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History of the Consular Academy, Boltzmanngasse 16
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Boltzmanngasse 16

In 1754, Empress Maria Theresa founded the Imperial and Royal Oriental Academy in Vienna for the purpose of improving cultural and commercial relations with the Balkans and the Middle East. Future bankers, traders and diplomats attended lectures focusing on oriental languages ​​and sciences. Only in 1901, when the Academy was incorporated into the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, did it change location and responsible department. A new building was erected at Boltzmanngasse 16 with funds donated by Emperor Franz Josef I. At that time, Emperor Franz Josef showed particular interest in training future diplomats for his empire. The well-known architect Ludwig Baumann began the construction of the building in the style of the classical baroque, which was valued under Maria Theresia, on 6th August 1900. October 1902 and completed it two years later. The Eastern focus of instruction at the Academy (now called the Consular Academy) gave way in the early 20th century to a curriculum more focused on Western languages. Completion of the rigorous five-year course enabled the students, who often came from afar to study at the Academy, to pursue careers in all fields of foreign diplomatic service and trade missions abroad.

Strict rules were in place at the academy to guide students into behavior appropriate to their future position. Students who also received board and lodging at the academy could only leave the building at certain times, and guests had to adhere to fixed visiting hours and were only allowed to stay in certain areas of the building. The students also established their own “laws” as well as minor punishments such as hiding the personal belongings of the violator or pouring water down his pant leg while the “culprit” was forced to do a handstand. Many of the students’ needs could be met directly at the academy. The academy had its own barber shop, dining hall, medical center, billiard room, gymnasium and library. There was a leisure program for the weekends. Graduates spread the good reputation of the academy all over the world and it soon became a respected institution with an influx of students from all over the world. At the turn of the century the first women were admitted.

StaircaseThe years leading up to World War II were one of instability. In 1938 the German Foreign Ministry, under whose authority the Academy had fallen with the Anschluss, merged the western and oriental departments and cut numerous subjects. The academy continued to receive numerous applications from students from all over the world, although at the time the director severely restricted enrollments as the future of the academy was uncertain. In order to be admitted, students now had to meet selection criteria and produce a certificate of good conduct, proof of Aryan origin, and their parents’ marriage and birth certificates. Imperial decrees forced the Academy to adhere to strict rules of conduct in matters of foreign travel and required that the academy would be clearly flagged with the swastika flag on certain public holidays. The Nazi Foreign Ministry also changed the curriculum, which was now more focused on “Germanic” culture.

Around 1941, the German Reich had turned the academy into a tool for furthering its war aims – it was now far removed from its original purpose: Lectures were cancelled, professors had to teach military cadets, numerous National Socialist meetings and events took place in the academy and finally the Building a hospital set up. The academy’s library was moved to the Imperial Archives on Bankgasse and Minoritenplatz, and later to rooms under St. Peter’s Church in the 1st district to protect them during the later stages of the war. At the end of the war, Boltzmanngasse 16 was under American military administration and remained so until 1946. The Austrian National Council passed a law as a result of which the building of the consular academy could be sold. The United States government purchased it on June 30, 1947 for $392,139. The purchase was negotiated by Eleanor Dulles, a career diplomat and major economics expert for the US State Department in Austria and West Germany, sister of Secretary of State John Foster Dulles. The American representation in Austria had the status of a legation from 1947 to 1951. In 1951 it received official embassy status, with Walter J. Donnelly as the first United States Ambassador to Austria. a career diplomat and major economist for the US State Department in Austria and West Germany, sister of Secretary of State John Foster Dulles. The American representation in Austria had the status of a legation from 1947 to 1951. In 1951 it received official embassy status, with Walter J. Donnelly as the first United States Ambassador to Austria. a career diplomat and major economist for the US State Department in Austria and West Germany, sister of Secretary of State John Foster Dulles. The American representation in Austria had the status of a legation from 1947 to 1951. In 1951 it received official embassy status, with Walter J. Donnelly as the first United States Ambassador to Austria.

State Treaty 1955
Departure of diplomatic cars from the U.S. Embassy, prior to the signing of the Austrian State Treaty, 1955