Austrian Chancellor Franz Vranitzky – Professional Basketball Player
Franz Vranitzky was born on October 4, 1937, to very humble beginnings. He lived in Vienna’s 17th district and did not attend the fancy schools that some of his predecessors did. He worked his way through college, graduating in 1960 with a degree in economics. Vranitzky paid for his studies and his living expenses by teaching languages and by working in construction.
Though he was busy working and putting himself through school, he made time for playing basketball. The sport became a true passion for him and he joined the Austrian national team. However, despite Vranitzky’s passion and the passion of his teammates, they were not able to qualify for the 1960 Olympic Games.
In 1961, he abandoned his basketball dreams and moved on to a career in banking. His humble beginnings led him to join the Social Democratic Party of Austria and he went back to school to continue to better himself. He eventually graduated with a Doctorate in International Business Studies, which propelled him up through the banking industry. By 1981, he was the director general of Österreichische Länderbank; a long way from his time as a basketball player. His focus in politics changed, and in 1984 he joined the SPO-Freedom Party and became the Minister of Finance under Chancellor Fred Sinowatz.
The political climate of Austria changed due to a scandal when Kurt Waldheim was elected president. Many around the world shunned the Austrian President because of his actions as a German officer during World War II. The controversy caused Chancellor Sinowatz to resign, and he named Vranitzky as his successor. Vranitzky addressed the controversy and became the first Chancellor to openly admit the role Austria played during the war. She served as Chancellor until his resignation in 1997.