|Austrian film censorship|
In 1912 a film
censorship regulation became law in Austria. Owners of ambulant cinemas
and local movie theatres had to show their programs first to the police
department and the police handled the matter according to the law for
After the World War I there was a public discussion about censorship in the new democracy. There were a lot of press articles about the topic - mostly against censoring. However, till the beginning of 1926 the Viennese police in fact exercised censorship.
On 23rd June 1926 the constitutional court declared that censorship was abrogated. But still pre- and post-censorship was ruled out. In Vienna and in the Tyrol they replaced a law called “Vorführzwang”, that meant that new films had to be shown to the executive organs.
In Vienna, the government established the law called “Wiener Kinogesetz” (Viennese Movie Law) saying that every film and slide had to be shown to clerks of the Magistrate 52 before screenings. These Viennese permissions (Vorführbestätigung) were valid for Vienna and Burgenland (Eastern Austrian County). However, these “screening permissions” were no official legacy to show a film. Nevertheless every month the Magistrat Wien Abteilung 52 / Filmprüfungsstelle published a list of censored films (made by the police). In Tyrol these films had to be shown and censored again (Tyrolean County Law). In 1922 Burgenland decided that every film had to be proved by the county government, before they were allowed to be shown to the public
In the 20ies and 30ies the police was authorized to ban a film although it was in the regular film program (post-censorship). The Österreichischer Jugendbund (Austrian Youth League), founded in 1931, played an important role in this context.
On 14th April 1930 a second Viennese Movie Theatre
Law took effect. According to the text of the law the magistrate
was authorized to censor every film. The police was responsible for controlling
the movie theatres and the day-to-day screenings.
Film journals published articles like: “Is there censorship in Austria?” Although it was not official, legal censorship existed. A lot of films were forbidden like "All Quiet on the Western Front". The conservative party “Vaterländische Front” wanted to establish a central censorship office. Counties like Tyrol and Vorarlberg fought this interest.
Although the newspapers wrote against censorship they also published articles in the same issues stating that regularly censorship did exist no longer. The separation between Vienna and Lower Austria installed a new County censorship office.This caused new troubles.
In 1935 a third Viennese Movie Theatre Law
took place. It stated that the permission for every public screening had
to be granted by the district magistrate. The decision to permit a public
screening of a film was given by the district administrative agency after
a hearing by an advisory council. The advisory council consisted of members
chosen by the federal government:
Among the members of that council there should be at least one person being familiar with the effects of moving images on countryside people. In the same year a federal law prescribed that films opposing the state were forbidden. Cultural films had to be shown to the censorship department as well because of a national and cultural interest.
Even in March 1938 everybody fought for a common censorship. The National Socialists succeeded in constituting a single controlling office which was responsible for film censorship in the whole German speaking area of Austria.
by Paolo Caneppele