One of the most powerful leaders of the 20th century, Adolf Hitler was a German dicator whose policies started the WWII that resulted in the death of millions of people. He had a visceral hatred for Jews and during his regime nearly six million Jews were killed in Holocaust.
Inventor, engineer and futurist, Nikola Tesla, is best remembered for his contribution to the development of the modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply system. A prolific inventor, he had around 300 patents for his inventions. Even though he earned a considerable amount of money, he had poor money management skills and died a poor man.
German composer and pianist, Ludwig van Beethoven, remains one of the most admired composers in the history of Western music even two centuries after his death. Born into a musical family, he was initially tutored by his father. He found success early as a pianist and went on to become an admired composer despite suffering from hearing-impairment.
A child prodigy, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is regarded as one of the greatest classical composers ever. A prolific composer, he had a profound influence on Western music. Many of his works are considered pinnacles of choral, symphonic, operatic, chamber, and concertante music. Before his death, at the age of 35, he had composed over 600 works.
Regarded as the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud was a neurologist. Despite suffering criticism, psychoanalysis remains influential in the fields of psychology and psychiatry; such is the influence Freud has on humanities. Scholars believe that Freud is one of the most influential personalities of the 20th century and that his impact is comparable to that of Marxism and Darwinism.
Austrian Formula One driver and aviation entrepreneur Niki Lauda was a three-time F1 World Drivers' Champion. Considered to be one of the greatest F1 drivers of all time, he was once involved in a near-fatal accident. He founded and ran three airlines as an aviation entrepreneur and also served as the team manager of the Jaguar Formula One racing team.
The second-highest ranked Austrian tennis player of all time, Dominic Thiem became the first Austrian to win the singles title at a US Open when he came back from two sets down to beat Alexander Zverev in the 2020 US Open final. At the 2019 BNP Paribas Open, he defeated Roger Federer to win his first Masters 1000 title.
Considered one of the major authors of the 20th century, Franz Kafka was a Bohemian short-story writer and novelist. Franz Kafka is credited for being one of the earliest German-speaking authors to explore themes like absurdity, existential anxiety, and alienation. The term Kafkaesque is now widely used in the English language to explain those situations experienced by his characters.
Austrian-British philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein is remembered for his works related to logic, the philosophy of mind, the philosophy of mathematics, and the philosophy of language. He taught at the University of Cambridge for many years. He published only one book during his lifetime. Most of his manuscripts were collected later and published posthumously.
12 Joseph Haydn
Joseph Haydn was an Austrian composer who played a key role in the progression of chamber music during the Classical period. He is often referred to as the Father of the String Quartet and Father of the Symphony for his contributions to musical form. Joseph Haydn is also credited with mentoring and tutoring Mozart and Beethoven, respectively.
Austrian composer Franz Peter Schubert was one of the most prominent figures of the Viennese Classical and Romantic periods. He initially performed at the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde. His compositions include over 600 vocal works and several symphonies, operas, and piano sonatas. One of his most-talked-about works is the Unfinished Symphony.
15 Hedy Lamarr
Hedy Lamarr was an Austrian-American actress whose early career was defined by her performance in the controversial Czech erotic film Ecstasy. Apart from gaining popularity as a beautiful Hollywood actress, Hedy Lamarr became known as an inventor after co-inventing frequency-hopping spread spectrum. Her career has inspired several works of art. She was also the inspiration behind the iconic character Catwoman.
Austro-Bohemian Romantic composer and conductor Gustav Mahler symbolized the transition of 19th-century Austro-German music to early-20th-century modernism. His music was banned during the Nazi era but was rediscovered later. Famous for his Eighth Symphony, he had also been the director of the Hofoper (Vienna Court Opera).
A winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, Friedrich von Hayek, was an advocate of classical liberalism. The Austrian-British economist, who was also a political philosopher, co-founded the Mont Pelerin Society. He worked at the London School of Economics, the University of Chicago and the University of Freiburg and authored the popular book, The Road to Serfdom.
A scientist, meteorologist, mathematician, and biologist, Gregor Mendel is considered the founder of the modern science of genetics. He conducted a series of experiments on pea plants between 1856 and 1863, establishing many rules of heredity. Besides his work on pea plants, he also described novel plant species and conducted experiments with hawkweed and honeybees.
Franz Joseph I of Austria reigned as the Emperor of Austria from 1848 until his death in 1916. He also served as the King of Hungary, Bohemia, and Croatia and monarch of other states of Austria-Hungary. During his reign, Austria-Hungary decided to wage war against the Kingdom of Serbia, which eventually resulted in the First World War.
22 Amon Goeth
Amon Goeth was an Austrian war criminal and SS functionary. During World War II, Goeth served as the commandant of the Płaszów concentration camp operated by the SS. After the war, he was convicted of homicide and was executed by hanging. Amon Goeth was played by Ralph Fiennes in the 1993 epic historical drama film Schindler's List.
The mother of 16 children, Maria Theresa was the only female monarch of the Habsburg empire which she ruled with absolute power. She was known for industrial and educational reforms which led to the development of Austria during her 40-year reign. The devout Roman Catholic, who overtly disliked Jews and the Protestants, was sometimes criticized for her religious intolerance.
24 Gustav Klimt
Austrian symbolist painter, Gustav Klimt, was one of the most prominent members of the Vienna Secession movement. His primary subject was the female body, and he produced numerous paintings, murals, sketches, and other art objects. He was known for his deliberate painting style. He successfully avoided personal scandal despite having an active sex life.
Empress Elisabeth of Austria was Queen of Hungary and Empress of Austria from 1854 to 1898, making her the longest-reigning Austrian empress. Often visiting Hungary for its relaxed environment, Elisabeth developed a deep kinship with Hungary, which in turn helped her influence the rise of the dual monarchy of Austria–Hungary in 1867.
26 Boris Kodjoe
28 Toto Wolff
29 David Alaba
Austrian psychiatrist Viktor Frankl founded logotherapy. He also authored several books, most notably his bestselling autobiographical depiction of his ordeal at various Nazi concentration camps, Man's Search for Meaning. He had lost his parents, brother, and wife in the Holocaust. He later won honors such as the Oskar Pfister Award.
Bohemian-Austrian poet and author Rainer Maria Rilke is best remembered for his numerous poetry collections and his only novel, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge. His works contain metaphors, contradictions, and elements drawn from Greek mythology. Though most of his works were in German, he had also written in French.
Wolfgang Puck is an Austrian-American restaurateur. In 1973, Puck moved to the US and opened a restaurant named Spago in 1982. He then established himself as a respected restaurateur by opening several other restaurants. In 2013, he was inducted into the Culinary Hall of Fame. Also an actor, Puck has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Felix Baumgartner is an Austrian skydiver, BASE jumper, and daredevil. He is best known for jumping from the stratosphere to the Earth as part of the Red Bull Stratos project. Baumgartner set the world record for gaining an estimated top speed of Mach 1.25, becoming the first person without vehicular power to break the sonic barrier relative to the surface.
36 Alois Hitler
Alois Hitler was an Austrian civil servant and father of Adolf Hitler. Alois Hitler became popular after his infamous son started hogging the limelight; he has been depicted in a couple of TV series, such as Hitler: The Rise of Evil and Tales of the Unexpected.
Almost 2 decades before germ theory was laid down, Ignaz Semmelweis became the first physician to suggest that hand-washing could prevent the spread of puerperal fever and related deaths. Ironically, after being ridiculed for his theory, he died in a mental asylum, due to an infection from a wound.
German-French actor Romy Schneider began her career with the Heimatfilm genre of films as a teenager. She appeared as Empress Elisabeth of Austria in the Austrian Sissi trilogy and in Ludwig. She is also remembered for her César Award-winning roles in Une histoire simple and L'important c'est d'aimer.
Natascha Kampusch is an Austrian woman who was kidnapped at age 10 and held captive in a cellar by Wolfgang Přiklopil, who raped and abused her repeatedly. She escaped after 8 years, following which she hosted a show and became a PETA activist. Her book 3096 Tage inspired a movie.
42 Alfred Adler
Alfred Adler was an Austrian psychotherapist and medical doctor. He is credited with founding the school of individual psychology. He was also one of the founders of the psychoanalytic movement along with Sigmund Freud and Freud's colleagues. In 2002, a survey conducted by Review of General Psychology named Adler among the 20th century's most eminent psychologists.
Maria Altmann was an Austrian-American Jewish refugee who fled her home country fearing the Nazis. She is remembered for her successful legal campaign to reclaim Gustav Klimt's family-owned paintings from the Government of Austria, which were stolen during the Second World War by the Nazis. Her life and career inspired documentary films, novels, and feature films, including Woman in Gold.
Ferdinand Porsche was an Austrian-German automotive engineer. He is credited with founding one of the most popular car companies in the world, Porsche AG. He is also credited with creating the Lohner-Porsche mixed hybrid, the first gasoline-electric hybrid vehicle. During World War II, Porsche was a prominent contributor to the German war effort.
46 Klara Hitler
Klara Hitler was the mother of Adolf Hitler, the leader of Nazi Germany. Born into a modest family in Austria, she was a hardworking and energetic woman with a pleasant demeanor. She married Alois Hitler and had six children, of whom only two—Adolf and Paula—survived to adulthood. She died of breast cancer when she was 47.
Wilhelm Reich was an Austrian psychoanalyst and doctor of medicine. He is credited with shaping innovations like body psychotherapy, primal therapy, and Gestalt therapy. Also a writer, Reich's books like The Sexual Revolution and The Mass Psychology of Fascism influenced generations of intellectuals. Also a controversial figure, some of Wilhelm Reich's practices caused a disturbance in the psychoanalytic community.
Maximilian I was Holy Roman Emperor from 1508 until his death in 1519. The son of Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor, and Eleanor of Portugal, he ruled jointly with his father for the last years of the latter’s reign. During his reign, he expanded the influence of the House of Habsburg and established the Habsburg dynasty in Spain.
Gustav Schwarzenegger was better known as actor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s father than as the police chief of Austria. He was a master sergeant in Wehrmacht after his country was annexed by Nazi Germany. He was made a postal inspector after injuries he suffered in Russia ruled him out of the armed forces. He returned to the Austrian police force in 1947.
The man behind iconic tracks such as Der Kommisar and Rock Me Amadeus, legendary Austrian singer Johann "Hans" Hölzel, better known as Falco, was one of the best-selling singers from his country. Unfortunately, his career was short-lived, as he died in a car accident shortly before his 41st birthday.