Like most cities, Vienna has a rich history marked by wars, victories, defeats, golden eras and slumps. Founded around 500BC, Vienna was originally a Celtic settlement. In the 15th century, it grew to become the capital of the Holy Roman Empire and a cultural centre for arts and science, music and fine cuisine. In 1804, Vienna became the capital of the Austrian Empire and continued to play a major role in European and world politics. In 1918, after World War I, Vienna became capital of the First Austrian Republic. In 1938 however, Adolf Hitler marched and took over Vienna. Between 1938 and the end of the Second World War, Vienna lost its status as a capital to Berlin.
In 1945, the Soviets successfully launched the Vienna Offensive against Germans who were holding Vienna. The city was besieged for about two weeks before it fell to the Soviets. After 1945, Vienna once again became the capital of Austria. At the height of industrialisation in 1910, Vienna had more than 2 million inhabitants, and was one of the six largest cities in the world. At the turn of the century, Vienna was the second largest Czech city, after Prague. However, after World War I, many Czechs and Hungarians returned to their ancestral countries, resulting in a decline in the Viennese population.
The first record showing the name Austria is from 996 where it is written as Ostarrichi. Until World War I, Austria's history was largely that of its ruling dynasty, the Habsburgs.
In 1938, German troops occupied Austria and Hitler declared the re-unification of his home country with Germany. On 27 April 1945 after the successful Vienna Offensive, Austria's stated its secession from the Third Reich with the Declaration of Independence. But it was only on 15 May 1955 that Austria regained full independence by concluding the Austrian State Treaty with the Four Occupying Powers of World War 1.
On 26 October 1955 Austria declared its "permanent neutrality" by an act of Parliament, which remains in a slightly altered form to this day.
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