The Censorship Procedure in Austria, the Czechoslovak Republic and Germany (1920-1933) Censorship Regulations in the Republic of Weimar Czechoslovakia Austria

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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 the counties.
With the beginning of World War I the government decided to control each film more closely. Film copies of enemy countries were not allowed to be screened in Austria. This decision was practiced also in the counties, but with the splitting of censorship offices and censorship-decisions from a district to another and one county to another showed the need for a general censorship.

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.
From the beginning of 1932 film assessment reports were published in “Mitteilungen der Filmstelle” (later: “Der gute Film”). From 1934 on the magazine “Der gute Film” published the film evaluation of the Institute of Film Culture.

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:
· a representative of the federal police headquarters of Vienna
· a representative of the Catholic Church
· a representative of the “Vaterländische Front”
· if necessary, a representative of the field of public education, parenthood or film industry.

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


Source Edition urrogat Production Introduction Censorship Regulations Battleship Potemkin Horror Films Conclusion Bibliography