After Stalin's death, during a respite in Cold War tensions in 1955, Austria managed to rid itself of a quadripartite occupation regime and become a neutral state. As the Cold War continued, Austria's policy of neutrality helped make this small country into an important mediator of East-West differences, and neutrality became a crucial part of Austria's postwar identity.
In the post-Cold War era Austrian neutrality seems to demand redefinition. The work addresses such issues as what neutrality means when Austria's neighbors are joining NATO. What is the difference between Austrian neutrality in 1955 and 2000? In remaining apart from NATO, do Austrian elites risk their nation's national security? Is Austria a “free rider,” too stingy to contribute to Western defense? Has the neutralist mentality become such a crucial part of AUstrian postwar identity that its abandonment will threaten civil society?
Erika Thurner, co-editor