Geographically, Austria's position during the Cold War differed significantly from that of Switzerland or Sweden, let alone Ireland. Austria, like Finland, was situated along the Iron Curtain. In 1945, Austria was divided between East and West, and the Soviet Union hoped that the Austrian Communists could quickly gain power by largely democratic means. This effort failed, however, when the Communists lost decisively in the November 1945 elections. Over the next decade, Austria remained under Soviet and Western military occupation. The formal adoption of a neutral status for Austria in May 1955, when the Austrian State Treaty was signed, was a compromise needed to ensure the departure of Soviet forces from Austria. Although some other orientation might have been preferred, neutrality over time became firmly engrained in Austria's collective identity.

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