Intelligence Services: In Austria the military secret service and the state police share the duties of an intelligence service. From the time of Emperor Maximilian I secret information was obtained by surveillance of the post routes, state chancellor W. A. Kaunitz sent spies to all major European courts and had aliens under surveillance in Vienna (especially at inns). At the time of Joseph II, Count J. A. Pergen established a secret service, which discovered the conspiracy by the Jacobins in 1794. After the Napoleonic Wars the secret service was improved by Count J. Sedlnitzky and literary censorship formed part of its duties. In the 2nd half of the 19th century the state police was used in internal affairs, especially against social revolutionaries, later also in the struggle between the various nationalities of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and in the fight against state enemies and spies in Austria during World War I, closely co-operating with the military secret service.
The military secret service was developed at the time of Prince Eugène around 1700, but it never gained major importance and at first was even rejected by Emperor Franz Joseph. However, in 1850 the so-called "Evidenzbuero" was established as a permanent military secret service, which operated in the wars of 1859 and 1866 without great success. From around 1880 there was considerable competition among the various secret services of the European powers. In Austria there was the Russian "Ochrana", used Colonel A. Redl as an excellent spy on the Austrian General Staff (exposed on May 24, 1913) and the Serbian secret service was active in the Balkans. Until 1915 Italy was off limits to the Austrian secret service. During World War I activities increased and for the first time included radio intelligence. Towards the end of the war about 300 officers, 50 civil servants, 400 police agents, 600 soldiers and 600 informers worked for the military secret service and state police.
During the 1st Republic the state police continued its activities, under the name "Polizeiliche Zentralevidenzstelle", under the leadership of J. Schober. In 1930 a bureau for public security (Staatspolizeiliches Bureau) was founded and given additional responsibility as the political situation within Austria worsened, but it proved powerless in the face of the National Socialist putsch on July 26, 1934. By the early 1930s it had already been severely undermined by the National Socialists. After the Anschluss in 1938 the Gestapo became a feared instrument of the National Socialist regime. In 1945 the Minister of the Interior, F. Honner, established a new Austrian state police and O. Helmer removed it from the influence of the Austrian Communist Party (KPOe). Until 1955 the occupying powers also had centres of their secret services in Austria. During the past few decades the fight against political extremism and international terrorist organizations has become the most important task of the state police.
From 1956 the Austrian Armed Forces developed three intelligence units, the Nachrichtengruppe, the Heeresnachrichtenamt and the Abwehramt, using high-quality technical equipment (intercept stations, sound locator and direction finder networks); the latter was frequently used during the political crisis on the territory of former Yugoslavia in 1991.
Literature#M. Fuchs, Der oesterreichische Geheimdienst, 1994.