The current coat of arms of Austria, albeit without the broken chains, has been in use by the Republic of Austria since 1919. Between 1934 and the German annexation in 1938 Austria used a different coat of arms, which consisted of a double-headed eagle. The establishment of the Second Republic in 1945 saw the return of the original (First Republic) arms, with broken chains added to symbolise Austria's liberation.
The symbols and emblems used in the Austrian arms are as follows:
* The Eagle: Austria's sovereignty (introduced 1919)
* The escutcheon Emblem of Austria (late Middle Ages, reintroduced 1915)
* The mural crown: The middle class (introduced 1919)
* The sickle: Agriculture (introduced 1919)
* The Hammer: Industry (introduced 1919)
* The broken chains: Liberation from National Socialist dictatorship (added 1945)
First Republic, 1919 - 1934/ Federal State ("Corporate" State) 1934 - 1938/ Coat of Arms of Austria
Discussions about the arms have been triggered in the past by differing political interpretations, especially by the use of the hammer and the sickle and the broken chains, since the crossed hammer and sickle are a widespread symbol of communism, as is the breaking of chains. Surveys have however confirmed, that understanding of the actual symbolism of the arms is widespread.
On the one hand the arms serve as a new republican symbol, on the other as a modified version of the historical Habsburg arms. The current version of the arms is often regarded as being reminiscent of the double-headed eagle of the Habsburg monarchy. According to this interpretation, the single headed eagle alludes, in the sense of the removal of the left hand, "Hungarian" head, to the removal of the eastern part of the Habsburg Empire. However, Addendum 202 to the 1919 Law on the State Arms and the State Seal of the Republic of German Austria states expressly that the "new" single headed Austrian eagle is based not on the double headed eagle (symbol of the Habsburgs since 1804, and previously of the Holy Roman Empire), but rather on the "symbol of the legions of the Roman Republic", the Aquila. The Austrian federal states have however retained pre-republican heraldic traditions (mostly heraldic images from the Middle Ages, but also diverse accoutrements such as archducal and ducal hats, and knights' helmets).