Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Culture
Concluded in December 2006

The project deals primarily with the responses to a questionnaire for municipalities in Lower Austria. The survey was addressed to responsible policy makers,asking for their assessment of the status quo of integration, the identification of challenges as well as needs for support at community level. It was part of the EQUAL project “different origin - common future”, which had policies at community level as one of its priorities (the aim was to develop guidelines for the integration of immigrants into the communes of Guntramsdorf, Hainburg, Krems, and Traismauer). In a further step, the results of the survey were linked with concrete data of the communes, concerning the percentage of immigrants, their national background, their activity rate, the political parties represented on the municipal council, the economic structure of the communes, etc.

Eventually the experience gathered with the EQUAL process and the data of the municipalities were analysed in an article, entitled “Integration as Community-Level Policy Field - Conditions of Development, Problems and Models” (see The article deals with the policy area of integration at community level and tries to highlight its relevance for future developments in communes and cities. Integration is understood as a two-way process but the focus is on efforts by the receiving society, which is a necessary precondition for the (active) integration of migrants. Therefore, activities undertaken by communes or municipalities to achieve equal opportunities, equality under law, and a new resource-oriented understanding of diversity are presented and analysed. Another aspect that is important for the development of integration policy are the perceptions of the majority populations (of migrants). Based on the data analysed and the experience gained during the process of developing integration guidelines, the authors assume that integration policies in communes and municipalities are becoming ever more important in the context of preventing exclusion and discrimination of migrants.


2006: Documentation of research on "Xenophobia in Austria"/ 3

Project Management: Mag.a Brigitte Halbmayr
Project Team: Mag.a Karin Bischof
Mag.a Brigitte Halbmayr
Mag.a Kerstin Lercher
Bernadette Goldberger (Trainee)
Financed by: Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Culture
Concluded in May 2006

The documentation of (non-published) research on “Xenophobia in Austria”/ 3 is a further update of a database which was set up in 1997 and was part of a research focal point entitled “Xenophobia - research, explanation, counter activities/counteractive measures”, put in place by the Federal Ministry of Science and Research. This database included around 500 research projects as well as master theses and/or dissertations submitted at Austrian universities since the beginning of the Second Republic. The first update in 2001 added 200 additional records/datasets. The update of May 2006, which covered research reports of the years 2001 to 2005, enlarged the database by another 465 records.

What is specific about this database of so-called grey literature, set up in Austria in the large field of xenophobia (almost 1200 entries), is that it is edited in compliance with qualitative criteria. This means that the projects in the database are categorised into subject areas, systematically arranged according to their relevance to the topic of xenophobia, and presented along 20 characteristics (depending on the information available). The presentations of reports with high reference to xenophobia - 324 in the latest update - are rounded off with abstracts. The abstract gives an overview of structure and content of the project report, explores the questions addressed and the methods applied, and briefly presents the main results.

The database enables the interested user to quickly find the studies s/he is looking for and, what is more, offers a multitude of information on form and content. Since 2001, the database has been accessible online at, which also provides instructions for the use of the database as well as mailing lists of research institutes and research financing institutions.


2006: Indicators of Integration. About the Sustainability of the Vienna Integration Policy

Project Management: Professor Dr. Anton Pelinka
Project Team: Mag.a Helga Amesberger
Mag.a Brigitte Halbmayr
Concluded in December 2000

According to scientific research as well as to public policy the integration of immigrants into the society of the immigration country is an essential precondition for a frictionless communal life. This demand is addressed to the majority population and to immigrants alike. It was the task of the study to develop indicators of integration which point out the possibilities and needs as well as the obstacles to and rejection of integration. The instrument developed should enable time series investigations and an assessment of the Vienna Integration Policy.

This requires, on the one hand, the identification of legal, socio-economic, cultural, and political conditions for integration that exist in the host society as well as of the ways in which they promote or inhibit integration. On the other hand, it requires the identification of the (positive and negative) influencing factors on the part of immigrants, arising from gender, age, duration of residence, education, etc.

We have developed a total of 67 indicators of integration. The majority of them can be subsumed under the socio-economic dimension and include indicators like education, employment, income, poverty, affluence, health, housing, family structure, etc. Indicators of participation in the host society, like social contacts and political participation, are complemented by cultural indicators. The latter include media, art, and religion. As regards the legal dimension of integration, we have summarised recent research work.

The discussion of the indicators follows an uniform scheme: to which area of integration does the indicator belong; what does the indicator measure; who has to perform the task of integration; how has the population to be differentiated; which groups have to be compared; and which data do we have for measuring integration in terms of a given indicator.

The diversity of indicators reveals that integration is a multi-dimensional policy area with partly interdependent indicators.


2005: The Privilege of Invisibility Racism With a Focus on Whiteness and the Culture of Dominance

Project Management:   Univ. Prof. Dr. Anton Pelinka
Project Team:   Mag. Dr. Helga Amesberger
  Mag. Dr. Brigitte Halbmayr
Financed by:   Oesterreichische Nationalbank, Jubiläumsfonds (no. 11160)
Concluded in   December 2005

The multidisciplinary field of Critical Whiteness Studies (CWS) in the USA and in German-speaking countries is the starting point of our doctoral thesis. The characteristics of CWS, which are rooted in the research field of racism, lie in the systematic consideration and reflection of whiteness as a system of privilege and dominance as well as in its shift of the focus from the racially discriminated to the discriminators. Against a background of the primarily US-American discourse having largely been accepted, we pose the question what significance could the approaches of CWS have on the research on racism in Austria. Furthermore, we consider whether the dominant-culture-approach, developed by Birgit Rommelspacher (1995), which has hardly been acknowledged to date, is not more adequate for analyzing racism and inequality in the Austrian context. The critical analysis of texts primarily written by social scientists focuses on the central terms of the CWS, on intersectionality, power and the shift of the perspective.

We start with an in-depth discussion of the central terms of CWS: race and whiteness. The (historical) processes of racialization in the USA reveal the ideological and social constructedness of race and whiteness, but also their contingency. With the discussion of the central terms we aim to unfold the epistemological basis and the meanings, particularly with regard to their application to an Austrian context. Another important question is whether terms and concepts of race and whiteness regenerate and perpetuate racial thinking.

In contrast to the USA in Europe the Fremde (stranger/alien) is at the center of the debate about racism (this is especially true for the German-speaking countries). A historical-structural analysis of racisms which have shaped European history, such as anti-Judaism, anti-Semitism, Orientalism and anti-Islamism or Anti-Gypsyism (antiziganismus), shows that assignments to races and definitions of Fremdheit do not completely overlap. Therefore, a discourse which refers solely to race and whiteness must fall short in an analysis of racisms.

To date, no comprehensive and systematic analysis of the critical whiteness discourse has been undertaken in the USA or in the German-speaking countries. The diverse concepts of whiteness, with regard to the theoretical approaches and topics, can be assigned four main strands: Whiteness as a system of privilege; whiteness as a system of dominance; whiteness as an identity; and whiteness as a location of structural advantage and dominance where dominance and oppression, and/or race privilege and discrimination, interact.

Finally, we compare the concepts of critical whiteness with the dominant-culture-approach which encompasses not only racism as a central system of oppression but also other asymmetrical power relationships like sexism, nationalism, homophobia or discrimination against persons with disabilities. The omnipresence and multidimensionality of power relations and their relative invisibility are fundamental for the development of dominance which in itself claims the power to define the ‘other’, and superiority.

According to our analysis both CWS and the dominant-culture-approach could open up new directions in the research on racisms in Austria. The most salient potential of CWS and the dominant-culture-approach lie in the rigorous shift of focus to the dominant groups and social structures, in making visible the dominant norms, beliefs, material structures and representations which reinforce the hegemony of whiteness, and its focus on privilege.


2019: Violence Protection Plan Close Social Environment of the State of Tyrol

Project Management: Dr. Birgitt Haller
Implementation: Dr. Birgitt Haller
Valeria Zenz MA
Funded by: Tyrolean State Government, Dept. Society and Labour
Completed: February 2020

Background of the commissioning of the IKF by the State of Tyrol was the resolution of the state parliament on October 5th, 2017, which invited the State Government to evaluate violence protection in Tyrol and to deduce measures for the improvement of the situation. This is why the study focuses on violence against women (with children) in the family, which means a narrower thematic approach and excluded topics such as cyber-bullying, traditional violence or care violence.

The examination is divided into five content-related segments. The description of the legal basis for violence protection in Tyrol and Austria, as well as Tyrol-related statistics, is followed by the evaluation of a survey of institutions active in violence protection. It follows an overview of victim-oriented work with perpetrators as well as a chapter on police and judiciary and an analysis of the activities of victim protection groups in Tyrolean hospitals. Eventually, recommendations for policy and administration are presented which are derived from the research findings.

2019: Family report: "Violence in the family"

Project Management: Dr. Birgitt Haller
Implementation: Dr. Birgitt Haller
Funded by: Federal Chancellery/Federal Ministry for Women, Family and Youth
Completed: January 2020

As for the report in 2009, Birgitt Haller wrote the chapter on "Violence in the family" for the family report which is published every ten years. During this period, legislation relevant to the protection of women and children against violence was amended several times.

At the international level, the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, better known as Istanbul Convention, which Austria ratified in 2013, represents a milestone in protection against violence. It applies to all victims of domestic violence, including children and men.

More than twenty years after the Act on the Protection of Violence in the Family came into force on May 1st, 1997, the collaboration among various actors who are responsible for violence protection works nationwide without any problems. Routines are well-attuned and particularly the cooperation between the police and intervention centres/violence protection centres. Weaknesses still exist concerning victims of violence with specific needs, be it physical disabilities, intellectual impairments or communication difficulties due to a lack of language competences. The protection of high-risk victims is a particular challenge.

While there are a large number of qualitative and quantitative studies on partner violence against women, this does not apply for other family members. In particular, data on violence against elder and old family members as well as relatives with disabilities and impairments are very few in Austria.

According to a representative survey carried out in 2010, the prevalence of psychological violence in children and adolescents up to the age of 16 is around 75 per cent for women and 73 per cent for men, while slightly fewer girls (73 per cent) and slightly more boys (74 per cent) experience physical violence. Sexual assault in all its forms affects more than every fourth woman (28 per cent) and twelve per cent of men as children or adolescents up to the age of 16 years, whereby girls fall victim mainly in the family and boys outside the family (see both in Austrian Institute for Family Research, 2011, Violence in the family and the immediate social environment, Vienna, pp. 230 and 222).

Concerning acts of violence of sons and daughters against their parents, the author refers to a current study of the IKF (see above: Haller and Zenz, 2019, Violence by sons and daughters against parents). Perpetrators are hardly adolescents but adults, victims are primarily mothers. What is striking is the very rare involvement of child and youth protection services, but also the high amount of mentally ill people and people with alcohol or drug abuse among the perpetrators.

The high number of femicides in 2018 and 2019, of which the overwhelming majority were relationship crimes, led to a discussion about "toxic masculinity" in Austria. The term which was shaped in the US in the 1990s refers to power relations in patriarchy, which constructed and upheld images of masculinity of power, emotional distance, competitive orientation and the like. This concept is behind violence against women and children, which is mainly exercised by men. Consequently, political and social necessities are clear: Not only the effective protection of (potential) victims is needed, but parallel to this, on the one hand, offers to work with perpetrators have to be extended, and on the other hand, new images of masculinity must not only be conceived but also practised.

2019: Violence of sons and daughters against their parents

Project Management: Dr. Birgitt Haller
Implementation: Dr. Birgitt Haller
Valeria Zenz MA
Petra Frischenschlager MSc (WU) Bakk. rer. soc. oec. BA
Funded by: Federal Chancellery/Federal Ministry for Women, Family and Youth
Completed: December 2019

The pilot study examined intergenerational violence from a scientific perspective for the first time. For this purpose, all files of the victim protection centres in the federal states of Burgenland (23 incidents) and Vorarlberg (19 incidents) from 2018 were statistically evaluated. A total of 62 persons (43 mothers and 19 fathers) were victimized by 47 sons and four daughters. As the basic data of the investigated regions correspond to other federal states it can be expected that the key results are transferable.

The files were analysed according to various questions. Sociodemographic data (age, sex, origin) of people at risk and of perpetrators were examined as well as family constellations, characteristics of the offense, and long-term consequences such as applications for interim injunctions or criminal prosecution.

Except for four self-notifiers in Vorarlberg, all clients came to violence protection centres after the imposition of a restraining order. However, a personal meeting with the victim protection centres took place only after 14 per cent of the restraining orders. The majority of the remaining victims either rejected the support offered or could not be reached.

In the "typical" constellation of intergenerational violence, the person at risk is female, in her mid-fifties, an Austrian citizen without migration background and lives with her son, in his mid-/late twenties and unemployed, together in one household. Often, those who threaten are drug addicts and suffer from mental illnesses.

The acts of violence against mothers or fathers show similarities; every fourth parent was exposed to physical violence. When weapons were used, mothers were affected more frequently; however, assaults against fathers were more brutal. The four daughters jeopardised their mothers, whereas sons threatened several persons at the same time, most notably both of their parents but also other relatives or other people present.

2018: Evaluation of victim-focused programs working with offenders

Project Management: Dr. Birgitt Haller
Implementation: Dr. Birgitt Haller
Justina Kaiser MA
Funded by: Federal Chancellery of Austria, Division for Women and Equality
Federal Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs, Health and Consumer Protection
Completed: December 2018

The study had two focuses: evaluation of the Vienna Anti-Violence Program (BKA, Women´s Section) and of another program which was not defined beforehand (Ministry of Social Affairs). Victim-focused work with offenders is characterized by a close case-related contact between the involved victim protection organisation and the organisation responsible for working with offenders – the integration of the victim is a means of supervising the perpetrator´s behaviour.

The evaluation of the "Vienna Model" examined whether and to what extent participation in an anti-violence training leads to a reduction of violence and dangerousness of men perpetrating intimate partner violence. The actual study (participants 2011-2018) followed the design of a former evaluation of the training (participants 1999-2010) which had been undertaken by a member of staff of the Men´s Counselling Centre Vienna which provides the training.

Men who are interested in participating in the training have to undergo a phase of psychological testing as not all of them qualify for group training. Their average age is 34 years, three out of four are Austrians, one third is married, and about 28 per cent are living alone. Only one out of two is working full-time, more than one thirds are unemployed, and men who have completed an apprenticeship are significantly overrepresented, whereas men who completed secondary school or a university degree are slightly underrepresented. Many of them have risk factors with regard to partner violence: One out of two are both often jealous and have been victimized in their childhood. Eight per cent are drunk every day and nearly half of them admit to becoming aggressive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. As a result of testing, 12 per cent showed an increased risk of relapse. 70 per cent of the men´s partners who were supported by the Vienna Intervention Centre against Violence estimated that their partners were dangerous.

The tested men were clustered: (i) those who only use non-serious violence (55 per cent), (ii) those who use more massive violence as well as threats and emotional violence (40 per cent), and (iii) those who use all forms of violence, are jealous and control their partners (5 per cent). This extremely dangerous group is too small to generalize findings on them, while for the two other groups, we are able to make informed statements.

Half of the men in cluster (i) participated voluntarily, the other half was referred by the justice system, whereas the majority in cluster (ii) participated voluntarily. In cluster (i), one out of three was not only violent against family members but also against others, in cluster (ii) more than every other man victimized others. Most men in cluster (ii) drink too much and too often, one out of five shows borderline symptoms, and a high proportion shows an increased risk of relapse.

The test results of the training participants were able to demonstrate that anti-violence trainings do reduce violence, at least to a certain extent. For instance, 15 per cent admitted that they were still using violence against their partners – before it had been twice that number.

In addition to the analysis of quantitative data, qualitative interviews were conducted: with six (former) partners of men who had completed the training and with two men who had participated successfully. The interviews showed that there are two types of participants: men who are committed and the others who take part because their partners insist and threaten to leave them otherwise. Two men did not commit and did not change their violent behavior substantially, and were left by their partners a few months after the training had ended. The others used to discuss with their partners what had happened in the training units and were in permanent exchange with their partners about lessons learned. They themselves and their partners were very satisfied with the training´s results.

Concerning the other federal states, in only one region victim-focused work with offenders has been practiced for a longer period. The Association for Men´s and Gender-related Issues in Styria has started the implementation of victim-focused work with offenders in 2014 and cooperates with the Women´s Shelter Graz and the Violence Protection Centre Styria. In Styria, the evaluation consisted of interviews with both experts and victims of intimate partner violence.

2018: Court reactions on Sexual Offences

Project Management: Dr. Birgitt Haller
Implementation: Dr. Birgitt Haller
Justina Kaiser MA
Funded by: Federal Chancellery of Austria, Division for Women and Equality
Completed: March 2018

The sample examined in the quantitative file analysis consisted of 50 court files from 2016 and from two Austrian regions. Most victims were girls and women (58), but there were also six boys/men among them. The study aimed to compare the actual situation and the situation in the 1990s when the only previous evaluation of court reactions regarding sexual offences had been undertaken (published in 1995). Since then, we were able to see some improvements. First this concerns the careful interaction with victims, especially with regard to questioning, and secondly, misogynist stereotypes leading to victim blaming and sometimes incomprehensible acquittals have become less frequent. Moreover, penalties have become stricter since then.

A few important findings will be highlighted here. First of all, the high proportion of non-nationals is unexpected. More than half of the accused have emigrated from non-EU countries, esp. from Turkey and Afghanistan. Evidently, these numbers reflect the immigration of refugees in 2015. Among the victims Austrian citizens are predominant (two third).

When focusing on the relationship between female victims and perpetrators, the largest groups of accused are acquaintances and strangers, with a share of one third each. Partners (9 per cent), men whom the victims had met within 24 hours before the crime was committed (11 per cent) and relatives (7 per cent) are much less represented. Men and boys on the other hand are mostly victimized by relatives (43 per cent) and acquaintances (29 per cent).

Coming back to female victims, many of them filed a complaint immediately after the attack or some time later (40 per cent each), but only in a few cases, third parties initiated prosecution. Even more striking is the fact that about 90 per cent of all victims testified against the perpetrator. This is surprising as public prosecutors and judges often explain the large share of dismissals and acquittals by the lack of support of prosecution by victims.

But there is a negative surprise as well with regard to the small number of victims who were accompanied to court by representatives of NGOs. The right to psychosocial and legal support was introduced in 2006, stipulating that especially victims of sexual offences should be supported. But some of the victims who did not benefit from this right had support by privately financed lawyers.

Two thirds of the cases ended with convictions (33), one third with acquittals (17), and two perpetrators were institutionalized as mentally abnormal offenders. Acquittals were mostly explained by contradictory statements of victim and perpetrator and by witness statements in favor of the accused.

We tried to analyse the effects of characteristics of either the perpetrator or the victim or the crime on the judgement by using statistical methods. Some results were statistically significant. E.g. 88 per cent of the accused who had a criminal record were sentenced. The relationship between victim and perpetrator also plays an important role: when differentiating between "known" and "unknown" perpetrators, in one out of four acquittals the perpetrator was a stranger, as well as in one out of two convictions. This is an effect of the cliché that rapes are committed by strangers in a park at night – and that partners do not commit sexual offences (although prevalence studies clearly contradict these perceptions).

Unsurprisingly, the number of pieces of evidence influences the court´s decision. In case of acquittals, 1.6 pieces of evidence were available on average, in case of convictions 2.6. The existence of both a medical certificate and photographs of injuries lead to a conviction in 100 per cent of the cases.

2018: "Uncertainty in the living environment "

Project Management: Dr. Birgitt Haller
Implementation: Dr. Helga Amesberger
Dr. Birgitt Haller
Justina Kaiser MA
Funded by: City of Vienna – Wiener Wohnen
Completed: February 2018

The aim of the study was an analysis of the mutual influence of everyday experiences of inhabitants of municipal housing in Vienna, especially in the living environment, and their perception of social developments and problems. In total, we conducted twenty detailed qualitative interviews with inhabitants of municipal housing in various Viennese districts.

By asking about the sense of security in the home, we collected information about the satisfaction with living conditions, conflicts in coexistence, and assessments of whether and how problems in Viennese municipal housing are caused by politics and political parties. The report therefore first addresses the living situations and subsequently analyses the evaluations of respondents regarding socio-political issues and political responsibilities.

Many of the interviewees are satisfied with their housing situation; in more concrete terms, with their own home, in which some have been living for more than forty years. But no one is proud to live in municipal housing, some emphasize that this had previously been different. According to our interviewees, everything has changed because of the influx of the socially disadvantaged, of alcoholics, and especially because of the opening of municipal housing to "foreigners". For 18 out of 20 interviewees, "the foreigners" are the main problem, and almost three quarters of them are convinced that foreigners receive preferential treatment over Austrians.

This distorted view of migrants in general, or of tenants with a migrant background, is influenced by the discourse of privilege and the allegedly unjustified claiming of social benefits by "foreigners", which is spearheaded by the current government and the (tabloid) media. Thus the majority of respondents declared themselves FPÖ voters, many of them formerly voted for the SPÖ.

The respondents saw the political responsibility for perceived injustices and abuses with the mayor and in the "Reds". However, in the field of urban planning some laid political responsibility at the door of the "Greens", or more particularly blamed the (female) vice mayor, a member of the Green Party.

2017: Victim protection in Viennese hospitals

Project Management: Dr. Birgitt Haller
Implementation: Dr. Helga Amesberger
Dr. Birgitt Haller
Justina Kaiser MA
Funded by: Vienna City Administration, Municipal Department 24, Health & Social Service
Completed: December 2017

The City of Vienna is preparing a report on victim protection in Viennese hospitals, which means for the main part the support of patients who have become victims of domestic violence. The IKF was assigned to conduct two focus group discussions: the first one with members of victim protection groups in ten Viennese hospitals, which focused on the problems they are confronted with and possible improvements; the other one with management representatives, which focused on structural problems.

The report on the work of victim protection groups will be presented in November 2018 at a conference in the context of "16 days against violence".

2017: Expert function for the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE)

EIGE signed on Birgitt Haller as an external expert for the study "Improving administrative data collection on intimate partner violence" (EIGE 2016/OPER/07), which focused on the improvement and harmonization of data collected by police and the justice system. EIGE is the European Union agency for the promotion of gender equality.

For detailed information, see:

2016: Young Women and Men Affected by Sexual Harassment during Professional Training and in the Workplace

Project Management: Dr. Birgitt Haller
Implementation: Dr. Helga Amesberger
Beate Gassner BA
Dr. Birgitt Haller
Funded by: Arbeiterkammer Wien (Chamber of Labour Vienna)
Arbeitsmarktservice Österreich (Public Employment Service Austria)
Completed: December 2016

The interviews with women and men between the ages of 17 and 25 focused on their experiences concerning sexual harassment, especially with regard to structural and personal difficulties of fighting back, confidants, and much needed measures of support. Interviews were not only conducted with women and men who were willing to discuss their experiences, but also with random people (who were contacted without previous information with regard to past harassment incidents). 31 women and 19 men were interviewed, partly in personal conversations, partly in groups. Additionally, interviews with experts from different professional fields were undertaken.

Two women (and none of the men) turned to the police in order to file a complaint; two underwent legal proceedings. Why do most victims keep sexual harassment a secret?

A major problem is the difficulty in identifying harassing behavior as such, since this constitutes a precondition for reaction. Usually, sexual harassment does not take place openly and unambiguously. Women interpret the friendly behavior of their male colleagues as collegial; flirting is socially acceptable and “unintentional” touches are not commented on. The longer the abusive behavior lasts, the more severe it gets – and the more difficult it is to bring to a halt. Moreover, the women do not want to be regarded as spoilsports. Young victims accept less severe forms of sexual harassment as a "normal" behavior, whereas older women better identify acts of harassment as they are more experienced.

With regard to young men, the taboo seems to be even stronger. In the course of the study, there was only one group meeting in which no participant reported ever witnessing sexual harassment, not even by a third party. Unsurprisingly, the meeting was held among (a group of) men.

In addition, while all interviewed women were victimized by men, the male discussants reported to be sexually harassed by both women and men, mostly by customers in their workplace.

The interviewees did not make acts of harassment which took place in the firm known, as they did not expect to find support within the firm. This assumption proved to be true in nearly all cases, except when the perpetrators were customers, not colleagues (such cases were less severe in comparison with sexual harassments by colleagues and senior employees). Only a few senior employees made clear to the staff that sexual harassment in the workplace was unacceptable. Some women confided in female colleagues who provided a sympathetic ear and the occasional comfort, but they very rarely offered support in taking action.

Most juveniles were not familiar with any counseling institutions which might provide them with support; the "Chamber of Labour" proved to be the most familiar one. In addition, most interviewees did not know whether a "work council" exists in the company or firm, and just a few interviewees mentioned having confidants in the training environment. Obviously, equal treatment laws and relevant institutions weren’t familiar to them as well.

Finally, victims of sexual harassment were almost exclusively supported by their private environment. They confided in their best friends or partners, and some confided in their parents. Openly discussing the harassment brought with it emotional relief and confirmation of victimization. This is important, as many young women dealt with concerns of contributing guilt and wondered whether they have provoked the harassment. Those concerns were not shared by the male victims.

Just one perpetrator had to face the consequences of his wrongful behavior; he was dismissed from his job following a court conviction. For the others, no sanctions were imposed, whereas several victims had to face both professional and/ or health issues resulting from the harassment.

On the social level, breaking the taboo of sexual harassment is a prerequisite for prevention. Moreover, it is important to strengthen equal treatment and anti-discrimination not only in the professional sphere but as a general principle. The fact that sexual harassment occurs more frequently in office parties or similar social events is an indicator that, at least in part, equal treatment is accepted as a rule in a professional context but it remains limited to the latter.

On a practical level it is important to support the self-empowerment of the staff members. Especially in the hospitality industry and other sectors where employees are more prone to be harassed staff members must be guided concerning potential responses to events of sexual harassment.

2016: Reinhold Melas and the Austrian Social Security

Implementation: Dr. Guenther Steiner
Funded by: Hauptverband der österreichischen Sozialversicherungsträger
(Main Association of Austrian Social Security Organisations), Vienna
Completed: July 2016

The project concerned the role and influence of the first CEO of the Main Association of Austrian Social Security Organizations, Reinhold Melas, on the Austrian social insurance system. Born in 1900, Melas started his career within social insurance institutions in 1927. Due to his outstanding legal skills, he rapidly gained a leading position. However, due to his social democratic convictions, Melas was degraded by the authoritarian corporate state ("Ständestaat") and the national socialist regime. Soon after the breakdown of the national socialist regime in April 1945, Melas was in the front line when the first umbrella organization of Austrian social insurance institutions, the predecessor of the Main Association, was founded. Melas was a key person in the reorganisation and the development of the social security system, in Austria, during the first 25 years following the Second World War.

Melas also highly contributed to the evolution of the Main Association in the first 25 years after the Second World War. Moreover, his role was outstanding in the creation of the General Social Insurance Act in 1955, initiating and formulating the draft which was used as the basis for the Act. Afterwards, Melas served as a leading figure in the development of the social insurance system, especially concerning the financing of the health care system and the adaptation of the pension scheme.

Consequently, Melas is described as one of the most influential persons for the Austrian social insurance system from 1945 to 1970, a time in which Austrian social insurance structures were shaped and rebuilt. Thus Melas has left a significant mark, still present in contemporary times.

2016: SNaP – Special Needs and Protection orders
         Police and judicial protection in cases of violence in close social relationships – the situation of women with special needs

Project Management: Dr. Birgitt Haller
Implementation:    Mag. Dr. Helga Amesberger
Dr. Birgitt Haller
Funded by:    European Commission/ Daphne III
Federal Ministry of Health and Women's Affairs
Completed: March 2016
Partners: CESIS – Centro De Estudos Para A Internvenção Social (PT)
DHPol – Deutsche Hochschule der Polizei (DE)
Safe Ireland (IE)
University of Bialystok (PL)
Zoom – Gesellschaft für prospektive Entwicklungen e.V. (DE)
 Downloads: National Report Austria

International Report

Policy Paper Austria

Persons who are physically and cognitively impaired, or mentally ill, very frequently suffer from physical, psychological and sexual abuse. The Daphne III research project investigated whether barring orders, which the Austrian police impose annually on more than 8,000 times due to violence in the family, are also effective for the aforementioned people. Safe zones, established by barring orders or interim injunctions should keep the offender at distance of the victim; consequently, the perpetrators are restricted from contacting the victim, if at all. However, this is only possible if the protected person is mentally fit to make decision and live independently – if such a person is dependent on the perpetrator, the described separation may be counterproductive and even lead to a worsening of the situation, e.g. living in a care-home.

In the study, "special needs" were not only revoked in cases of physical and mental impairments and included other disadvantages originating in legal or social conditions or from individual characteristics. For example, a migrant who speaks little or no German needs additional support (e.g. translation) to be able to describe the abuse she underwent. Such a victim would often find it difficult to obtain access to protection measures.

Austria is a role model concerning protection measures in cases of domestic abuse. The study has shown that the Protection against Violence Act also provides protection for victims with specific needs, provided that their individual needs are taken in consideration and the necessary support measures are provided.

As has been analysed in the National Research Report and the Policy Paper, the later addresses in particular politicians, police, judiciary, and victims’ protection and counselling centres, there is a need for improvement, particularly concerning the cooperation of all of the professional groups involved as well as in the documentation of impairments and regarding the access to victim protection. Fast, efficient and coordinated action between the police, victim protection and other support organizations is crucial. In order to guarantee an optimum victim protection for groups with specific needs, it is necessary to include impairments into the risk analysis, and to pass the relevant information on to victim protection institutions.

Effective victim protection means accessibility as well as appropriate processing of information, low-level counselling and facilitation of communication. This is true for both people with speech impairment and for non-German speakers. Since there is little awareness at all levels of society concerning the specific needs of disabled victims, appropriate campaigns and other awareness-raising measures should be implemented.

2015: INASC – Improving needs assessment and victim’s support in domestic violence related criminal proceedings

Project Management: Dr. Birgitt Haller
Implementation: Mag. Dr. Helga Amesberger
Dr. Birgitt Haller
Funded by: European Commission/ DG Criminal Justice via
   CESIS – Centro De Estudos Para A Internvenção Social, Lissabon
Partners: DHPol – Deutsche Hochschule der Polizei (DE)
Safe Ireland (IE)
Verwey-Jonker Instituut (NL)
Zoom – Gesellschaft für prospektive Entwicklungen e.V. (DE)
Completed: March 2016

The INASC project aims to improve our existing understanding of victims’ experiences of trajectories of DV cases in the course of criminal proceedings against perpetrators, and studies how these experiences relate to individual assessment mechanisms and outcomes. The comparative study focused on the main characteristics of victim support measures as well as on elements that influence victim support and protection on three different levels: i) at the entrance door (police officers receiving complaints and following up with criminal procedures); ii) at the inquiry stage (public prosecution); iii) in court (court procedures and final decisions).

The project’s methodological approach consisted of file analysis (in Austria: 70 files of the public prosecution office in Vienna and a small number of court files) as well as interviews and focus group discussions with representatives of the police, the legal system and victim protection organisations. In addition, ten victims of intimate partner violence were interviewed.

An Austria-specific output of the project is the practice-oriented guide Opferschutz umsetzen! Bedarfsorientierte Unterstützung der Opfer von Partnergewalt durch Polizei und Justiz (Victim protection now! Needs-based support of victims of intimate partner violence by the police and the legal system) for police officers, public prosecutors and judges, which aims to enhance the national implementation of the EU Victims Directive 2012/29. An annex provides a checklist for public prosecutors and judges in order to support their risk assessment concerning victims of violence.

2015: Restorative justice in cases of domestic violence. Best practice examples between increasing mutual understanding and awareness
         of specific protection needs

Project Management:  Dr. Birgitt Haller
Implementation:  Dr. Birgitt Haller
 Dr. Veronika Hofinger (IRKS)
Funded by:  European Commission/ DG Criminal Justice via
    Verwey-Jonker Instituut, Utrecht (NL)
 Austrian Federal Ministry of Education and Women’s Affairs
Partners:  European Public Law Organization EPLO (GR)
 Independent Academic Research Studies IARS (UK)
 LOKK – National Organisation of Women’s Shelters (DK)
 Ministry of Justice Finland
 European Forum for Restorative Justice EFRJ (BE)
Completed:  January 2016

The project assessed Restorative Justice (RJ) practices in the context of domestic violence in the participating countries, aiming to identify conditions under which RJ is both possible and useful. In all countries including Austria, the project focused on victim-offender mediation, in some additionally on conferencing. Its methodological approach included literature research, interviews with victims, offenders, practitioners and experts as well as focus groups with representatives of public prosecution offices, police, probation service and RJ practitioners.

One result of the project is a "practitioners’ guide" for RJ in cases of intimate partner violence (in English), which was presented in January 2016 at the final conference in Brussels. The guide is not country-specific and offers basic general information for practitioners across the EU. In addition, the Austrian team wrote a national guide for public prosecutors and judges to support them when referring cases to victim-offender mediation.

2015: "Der Sozialstaat ist die wichtigste Erfindung des zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts" (The social welfare state is the most important invention of
         the 20th century). The General Social Insurance Act 60 years on.

Implementation: Dr. Guenther Steiner
Funded by: Hauptverband der österreichischen Sozialversicherungsträger
(Main Association of Austrian Social Security Organisations), Vienna
Completed: November 2015

On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the coming into force of the General Social Insurance Act on January 1st, 1956 the author has submitted an overview of the genesis of this law and its development over the last 60 years.

Following a short theoretical chapter on social security and social insurance, the study focuses on two main issues: first the genesis of social security in Austria and the developments that led to the implementation of the General Social Security Act in September 1955 as well as the characteristics of this law; secondly it traces the development of the law based on its most important amendments.

This second section is structured into the general fields of organisation, health insurance, accident insurance and pension insurance, a subdivision that admittedly could not be strictly maintained throughout.

The aim of the work is an overview and analysis of the development and dynamics of the General Social Insurance Act against the background of political, economic and social changes, completed by conclusions and an extensive statistical part.

In its genesis, the General Social Insurance Act was an expression of what was politically possible regarding a reform of the social security system. In its 60 year history since it has been a seismograph of social and economic change. It altered the consciousness of social problems and helped maintain the social equilibrium. Precisely because it has to be amended often it is difficult to alter it fundamentally; amongst other reasons because it is politically and ideologically contested. The General Social Insurance Act is on the one hand very dynamic and at the same time a slow-moving machine. Even at the time of its introduction, its creators were aware of the fact that it was based on ideas that were seventy years old even then. It might be argued that temporary solutions do have a long tradition in Austria, and the General Social Insurance Act is an excellent example of this phenomenon. But it might also be argued that, at least so far, no better solution has been presented.

2015: TACOD – Promoting Open Data as a Tool to Detect and Prevent Corruption in Europe. Analysis of law, practice, public perception and
         impact in four EU countries

Implementation: Mathias Huter, Mag. (FH), MA
Funded by: European Commission/ ISEC within the framework programme
   "Prevention of and Fight against Crime" via RiSSC
Partners: Research Centre on Security and Crime – RiSSC (IT)
Transparency International Italia
Transparency International United Kingdom
Centre for the Study of Corruption and Transparency, Kellogg College of the University of Oxford
University of Nottingham
Blomeyer & Sanz (ES)
Completed: June 2015

The project studied the current use of publicly accessible information and published government data (Open Data), in particular by civil society actors and journalists, and its possible impact on the prevention and identification of corruption in four EU member states (Italy, the UK, Spain, and Austria).

In the individual countries, the following dimensions were analysed and compared:

  • Legal frameworks including freedom of information laws and provisions for a proactive publication of relevant administration information;
  • Extent and quality of data and information available in practice, as well as their relevance regarding the fight against and
    prevention of corruption;
  • Description of stakeholders using this information and their views on the effects and potential of Open Data regarding the
    reduction of corruption;
  • Conclusions and recommendations on how to strengthen the potential of Open Data in the field of anti-corruption measures
    and how to benefit from it.

The research report concluded that in Austria, publicly accessible information and Open Data de facto have no role in the prevention and identification of corruption so far. To change this, the report recommended a number of measures, amongst others the introduction of a strong freedom of information law and the automatic publication of information on public subsidies, procurement and privatisation. The report also emphasised that Austria so far has no national strategy regarding transparency in administration and Open Data. Data-based investigative journalism and civil society organisations in the field of anti-corruption are underdeveloped compared to international standards not only because access to relevant information is often lacking, but also because funding for non-profit actors is insufficient.

2014: Increasing the capacity of domestic workers of different origins to respond to sexual violence through community-based interventions

Project Management: Mag. Dr. Brigitte Halbmayr
Implementation: Mag. Dr. Brigitte Halbmayr
Mag. Gerlinde Schmid
Funded by: Daphne III/ European Commission via Technological Educational Institute of Crete
Austrian Federal Ministry of Education and Women’s Affairs
Austrian Federal Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Consumer Protection, Dep. V/3
Completed: December 2014

COMMUN-AID is a project funded by the European Commission under the DAPHNE III Programme (JUST/2011/DAP/AG/3272). It was carried out in five European countries (Greece, Cyprus, Austria, Slovenia and Sweden) with the involvement of experts from the Netherlands. The project aimed to increase the capacity of female migrant domestic workers to respond to sexual violence at work by developing and testing community-based interventions.

The project work was implemented in five modules:

Module 1 started with a literature review on sexual violence against domestic workers. In all partner countries interviews were conducted with at least 15 migrant domestic workers affected by sexual violence resp. sexual harassment. These semi-structured interviews were analyzed with reference to the most relevant research literature and resulted in a first intermediate report.

Module 2 consisted of mapping relevant laws, responsible ministries, and NGOs working in this field in all partner countries. This mapping was supplemented with information supplied by a range of experts (patient advocates, researchers, journalists etc.) with respect to relevant aspects (degree of affectedness by sexual violence/ harassment, forms of sexual violence/ harassment, specific dangers to the vulnerable group of migrant domestic workers, ways to support them etc.).

Module 3 was dedicated to the development of a website supporting domestic workers in case of sexual violence/harassment. The tool includes general information on sexual violence and country-specific information, provided in the national languages of the partner countries as well as at least two migrant languages relevant for the target group. In Austria, these languages are Russian, Slovakian and Romanian (in addition to German and English), see

The aim of module 4 was the development of a train-the-trainer programme. Content and structure of the training manual were designed in a Delphi-process with expert support. The manual was tested in a workshop with ten participants (domestic workers, NGO activists, additional experts) in each partner country.

The COMMUN-AID project had a duration of two years and achieved the following: It

  1. gained an understanding of women's experiences of sexual victimization and identified their needs in post-victimization support through rigorous qualitative research methods and approaches.

  2. developed a portfolio of community resources, allies, interventions and policies for sexually victimized migrant women using a mapping process and qualitative research involving key informants in all partner countries.

  3. developed a culturally and linguistically appropriate web tool for the support of sexually victimized female migrant domestic workers which is now available in 14 migrant languages (

  4. designed and pilot-tested a train-the-trainer programme for community education programmes, which aims at capacity development in the community by training community members in preventing and managing sexual victimization in domestic work.

  5. raised the awareness of all relevant stakeholders, such as policy makers, researchers, service providers, migrant domestic workers and the general public, regarding the problem of sexual violence against female migrant domestic workers not only through community training, but also by disseminating results via regional workshops, paper presentations at international conferences, newsletters, press releases and leaflets. All products see:

2014: "…aus Almosenempfängern anspruchsberechtigte Bürger zu machen." ("… to turn paupers into entitled citizens.")
         Anton Proksch in Austrian social security system

Project Management: Univ.-Prof. Dr. Anton Pelinka
Implementation: Dr. Guenther Steiner
Funded by: Hauptverband der österreichischen Sozialversicherungsträger
(Main Association of Austrian Social Security Organisations), Vienna
Completed: December 2014

The project aims to describe and analyse the role and influence of the former Secretary General of the Österreichischer Gewerkschaftsbund (Austrian Trade Union Federation) (from 1945 to 1956) and former Minister of Social Affairs (from 1956 to 1966) Anton Proksch on the development of the Austrian social insurance system.

His period of office as Minister of Social Affairs can be characterized as the "period after the Allgemeines Sozialversicherungsgesetz (General Social Insurance Act)," as the main issues of this time must be seen as results of this Act, passed in September 1955, or strictly speaking, the problems that arose or couldn’t be solved with the passing of this act: the adaptation of pensions dating from the period preceding the system of the Allgemeines Sozialversicherungsgesetz, which finally lasted until 1965, when the Pensionsanpassungsgesetz (Pension Adaptation Act) was passed; the question of funding the health insurance system or the inclusion of the self-employed and farmers into the health insurance and pension scheme system, which marks the transition of the social insurance system from being regarded as part of the labour question to the so-called welfare state. The improvement of benefits and the enlargement of the groups of insured individuals, which took place during the period of Minister Anton Proksch, was also due to a favourable economic development.

Anton Proksch came from a family of modest circumstances and was deeply rooted in the trade union movement from his early childhood. As its Secretary General, he played an important role in organizing the Österreichischer Gewerkschaftsbund and in leading it to its dominant role in Austrian social policy. Proksch was also one of the leading figures in negotiating the Allgemeines Sozialversicherungsgesetz. He owed his nomination to Minister of Social Affairs to his position in the trade union. As a minister, he emphasized the importance of the Gewerkschaftsbund for the social insurance system and was its energetic agent.

His conception of social insurance was inclusive. Therefore he urged the inclusion of self-employed and farmers into the social insurance system, collaborating with farmer’s representatives. Proksch proved especially determined in the adaptation of the pensions dating from before the Allgemeines Sozialversicherungsgesetz, which succeded only in stages until the Pensionsanpassungsgesetz was passed in 1965, and also in the problem of funding the health insurance system. Proksch opted for state contributions to the cost of the social insurance system for social-ethical reasons. The health service was also very important to him. He initiated and promoted an institute for the treatment of and research on addiction, which is now named after him.

Anton Proksch’s lasting service to the Austrian social insurance system is his important contribution to the extension of the social insurance system based on his inclusive concept of social insurance and his determination.

2013: Protection against Partner Violence in the Republic of Moldova

Project Management
and implementation:
Dr. Birgitt Haller
Financed by: OSCE
Concluded in: December 2013

Birgitt Haller was invited by the OSCE as an international expert to evaluate Moldova′s protection measures against domestic violence. The so-called Law 45, which had come into force in September 2008, is oriented along the Austrian anti-violence legislation: both by having introduced a judicial interim injunction and by the currently discussed instrument of a barring order by the police. The evaluation is based on 29 expert interviews: with representatives of victim protection agencies (mostly NGOs), of law enforcement, and of relevant ministries.

Moldova faces the same problems as Austria at the end of the 1990ies: reluctance of the police to carry out interim injunctions imposed by the courts, misogyny in the police force and at court, ignorance about violent relationships, lack of understanding that living without violence is a human right and that therefore also violence in intimate relationships needs to be punished.

Moreover, women′s shelters in Moldova only have two thirds of the number of beds the Council of Europe considers necessary, and, as after-care can only rarely be offered (not least because of the lack of affordable social housing), most women return to the perpetrators after a few months. The women′s situation is worsened by the extremely high unemployment rate in Moldova (more than forty per cent), but there are a few institutions that support the economic empowerment of their clients, for example by financing vocational training. As may be expected, these women separate from their violent partners more often.

In the north of Moldova, a center for perpetrators that offers anti-violence trainings has been established. But no clients are referred to the center; and trainees who come there voluntarily stay away after a few training units.

Although the government of Moldova is highly committed in fighting domestic violence, and although several international organizations support and finance necessary measures, a lot of efforts are still required.

2013: Social Insurance under the priority of the economy – Josef Resch and Austrian social insurance from 1918 to 1938

Project Management: Univ.-Prof. Dr. Anton Pelinka
Implementation: Dr. Guenther Steiner
Funded by: Hauptverband der österreichischen Sozialversicherungsträger
(Main Association of Austrian Social Security Organisations), Vienna
Completed: December 2013

This book deals with the Austrian social (insurance) policy of the interwar years guided by the person of Josef Resch, Social Services Undersecretary from 1918 to 1920, and over the period 1920 to 1938 Social Services Minister for more than ten years. The research is based on sources in the Austrian State Archives and other archives, protocols, newspaper reports and published sources, and not least the writings of Josef Resch.

It is rare that a political field at any period is ideologically determined to such an extent as is the case with social policy in Austria during the interwar years. For the Social Democrats, it was part of their identity. Conservatives and social policy are often associated with the words of Chancellor Ignaz Seipel who spoke of "removing the rubbish of the revolution". For both, social policy was an expression of the so-called "Austrian revolution".

Josef Resch came from a family of modest circumstances out of the Viennese small industries. Using the second-chance path of gaining university admission, he studied law and made himself an expert in social policy. Politically, he was moulded in the Catholic "Volksbund", which dominated the social policy of interwar years within the Christian Democratic party. Resch was rooted in Catholic social doctrine and was close to the Christian trade union, without being one of its representatives. When he became Social Services Undersecretary, he was made head of a subdivision of the "Arbeiter-Unfallversicherungsanstalt" (Worker′s accident insurance institute).

After the end of the coalition of Social Democrats and Christian Democrats in October 1920, Resch became Social Services Minister for the first time. However, his second period in this position, from 1924 to 1929, was the most important one. Then, the Christian Democrats implemented their concept of social policy for the middle classes and their ideas of an organisation of social insurance along professional groups. These measures were an expression of power politics, as the Christian Democrats wanted to prevent employees and farmers to turn to the Social Democrats, as well as to avoid that social insurance became the exclusive sphere of the Social Democrats. Finally, in this period laws on subjects already debated before World War I were passed.

To what extent the Christian Democrats′ social insurance policy was dominated by economic aspects is best demonstrated by the so-called "welfare clause", which prevented the implementation of the Arbeiterversicherungsgesetz (workers′ insurance act), which had been passed after massive pressure from the Social Democrats, as its implementation was bound to a certain level of welfare which was never reached until 1938.

For Josef Resch, too, the priority of the economy was one of his cardinal parameters of social insurance, although he was an pioneer in his appreciation of the importance of social insurance.

His third period as Minister from 1930 to 1933 was fully dominated by the economic crises and by attempts to reform the social insurance system without additionally burdening the economy. In 1931, he resigned from office for a few months after earning criticism for his reform efforts from all sides. He also stepped down from office in March 1933, as an expression of his refusal of the authoritarian course of Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuß, which led to the so-called corporative state.

Due to his sympathy for democracy and his understanding of social security, Resch was also appreciated by Social Democrats. Politically, he can be located on the left wing of the Christian Democrats, and therefore he was also nicknamed their "pink eminence". After he was very much involved in the central social insurance act of the so-called "Ständestaat" in 1935, he became minister for social affairs for the last time in 1936 under Chancellor Kurt Schuschnigg, a ministry overshadowed by his cancerous affliction. However, he continued in office until March 11th 1938.

What is left and what is important is Josef Resch′s modern understanding of social security. But this was overridden by his conception of economy as a precondition for social security and the economic situation of these days. Surely, it would have been easier for Resch to have been minister in the 1950ies or later.

2013: Sexual aggression in young men

Project Management
and implementation:
Dr. Birgitt Haller
Cooperation with: IFES Institute for empirical research GmbH, Vienna
Financed by: Federal Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs, and Consumers′ Protection
Concluded in: October 2013

The study aimed at providing Austrian data for the EU research project "Youth Sexual Aggression and Victimization – Y-SAV", and beyond this, it was intended to find empirical evidence for the thesis that migrant men are more sexually aggressive than autochthonous Austrians. (This thesis is based on the overrepresentation of migrants among men who are reported by the police because of being suspected of rape.)

302 men aged 18 to 25 and living in Vienna filled in a questionnaire in a face-to-face, but unobserved setting. The data were analyzed in two ways: on the one hand along ethnicity, on the other hand along the criterion of (not) having become a perpetrator until now: 22 per cent had already used sexual violence (and 20 per cent had become victimized by a woman).

Looking at ethnicity, Turkish migrants were overrepresented in total, but not in all aspects of various forms of violence.

What makes a huge difference between perpetrators and non-perpetrators are experiences in childhood and youth (disrespect, lack of love, witnessing physical violence in the family), and – even more importantly – experiences of sexual abuse.

The analyses of the questionnaires afforded insights into the relevance of various risk factors for sexual behavior, but nevertheless, many questions remain open – e.g. concerning the importance of (group-related) images of masculinity or differences in respond behavior. Answers to such questions can only be found by using qualitative research.

2013: Mind the Gap! Improving intervention in intimate partner violence against older women

Project Management: Dr. Birgitt Haller
Implementation: Mag. Dr. Helga Amesberger
Dr. Birgitt Haller
Mag. Sandra Messner (ZSW)
Financed by: Daphne III/ European Commission via Zoom –
Gesellschaft für prospektive Entwicklungen e.V., Göttingen
Federal Chancellery/Federal Minister for Women and Civil Service
Concluded in: February 2013
Downloads: National report Austria

International Summary

Manual for older women "When partnership becomes unbearable…"

Handbook for police intervention

Police training module


Based on the results of the project "Intimate Partner Violence against older Women" (IPVoW), which was completed in December 2010, "Mind the Gap!" aimed at improving intervention in intimate partner violence against older women. As in IPVoW, organisations from six European countries participated in the study, which was coordinated by ZOOM – Society for Prospective Developments: Institute of Conflict Research (Austria), German Police University and ZOOM (Germany), Academy of Sciences (Hungary), University of Białistok (Poland), CESIS – Centre for Studies for Social Intervention (Portugal) and University of East Anglia (UK).

The study focused on optimising police interventions. In Austria, 82 police case files were analysed which concerned older female victims of partner violence (60 years and older). The analysis showed that age-specific aspects of partner violence often are not perceived/ recognised by the police. Furthermore, these aspects/ factors complicate police interventions in cases of domestic violence – which are generally very complex – even more.

The research work resulted in praxis-oriented materials. On the one hand, a manual for police officers was produced ("Intimate partner violence against older women. Handbook for police interventions"). It offers information on (partner) violence and the realities of life of older victimized women. On this basis, the manual identifies major challenges for police work and aims to sensitize police officers for the most difficult scenarios. In the last section, a list of institutions specialised on the issue of violence against women provides helpful addresses for the intervening police officers, especially if it is deemed necessary to involve care agencies. Also, a training module for police officers was developed and tested in order to support concrete police work.

On the other hand, the project team wrote – in cooperation with Vienna-based women’s and violence protection organisations – a brochure ("When partnership becomes unbearable …") which specifically addresses older women and intends to encourage them to seek support. Finally, a poster with the same title was produced and made available to institutions for the protection against violence, social organisations and the police; it is intended for use in awareness-raising and prevention activities.

All research reports, brochures and other materials (in English and German) are available on the project website.

2012: Focus groups "Violence"

Project Management:  Dr. Birgitt Haller
Implementation:  Dr. Karin Bischof
Mag. Bianca Tone
Financed by:   24-Stunden Frauennotruf/ MA 57
Concluded in:   October 2012

The study aimed to gather information about the acceptance and the effects of the Vienna-based 24-hour emergency hotline for women. The criterion for the composition of the focus groups was the discussants’ age, ranging from girls to older women. The topics discussed were: understanding of violence; how is violence talked about and dealt with; which support measures and institutions are known, which ones are wanted. Knowing about the (age-dependent) attitudes and motivations of potential clients supports the 24-hour emergency hotline in adapting its programme and / or its public relations work where necessary.

2012: Friedrich Hillegeist in the Austrian Social Security System

Project Management: Univ.-Prof. Dr. Anton Pelinka
Implementation: Dr. Guenther Steiner
Funded by: Hauptverband der österreichischen Sozialversicherungsträger
(Main Association of Austrian Social Security Organisations), Vienna
Completed: November 2012

This project aims to describe and analyse the role and influence the former president of the Hauptverband der österreichischen Sozialversicherungsträger (Federation of Austrian social security institutions 1959 – 1968), chairman of the Pensionsversicherungsanstalt der Angestellten (employee’s pension insurance institute 1948 – 1968) and chairman of the Gewerkschaft der Privatangestellten (employee’s trade union 1945 – 1962) Friedrich Hillegeist had in rebuilding the Austrian social security system over the first two decades after World War II. With the reform plan for the pension scheme, named after him, which became a crucial element in rebuilding the social insurance system in the Allgemeines Sozialversicherungsgesetz (General Social Insurance Act), passed in 1955, Hillegeist gained a lasting place within the history of Austrian social security.

In methodical terms, the study is positioned at the interface of political science and contemporary history, based mainly on documents from the Pensionsversicherungsanstalt and the Hauptverband as well as journals, interviews with contemporary witnesses and publications.

After introductory chapters on the definition of the welfare state and social policy and the biography of Friedrich Hillegeist until 1945, the main chapters of the work deal with the rebuilding of the Angestelltenversicherungsanstalt (employee’s insurance institute) and the so-called "Hillegeist-Plan" – the reform plan for the pension scheme –, introduced in August 1950 and, connected with that, the rebuilding of an Austrian social security system as it was implemented by the Allgemeines Sozialversicherungsgesetz. Another main part is dedicated to Hillegeist’s Hauptverband presidency, during which his main task was the improvement of the pension scheme by adjusting pensions and including tradespersons and farmers into the health insurance system.

The development of the Austrian social security system after 1945 shows not only the influence of Hillegeist, especially on the pension scheme, but also the strong resistance and hostility he faced, also from within Trade Unions, in particular the Trade Union for metalworkers and miners, led by the Minister for Social Affairs Karl Maisel, and it is therefore an example for the disagreements on the social security system within the unified Federation of Trade Unions. Besides Hillegeist’s ideas, which were deeply influenced by the employees’ pension scheme before 1938, it also illustrates his steadfastness and argumentative persuasiveness due to which his ideas finally gained acceptance despite massive resistance.

For Hillegeist, social insurance had to be a substitute for income, so on the one hand he argued that the pension should not be much lower than the income, and on the other he was convinced that receiving a pension in addition to a full income meant pure luxury, which society cannot afford, and therefore he was in favour of the suspension of the pension, a view largely opposed.

Hillegeist’s career is an example of the difficulties a representative of the Trade Union of Employees had within the Federal Trade Union, and also of the snobbery between employees and workers in general. All his life, he suffered from not having gained the reputation and recognition he thought to deserve; he never became Minister of Social Affairs, because he was an employee. Even today, Friedrich Hillegeist is hardly known to the broader public, but he clearly is a guiding spirit for the pension scheme system, which is influenced by his ideas up to our days.

2011: "High-RiskVictims". Homicide in Relationships: Convictions 2008-2010

Implementation: Dr. Birgitt Haller
Financed by: Federal Chancellery/Federal Minister for Women and Civil Service
Concluded in: December 2011

For this report all convictions for (attempted) homicide/femicide from 2008 to 2010 have been analysed: 39 legal proceedings against male and eight legal proceedings against female perpetrators.

In 21 cases the court proceedings against men ended with convictions for (attempted) murder, in seven cases for manslaughter. In another seven cases the psychiatric expertise attested that the perpetrator had been mentally disturbed to an extent that required his internment. Three other men were found guilty of less severe offences, and a young man committed suicide before the court proceedings were closed.

What are the characteristics of the murders that were attempted or accomplished? The risk of becoming a victim of a femicide committed by a (former) partner is especially high,

  • if there has been a history of violence in this relationship;
  • if the woman wants to separate from her partner;
  • if the partner is jealous;
  • for migrants and/or for women living in binational relationships; and
  • for women whose partners are unemployed (or – although to a lesser extent – whose partners are (early) retirees), especially when the women are working.

A history of violence was on file in more than half of the court proceedings; most cases concerned entrenched violence, sometimes through decades. Only five perpetrators had been previously convicted for acts of violence. Eight women had been in contact with an intervention centre and/or a violence protection centre before the attack – this is only about one third of the women who had previously experienced partner violence. The small number of police interventions and interim injunctions prior to the attack shows that high-risk victims do not or hardly ever use the instruments provided by the Protection against Violence Act. In the case of police intervention, victims often tried to trivialize acts of violence and to protect their partners. It is well known that women living in violent relationships pursue such strategies, which is why police are required to intervene with caution.

When the attack occurred, the woman had in many cases left her partner or had at least announced that she wanted to separate. This fact underlines what is well known from studies on partner violence: the risk of massive violence is especially high in the phase of separation. More than two thirds of femicides were related to the actual or imagined end of a relationship where jealousy and possessive mentality played an important role.

Apart from the risk factors already mentioned, there are two more conspicuous features. On the one hand, almost one in five crimes was committed by men with attested serious mental abnormalities that lead to internment in an institution for mentally disturbed offenders. On the other hand, in four out of 39 cases the perpetrators had issued suicide threats to their partners or other persons. Since (for methodological reasons) no cases of femicide-suicide could be included in this study, one has to be aware of the fact that there are considerably more perpetrators who announced suicide and subsequently committed femicide-suicide.

18 women were killed, 21 survived.

In one of eight cases the court proceedings against women ended with a conviction for murder and in another case for negligent homicide under particularly dangerous circumstances. Five perpetrators were sentenced for (intentional) aggravated assault; for three of them the penalties were completely or partially suspended. In one case the woman was found legally insane.

The acts of violence committed by women occurred in entirely different contexts from those committed by men. Although caution should be exercised due to the small sample, it has become evident that in relationships with a history of violence the women’s partners had also been violent before. By contrast, this was something that rarely applied in the case of male perpetrators. Jealousy or her partner’s intention to separate did not lead to disputes or acts of violence. Other than male perpetrators for whom alcohol played a smaller role than expected, two thirds of the female offenders were under the influence of alcohol at the time of the attack.

In a typical case of partner violence committed by a woman, the offender will be a woman who has been living in a violent partnership with aggressions from both sides. He and she are drunk in their common apartment, his violent behaviour leads to a dispute, and he wants to leave the apartment. She is furious and attacks him with a kitchen knife. Afterwards she calls the police or the ambulance, shocked by the consequences of her action, which she did not previously consider.

The most striking difference between the acts of violence committed by women and those committed by men becomes apparent in the deeds’ consequences: Two out of eight victims of women were killed, whereas almost one out of two victims of male perpetrators died.

2011: Karl Maisel in Austrian Social Policy

Project Management: Univ.-Prof. Dr. Anton Pelinka
Implementation: Dr. Guenther Steiner
Funded by: Hauptverband der österreichischen Sozialversicherungsträger
(Main Association of Austrian Social Security Organisations), Vienna
Completed: December 2011

The study is dedicated to the role and influence of Karl Maisel, first Minister for Social Affairs of the Second Republic of Austria (1945–1956) and President of the Chamber of Labour and the Austrian Association of Chambers of Labour Arbeiterkammertag (1956–1964), in rebuilding social policy and social legislation after the Second World War, with social insurance as one of the key issues. In methodological terms the study is positioned at the interface of political science and contemporary history.

Maisel came from the "typical" Viennese working-class milieu and was from his youth deeply rooted in the trade union movement, in which he made his way during the interwar years. It was especially during the period of illegality of the workers’ movement, starting in 1934, that Maisel became a "man of the future" within the trade union movement. In 1939/40 he was imprisoned in the Buchenwald Concentration Camp where he demonstrated great personal courage and steadfastness.

After the breakdown of the Nazi regime, he became provisional chairman of the Metal Workers’ and Miners’ Union, the largest in terms of members within the newly founded Österreichischer Gewerkschaftsbund (Austrian Federation of Trade Unions). This was one of the major factors which in the eyes of the trade unions and the socialist party qualified him for the office of Minister for Social Affairs in the first freely elected government, led by Leopold Figl, in December 1945.

What was important for Maisel the Minister for Social Affairs, was important for Maisel the trade unionist. Hence he put great emphasis on the participation of the trade unions and of the workers’ movement as a whole in social policy making and the rebuilding of the democratic state; a works councils act (Betriebsrätegesetz) and a collective agreement act (Kollektivvertragsgesetz) were among his priority objectives – and so was an act re-establishing the social security institutions (Sozialversicherungs-Überleitungsgesetz – Social Security Transition Act).

Influenced by the British "Beveridge Plan", Maisel was a proponent of the so-called "national insurance" (Volksversicherung) and thus of a fundamental reform of the social insurance system in Austria. These plans failed owing to political resistance as well as to organisational circumstances and legislative difficulties. The pension scheme, which was the part of the social insurance system to be completely reformed, was mainly inspired by the ideas of Friedrich Hillegeist, which in great parts ran counter to Maisel’s ideas; in terms of content Maisel can therefore hardly be called the creator of the General Social Security Act (Allgemeines Sozialversicherungsgesetz ASVG) – the fundamental social insurance act of the Second Republic, passed in September 1955. However, due to his steadfastness and assertiveness he was undoubtedly one of the major driving forces – against strong resistance and major differences of opinion – behind the passing of the act. He himself referred to the ASVG as "the most important step towards a national pension scheme".

From Maisel’s point of view social policy was closely connected with economic policy. "Only a stable and growing economy can provide the means for social security benefits, and conversely, the better the economic situation the less need for them." Therefore Maisel was a strong driving force behind the so-called "Lohn-Preis-Abkommen" (Wage-Price-Agreements) and the setting up of the social partnership ("Sozialpartnerschaft") institutions. These were the areas in which Johann Böhm, the President of the Österreichischer Gewerkschaftsbund could rely on his full support. Deeply influenced by the interwar years, both Maisel and Böhm considered economic growth a principal source of social benefits and thus of the rising living standard of the working class and hence of social harmony and the stability of the democratic system.

Also as President of the Chamber of Labour Maisel laid much stress on economic development. He intended to open the Chamber to the public, which he saw as the "brain" and "guardian" of the achievements in the interests of blue and white-collar workers and as a seismograph for future development. This opening was symbolised by the new building of the Chamber in Vienna, opened in 1960. President Maisel was also a great champion of education and further education as a means to maintaining people’s chances in the labour market. The evening schools for engineering, arts and crafts (technisch-gewerbliche Abendschule) and the Anna-Boschek home for female trainees (Lehrmädchenheim) were opened during his presidency.

Karl Maisel may not belong to the very first rank of politicians figuring in the collective memory of how the Republic was rebuilt after 1945, but definitely to the second. Thanks to his drive and steadfastness he was one of the main architects of social policy in the Second Republic and thus one of the great personalities of Austrian politics of his time.

2010: Dimensions and patterns of corruption in Austria

Project Management
and Implementation:
DDr. Hubert Sickinger
Financed by: Federal Ministry of Justice
Concluded in: December 2010

The study aims at providing a multi-dimensional picture of the patterns of corruption in Austria, pursuing three basic lines of approach:

First of all, the records of criminal proceedings in corruption cases conducted by all the 16 regional courts were analysed. Corruption of public officials is covered by an in-depth analysis of all the records regarding cases that come under Sections 302, 304-308 (offences committed in public office [misuse of authority], bribery) of the Austrian Penal Code from 2002 to 2009. Private sector corruption is covered by a similar analysis of records relating to Sections 153, 153a (embezzlement, breach of trust) in 2009. Moreover, the study covers indictments and selected reports by the newly instated Central Public Prosecutor For Cases of Corruption. This part of the study, the structure of which reflects the public sector areas affected, provides a comprehensive overview of corruption crimes detected in Austria. On the other hand, only very few cases of "business-to-business-corruption" were found in the records investigated.

With a view to providing insight also into "undetected corruption", additional expert interviews were conducted with judges and public prosecutors, representatives of administrative control institutions at federal and regional level, journalists and external experts. The findings reveal that court records seem to provide a reliable picture of patterns of administrative corruption. Corruption in the health sector, political corruption, patterns of corruption connected with big cases of economic crime and danger zones in the field of lobbyism, on the other hand, are not reflected by court convictions. These topics as well as the broadly discussed question of the court system's efficiency in fighting corruption are treated in separate chapters.

The third main part of the study addresses corruption as reflected by public opinion polls. On the one hand, the study compiles results of already existing polls (carried out by the European Commission/Eurobarometer and by Transparency International/Global Corruption Barometer). Unfortunately, the barometer results for Austria appear to be warped by a few sampling errors; it follows that the results of these polls can at best provide a very rough picture of a topic in relation to which 1 to 4 per cent of the interviewees admitted to having paid bribes in the the course of the past year (and up to 14% responded that public officials might have expected them to pay a bribe). On the other hand, a separate poll (N= 500, telephone survey, conducted by IFES) was conducted among entrepreneurs and employees who are in charge of corporate contacts with public officials. Main topics of the questionnaire are instances of demands for payoffs by various public officials and of "business-to-business" corruption, but also more "indirect" patterns of corruption, such as sponsoring or party donations.

2010: The role of Johann Böhm in the Austrian social insurance system

Project Management: Univ.-Prof. Dr. Anton Pelinka
Project Implementation: Dr. Guenther Steiner
Financed by: Hauptverband der österreichischen Sozialversicherungsträger, Vienna
Concluded in: December 2010

This study examines the role and importance of Johann Böhm in developing the social insurance system in Austria. The focus of interest is on his position as president of the Hauptverband der österreichischen Sozialversicherungsträger (Federation of the Austrian Social Security Institutions) from 1947 to his death in 1959. In methodological terms the study is positioned at the interface of political science and contemporary history. The example of Böhm's career path – starting in 1913 – serves to illustrate the institutional development of the Austrian social insurance system from the late Habsburg Monarchy to its reconstruction after the Second World War and especially its enormous ideological significance, which left its marks on Böhm.

Böhm in his capacity as president of the Hauptverband cannot be explained without Böhm in his capacity as president of Österreichischer Gewerkschaftsbund (Austrian Trade Union Federation) , which he co-founded in 1945. Böhm had no operational position within the Hauptverband but it was for him to bring the political clout of the Gewerkschaftsbund to bear on the social insurance system from 1945 onwards. The interaction between the social insurance institutions and the social partners (representatives of employers and workers), on one hand, and of the political parties and the government, on the other hand, can be demonstrated in the light of Böhm's role. The committees of the social insurance institutions were constituted by the social partners. Key questions of legislation and thus of the organisation of social insurance system were decided by the heads of the political parties. Owing to his position as head of the Austrian Trade Union Federation, which implied a key position within the Socialist party, especially regarding social policy, Böhm's influence on these matters was considerable. The system was characterised by the accumulation of functions by one person as well as by the personal relations between its representatives. Both characteristics applied to Böhm.

Two central motives can be recognized as fundament for Johann Böhm's conception of social insurance: First, the fear of social riots as a consequence of political radicalisation and destabilisation which could lead to the breakdown of the democratic system. Second – and closely related to it – Böhm's conception of social insurance was rooted in the fear of the workers' economic decline. Böhm considered economic growth to be the basis of social achievements. Under the impression of the ideological fights about social policy during the First Republic, Böhm admittedly stressed the fact that party politics had to be kept out of social insurance institutions and considered social insurance to be an instrument designed to improve the living conditions of blue and white-collar workers – yet he believed that social insurance concerned society as a whole.

In the functions he held in the social insurance institutions as of 1913, Böhm recognised the cooperation between representatives of workers and employers as positive and fruitful. From 1945 onwards, he paved the way for cooperation and de-ideologisation. According to Arbeiterzeitung "He helped to democratise the class struggle". Böhm crucially influenced the rebuilding of the social insurance system and assigned to the newly founded Hauptverband its proper place among the social insurance institutions. Böhm's contribution was consequently of significance to the social insurance system in Austria as a whole.

2010: Intimate Partner Violence against Elderly Women – Austrian Country Report

Project Management: Dr. Birgitt Haller
Implementation: Mag. Dr. Helga Amesberger
Dr. Birgitt Haller
Financed by: European Commission via Deutsche Hochschule der Polizei
Federal Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Consumer Protection
Federal Chancellery/Federal Minister for Women and Civil Service
Concluded in: December 2010

This two-year research project had its sights on the situation of elderly women, who have become victims of violence in partnerships. In the course of 2009 and 2010, seven research institutions in six countries – including besides the Institute for Conflict Research, the Deutsche Hochschule der Polizei and Zoom – Gesellschaft für prospektive Entwicklungen e.V. in Germany, the University of Bialystok in Poland, the Academy of Sciences in Hungary, the Sheffield University in the UK, and the CESIS Institute in Portugal – embarked on pertinent research work.

Method mix was the methodological approach of choice: it combined literature analysis and the collection of existing data, questionnaire-based surveys of institutions that might be faced with the issue as well as guideline-based interviews with experts in diverse organisations and it involved female victims of partner violence.

The literature analysis and the interpretation of the available data revealed that in Austria data on partner violence against elderly women are, at best, fragmentary and, at worst, non-existent. On top of that, the few studies and statistics are in part inconsistent in terms of categorisation (e.g. when it comes to age groups or perpetrators), they are limited to individual regions, are explorative in character and/or fail to differentiate by sex or relationship with the perpetrator.

Most of the organisations (a total of 111) that participated in the questionnaire-based survey in the autumn of 2009 have made domestic violence their top priority, followed by violence against women and girls or women's psychosocial risk factors. Overall, about one half of the respondent institutions had to deal with partner violence against elderly women between 2006 and 2009 (case figures remaining largely unchanged). Owing to insufficient funding but also to the prevailing social conditions, the respondents are rather dissatisfied with the quality of their provision for elderly women who are victims of partner violence. In their experience, working with elderly people requires an amount of attention they are incapable of providing.

As regards partner violence in old age, the 30 experts interviewed hold two opposing positions. In their majority they observe a drop in physical and sexual violence concomitant with an unchanged or increasing level of mental and economic abuse and with invariably recurring physical assaults. On the other hand, there are those who detect an increase in violence, both in terms of intensity and frequency, which is supposed to be connected with the fact that (negative) character traits become more pronounced in old age. To this comes that men frequently see no more purpose in life once they retire, their social position changes and awareness of physical problems is heightened. Some men find this hard to cope with and resort to violence as a means of compensation.

Among the social characteristics shared by elderly female clients is, first and foremost, economic dependence on their partners and a rather low educational level. However, the interviews suggest that extra differentiation between the "younger elderly", the 60 to 70-year-olds, and the "old elderly" is called for when it comes to income and school education.

Older women exposed to partner violence rarely seek help, and if they do, what prompts them is severe physical violence. As a rule, the people belonging to their social milieu are aware of the violence they suffer, but frequently turn out to be "helpless helpers". According to the experts, doctors are the most important contact persons for victims of violence, but they, too, are in their majority criticised for ignorance and for deferring action far too long.

The ten women interviewed for this study had lived for decades in violent relationships before seeking professional help. Were it not for the police to report incidents of domestic violence to the violence prevention centres and for these centres to contact victims of violence, by far fewer women would receive support from victim protection services. What comes into play besides economic dependence, which is the prime motive for remaining in violent relationships, are worldviews and social standards for family life and the roles of women and men as well as a lack of perspective regarding the declining years. Finally the dependence of female victims is reported to be enhanced by age and the long duration of relationships; the interviews showed that age-induced infirmity only played a role as regarded the husbands.

All the women interviewed reported mental and physical violence, and most of them also financial violence. Three of those questioned had experienced sexual violence; another two intimated that they had suffered such violence. With one exception all the women interviewed stated that the frequency of assaults had continuously increased in the course of their married lives, and almost all of them had experienced growing violence after their partners' retirement.

The interviews with the victims of partner violence also revealed that very few doctors seriously attempted to intervene (in some cases even tending to prescribe psychotropic drugs for several years) and hesitated overlong before reporting bodily injuries detected when examining the women to the police.

In the main, the proposals made by the experts interviewed aim for fastest possible access to consultation and support facilities and for age-appropriate support concepts and programmes. Sensitising and training doctors and nursing staff in the early detection of violence is considered imperative. What is called for, in particular, is better cooperation between care providers; the introduction of case management, for example, would facilitate the effective and less expensive provision of support. There is also a lack of age-appropriate and affordable housing for both victims and perpetrators (and in particular for mentally ill perpetrators of violence). Since the empowerment of the victims of violence presupposes awareness of violence but also a sufficient amount of (economic) independence, the response in terms of consultation and/or care would have to be age-appropriate and commensurate to the living conditions and/or perceptions of older women.

The results of the research project can be looked up in six national reports (in English and in the national language) and in an (English) summary report, and can be accessed for downloading at

2010: Concomitant research on Quality Management of Victim Support Organisations

Project Team: Dr. Birgitt Haller
Dr. Evelyn Dawid
Financed by: Federal Ministry of Economy, Family and Youth via the Coordinator
for psychosocial and legal victim support
Concluded in: December 2010

The Coordinator for victim support organisations working with children and juveniles has requested these organisations to fill in a one-page questionnaire for each case closed since 2005. The project team analysed the reported cases and compared the results obtained within this six-year period.

2010: Cooperation between Child Care and Criminal Justice Agencies in Case of Sex Offences against Children

Project Team: Dr. Birgitt Haller
Mag. Dr. Evelyn Dawid
Financed by: European Commission
Federal Ministry of Health, Family and Youth
Concluded in: October 2010

Children who have become victims of sexual violence necessarily get into contact with various institutions: youth protection institutions, but also police, public prosecutors and lawyers; each one of them performing specific tasks and characterised by a different organisational structure, self-conception, interests and professional jargon. Nevertheless they need to cooperate effectively and act in harmony so as to ensure a child protection system that is as comprehensive and effective as possible.

With this in mind, the research project was aimed at designing a model concept for interdisciplinary cooperation on cases of sex offences against children, guided by the idea of setting up continuous, independent working alliances of individuals, which would at the very least include representatives of youth welfare offices and criminal justice authorities.

The project was run in Austria, Germany and Switzerland with the focus on youth welfare. In Austria, 61 questionnaires, returned by a total of 115 Youth Welfare Offices in the autumn of 2008, were input into the evaluation. As a rule, the first, general part of the questionnaire was exhaustively completed; the topics addressed in this part were contacts and cooperation with the criminal police and with criminal justice authorities, problems and conflicts encountered in the course of cooperation, and the like. The focus of the second part was on working parties dealing with sex offences: Not more than five completed questionnaires were returned, which is explained by the small number of working parties dealing with sex offences against children in Austria and by the reticence of youth welfare offices to come up with replies.

Experts were interviewed between November 2009 and May 2010: Eight interviews were conducted with members of established working parties dealing with the sexual abuse of children at district level (four working parties) or laender level (one) and involving criminal police officers. (In Austria, no data were forthcoming from working parties involving public prosecution officers or criminal judges.) In addition, three interviews were conducted with experts not participating in any cooperation alliance. None of the working parties analysed is exclusively concerned with sexual abuse of children; three are dealing with violence in general, one with violence against children.

In terms of content and assignments, the working parties are primarily tasked with improving the level of information and knowledge and secondly with networking in the sense of getting to know each other and staying in contact. Information campaigns addressed to peers and the interested broader public play a relatively subordinate role, case reviews at the time of the interview play no role at all. Germany, for instance, has different priorities when it comes to content: Though getting to know each other and keeping in contact do figure prominently, case reviews hold second place, followed by improving the level of information and knowledge of members and finally by preventive measures.

The final outcome of the national investigations and of a workshop of experts was a "base model" of interdisciplinary cooperation on cases of (sexual) violence against children – a base model that can be adjusted to the national requirements, which may differ considerably.

Details concerning the study and its results can be found here or in:

Evelyn Dawid, Jutta Elz & Birgitt Haller (ed.) (2010): Kooperation von öffentlicher Jugendhilfe und Strafjustiz bei Sexualdelikten gegen Kinder. Reihe Kriminologie und Praxis, Band 60, Wiesbaden: KrimZ

2010: Feasibility Study: National legislation on gender violence and violence against children

Country report: Dr. Birgitt Haller
Financed by: European Commission, Daphne III
Concluded in: June 2010

This broadly conceived study was designed to scrutinise the legislation pertaining to violence against women and children as well as to violence in the context of victims' sexual orientation in all the EU member states. Based on comparisons between the country-specific provisions, minimum legislative standards were identified for the EU zone and recommendations for the improvement of laws providing protection from violence which ought to become approved EU standard.

2010: Concomitant research on quality management of victim support organisations

Project Management: Dr. Birgitt Haller
Project Team: Dr. Birgitt Haller
Dr. Evelyn Dawid
Financed by: Federal Ministry of Economy, Family and Youth via the Coordinator for psychosocial and legal victim support
Concluded in: January 2010

The work order for concomitant research was twofold: On the one hand, the documentation of victim support organisations working with children and juveniles were analysed. In 2005, the organisations were requested to fill in a one-page questionnaire for each closed case so that it was possible to work out the annual differences between 2005 and 2008.

On the other hand, qualitative research was conducted on clients’ experiences during court trials. The study focused on conditions required for victims to cope with their experiences, so that victim support can be satisfactorily concluded. Sixteen case-studies provided by persons working in victim support organisations were analysed: What had worked well for the victim during the court trial, what had gone wrong, which factors had been supportive, emotionally draining or frightening? Many of the topics addressed have for years been subjects of discussion by practitioners: the importance of gentle questioning, the need to avoid encounters of victims and perpetrators, very long time periods between complaint and gentle questioning / charge / trial, as well as outcome of trial. As the importance of these problems has again been confirmed, the criminal justice system should respond to these findings with appropriate measures.

2009: Women’s Report 2010: Partner Violence against Women

Author: Dr. Birgitt Haller
Financed by: Federal Chancellery/ Federal Minister for Women’s Affairs and Civil Services
Concluded in October 2009

A detailed chapter on "Partner Violence against Women" was authored by Birgitt Haller for the Women’s Report 2010.


2009: Family Report 2009: Domestic Violence

Authors: Dr. Birgitt Haller
Dr. Heinrich Kraus
Financed by: Federal Ministry of Economics, Family and Youth
Concluded in: August 2009

The chapter on "domestic violence" was authored by Birgitt Haller and Heinrich Kraus, a member of the anti-violence-training staff at the Men’s Counselling Centre in Vienna.

5. Familienbericht 1999-2009 (Vol. 2)

2008: Evaluation of SAM 9

Project Management: Dr. Birgitt Haller
Project Team: Dr. Birgitt Haller
Dr. Evelyn Dawid
Mag. Kerstin Lercher
Financed by: Sucht- und Drogenkoordination Wien gemeinnützige GmbH
Concluded in: December 2008

SAM 9 started its activities at Julius-Tandler-Platz and its neighbourhood in mid-October 2007. SAM 9, which is financed by “Addiction und Drugs Coordination Vienna” (Sucht- und Drogenkoordination Wien), the District Council of “Alsergrund” and three local enterprises, is supposed to be an impartial point of contact for all users of the public area. The team’s main target group are socially disintegrated persons, mostly alcoholics and homeless people, who are offered support, e.g. being accompanied to welfare institutions or crisis intervention points. Another target group are people living in the area or passers-by who are informed about the situation of socially disintegrated persons in order to raise their tolerance towards them. If a potential conflict situation arises, the SAM team should is expected to intervene and calm it down.

In the course of the evaluation a high number of interviews were conducted: with the team members of SAM 9, with users of the public area, such as shop-keepers, passers-by, socially disintegrated persons, representatives of the funding bodies of SAM 9, with members of the district council, of the police, of the city administration as well as of social institutions in the neighbourhood.

The minimum target to be achieved by SAM 9 is the peaceful coexistence of the various users of the region. Necessary prerequisites are a high degree of popularity, a strong talent for cooperation and high acceptance of the team, at least in the case of disputes and of emergency, so that quick and successful interventions are possible. Already after less than one year the activities of SAM 9 produced visible results. Both people living in the neighbourhood and passers-by, but especially local shop-keepers were aware of the initiative, and the public and private institutions involved held a positive view of the cooperation. The socially disintegrated persons accept SAM 9 and the initiative’s counselling and conflict settlement activities, and the smaller number of complaints suggests that their behaviour is less conspicuous.

2008: Victim support for senior citizens – A pilot project in a Viennese district

Project Management: Dr. Birgitt Haller
Financed by: City of Vienna
Concluded in: January 2008

The "White Ring", the Austrian victim protection association, was in charge of a pilot project run in one of Vienna’s largest districts at the end of 2007. Elderly women who had become crime victims received on-the-spot psychological support in order to stabilise them as quickly as possible. If required, they were also offered support for a period of a few weeks. The intervention was aimed at helping them to rapidly regain their autonomy, since the fear of another assault may lead to social isolation as well as to illness or mental problems. The support was organised by the police officers who were responsible for the criminal complaints.

The evaluation of this pilot project was performed by the IKF and consisted of interviews with the crime victims that had been cared for by the intervention team and, on the other hand, of interviews with the caring psychologists and police officers.

As the pilot project lasted only four weeks, only a small number of victims received support. But there was evidence that the victims felt stabilised by the interventions and that it was especially important for them to have somebody with whom to talk about their harmful experiences. Most victims needed support not only on-the-spot, but for a longer period. The police are interested in setting up this kind of victim support because they often feel frustrated when they are unable to provide proper support to crime victims – and especially to elderly people.

2007: Supporting victims of violence during court proceedings

Project Team: Dr. Birgitt Haller
Mag. Veronika Hofinger (Institute for the Sociology of Law and Criminology)
Mag. Maria Pohn-Weidinger
Financed by: Federal Ministry of Justice
Concluded in May 2007

Since January 1st, 2006 ,victims of deliberate violence have been guaranteed by law both psychosocial and legal support during the police investigation and the trial of the perpetrator. Support is provided by victim support organisations which are contract partners of the Ministry of Justice and financed by it. This kind of support has been provided since 2000, but until 2006 there existed no legal claim to any assistance. As there is a EU-wide trend to strengthen victims’ rights, the right to support is now guaranteed by Criminal Procedure Law.

The research project focuses on experiences gathered with this type of support not only by victims and victim support organisations, but also by lawyers, the police, judges and state prosecutors as well as youth welfare authorities. The system of victim support has been successfully implemented within a short period of time and is in principle accepted by all professional groups concerned.

Nevertheless, evaluation showed up some problems. For example in connection with easy access to support for everybody throughout Austria. Since institutions are concentrated in bigger towns, people living in rural areas are disadvantaged. Other disadvantaged groups are migrants (because of language problems) as well as people who are mentally ill (because there are no specialised institutions for them). Best supported are victims of sexual violence, both children and adults, and also a high number of victims of domestic violence. Victims of other forms of crime are frequently unaware of their right to support.

Often police, judges and public prosecutors were criticised by victims and victim support organisations for their lack of insight into the situation of victims and for not treating them respectfully and sensitively. It seems that especially the public prosecutors do not want to co-operate with the support organisations and that they distrust them (in other words, they do not see what the support is good for).

Networking of all institutions involved is an essential precondition for effective victim support. Without it, the victims protection cannot be guaranteed. There are many initiatives both at the federal and at the national level but what is still needed, is a stronger will to co-operate with victim support organisations on the part of police, judges and prosecutors.

2006: Public funding of political parties – an instrument to curb political corruption?

Project Management: Univ.Prof. Dr. Ferdinand Karlhofer
Project Team: DDr. Hubert Sickinger
Financed by: Anniversary Fund of the Austrian National Bank (OeNB)
Project number 11142
Concluded in: August 2006

The research project explores the question, whether public funding of political parties is an effective means to mitigate political corruption. It also calls for additional rules and regulations, which might achieve the same effect.

Two introductory parts/sections of the research report deal with the problem of defining and measuring (political) corruption, and give an overview about comparative academic literature on political finance. Subsequently, the central question is investigated in detail in case studies on seven party democracies: the UK, Sweden, Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Austria. All these case studies deal with economically developed countries with an uninterrupted democratic tradition, at least since WW2. On the other hand, these countries were selected because of their diverse traditions in terms of party systems, different levels of membership, highly different levels of public party finance as well as more or less generous salaries for members of parliament and of national governments, and because of greatly differing levels of corruption.

Obviously, there is no direct connection between the levels of public party finance and political corruption. Public party finance can be a viable way of reducing cost pressure on parties and, as a result, of reducing their susceptibility to corruption. Equally important seem to be additional elements of regulating political finance, such as rules governing the transparency of donations to parties/politicians, and sufficiently staffed independent institutions, which provide external control of party balance sheets. Structural patterns of party systems and the systems of interest intermediation also play a decisive role. Political parties which are well organized (and are able to exert control over their officials and members of parliamentary assemblies), seem to be less corrupt than factionalized parties. Neo-corporatist systems of interest intermediation are less inclined towards political corruption: “buying” of political decisions (as a form of illegitimate interest intermediation) seems to be less important for entrepreneurs, because they have institutionalized access to public decision makers by way of their interest associations. For the same reason, “buying access” seems to be less effective because of the dominant role of strong business and labor associations pursuing highly aggregated interests.

2006: Costs of domestic violence in Austria

Project Management: Dr. Birgitt Haller
Project Team: Dr. Evelyn Dawid
Dr. Birgitt Haller
Univ.Prof. Dr. Gudrun Biffl (Consultant)
Financed by: Austrian Federal Ministry of Justice and
Austrian Federal Ministry of Social Security, Generations and Consumers’ Protection
Concluded in: June 2006

In Austria, the costs accruing from domestic violence – violence against women as well as against children and juveniles – amount to 78 million euro each year. The study has taken into account all the available figures, which are far from complete since statistics are missing in a number of fields. Gaps were filled with scientific estimate on the basis of the available figures. Costs were identified for police, judiciary, social welfare, employment, health and social institutions.

The full German text of the study can be downloaded here.

2006: Perspectives of monitoring and fighting corruption in the EU

Project Management: Univ. Prof. Dr. Anton Pelinka
Project Team: DDr. Hubert Sickinger
Financed by: Federal Ministry of the Interior
Concluded in: April 2006

The project report briefly examines the following topics:

  • The text gives an introduction into the main aims and institutional limitations or EU anti-corruption policies. It also discusses the question of measurement and international comparisons of levels of corruption, mainly with the focus of EU member states.
  • The second chapter describes comparative indices and surveys among entrepreneurs as well as public opinion polls concerning corruption;
  • Further chapters deal with international treaties and “soft law”-regulations against corruption, as well as with monitoring mechanisms of anti corruption-policies set up by the OECD and the Council of Europe/GRECO, respectively. It also describes the international patterns of regulation in the field of party and campaign finance as a key field of political corruption. Within the framework of the COE there exist detailed recommendations, which are to be monitored by GRECO.
  • The concluding chapter discusses options to complement already existing rankings and peer reviews by monitoring procedures on EU level. The aim of a future “EU anti corruption report” should not be a duplication of already existing compliance procedures, but should mobilize additional pressure on EU member states (as well as accession states) to stimulate their fight against corruption.

2002: The Austrian Legislation against Domestic Violence

Project Management: Dr. Birgitt Haller
Project Team: Mag. Helga Amesberger
Dr. Regina Dackweiler
Mag. Brigitte Halbmayr
Mag. Barbara Liegl
Concluded in: 1999, 2002

Brief summary of the key aspects of the legislation and the judiciary system relevant to the protection of women and children

Overview of the relevant legislation

In November 1996 the Austrian National Assembly passed the Act on Protection against Domestic Violence, which came into force as from 1st of May 1997; amendments became effective on January 1, 2000 and January 1, 2004. The Protection against Domestic Violence Act is not a single law, its provisions are laid down in the Civil Code, the Enforcement Code and the Security Police Act. The law provides the victim’s right to protection from an offender in his/her living environment and social surroundings by entitling the police to impose eviction and barring orders on perpetrators. The barring order can be extended if the person at risk applies to the Family Court for an interim injunction. Furthermore so-called “intervention centres” offering free counselling and support to victims of domestic violence were established.

For about one and a half years the need of legislation against stalking has been discussed in Austria and at present the Federal Ministry of Justice is working out a bill on this topic. The Federal Ministry of Justice has also announced that in spring 2005 it will present a bill providing for free psycho-social and legal support at Court for victims of violence.

Protection against Domestic Violence Act: key features

If a perpetrator threats or injures a person living in the same household, the police have to evict the perpetrator from the common home and its immediate surroundings and to bar him from re-entering it – even if he is the owner of the house or apartment. Such an order has to be imposed if a dangerous attack on life, health or freedom is imminent. The victim cannot influence the imposition of a barring order.

A barring order is valid for ten days (before the amendment in 2000, it was valid for only seven days) and it is controlled by the police during the first three days. The perpetrator has to hand over his keys to the police; if he wants to pick up some belongings, he has to inform the victim of his visit. When the perpetrator is found at home during the validity of the barring order, he is fined for this offence under the Administrative Criminal Law and can even be arrested if he refuses to leave (if the victim has allowed the offender to come back home, she can be fined, too).

In each of the nine Austrian provinces a so-called intervention centre has been established. These are non-governmental organisations, funded by the Federal Ministries of the Interior and of Social Affairs. Their main tasks are to take care of people subject to violence and to network with all the institutions involved in violence protection. The police have to notify the intervention centre without delay of every eviction and barring order providing also the victim’s personal data. The centre contacts the victims and offers support to them (development of crisis plans, safety programmes etc.).

After a barring order has been imposed, the victim can apply for an interim injunction at the Civil Court (Family Court) within ten days. If such an application is submitted, the barring order is automatically prolonged to 20 days. The Court who requires evidence of acts of violence is supposed to come to a decision within this period. Although after barring orders a high number of interim injunctions are allowed, there is no “guarantee” for the allowance.

The temporary injunction is valid for a maximum of three months, only if the victim has filed for a divorce (and in a few other special cases) it can be prolonged up to the divorce. The offender can not only be forbidden re-entry to his house, but he can also be banned from the immediate vicinity and from other defined areas (e.g. the route to the victim’s workplace, the workplace, the children’s school). Contact in any form can also be forbidden. If the offender violates the order forbidding contact or enters a protected area, the victim can apply for a fine for contempt of court.

Youth welfare authorities as guardians of minors can also apply for interim injunctions if a child is at risk. This applies both to cases of direct and indirect violence against the child, provided that the mother as the child’s statutory representative has not filed an application herself.

It is one of the key characteristics of the Protection against Domestic Violence Act that in case of violence the police has to react without considering the victim’s interests. Only in a second step, with regard to the interim injunction, the victim decides autonomously. This two-phase approach makes clear that the state feels responsible for safety in private lives and that it is aware of the problematic situation of victims who are involved in a violent relationship and who are put under pressure by the offender.

Most influential research studies (implementation of legislation; effectiveness of legislation with regard to the protection of women and children)

The author of this country report has elaborated two evaluation reports dealing with various aspects of the Protection against Domestic Violence Act. They were funded by the Ministry of the Interior.

  • Gewalt in der Familie. Eine Evaluierung der Umsetzung des österreichischen Gewaltschutzgesetzes, Vienna 1999 (Domestic Violence. An evaluation of the implementation of the Austrian Protection against Domestic Violence Act)

  • Folgestudie zur Evaluierung des Bundesgesetzes zum Schutz gegen Gewalt in der Familie, Vienna 2002 (Follow-up study for the evaluation of the Austrian Protection against Domestic Violence Act)

The main results of the first study are published (in German): Dearing, Albin/Haller, Birgitt (Hg.): Das österreichische Gewaltschutzgesetz, Wien 2000. An overview of both evaluations is published (in German): Dearing, Albin/Haller, Birgitt (Hg.): Schutz vor Gewalt in der Familie. Das österreichische Gewaltschutzgesetz, Wien 2005.

A) Domestic Violence. An evaluation of the implementation of the Austrian Protection against Domestic Violence Act (1999)

The first evaluation study was based on the analysis of police interventions and on interviews with representatives of institutions involved in the protection against violence (police, intervention centres, Civil Court, Penal Court, youth welfare) as well as with victims and perpetrators. The research was undertaken in eight Austrian regions.

Here some basic findings in short:

The frequency with which the Protection against Domestic Violence Act has been applied by Austria’s two security bodies varies considerably, the urban police being much more “active” than the so-called “gendarmerie” that intervenes in rural areas. In 1998 each of them imposed approximately 1.300 eviction and barring orders – but the police are responsible for approximately one third of the Austrian population, while the gendarmerie is in charge of two thirds. Since 2002 the gap has even widened: more than 60 percent of eviction and barring orders are imposed by the police.

From May 1997 until 2000, the total number of eviction and barring orders increased continuously; in 2001 it dropped slightly for the first time. Since 2002 numbers have been increasing again.

Table 1: Eviction and barring orders

Federal police directorates
(47,3 %)
(49,4 %)
(53,8 %)
(53,9 %)
(57,3 %)
(61,4 %)
(61,7 %)
(62,5 %)
Federal rural police (“gendarmerie”)
(52,7 %)
(50,6 %)
(46,2 %)
(46,1 %)
(42,7 %)
(38,6 %)
(38,3 %)
(37,5 %)
(100 %)
(100 %)
(100 %)
(100 %)
(100 %)
(100 %)
(100 %)
(100 %)

Source: internal statistics of the Ministry of the Interior.

Table 2: Eviction and barring orders- Annual rates of growth

Federal police directorates
+ 36,2 %
+ 25,3 %
+ 9,3 %
+ 4,0 %
+ 28,8 %
+ 6,5 %
+ 15,4 %
Federal rural police (“gendarmerie”)
+ 25,5 %
+ 5,1 %
+ 8,8 %
- 9,3 %
+ 8,5 %
+ 5,1 %
+ 11,8 %
+ 30,5 %
+ 15,1 %
+ 9,0 %
- 2,2 %
+ 20,1 %
+ 6,0 %
+ 14,0 %

Source: in-house calculation based on 1997 figures extrapolated to twelve months.

Before the Protection against Domestic Violence Act came into force, the instrument most frequently used to respond to domestic disputes was that of “dispute settlement”: the officers talked to the “conflicting parties”, seeking to “calm” and “appease” them and occasionally suggested to the woman to seek refuge, for instance in a women’s shelter. The idea behind the wish to “mediate” between victim and perpetrator was that violence in a personal relationship was regarded as a “private matter”, and therefore the state and its authorities were not supposed to interfere. The instrument of dispute settlement is still available to police officers, along with eviction and barring orders. Since 2000 dispute settlements have decreased continuously, but they are still more frequently used than eviction and barring orders. It is striking that dispute settlement is still the method of choice used by the rural police reacting to family conflicts because of their reluctance to “interfere” in family affairs.

Table 3: Eviction and barring orders vs. “dispute settlements”

ev./barr. orders
dispute settlemts

According to an analysis of more than 1.000 police files (in the years 1997-98), dispute settlement was used in 52 percent of all cases, eviction and barring orders in 43 percent of cases and a charge was made in 5 percent of cases (most of them because of bodily injuries) without any other intervention.

In the course of the first evaluation 25 victims and seven offenders were interviewed, some of the victims twice to get information on the sustainability of the police measures. Among the victims there was a big range of reactions. Some women opposed barring orders, because they wanted to stay together with their partners and thought this measure to be too strict and therefore inadequate. Others judged the barring order as very important for themselves in order to understand that they should separate from their partners. Some women told us that the perpetrators had been shocked by their own behaviour and that their relationship had changed for the better. When the offenders did not have to face a banning order, but only a dispute settlement, in some cases their partners were critical of this solution: In their view the police intervention had made their partners even stronger, as they realised that nobody would stop their aggressive behaviour.

Some of the offenders to whom we talked did not understand that they had done something wrong. Others felt sorry about their behaviour and knew that they had no change if they did not want to lose their partners.

Most of the victims were very satisfied with the behaviour of the police. We found it remarkable that mixed teams were judged as impartial whereas male officers seemed to be partial to women. Only in the rural areas women complained: the gendarmerie was often prejudiced against women. They did not believe what the women told them or blamed the women for their partners’ aggressions.

The women highly appreciated the intervention centres’ work as well as the support they got in the women’s shelters. It was important for them to get information on the legal situation as well as an emotional backing-up. Youth welfare authorities were not judged as positively as intervention centres – some interviewees said that they had not been correctly informed there, others did not feel strongly supported.

Also the work of youth welfare authorities, civil and criminal courts has been evaluated.

At least during the start-up phase, the attitude of the youth welfare offices vis-à-vis the Violence Protection Act was ambivalent. On the one hand, the new provisions were welcomed, because barring orders prevented children living in the common home of victim and offender of imminent danger and extended the available time frame for the reaction of the youth welfare offices. On the other hand, they hardly used the instrument of the interim injunction in the interests of children, who were directly or indirectly affected by violence. Such “interference” was occasionally refused with the argument that youth welfare offices are non-partisan institutions, never siding with either parent, but, on the contrary, seeking to strengthen and to preserve the family.

The initial trend displayed by the Family Courts throughout Austria towards issuing interim injunctions was soon curbed by the rulings of the Supreme Court, especially on the issue of unacceptability: Not every family dispute involving violence justified either an eviction order or an interim injunction. The fear that these rulings would result in fewer interim injunctions being issued turned out to be unfounded, however, and protection from violence is being very effectively provided by the civil judiciary.

Concerning the Criminal Courts, major shortcomings are still evident in their working sphere. A high percentage of proceedings instituted because of domestic violence are quickly dismissed, not only because victims of violence refuse to give evidence and to authorise criminal prosecution2, but also because the assault is not deemed punishable. Violence in the private sphere is still perceived as a privileged offence. Another aspect still neglected under formal penal law is the upgrading of victims’ rights.

The Protection from Violence Act unequivocally involves youth welfare authorities and the civil judiciary in ensuring the safety of persons subject to violence and assigns a clearly defined role to them. The result is (relatively) effective action in both areas. It is particularly difficult for youth welfare offices to deal with domestic violence because they recognise mothers subjected to violence as victims, while, at the same time, having to hold them responsible for their children. This may lead to situations in which women are additionally challenged instead of supported. A case in point would be the threat of the children being removed, should the woman re-admit the evicted partner to the home, which exposes the victim of violence to massive pressure from both the perpetrator and the youth welfare office.

On the contrary, the Protection from Violence Act does not make any reference to the role of the criminal judiciary. Therefore some criminal lawyers believe that the new legal provisions are none of their concern, and they fail to understand that the administration of criminal justice has an important role to play in interpreting and specifying these new legal provisions. A multi-institutional approach involving all the state actors and excluding any controversial message, is vital in enforcing comprehensive protection from violence.

Summarising the results of the evaluation study, we stated that the Protection against Domestic Violence Act was widely accepted both by the police and by victims. It was a main finding of the evaluation that the application of the Protection from Domestic Violence Act strongly depends on the persons involved in the intervention process, on their commitment and on their attitudes. This can be seen in the different reactions of police and rural gendarmerie, but also among the representatives of the courts and of youth welfare authorities. The higher the value of marriage and family is rated, the higher is the probability that domestic violence is ignored. As a consequence training for all the persons who are involved in the prevention of domestic violence was suggested: They have to become aware of the fact that domestic violence is wrong and their understanding of women in violent relationships has to be improved.

B) Follow-up study for the evaluation of the Austrian Protection against Domestic Violence Act (2002)

The follow-up evaluation concentrated on the following topics: the long-term effects of barring orders, the reaction of criminal law on domestic violence, the effects of training programmes for violent men as well as the situation of migrants and children.

We interviewed 22 women two thirds of whom had already participated in the first study. In all cases there had been a longer period (nine months up to three years) between the act of violence referred to and the interview.

More than half of the interviewees had divorced or separated from the partner, among the remaining women one half was in divorce proceedings (but not all of them felt sure that they really wanted to divorce), the other half was still living in a relationship with the perpetrator. Out of those who still lived with their partners only one interviewee stated that the relationship had changed to the better. The others reported that they had been violated again, but could not leave their partners: They did not feel strong enough for this step, were economically dependent on them or were too frightened.

Some women told us that the police had refused to intervene in repeated cases of violence. So this problem was not only encountered when the new legislation had come into force, but it still persists. The police officers told them that they judged another intervention to be useless as the women had not separated from the perpetrator after the previous one.

The reaction of some interviewees towards eviction and barring orders changed in the course of time. While in the beginning they had opposed these measures (esp. when they did not want to give up their partners, but their partners left them), they admitted in the follow-up interviews how helpful the new legislation had been. Meanwhile they had managed the separation emotionally and told us that without the help from the police they would never have decided to separate. This proves the importance of the police taking these victims serious. And moreover, the support of the intervention centres is essential for the managing of the separation process – this is why these centres are essential actors with regard to successful protection against violence.

In order to evaluate the reaction of criminal law on domestic violence we analysed the files of the State Prosecutor’s Offices in Vienna and Salzburg dealing with domestic violence dating from January to June 2001. There were several interesting findings: for example about half of the legal proceedings after bodily injuries were abated, partly because they were not regarded as punishable (argument: the victim had forgiven the deed and the couple had reconciled).

In January 2000, the Austrian Code of Criminal Procedure was amended introducing so-called diversion measures. These measures – including fines, time of probation and victim-offender mediation – replace formal criminal proceedings. About one third of the legal proceedings after bodily injuries ended with a diversion measure: victim-offender mediation being used more often in Salzburg than in Vienna, whereas in Vienna fines were imposed more frequently. Even legal specialists deny that fines might be useful in cases of domestic violence (they are neither supposed to make clear that violence is wrong nor to change something to the better) and the usefulness of victim-offender mediation is denied at least by the intervention centres (argument: it ignores power imbalances between victim and perpetrator, victims are overruled).

There is one diversion measure that seems the most appropriate reaction on domestic violence, namely the imposing of a time of probation on condition of the attendance of an anti-violence-training. This possibility is given in Vienna (see below) but at the time the evaluation was done is was only rarely made use of.

Tab. 4: Judicial reactions on complaints of bodily injuries (§§ 83, 84 Penal Code)*

110 (49,8 %)
39 (52,7 %)
diversion measures
75 (33,9 %)
26 (35,1 %)
59 (26,7 %)
23 (31,1 %)
8 (3,6 %)
1 (1,4 %)
time of probation
7 (3,2 %)
2 (2,7 %)
works of public utility
1 (0,5 %)
demands for a penalty
36 (16,3 %)
9 (12,2 %)
proceedings still ongoing
9 (4,1 %)
1 (1,4 %)
21 (9,5 %)
6 (8,1 %)
6 (2,7 %)
2 (2,7 %)
221 (100 %)
74 (100 %)

* § 83 = bodily injury, § 84 = aggravated assault

Table 5: Judicial reactions on complaints of dangerous threats (§ 107 Penal Code)

35 (62,5 %)
14 (66,7 %)
diversion measures
7 (12,5 %)
1 (4,8 %)
5 (8,9 %)
1 (4,8 %)
2 (3,6 %)
demands for a penalty
14 (25,0 %)
6 (28,6 %)
proceedings still ongoing
3 (5,4 %)
1 (4,8 %)
4 (7,1 %)
2 (9,5 %)
7 (12,5 %)
3 (14,3 %)
56 (100 %)
21 (100 %)

Judicial reactions differed slightly when a complaint had been combined with eviction and barring orders.

Table 6: Judicial reaction after eviction and barring orders (§§ 83, 84 and 107 Penal Code)

23 (59,0 %)
10 (55,6 %)
diversion measures
9 (23,1 %)
6 (33,3 %)
5 (12,8 %)
4 (22,2 %)
time of probation
2 (5,1 %)
1 (5,6 %)
2 (5,1 %)
1 (5,6 %)
demands for a penalty
7 (17,9 %)
2 (11,1 %)
proceedings still ongoing
2 (5,1 %)
1 (5,6 %)
3 (7,7 %)
2 (5,1 %)
1 (5,6 %)
39 (100 %)
18 (100 %)

Since 1999, the Federal Ministry of the Interior has promoted the “Training Programme for Men Designed to Put an End to Physical Violence in Relationships between Couples”, launched as a model project by the Men’s Counselling Centre of Vienna. The programme for perpetrators consists of three parts: the training of perpetrators, which is provided by the Counselling Centre, the support to the female partners by the intervention Centre, and the joint co-ordination of violence-preventing measures as well as the networking with other police, youth welfare and judiciary bodies. At the time of our evaluation only a small number of perpetrators was sent to the Counselling Centre by the State Prosecution or the Court, most of the participants attended the programme voluntarily, some others had been obliged by the youth welfare office to go there.

With regard to the situation of foreign women being victims of domestic violence it seems that the Protection against Domestic Violence Act does not offer an as efficient protection for them as for Austrians, especially for two reasons. Firstly, foreigners are often not interested in contacting the police because they fear the police and women often do not speak German well enough to contact authorities. So in many cases they seek refuge in women’s shelters (where migrants are over-represented) instead of calling the police. Secondly, many migrant women come to Austria in the course of the so-called “family reunification”. Their right of residence depends on the husbands’ right – in case of divorce or if the husband loses it (for ex. because of a conviction), the family members lose it, too. Furthermore, these women are not allowed to work during the first four years of their stay in Austria. Therefore they depend economically on their husbands and cannot separate from them. For years the intervention centres have been claiming a self-contained right of residence and of employment for foreign women because otherwise they have no chance of leaving a violent partner.

Last, but not least, our study dealt with the situation of children. If there are children living with the family, both the youth welfare authorities and the intervention centres are immediately notified by the police, once eviction and barring orders have been imposed. However, police reports focus primarily on the situation and condition of the endangered woman, largely ignoring that of the children. So, there is a “blind spot” as regards the situation of children. Just like other institutions, the youth welfare offices are confronted with the problem of being at times wrongly or incompletely informed by mothers who (justly) dread the reproach of having failed to ensure appropriate protection for the children, as well as the possible consequence of the children being removed from their care.

In our first study we reported that representatives of youth welfare authorities stressed their non-partisanship and did not want do side with either parent. At the time of our second evaluation, at least in Vienna, this attitude had manifestly changed: Domestic violence was also perceived as violence against children, which calls for intervention. Nevertheless, applications for interim injunctions are rarely filed, because this step is conditional on the mother’s consent and on her ability to protect the children. Between May 1997 and June 2002 only 31 such applications had been filed in all of Austria.

2018: "My mom was a resistance fighter."

Implementation: Mag. Dr. Helga Amesberger
Mag. Dr. Brigitte Halbmayr
Simon Clemens
Funded by: Vienna City Administration, Municipal Department 7, Cultural Affairs
Completed: August 2018

"100 Years of Democracy in Austria – 100 Years of the Republic in Vienna" were interrupted by a momentous rupture. The period of Austrofascism and National Socialism marks, on the one hand, the decline of a young democratic state and its eventual dissolution; on the other, it also stands for the struggle for a young democracy and against dictatorship. Our research project is located within the tension between macro-political developments and political self-understanding on an individual level (micro level).

The focus is on three women – Barbara (Hansi) Eibensteiner (Communist Youth Association), Gertrude Horn (Jewish Mixed-Breeders League) and Irma Trksak (Czech Resistance) – who committed to the preservation of democracy in the Austro-fascist era and were punished for this with concentration camp detention after the National Socialist takeover. Their resistance networks and their roles are analyzed in separate chapters.

These are introduced with a historical outline of events in Austria between 1938 and 1945, which clarifies the political framework for (a socialization for) resistance under National Socialism. Following the description of the resistance networks, we classify their activities against the background of a general assessment of resistance activities in Austria, with a particular focus on the achievements of women. In the following chapter, we explain the extent to which resistance and persecution determined the lives of these three women after their liberation from the concentration camp. On the basis of health, career, and family, we trace their respective life paths, discuss their later political commitment and ask about the women's understanding of democracy, as they were all active in communist resistance groups.

In the concluding chapter, we focus on the presence of the past in the families of the resistance fighters. In it, we explore the transmission of the experiences of resistance and persecution within the families, considering this process in the social and individual-biographical context. We asked next-generation descendants about the meaning of the statement "My mom was a resistance fighter." in their lives, for their attitudes, and values, and how the mother's resistance activities contributed to their politicization, their political self-understanding, and their understanding of democracy.

The project, funded by the Jubilee Fund of the City of Vienna within the framework of "100 Years of Democracy in Austria – 100 Years of the Republic in Vienna", deals with political self-understanding and resistance as an important prerequisite for the continued existence and development of democracy.

"My mom was a resistance fighter." will be published at Picus Verlag in autumn 2019.

2018: Update of the website ""

Project Management: Mag. Dr. Helga Amesberger
Implementation: Mag. Dr. Helga Amesberger
Mag. Dr. Brigitte Halbmayr
Mag. Elke Rajal
Funded by: Future Fund of the Republic of Austria
Vienna City Administration, Municipal Department 57, Vienna Women´s Affairs
Concluded in: June 2018

The Internet site offers the possibility to research female and male Austrian prisoners in the Ravensbrück concentration camp. In addition to biographical data, information about the reasons for persecution and regional specifics as well as background knowledge about the concentration camp and the conditions of survival are available. The website also provides information about the lives of these former inmates after imprisonment in the concentration camp. A search mask supports the search for persons or groups of people such as Roma and Sinti, Jews, politically persecuted persons or Carinthian Slovenes, to name just a few. Film portraits, documents, photos and question modules in a virtual "learning space" complete the offer, which is especially aimed at school-age children and young people.

For an interactive website like, which has been operating since spring 2013, it is vital that its contents are up-to-date and reflect the latest state of research. During the project period from 1 August 2016 to 30 June 2018, the following content updates were made:

  • The 31 portraits of women and men imprisoned in Ravensbrück were supplemented by three more comprehensive life stories: Barbara Eibensteiner, Cölestine Hübner and Vilma Steindling. For this purpose, the team not only carried out extensive archival research but also interviewed descendants of the three women. In addition, already existing life stories were updated.

  • In the "research" section, visitors of the website can download photos of the portrayed women as well as documents and letters. These come almost exclusively from private archives. In the course of the project, numerous other photos of "Ravensbrückerinnen", letters and documents were added.

  • The most comprehensive update in terms of time and content concerned the database of the Austrians imprisoned at Ravensbrück. This update concerns the heart of the website because in "research" area, it is possible to search for individuals, groups of persecuted persons, regional groups, etc. individually, according to one´s own interests. During the project period, numerous additions and corrections were made to around 350 datasets. In addition, we were able to identify a total of 71 more women as "Ravensbrück women" through archival research for the parallel research project on Austrians imprisoned in the Ravensbrück concentration camp as "asocial detainees".

Currently 1,949 out of 2,740 records on imprisoned Austrians in the women´s concentration camp of Ravensbrück are accessible online (exclusively those who have passed away, who were more than 100 years old in 2018, or who have consented to publication).

2017: "Asocial" during National Socialism and the continuities of discrimination in post-war Austria. The female inmates of the concentration           camps Ravensbrück and Uckermark

Project Management: Mag. Dr. Brigitte Halbmayr
Implementation: Mag. Dr. Helga Amesberger
Mag. Dr. Brigitte Halbmayr
Mag. Elke Rajal
Funded by: Anniversary Fund of the Austrian National Bank
National Fund of the Republic of Austria for Victims of National Socialism
Future Fund of the Republic of Austria
Concluded in: February 2018

With this project, we continued an emphasis of 20 years at the Institute of Conflict Research, its focus on women and National Socialist persecution. In this study, we addressed a rather neglected victim group: the women stigmatized as "asocial".

The research report focuses on three topics: Firstly, on the documentation and analysis of Austrian female inmates of two National Socialist concentration camps, Ravensbrück and Uckermark who were stigmatized as "asocial". Our starting point were 160 names of "asocials" in a database we have created and added to over the years, altogether 2,700 names of former Austrian Ravensbrück and Uckermark inmates. The analysis of the data concerning the "asocial" Austrian inmates is based on the comparison of the sum of "asocial" inmates as well as the sum of Austrian inmates. The referring institutions/services, the reasons of detention, the ways of detention, the detention conditions, the chances of surviving, or respectively the death rates were core criteria of analysis. The basis for the chapter about the youth concentration camp Uckermark was different. As there is still a lack of knowledge concerning this camp for girls and female adolescents we focused not only on the specific reasons of internment and the living and surviving conditions there, but also on the criminal-biological examinations conducted there, the camp structure, and the collaboration between the Ravensbrück and the nearby Uckermark camp.

Secondly, the report focusses on the background of the internment into concentration camps. Here, we explore questions like the following: Which behaviour, which attributions and accusations led to a transfer to a concentration camp? Who were the actors (individuals or institutions), and what was the procedure before the transfer? Which authority had an interest in a transfer to a concentration camp and how was it justified? In order to examine these questions, we also addressed cases of women who were transferred to so-called "work houses", "work education camps" or educational institutions. Another group we examined and compared were women who were sentenced to forced sterilisation; the attribution of being "asocial" was part of the justification of this forced medical intervention. On the example of the "Gau Wien" (Reich region Vienna) and "Gau Niederdonau" (Reich region Lower Danube) we examined whether there was a systematic in the escalation of persecution and which socio-political developments played a role in it. Using the example of the so-called "asocial commissions", which constituted an Austrian exception in the centralisation of authorities involved in the persecution of "asocial individuals", we examined the construction of "asociality" and the persecution of women stigmatized in this manner. We also took a closer look at the institutions of the "work houses" Am Steinhof, Klosterneuburg and Znaim. Transfers from the educational institution Gleink to the youth concentration camp Uckermark prompted us to examine this institution in the "Gau Oberdonau" (Reich region Upper Danube).

Thirdly, we examined the continuities of discrimination and marginalisation. Using the examples of post war trials against perpetrators and of requests for support according to the victim welfare act, we took a closer look at how post-war Austrian authorities dealt with women who had been persecuted as "asocial".

2017: Scientific research for the documentary "Love it was not"

Implementation: Mag. Dr. Brigitte Halbmayr
Funded by: Langbein & Partner Media GmbH & Co KG
Concluded in: February 2018

The documentary "Love it was not" by the Israeli director Maya Sarfaty is an Israeli-Austrian coproduction (Nir Sa´ar and Kurt Langbein). The film centres on the relationship between an SS man and a Jewish female inmate of Auschwitz-Birkenau. The SS man is the Austrian Franz Wunsch, who was born in 1922 in Drasenhofen and was a guard and work detail commander in "Canada", the warehouse in which all belongings the prisoners had brought with them were stored. There, he fell in love with the Slovakian Jew Helena Citrónová. Wunsch was known as a brutal beater, as moody and erratic, but also as someone who could be open to the pleas of inmates. He rescued Helena´s sister after the selection at the ramp in Auschwitz-Birkenau, but her children went into the gas chambers. Both sisters survived and later emigrated to Israel. After 1945, Helena refused any contact with Franz who tried to find her through the Red Cross International Tracing Service. However, she did follow an invitation in 1972 to give testimony in a trial against Franz Wunsch at the Regional Court for Criminal Matters in Vienna. Before that, a plea from Wunsch´s wife reached her, asking her to give testimony in her husband´s favour. But Helena also confirmed at court that Wunsch had done duty at the ramp of Auschwitz-Birkenau.

The main part of the research in Austria was the review and analysis of the court files – ten volumes – kept at the Vienna Municipal and Regional Archives. In this second Auschwitz trial of 1972, another Austrian, Otto Graf, SS Unterscharführer and part of the guard detail in Auschwitz-Birkenau like Wunsch, was accused. Both were accused of participating in the murder of a large number of people in the gas chambers of Auschwitz-Birkenau as well as of having murdered individual Jewish and Polish prisoners in person. Both were acquitted by the jury court. The main questions in reviewing the court material focused on the conduct of the case by the court, on Franz Wunsch´s defense strategy, and on the characterisations of the accused by the witnesses who were questioned. Another part of the research consisted in searching for former participants or observers of the court trial and asking them to give an interview for the documentary. In some cases, we managed to trace them, but their recollections of the trial were vague. At least the former public prosecutor and a jury member could be interviewed as Austrian participants of the trial.

Another focus was researching the media coverage. It is striking that there is not one radio or tv report about the trial. Austrian newspapers, too, showed little interest. Longer articles can only be found in foreign newspapers (from the US, Canada, and the Netherlands). For the media research, we mainly consulted Hermann Langbein´s estate at the Austrian State Archives, the Simon Wiesenthal Archives, and the sociological media documentation archive (SOWIDOK) of the Vienna Chamber of Labour.

The documentary also addresses the question how the past is present within the families. Therefore, Maya Sarfaty interviewed the children of the two Israeli sisters (both of them deceased), as well as the daughter of the late Franz Wunsch, and brought them together in Israel.

2014: Transcending Borders. Herbert Steiner (1923-2001)

Project Realization:   Mag. Dr. Brigitte Halbmayr
Funded by:   National Fund of the Republic of Austria for Victims of National Socialism
  Future Fund of the Republic of Austria
  Municipal Council of Vienna (dep. 7, Cultural Affairs)
  Hans and Vally Steiner
Concluded in:   December 2014

The name Herbert Steiner is closely linked to the founding of the Documentation Archive of Austrian Resistance (Dokumentationsarchiv des österreichischen Widerstandes – DÖW) in 1963. This was an important step for collecting and researching testimonies of the National-Socialist past, not only with respect to the resistance put up by Austrians, as the name of the institution suggests, but also with respect to their numerous participation in National-Socialist crimes. From the very beginning, the Documentation Archive was a non-party institution, which is reflected in its priorities as well as in the composition of its executive board and board of trustees.

The name Herbert Steiner is also closely linked with many other activities: the intense political and cultural work of "Young Austria", a youth organisation of Austrians who fled National Socialism to Great Britain – in 1941, Steiner became the Secretary of "Young Austria"; the promotion of the memory of Jura Soyfer, also going back to this period; a lifelong communist conviction, although this became fragile over the decades; an intense exchange with scientific communities studying the labour movements of Western and Eastern Europe; his enormous interest in the Austrian labour movement and the bourgeois revolution in 1848.

All this and much more is addressed in Herbert Steiner’s biography. Other topics include his childhood in the Alsergrund district of Vienna, his politicization, and his flight to England. Another focus of interest was Steiner’s family background: born in Vienna, with ancestors in Croatia, where his father came from, and in Austria as well as Hungary on his mother’s side. The biography finally details the painful efforts of Steiner and his relatives to escape from their National Socialist homeland, which denied Jews the right to live. All relatives were finally able to leave Austria in time – except Steiner’s parents, who both perished in the Holocaust.

Steiner returned from London to Austria in 1945 and worked in the Communist Party, to which he stayed loyal throughout his life while always seeking exchange and collaboration with representatives of other parties, except the extreme right.

He put much of his energy into the DÖW, which he directed for 20 years, and into the International Conference of Historians of the Labour Movement (now: International Conference of Labour and Social History), an institution he co-founded in 1964. In all his fields of interest, Steiner was well known and highly valued for his efficient organization, his talent for networking and his generosity in supporting colleagues or young academics.

To capture the complexity of Steiner’s personality, about thirty interviews were conducted, as Steiner himself did not leave many records of his personal experiences. Interview partners were people who still knew him from London exile, colleagues from his many fields of work, and those who were with him over his last years, among them his wife Rella, who died in July 2013, and his two children Vally and Hans. Further important sources were his estate, which is archived at the DÖW, as well his scientific publications and numerous editorships.

The biography was published in 2015 by Bibliothek der Provinz.

2013: The "Region of Consciousness" Mauthausen − Gusen − St. Georgen. Space of Commemoration and Learning

Project Management: PD Dr. Alfred Zauner
Implementation: PD Dr. Alfred Zauner
Mag. Dr. Brigitte Halbmayr
Dr. Paul Mahringer
Mag. Peter Menasse
Mag. Michael Patak
with the cooperation of Dr. Martina Handler and DI Lisa Purker (ÖGUT)
Financed by: Future Fund of the Republic of Austria
National Fund of the Republic of Austria for Victims of National Socialism
Federal Sate of Upper Austria
Federal Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture (bmukk), dept. IV/3
Concluded in: December 2013

The region of Mauthausen – Gusen – St. Georgen is marked by traces of the past − left by some of the cruellest National Socialist concentration camps. The project of the "region of consciousness" ("Bewusstseinsregion") picked up the idea/desire of the region's inhabitants to find a future-orientated and useful way of dealing with the burden of the National Socialist era. The inhabitants were invited to participate in the design of the future of their region. New formats of political participation were used to generate a consciousness which empowers people to develop a self-confident commitment to the region they live in, without keeping a marked distance to historical facts. The separation of past and present will be overcome by a forward-looking concept.

The core idea of the project "region of consciousness" was to develop a perspective for the future for the region Mauthausen − Gusen − St. Georgen which is backed by a majority of citizens and is nourished by their commitment and engagement.

The project activities were based on two pillars, both of which support active participation and contribution. The first pillar consisted of a series of creative workshops with experts from different disciplines, who relate to the region either through their professional background or their commitment to innovative processes (in the field of commemoration as well as political participation). In six focus groups (group 1: science, art and culture; group 2: regional development; group 3: economy; group 4: people born in the region but living abroad/in other regions of Austria/somewhere else; group 5: commemoration initiatives/victims' associations; group 6: reflexion) the invited individuals developed ideas for the future development of the region.

The second pillar was a so-called "forum of participation", a concept developed in the United States, which has been practised in Vorarlberg for a number of years: the wisdom councils, initiated by Jim Rough, in German called "BürgerInnenräte" [in this project named "Ideenwerkstätten"]. In the three wisdom councils, a dozen citizens of the three villages, chosen by random sample, came together for a day and a half. Under professional guidance (two experts from ÖGUT), and using the method of "dynamic facilitation" (which is an indispensable component of the wisdom council format) the inhabitants of the regions exchanged opinions about the current situation of their living environment. Anger, desires, disappointment, expectations − all forms of emotions and relations to their area of life were meant to be expressed. Listening, being listened to, and developing ideas through exchange and dialogue were the core factors of the three weekends. A "market of ideas" following the wisdom councils was used to match the results of the three weekends. On 26 April 2013 the ideas of the wisdom councils and focus groups were presented to the public at the "Donausaal Mauthausen".

In the final report to this project phase, which was dedicated to the development of ideas for the future of the region, the manifold ideas and measures for realising them were presented under the following thematic areas: expanded commemoration; contemporary and contextual learning (through the history of the region); continued use/re-using of historical remains; encounter, dialogue and communication; self-confident region; networking and new structures. A selection of ideas is available for public access at the project website

In autumn 2013, the question of realisation of the ideas became ever more urgent. On 4 December 2013, the mayors of the three municipalities met for one day with representatives of the wisdom councils, the focus groups and some newly invited experts to come to an agreement about focusing on the phase of implementation and realization of ideas. The ultimate objective of these consultations was clearly announced in the invitation to this session: "What do we want to have achieved within three years? What is the way to this goal?"

Three work groups drafted their vision for the situation of the region three years ahead: "The visitors who come into our region to commemorate leave us with new ideas and perspectives (and not only full of consternation and distress)"; the region will be a model region with respect to a contemporary topic (like: democracy, diversity, poverty, political education); the region should be known because of its exemplary integration policy with respect to international and intergenerational co-existence.

The participants emphasised the importance of immediate implementation and prioritised the following activities: continuation of the wisdom councils; implementation of a coordination office; establishment of an implementation organization ("Trägerorganisation"), based on an association of the three municipalities Mauthausen, Langenstein and St. Georgen ("Gemeindeverband"). Several participants demanded an international youth meeting center and an immediate start of its conception and implementation.

2013: Collection of Names of Austrian Inmates of the Ravensbrück Concentration Camp – Analysis of the Data Bank and Creation of an Interactive Website

Project Management: Mag. Dr. Helga Amesberger
Implementation: Mag. Dr. Helga Amesberger
Mag. Dr. Brigitte Halbmayr
Mag. Gerlinde Schmid
Financed by: Anniversary Fund of the Austrian National Bank
National Fund of the Republic of Austria for Victims of National Socialism
Future Fund of the Republic of Austria
Federal Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs, and Consumers' Protection
Chamber of Labour, Vienna
Federal Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture (bmukk),
     dept. IA/2 and dept. IT, Gender
Federal Sates of Burgenland, Carinthia, Salzburg, the Tyrol,
     Vorarlberg and Vienna (MA 7 and MA 57)
Concluded in: June 2013

Since 2005, the Institute of Conflict Research has collected the names of former Austrian inmates of the Ravensbrück concentration camp. Through extensive research in Austrian and foreign archives, we were able to gather the names of 2,700 women and men as well as other important information regarding their lives before, during and – if they survived – after National Socialist persecution.

This project aimed at a quantitative and qualitative analysis of the data collected, as well as to make this information and analysis accessible to the public. With regard to the latter, it was important to create a website to be used in schools and which allows independent research. Design and programming were done in cooperation with students of the HTL Donaustadt (under the responsibility of DI Ingrid Schreiber). A board of experts in the fields of media, didactics, pedagogics and history accompanied the development of the website. In addition to that, the proto-version of the website was tested by pupils and teachers.

The website is structured along three main domains: biographies – themes – research. Under the section "biographies", one can find 30 portraits of wo/men with different social backgrounds, who were persecuted for different reasons, and who were imprisoned in the Ravensbrück concentration camp (including photographs and documents). The domain "themes" provides concise background information about the Ravensbrück concentration camp in general, the Austrian inmates, everyday life in Ravensbrück as well as life after liberation. In these short texts we always refer to the testimonies of survivors. Under the section "research", the user can do her/his own queries about Austrian Ravensbrück inmates using various criteria; s/he can watch videos and documentaries about Austrian survivors. In the so-called "Lernraum" – a virtual classroom – we present suggestions for further questions for teachers, regarding the various topics addressed in the different sections of the website.

2012: Former Concentration Camp Gusen/St. Georgen, Memorials and Location Development

Implementation: Dr. Brigitte Halbmayr
Financed by: Bundesdenkmalamt
Completed: May 2012

Austria's Bundesdenkmalamt – the national authority for the preservation of historical monuments – announced measures to preserve the few objects that still exist of the former National Socialist Gusen Concentration Camp. This caused much commotion among the local population. Therefore a group of experts of different disciplines and representatives of victims' associations met with the Bundesdenkmalamt ("round table") to discuss which steps have to be taken to generate more understanding for these necessary measures/ activities. In consequence, a project was designed that is based on political participation and common deliberation in finding new forms of commemorating and learning about the past.

The Institute of Conflict Research was involved in the first project part as a professional advisor on dealing with the Nazi past and as a collaborator in the project management. The aim of the project team (lead: Dr. Bernd Euler, Bundesdenkmalamt, and PD Dr. Alfred Zauner) was to plan a process of participation and mediation. This process involves the local population in order to find sustainable forms of remembrance and commemoration – as the people themselves are part of the deliberation and creativity process.

To read about the purposes of the project, please see

2012: History Book Central Europe

Project Management:   Univ.-Prof. Dr. Anton Pelinka
Implementation:   Mag. Dr. Karin Bischof
  Mag. Walter J. Fend
  Univ.-Prof. Dr. Anton Pelinka
  MMag. Dr. Karin Stoegner
  with contributions by Mag. Dr. Brigitte Halbmayr
Financed by:   Federal Ministry of Science and Research
Completed:   August 2012

The comparative study "History Book Central Europe" analyses historical events and developments in the course of the 20th century up to the present day that have crucially impacted national narratives and hence the identities of the respective countries. Likewise, the study illustrates the development of European, respectively Central-European concepts during four defined historical periods:

  • Fin de Siècle until the end of the World War I
  • The interwar period and World War II
  • The post-war period up to the end of the Cold War
  • The period until the present day

The foci – national narratives and the issue of Europe – are dealt with in close conjunction. We traced specific aspects of national narratives and examined whether and to what extent the narratives or their elements were rewritten, have disappeared or have been replaced or supplemented by new features. This means that the focus primarily lies on disruptions, differences and contradictions with regard to the narratives. For example crucial aspects of analysis concern internal break lines and antagonisms concerning narratives, transnational patterns, and the inclusion or exclusion of religious, ethnic and linguistic minorities.

2011: Consistent and determined throughout his life: Hermann Langbein (1912-1995). A political biography

Project Management:   Univ.-Prof. Dr. Anton Pelinka
Univ.-Prof. Dr. Erika Thurner
Implementation:   Mag. Dr. Brigitte Halbmayr
Financed by:   Federal Ministry of Science and Research
Future Fund of the Republic of Austria
National Fund of the Republic of Austria
Concluded in:   December 2011

Throughout his life, Hermann Langbein, born in Vienna on May 18, 1912, was a highly politically-minded and single-minded man.

Soon after finishing school he became a member of the Communist party in Austria, which was prohibited some months later. He was active in the political underground during the Austrian fascist period. In spring 1938, he had to leave the country and fled via Paris to Spain, where he joined the Interbrigades and fought for democracy. The defeat of the Spanish Republic led to Langbein’s incarceration in the French internment camps of St. Cyprien, Gurs and Le Vernet; then he was transported to Dachau, Auschwitz and Neuengamme. Imprisonment did not keep him from active resistance; in Auschwitz he was even part of the leading team of the "Kampfgruppe Auschwitz".

Langbein’s future life was shaped in particular by his two years of imprisonment in Auschwitz (August 1942 to August 1944). Engaged as clerk of the Chief SS doctor, Eduard Wirths, he was well informed about the atrocities committed at the camp, including the process of mass murder in Auschwitz-Birkenau. This knowledge he put to use in the interests of the prisoners and to counter the lethal purposes of the SS-men. Because of this commitment he was later recognised as "Righteous among the Nations" – a title awarded by Yad Vashem, Israel, to non-Jews who saved the lives of Jews during the National Socialist period.

After his safe return to Vienna in Mai 1945, and after more than a decade as a communist official, he dedicated his life to the educational and political enlightenment about the Holocaust until his death in 1995. He was a witness in and he documented many court trials against NS perpetrators and he gave countless lectures at schools. His books attracted a great deal of attention, were highly praised and became standard works, "People in Auschwitz" being one of his most famous books.

A major source for this biography were Langbein’s literary remains – more than 300 cardboard boxes – which showcase his enormous assiduity and accuracy.

His work in all the fields he was engaged in – and which is discussed and acknowledged in this biography – was characterised by a high degree of correctness, consistency and stringency. To many people Langbein served as a role model of sincerity and responsibility. He was an important representative of anti-fascist, democratic Austria and a pioneer in the field of Holocaust education.

The book was published in April 2012 by Braumüller, Vienna.

2011: Registration by name: The Austrian prisoners at the Ravensbrück concentration camp – quantitative analysis of the database

Project Management:   Mag. Dr. Helga Amesberger
Implementation:   Mag. Dr. Helga Amesberger
Mag. Dr. Evelyn Dawid
Mag. Dr. Brigitte Halbmayr
Mag. Kerstin Lercher
Financed by:   MA 57 (City of Vienna, Women’s Department)
Concluded in:   December 2011

Since 2005, the Institute of Conflict Research has collected data about the former Austrian prisoners at the Ravensbrück concentration camp. After extensive research at home and abroad, we actually found information about 2’700 female and male Austrians, concerning their persecution, but also their life before imprisonment and – in case they survived – after liberation.

The aim of the current project was to analyse the data collected (module 1) and to make them accessible via an interactive website (module 2).

Below are some results of the quantitative analysis: women of the Roma and Sinti minority belonged to one of the largest groups among Austrian prisoners in Ravensbrück. Due to their early deportation in June 1939, the average duration of their imprisonment is relatively long compared with other groups. A surprisingly high number of women were deported on grounds of being "asocial", among them many female juveniles whose "ethical moral conduct" was criticised. Considering that previously there were hardly any data available on so-called asocial women in Austria, we gained a lot of new insights about this group of persecuted girls and women. Other interesting results refer to the social backgrounds of Austrian women and men, the different routes to and from Ravensbrück concentration camp and the duration of imprisonment as well as their life after liberation.

The quantitative and – still pending – qualitative analyses of the Ravensbrück database are planned to be published (in print and online).

2010: Female inmates of the Mauthausen concentration camp and its sub camps (main study)

Project Management: Mag. Dr. Helga Amesberger
Mag. Dr. Brigitte Halbmayr
Project Team: Mag. Dr. Helga Amesberger
Mag. Dr. Brigitte Halbmayr
Mag. Kerstin Lercher
Mag. Andreas Baumgartner und Mag. Isabella Girstmair
(Sozialwissenschaftliches Forschungsbüro)
Financed by: Federal Ministry of the Interior
Concluded in: August 2010

Almost 200'000 people were imprisoned in the large camp system of Mauthausen (main and branch camps), among them up to 10'000 women. Most of them arrived in Mauthausen during the last few months and weeks of the war, having been transferred from other concentration camps or herded on foot from the Austrian-Hungarian border to Mauthausen. These women were no longer registered – which explains the large number of as yet unknown and nameless female Mauthausen inmates and the lack of knowledge about their lives and persecution. Over 4'000 women were registered in Mauthausen, yet the data sheets of the SS contain little information. Very little is known about the individual fates of these women: the prisons, ghettos and camps they had to pass, the reasons for their persecution, their experiences during persecution, their lives after 1945, etc. Apart from the branch camps in St. Lambrecht and at the Lannach castle, hardly any research has been conducted into the history of the branch camps, articles in anthologies mostly referring to the sources dating from 1997, documented by Andreas Baumgartner in his book “The Forgotten Women of Mauthausen. The female inmates of the Mauthausen concentration camp and their history.” Since then, only partial aspects have been added to the knowledge about former female Mauthausen inmates.

This was the basis on which our study on “The female inmates of the Mauthausen concentration camp and its branch camps” was founded. The idea was to take the most comprehensive approach possible to the topic at hand. The research work was divided into a pilot study (2006-2008) and a main study (2008-2010), for the simple reason that in many fields, the ground for such a big project had still to be prepared and optimised

Our focus was on four main topics: the “registration by name”, the analysis of the biographical narrative interviews with former female inmates of Mauthausen, the research into the branch camps, and on as well as the contextualizing of the persecution of women within an international framework.

The final report is divided into three parts:

Part A presents “registration by name”. It contains reader instructions for the database; further an extensive description and critique of the many sources implemented in the database as well as a first statistical overview about the information we gathered a regards 6'710 names. We filled the database with data from more than 11'000 sources, and made 7'700 new entries. Starting from 4'000 names, we managed to find information about another 2'700 women. The project database is supposed to be integrated into the central Mauthausen Memorial database of former inmates.

Part B documents the state of research on former female Mauthausen inmates achieved in the course of this project, drawing on life story interviews with women collected during the Mauthausen Survivors Documentation Project (MSDP) and an oral history project run in 2002/2003. The topics addressed are: 'routes to Mauthausen', 'arrival in Mauthausen', 'living conditions of women in a concentration camp for men', 'social relations in the camp', 'forced labour in the main camp', 'the branch camps for women', 'the final days in Mauthausen', as well as articles dealing with the national persecution contexts and national cultures of remembrance (in Hungary, Israel, Italy, Russia, Poland, and the USA).

Part C presents short biographies of 80 women detained in Mauthausen. Though the fate of each one of them is singular – it represents similar experiences of many other women. Again the MSDP interviews and documents, collected for Part A of the research project, served as the main source for the biographies.

Work on this project is intended to meet two requirements that are often considered to be contradictory: one of them is to up-date historical facts about Mauthausen, if necessary to correct the prevailing knowledge or to newly interpret it ('objective history'); another one is to assess the personal stories and life stories ('subjective history'). Facts and recollections can contradict each other, extraordinary experiences contrast with 'daily routines', the perspectives of children differ from those of adults. Yet the personal perspectives on experiences show the many realities behind so-called 'objective' figures and facts. We were seeking to reveal the many subjective recollections, to enquire into commonalities and differences in recollections and to find explanations for either of them.

2008: Pilot study: "Female inmates of the Mauthausen concentration camp and its branch camps"

Project Management: Mag. Dr. Helga Amesberger
Mag. Dr. Brigitte Halbmayr
Project Team: Mag. Dr. Helga Amesberger
Mag. Dr. Brigitte Halbmayr
Mag. Kerstin Lercher
Mag. Andreas Baumgartner (Das soziale Forschungsbüro)
Financed by: Federal Ministry of the Interior
Concluded in February 2008

Very little is known as yet about the female inmates of the Mauthausen concentration camp and its branch camps. Hence it was the aim of the pilot study to explore, clarify and develop the basis for the (final) qualitative and quantitative research work on women in Mauthausen. The pilot project is based on four interwoven modules: Module 1, referred to as “registration by name”, comprises a database in which data from different sources (commemoration sites, other research projects, publications, etc.) about the several thousand women are being collected. Building regional networks (with NGOs, schools, local initiatives) in areas where branch camps or work commandos for women existed should help to research the history and living conditions in the former branch camps (Module 2). Another focus of the pilot study has been on a first analysis of interviews of female survivors, which were conducted under the Mauthausen Survivors Documentation Project in the years 2002/03 (Module 3). An international network of researchers was set up with a view to acquiring information on the specific historical-political context the interviewed women were confronted with before, during and after persecution in their respective home countries (Module 4). This information will guarantee a reliable in-depth-analysis of the interviews.

The project has revealed that there are many sources which have not been analysed by historians so far. The main project will consequently provide substantial new insight in the history of Mauthausen.

2007: Austrian Camp Community Ravensbrück

Project Management: Univ.-Prof. Dr. Erika Thurner
Project Team: Mag. Dr. Helga Amesberger
Mag. Dr. Brigitte Halbmayr
Mag. Kerstin Lercher
Concluded in February 2007

The project entitled "Austrian Camp Community Ravensbrück" consists of two parts: a documentation of the 60-year of the Austrian camp community (completed in 2007) and the registration by name of the female and male Austrian inmates in Ravensbrück. On the latter we have worked since 2005.

Even 60 years after the liberation of the Ravensbrück women’s concentration camp, it is still unclear, how many Austrians were detained there. It is very difficult to find out the actual number of Austrians in Ravensbrück, because they were registered as "Reichsdeutsche". Moreover the National Socialists destroyed a lot of documents before leaving the camp. Estimations ranged from 800 to 1,000 Austrians in Ravensbrück. The research we have conducted so far in various Austrian archives and in the Ravensbrück memorial has underpinned our hypothesis that the number of inmates was at least twice as high: to date we have found the names of 2,350 women and men. Most of them were arrested for political reasons, because they were Jehovah's Witnesses, Jewesses/Jews or Sinti and Romanies. This number is very likely to increase. Moreover the sources concerning inmates who were arrested because of (alleged) crimes or who were marked as "Anti-socials" are very scant. Among others, these groups were not acknowledged as victims of the NS-regime by the state/Austrian government after liberation. As a result we have found only little evidence of them in the victim welfare files.

To gain information about these groups, it is necessary to expand our research the archives of the Federal Police Directorates. Thanks to the financial support by the "Zukunftsfonds der Republik Österreich" and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Consumer Protection we are able to continue our research work in 2008. However, due to financial constraints it has so far been impossible to analyse the researched data about the social backgrounds of the victims, their histories of persecution and their lives after 1945 (if they survived).

2007: History of the Austrian Camp Community Ravensbrueck

Project Management: Univ. Prof. Dr. Anton Pelinka
Project Team: Mag. Dr. Helga Amesberger
Mag. Dr. Brigitte Halbmayr
Mag. Kerstin Lercher
Concluded in February 2007

The Austrian Camp Community Ravensbrueck, founded in May 1947, is an association of survivors of the Ravensbrueck concentration camp. The primary aim pursued with this project was to identify the legacy of the former Austrian inmates of the Ravensbrueck women’s concentration camp, and thus to underpin the survivors’ long-standing awareness-raising and educational work concerning Nazi crimes as well as Austria’s participation in those crimes. The documentation consequently centres around the activities and tasks of the camp community in its function as a meeting point and centre of supporting point for its members as well as around the community’s contribution to political and historical education. The critical analysis of the past sixty years provides the opportunity to stake out more precisely what shall and can be the task/s of such an association, once the survivors have passed away.

2005: Registration by name of the Viennese inmates in the Ravensbrück concentration camp

Project Management:   Univ. Prof. Dr. Anton Pelinka
Project Team:   Mag. Dr. Helga Amesberger
  Mag. Dr. Brigitte Halbmayr
Financed by:   City of Vienna
Concluded in   December 2005

As long as 60 years after the liberation of the Ravensbrück women’s concentration camp, it is still unclear, how many Austrians were detained there. It is very difficult to find out the actual number of Austrians in Ravensbrück, because they were registered as "Reichsdeutsche". Moreover, the National Socialists destroyed a lot of documents before leaving the camp. Estimations range from 800 to 1,000 Austrians in Ravensbrück. Our research has so far underpinned our hypothesis that the number of inmates was at least twice as high.

Among the Austrian inmates of Ravensbrück there were many Viennese women and also some men. So far we have been able to identify 629 Viennese inmates, 158 of whom did not survive the concentration camp. The short biographies of each wo/man include information about their persecution, their life before and – if so – after persecution.

2003: "Mauthausen Survivors Documentation Project" (MSDP)

Project Management: Professor Dr. Gerhard Botz
Project Team: Mag. Dr. Helga Amesberger
Mag. Katrin Auer
Mag. Dr. Brigitte Halbmayr
MMag. Karin Stögner
Christine Schindler
Concluded in June 2003

The MSDP-project, which was financed by the Ministry of the Interior, was jointly carried out by the Institute of Conflict Research (IKF), the Ludwig-Boltzmann-Institute of Social Scientific History (Univ.Prof. Dr. Gerhard Botz) and the Documentation Archive of the Austrian Resistance. So-called regional coordinators with their interviewers were responsible for running the documentation project in 18 regions of Europe, Israel, South America, and the USA.

We aimed at a representative sample? of survivors or at least at a wide variety among different groups of survivors, in terms of nationality, age, time of imprisonment in the Mauthausen concentration camp, and gender. We particularly focused on collecting life stories of women and groups of survivors, who have been comparatively ignored by researchers and/or society (e.g. Romany and Sinti, so-called anti-social prisoners). For interviewing we used the method of life-story-interviews combined with a topic-centred interview guideline. In addition to this, an extensive questionnaire had to be answered.

Within the framework of MSDP, 838 audio-interviews were collected with survivors of the Mauthausen concentration camp and its subcamps. 91 of these interviews were also recorded on video. The interviews are indexed according to content and geographical region; the main biographical data, pictures, various artefacts dating from the time of persecution and the index have been entered into the MSDP-data base. The digital recordings of the interviews have been placed in the Archive of the Mauthausen Memorial at the Ministry of the Interior.

Most of the former inmates of the Mauthausen concentration camp came from non-German-speaking countries. With these interviews the national, cultural and religious diversity of the so-called prisoner society has been documented for the first time.

2003: Sexualised Violence against Female Victims of National Socialism

Project Management: Professor Dr. Erika Thurner
Project Team: Mag.a Helga Amesberger
Mag.a Katrin Auer
Mag.a Brigitte Halbmayr
Concluded in June 2003

Starting from the question, which direct and structural forms of sexualised violence women had to endure in the course of persecution, we examined 42 life stories and several topic centred interviews with Austrian survivors of the Ravensbrück women’s concentration camp.

The study (“Sexualisierte Gewalt. Weibliche Erfahrungen in NS-Konzentrationslagern”), which has meanwhile been published, gives a historical overview of the National Socialist concepts of gender and of National Socialist policy regarding sexuality and population as well as of the internal structure of concentration camps, which is essential for understanding this kind of violence against women. In other words, the forms and the regime of sexualised violence are interdependently related to the Nazi ideology, on the one hand, and to the biological sex of the victims, on the other hand. Thus we need to distinguish between types ofviolence according to their sexualised-misogynist, sexualised-racist and anti-Semitic, sexualised-eugenic as well as hetero-sexist functions and motif-structures. This implies that sexualised violence against women is not exclusively an expression of misogyny.

In our study we focus on the description and analysis of sexualised violence against female prisoners experienced and witnessed in the course of inquiries by the Gestapo, during the registration process in the concentration camp and later on, of the symbolic meaning of hair and the implication of (repeated) hair-shaving, of menstruation and sexuality. Further we deal with the topics of enforced sex work and camp brothels on the basis of the case studies of two women who were sexually exploited by the SS. These case studies give insight into the circumstances, coercions, and experiences as well as the way these women are able/unable to speak about it. Other major topics are pregnancy and motherhood during persecution, where one can clearly show how differently women were treated on account of persecution. Finally, we ask which consequences the experience of persecution in general and of sexualised violence in particular had on marriage, partnership and the generative behaviour of the female survivors.


2000: Reminiscences. A Documentation of Former Austrian Female Inmates of the Ravensbrück Women’s Concentration Camp

Project Management: Professor Dr. Anton Pelinka, Professor Dr. Erika Thurner
Project Team: Mag.a Helga Amesberger
Mag.a Brigitte Halbmayr
Concluded in May 2000

The study pursues both documentary and scientific aims. The documentation is supposed to preserve the memory of the experiences of Austrian female victims of the Ravensbrück concentration camp, their individual histories and inconceivable sufferings. The collected life stories are not only historical testimonies of the time of National Socialism, but also of the 20th century, and a contribution to women’s history.

The life stories of the former inmates of the Ravensbrück women’s concentration camp differ remarkably. We, therefore, considered it of scientific interest to work out the differences in socialisation, in persecution, in strategies of coping with one’s own history, etc. We did not restrict our analysis to the period in which the interviewees were persecuted, as is usual in historical research, but extended it to their lives after liberation. Nevertheless, the structural determinants (such as the time and reason of imprisonment) of and the experiences during incarceration are central to our study.

The research project was published in 2001 under the title “Vom Leben und Überleben – Wege nach Ravensbrück. Das Frauenkonzentrationslager in der Erinnerung”. The publication comprises two volumes: Volume I deals with the above-mentioned topics, Volume II is a compilation of the biographies of the 42 Austrian Ravensbrück survivors interviewed for the project.