The Greek community in Austria


July-August 2022 Greek Business File, Issue No 138


by George Vailakis


Hellenism begins to make a substantial presence in Vienna in the 12th and 13th centuries. They consisted of merchants, who, because of the pirates, formed caravans, with which they crossed a part of the Balkans to Belgrade, floated up the Danube to Budapest and then, either by river or by land, they ended up in Vienna.

The presence of the Greeks intensified in the 14th and 15th centuries. The Greek community of Vienna dates back to the 18th century, after the treaties of Karlowitz (1669), Passarowitz (1718) and Belgrade (1739). The final establishment of the Greek element in Vienna is observed at the end of the 17th and especially at the beginning of the 18th century, when favourable conditions are created for movement and trade between the Austro Hungarian and Ottoman Empires. From the time of Empress Maria Theresa (1740-1780), Greek merchants had the first place in transit trade with the East. Their economic activity makes Vienna a crossroads of trade in the Central European region.

The first grand bourgeois families

The financial prosperity of the Greek trading companies of Vienna created the first grand bourgeois families of Hellenism in Austria. The names of the families of Sina, Ypsilantis, Dumba, Oikonomou, Christomanou and others remained in the history of the city of Vienna as the names of sponsors, benefactors and supporters of intellectual and artistic production. Nikolaus Dumba (1830 – 1900) was an Austrian industrialist and liberal politician. He is considered to have been an important patron of the arts and music and a benefactor of Greece. Portrait by Heinrich von Angeli. The Sina family played a prominent role in the economic prosperity of the Greek community. At the beginning of the 19th century, the family buys large estates and secures titles of nobility, which will allow them to rise in the social hierarchy ofthe country by offering a series of economic privileges in the capital of Austria-Hungary. Simon G. Sinas begins his commercial activity, founding together with other Greeks settled in Vienna a series of commercial houses. These trading houses import and export products from the Ottoman Empire to Austria-Hungary. Wool and cotton are imported from Northern Greece, glassware, textiles and metal products are exported to the Eastern Mediterranean. In addition, Georgios Sinas would evolve into one of the biggest bankers in Austria-Hungary, granting loans to the High Gate. In 1825, he was appointed the first director of the National Bank of Austria — a post he held for 25 years…

The full article is published in the July-August 2022 Greek Business Filehere.