As early as 1936, during the 1st Republic of Austria, Schönbrunn was divided into two sections. The area behind the Gloriette was taken away from the rest of Schönbrunn and used as a site for the building of a large complex, the ‘Dollfuß (Gedächtnis) Führerschule’ (Dollfuss Memorial Elite School). The youth of Austria, both boys and girls, were to be brought up in the way of the authoritarian government of the first Republic and trained as Youth-Leaders.
After the annexation of Austria (Anschluss) by the German Third Reich, the Kaserne Wien-Schönbrunn, later Fasangarten-Kaserne, and now known as the Maria-Theresien-Kaserne, was completed. This made Schönbrunn a legitimate target for the allied bombers during the Second World War.
After the annexation of Austria by the German Third Reich, Schönbrunn was placed under the control of the newly formed centralised ‘Verwaltung der Schlösser’ (Palace Administration Office).
In 1939, at the start of the Second World War, the outbuildings of the Palace (Hofküchentrakt and Stables) were used for the storage of wheat. The Imperial Apartments were open to all the public except Jews, who were not even allowed to enter the grounds of the Palace.
As the war progressed it became very difficult to maintain the Palace (Wehrpflicht - compulsory military service). Towards the end of 1943 tours were no longer possible due to lack of staff.
The valuable contents of the Imperial Apartments were removed in 1943 and stored for safe-keeping in the cellars of the Hofburg or, like many other works of art belonging to the museums of Vienna, in the salt mines at Hallein and Altaussee - in Salzburg, Styria and *Oberdonau.
* The term ‘Oberdonau’ was used during the Ostmark (1938-1945) and roughly corresponds to Upper Austria.
The cultural highlights during the war years were in the form of KdF-Concerts (Kraft durch Freude) held in the main courtyard (Ehrenhof) and in the gardens on the south side of the Palace. Many events, such as balls and receptions, took place in the reception rooms and the Great Gallery of the Palace. Schönbrunn was also used for the making of films such as ‘Tanz mit dem Kaiser’ and ‘Wiener Mädeln’.
During the war Schönbrunn Zoo ‘Tiergarten’ suffered greatly as it was unable to supply sufficient food for its animals and could no longer import exotic animals from overseas. This together with the air raids led to an enormous reduction in the number of animals in the zoo between 1938 and 1945.
Towards the end of 1944 Schönbrunn became a target for allied bombers. The Little Gloriette was damaged and several bombs destroyed the swimming pool and other buildings in that area of the park.
In February 1945 the ‘Gardetrakt’ (Guards Wing) next to the main gate was destroyed during one of these raids. The main building was also hit. Fortunately the bomb failed to explode, but it tore an enormous twenty-five metre hole in the centre of the building adjacent to the ‘Ovalstiege’ (Oval Staircase) and became wedged between the ceiling fresco of the Great Gallery and the floor above it.
Two days later another heavy air raid left 269 bomb craters. Most of the bombs fell into the park leaving the outbuildings in ruins. The ‘Kavaliertrakt’ (Cavalry Wing), the Restaurant, the east side of the Gloriette, the large ‘Palmenhaus’ (Palm House) and ‘Sonnenuhrhaus’ (Sundial House) were all badly damaged. The Zoo was also hit, but fortunately most of the historical buildings in the old ‘Menagerie’ remained intact. During this raid the Palace Theatre was slightly damaged.
After the allies entered Vienna, Russian Forces took control of Schönbrunn and installed their General-Command in the main offices of the Zoo (Tiergartenverwaltung). The Russian Commander helped to solve the problems of the Zoo by supplying much needed food for the few remaining animals.
Vienna was divided into five military sectors.
The inner city was the so-called international sector, the administration of which changed once a month from one of the allied powers to the other.
Later, in September 1945, the British High-Command moved into the Palace, using the first floor (Reception rooms) and other rooms on the ground floor together with some of the outbuildings, as their headquarters. The British General-Staff and a division of the British armed forces needed accommodation, so in July 1945 some of the tenants received notice to quit their rooms.
An airfield was constructed on the then football field in front of the main building (APCOA Car Park).
Throughout the following years, whilst the Palace was occupied by the British Forces, the Imperial Apartments and Reception Rooms remained closed to the general public.
Repairs to Schönbrunn began soon after the war. The main building was immediately restored but it took until the 1950s to complete the outbuildings.
During the years 1945-1975 the enormous sum of 400 million Austrian Schilling was spent on the rebuilding and refurbishment. The Federal Ministry of Trade and Reconstruction (Bundesministerium für Handel und Wiederaufbau) carried the responsibility for Schönbrunn Palace during this time.
The British Military Tattoo in Schönbrunn 1946
The word Tattoo is derived from the Dutch “Doe den tap toe” (Turn off the taps). The British army military signal ‘Tattoo’ was a drum beat late each evening, which was a signal to soldiers that they should return to the barracks in time for ‘Last Post’ and ‘Lights Out’, and the beer taps in the taverns should be turned off. This slowly developed into a ceremonial performance of military music by massed bands.
In recent years the parades have become well-known due to events such as the famous Edinburgh Military Tattoo which is held in Edinburgh Castle and attended by some 200 000 visitors each year.
The British Army has always held Tattoos, usually in London, where they can perform, show their expertise and attract large crowds of visitors.
The Parade has changed over the centuries from the Fyffes and Drums in the days of Oliver Cromwell to the Regimental Bands, particularly the Brigade of Guards, who perform all over the world.
In 1946 a British Charity Parade took place in the main gardens of Schönbrunn Palace. This so-called Searchlight Military Tattoo climaxed with a large firework display.
The amount raised was more than 400 000 Austrian Schilling, which was presented to the major of Vienna, Theodor Körner. This money enabled the city of Vienna to finance a six-week holiday for 2 400 children at a holiday resort.
The British continued holding similar activities for the benefit of children in the following years.
In 1948 British Headquarters moved into a military complex (Fasangarten-Kaserne) behind the Gloriette, which had been used by British forces since 1945. The Palace itself was given back to the Austrian Government but the British Telefone Exchange remained situated in the palace until well into the 1950s.
The Imperial Apartments of Schönbrunn were re-opened to the general public on the 4th September 1948.
After the signing of the State Treaty in the Belvedere Palace on the 15th May 1955 the Palace of Schönbrunn became the chosen venue for one of the most important government receptions of those years.
The four foreign ministers of the occupying forces; Wjatscheslaw Molotov, Harold Macmillan, John Foster Dulles and Antoine Pinay together with their delegations and other leading politicians of the day met the members of the Austrian Federal Government and the Austrian Federal President Dr. Theodor Körner.
The ‘Zeremoniensaal’ (Ceremonial Hall) was used for the main guests (eighty V.I.P.'s), the Reception rooms were set aside for the other 1 200 invited guests.
The ‘Neptunbrunnen’ (Neptune Fountain) and the Gloriette were floodlit as they were at all receptions in the following years
For such events the ‘Ehrenhof’ (Main Court Yard) was used until well into the 1980s as a car park for more than 300 cars.