The history of Armenians in Austria dates back to the time of Vienna's liberation from the Turkish siege at the end of the 17th century, when several Armenian merchants found a new market in the Habsburg empire. In 1775 Maria Theresia gave the official permission to the Armenian Catholic Mekhitarian congregation to settle in the Habsburg empire, and the very active, well organized Armenians of the Osman province of Suczawa (Bukowina, today a part of the Ukraine) were annexed by the Austrian empire.
In the beginning 19th century the Austrian Armenians enjoyed officially recognized status as autonomous religious community. The Mekhitarian congregation, having come to Vienna in 1810, contributed to the spread of Armenian culture in central Europe through its printing, its library and its college for Armenian boys. The Armenian community in Vienna grew constantly, so that already in 1896 the first efforts were made to found an Armenian-Apostolic community.
Only in December 1912 did these efforts succeed in establishing a small chapel in Vienna's first district. The First World War and its aftermath transformed the Austrian Armenian community: the area of the Bukowina Armenians was lost during the war, but a wave of immigrants came to Austria as a result of the Armenian Genocide in 1915.
After the appointment of the first Armenian pastor in Vienna in the 1920s, the number of Armenians in Austria continued to grow, also boosted by refugees from Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran, as well as migrant workers from Turkey. In 1968, the Surp Hripsime Armenian Apostolic Church of Vienna was consecrated, giving a new impetus to the ever growing Armenian community in Austria.
The approximately 7,500 Armenians living in Austria belong officially to a confessional and not to a linguistic minority (according to an official paper from December 1972), a fact which makes them differ from other Austrian minorities such as the Slovenes, the Croats or also the Roma. About 90% of the Armenians live in Vienna, the rest in other bigger Austrian towns. Central is the Armenian Apostolic community with its various organizations and its Saturday Armenian School named Hovhannes Shiraz.
Besides these various contributing populations, there are nowadays a steadily increasing number of migrants from the Republic of Armenia.
Compiled by Sebouh Baghdoyan
Source: Austrian-Armenian Portal http://www.masis.at/