Austria National Day is an annual public holiday on 26 October that celebrates the return of Austria to independence after World War II.
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In 1938, Hitler had manipulated Austria into being annexed by Germany. This was known as the Anschluss and marked the beginning of the effects of the Nazi Holocaust (persecution of the Jews) in Austria. Austria was occupied by Nazi troops for nearly seven years, until the end of the war.
In 1945, allied troops divided Austria into four distinct zones that were occupied by up to 700,000 allied troops. These were from the Soviet Union, United States, France and Great Britain. During the next decade, this number dropped to around 20,000 troops.
On 15 May 1955, the Austrian State Treaty was signed and, on 25 October, the last allied troops left Austria. Austria became independent again and was known as the Second Republic of Austria. The treaty was finalised in Vienna on 26 October 1955 with the independence being added to the Austrian Constitution.
The National Day holiday was first celebrated in 1965, ten years after the signing of the Austrian State Treaty. Austria celebrates with memorial ceremonies across the country. The Federal President attends Mass, government officials lay wreaths at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and concerts are held. Also, new recruits of the Austrian Armed Service are sworn in.
Patriotism and pride are very important on this day and flags are present everywhere. To encourage the understanding of the history of Austria, museums are free to enter on this day.