Why and How Do States Collapse? The Case of Austria-Hungary in the Inter-war Historical Discourse

The breakdown of Austria-Hungary had many prophets, and it had been popularly considered an anachronism a long time before it actually collapsed. At the beginning of the 20 th century this hodge-podge of peoples and territories, ruled by the oldest living emperor in Europe, and having neither a proper name nor a common language, seemed an exception among the other states of Europe – probably more evidently than it seems to the modern historians. An English journalist trying to present a mosaic of the monarchy’s problems to his compatriots in 1913 warned them that “the Austrian problem is a problem sui generis, not to be solved on principle or in the light of theory.”[1] Indeed, it was neither easy to govern Austria-Hungary, nor support its political ambitions with a convincing, up to date doctrine.

Thus, when the monarchy finally fell in 1918 it seemed that history gave its clear-cut verdict, and all that remained of the monarchy was memories, sentimental imagery, purely academic investigations and eventually the political phantasms of eccentrics. Nevertheless, the downfall of the Habsburg Empire obviously provoked the imagination and curiosity of numerous authors and it provided historians an opportunity to demonstrate, analyze and explain a historical event of a large scale.

In this paper I shall elucidate on some interpretations of the history of Austria-Hungary as a state produced in the inter-war years, that is, by authors who witnessed the break up of the monarchy. I shall focus my attention on the writings of former citizens of the monarchy, who were predestined to take up this topic for a variety of reasons. Some of them were political, some were purely sentimental; while some authors presumably simply explored a temporary rise of the interest of the public for the recent historical developments, others attempted to legitimize their political past. Hence, their interest in debating and interpreting the history of the monarchy was relatively the strongest in that time, and they managed to establish a number of themes, concepts and explanations with which the future generations of historians, often coming from the West, had to deal.

For the inter-war generation, political history still occupied a dominant position in historical studies, and states formed the most classical subject of interest within this discipline. Theoretically, Austria-Hungary should fit this model perfectly, as the final incarnation of the political body of the House of Habsburg, being one of the most influential actors on the political scene of Europe since the sixteenth century. However, since it finally failed in its struggle for survival, the political project constituting the fundaments of the monarchy has become debatable.

The official state-propaganda of the monarchy supported its claims for significance almost exclusively with the traditional rights of the Habsburg dynasty. It assumed that people should respect these rights as long as the dynasty secured their well-being and their basic civil rights, which actually grew remarkably during the 19 th century. However, such a concept did not suit any of the modern ideas that viewed states as products of historical processes and as serving the masses and their aspirations. At least since the French Revolution and Hegel’s Lectures on the Philosophy of History, such perspective successfully undermined the traditional or ‘feudal’ point of view, seeing states simply as a part of the God’s project for humanity, and replaced the natural/divine arrangement with such ideas like the nation’s will, the spirit of time, and the rise of civilization or progress, as determining the development of states within historical processes. By the end of the First World War, the practical implementation of such an approach apparently reached its peak in the modern history of Europe with the foundation of the Soviet Union, the Wilsonian idea of the self-determination of nations serving as the basis for the Paris peace settlement of 1919, or the famous philosophies of history by Oswald Spengler and Arnold Toynbee. Hence, there is no wonder that the inter-war historians often ascribed some kind of ‘historical mission’ to Austria-Hungary as its true and significant raison d’être. In light of this trend, the most problematic aspect of the monarchy was its multinational character, for the most popular opinion of the time argued that statehood is just the most accurate form of securing the well-being of a particular nation.

Moreover, the authors analyzing the reasons for Austria-Hungary’s downfall may be divided into two basic categories. This division arises from the question whether an author writing on the monarchy accepted its dissolution as a result of an unavoidable historical process, or whether he considered it a result of one of the alternative historical scenarios, which could have been eventually avoided if some hypothetical change in the past had occurred. Evidently, these two approaches generally correlate with the political inclinations of the authors considered, but they do not necessarily do so, and the very different ways of reasoning may be observed within the same political camp when considering the problem of the historical necessity of the monarchy’s final breakdown. For the purposes of the analysis presented below, the way of reasoning arising from the simple question ‘what went wrong with Austria-Hungary?’ is certainly more interesting, for regarding the unfortunate outcome of the monarchy’s struggle for survival such a question provokes more balanced and intellectually inspiring answers instead of quitting the problem with a simplistic claim that ‘what happened must have happened.’

There are two basic reasons for the breakup of Austria-Hungary, as discussed by the inter-war authors. The first one is the monarchy’s inability to satisfy its nationalities’ claims, and the second is its military defeat during the First World War, the latter being often explained as a consequence of the former. Accordingly, there are two main actors involved in this drama: the nations, usually considered as entities with their respective interests, claims and strategies for achieving them, and the imperial-royal governments, discussed separately for Austria and Hungary, or jointly, especially when seen as tools of the policy of the crown. For the large number of authors (mostly of overtly anti-Hungarian or pro-democratic sympathies), Hungary differs significantly from Austria in this respect, because her government and its ‘nationalistic’ policy are viewed as representative for the interests of the Hungarian upper class exclusively – and so it is silently argued that the Hungarian policy towards the other nationalities of the monarchy and Hungarian national interests would have been differently defined than they actually were, had Hungary enjoyed a more democratic regime. Such speculations do not apply to the Austrian/Cisleithanian part of the monarchy, which is usually considered as never completely dominated by any single nationality – with the Germans’ influence on the state-affairs being the strongest, but not at all satisfying their expectations. The question discussed is, whether these claims were justifiable and if they served the state.

Consequently, for those authors who argue that Austria-Hungary could have survived if the problem of the nationalities’ claims had somehow been solved, it is clear that its state organization needed a serious reform that actually never occurred. They also agree that such a reform could not take place without damaging the system of dualism created by the Compromise of the crown with Hungary in 1867. Any attempts to change the status quo after 1867 was met with vigorous resistance and protests by all Hungarian governments, from Andrassy to Werkele, to which the emperors Francis Joseph and Charles consequently succumbed. Hence, the authors who were active in Austrian politics before 1914, when irritation with the strong position obtained by Hungary within the monarchy was already growing, tend to blame the Hungarians most passionately for the failure of these attempts. In this respect the anti-Hungarian sentiments of Pan-Germans and the resentments of the imperial bureaucrats mingle in their condemnation of “the nationalist megalomania of the Magyars”[2] as the main obstacle to reform the state. Dualism, so the argument goes, satisfied only the Hungarians, and it became impossible to keep the other nationalities loyal without replacing it with a formula granting more political influences for other nationalities. It is worth of noticing that this opinion remains commonly accepted by Austrian historians also after the Second World War.[3]

As an example of such a desirable change, the concept of the so-called trialism is most frequently mentioned, as it is supposed to have been on the agenda of Francis Ferdinand, an heir to the throne and considered a potential ‘man of providence’ by many authors. The grounds for viewing trialism, granting the Southern Slavs a position similar to the Hungarian one, as a theoretical salvation for the monarchy become evident when analyzing the grounds of the First World War. Since attacking Serbia was what led to the inevitable catastrophe, the a posteriori reasoning goes, a peaceful solution to the Southern Slav question appears the most urgent political need of the monarchy. Nonetheless, no serious attempt was made in this direction, and it is impossible to deny the government’s inability and unwillingness to undertake it. As Pribram, a Viennese professor, has put it:

Time passed by and nothing was done. The South Slav sore, allowed to fester on the body of the Empire, spread over it until it brought about its death. The responsibility for this fact, so fateful for the Empire and for the dynasty, resets largely with Francis Joseph, who in the last years of his reign continued to strive to preserve peace for his realm, but avoided decisive measures .[4]

However, for the authors examining the history of the political discussions within the monarchy in the last decades of its existence, it becomes clear that it was the Czech-German antagonism that provoked the largest disturbances and bitterness. Again, the Czech problem is often considered with respect to its potential impact on the First World War, during which, according to the prevailing opinion of the Austrian patriots, the Czechs appeared disloyal. Hence, they call Czech and the South Slav questions “two open wounds”[5] of the monarchy. In contrast, numerous attempts to compromise Czechs and Germans have been made by the government, but no permanent solution to the problem has been ever found. German (and Austro-German) authors considering this question basically avoid admitting that such a solution, if it was to satisfy Czech claims, would have to damage the politically and socially privileged position of the Germans in the monarchy. They rather tend to emphasize the absurdly far-reaching consequences of the local and purely administrative conflicts between Czechs and Germans in Moravia and Bohemia, sometimes acknowledging the extreme stubbornness and bellicosity of the local German population.[6] The ambivalence of their approach has probably been most openly expressed by Hugelmann, who, having examined the local conflicts between the nationalities, concludes that “for the sake of historical truth” one should enumerate Austria-Hungary’s mistakes, but one should also honor the German Nation, which helped the Slavs in awakening their national spirit, which also sacrificed itself for the common state the most, especially by surrendering its wish to be included into the German Reich. Moreover, he emphasizes that although “it is well known,” that he “does not support the idea of reconstructing Austria-Hungary in any form, a historical justice should be done to its historical greatness.”[7]

Basically, for all inter-war authors examining the conflicts among the nationalities of Austria-Hungary more carefully it seems undeniable that they were consequently shaking the political scene of the state, and that these conflicts had apparently more disastrous impact on the state-affairs in Austria than they had in Hungary. However, as Hungarian emigrant and ex-democratic politician Oskar Jaszi has pointed out:

There can be no doubt that the weakest nation of Austria enjoyed in real life more rights and privileges than the strongest non-Magyar nation in Hungary. In spite of this fact the superficial observer might well have believed that in Hungary there was no national problem, whereas Austria ran from crisis to crisis in consequence of this problem.[8]

This comparison is by no means restricted to the Austro-Hungarian relations. Numerous authors suggest that the “rights and privileges” enjoyed by the nationalities of Austria were actually extended much further than in any of the successor states after 1918[9] or even in any other European state of that time. Others also argue that the Austrian government in fact had a supra-national character, and that no other European government has worked so hard for a “reasonable compromise” in the field of the national liberties.[10]

Those who carefully observed the innumerable conflicts among the nationalities sometimes come to the conclusion that their nature was irrational, perpetual and irresistible, so, as Josef Redlich has put it: “Since the Germans had brought three governments down on the language ordinances, the Czechs must do the like to one.”[11] Such remarks are typical for the authors, who advocate the idea of a potential sanitation of the monarchy by its reorganization according to the federal lines. However, Austria-Hungary’s actual downfall brutally limits the sense of their reasoning. Unable to explain why none of the potential remedies they describe actually worked, they tend to sum the problem up in three ways: either they accuse the ruling politicians of “being blinded,” and Francis Joseph of “becoming remote from reality;”[12] or they suggest the existence of some kind of international anti-Habsburg conspiracy (usually a combination of the Protestant, freemason, Jewish, Czech, Yugoslav and socialist forces); or they render to a kind of half-mystic pessimism. This pessimism has been best expressed by Viktor Bibl, when he presents Francis Ferdinand’s hypothetical plans for reforms and the policy towards Southern Slavs. According to Bibl, although Francis Ferdinand had been convinced about the necessity of domestic reforms, he finally came to the conclusion that none could actually be introduced. In this historian’s view, Austria simply suffered from a “progressive political paralysis,” which means that it was truly Austrian to do nothing and watch the opportunity for action pass by, and the true “miracle of the House of Habsburg” was that the Empire managed to survive the entire 19 th century, although nobody in the ruling elite seriously considered the consequences of the Austrian Schicksalsfrage.[13]

Of course investigations of the hypothetical solutions to the monarchy’s problems inevitably lead to paradoxes. Thus, the idea of federalization even comes to the minds of Austro-German patriots. Bibl, for example, having first argued that Austria-Hungary should have attacked Serbia before 1909, when Bulgaria allied herself with Russia, then quotes with approval the Serbian minister (sic!) Proti?:

Peace and good neighborhood between Austria-Hungary and the Balkan states will be possible only when the monarchy accepts the role of an eastern Switzerland. As long as it plays a great power, it will desire to make new conquests on the Balkan Peninsula .[14]

Here we arrive at one of the fundamental features of Austria-Hungary as a state, as well as the most obvious reason for its downfall, namely its great power status. Inter-war authors dealing with the problems of the external policy of the monarchy consequently refer to Austria-Hungary as a great power. Basically, this feature of the monarchy appears as the second most characteristic after its multi-national constitution, and it is univocally regarded a positive one (in contrast to the latter). Consequently, as the most urgent problem in the domestic affairs is to overcome the complications of the multi-national composition of the state, in the foreign affairs the question is the cultivation of the great power status. It is commonly acknowledged that sustaining this status became problematic for Austria-Hungary, and a number of authors actually confuses this problem with Austria-Hungary’s struggle for its survival, arguing as if the monarchy was designed to be a great power or nothing. This assumption is used to support contradictory claims, for example, to the re-evaluation of the Compromise of 1867, which to Hantsch “preserved the fundaments of the great power status.”[15] For Glaise-Horstenau, another true Austrian patriot, it was replacing dualism with federalization that, in the age of the rising nationalism, was desirable for the monarchy if it wanted “to be still considered a great power.”[16]

The great power argument inevitably appears when describing the origins of the First World War. It is difficult for a historian writing about Austria-Hungary with some sympathy to approve its decision to start this war. Nevertheless, defending the great power status seems to explain this act even in the eyes of the historians quite critical towards the imperial government. This ambiguity may be well seen in a somehow desperate reasoning of Pribram:

It is not my purpose to justify the decision of the Viennese statesman, they were certainly too hasty. But it must be considered that in all quarters of the realm the opinion prevailed that a Great Power could no longer tolerate the attitude of the Serbian Power… Have not nations their sense of honor the same as individuals? Is it therefore so very strange that the Austro-Hungarian statesman should have it impossible to bear any longer the insolence of the Serbs ? [17]

For Glaise-Horstenau it is clear that “a great country (Reich) and a great army could not lay down arms without fighting.”[18] Hence, for all who view the great power status as Austria-Hungary’s destiny it is apparently unavoidable to rationalize the decision leading to its annihilation, since for a great power it was impossible to tolerate an insult from a country of a lower status – and this, to their minds, was the case of Serbian openly anti-Habsburg policy.

Very few of the inter-war authors recognize the connection between the absolutist character of Austria-Hungary’s governments, its desire to be ranked among the great powers and the decision to start the war against Serbia in order to demonstrate its chivalry and readiness to perish in a grand style. For the Austrian authors it is much more typical to complain, like Hantsch still did in 1947, that “in order to understand the whole tragedy of Austria-Hungary one must realize, that its war-aims were purely local” in contrast to those of Germany, France and England.[19] In other words, the tragedy of Austria-Hungary was that its aspiration to being a great power had been underestimated by Serbia before the war, but was taken literally by the other great powers during the war.

However, the very similar premises make some other authors, namely those of openly pro-Habsburg inclinations, draw a different conclusion – one that blames the German imperialism for the misfortunes of Austria-Hungary. This view is especially characteristic of the admirers and supporters of emperor Charles and his timid attempts at a separate peace with the Entente in 1917. This tendency may be well seen in, for example, the argumentation of count Polzer-Hoditz, the emperor’s biographer and for a time a high official in his administration. According to him, the whole foreign policy of the monarchy during the late period of Francis Joseph’s rule was a mistake because of the preponderant influence of a pro-German clique, which allied itself with the traditionally pro-German Hungarians. Moreover, Germany at that time rendered herself to the mirages of imperialism, what, in Polzer-Hoditz’s view, was an ill-matched policy, because Germans are naïve idealists by nature.[20] This opinion is of course shared by authors of openly Catholic inclinations, like Alfred Missong, who contributed to the Austro-Catholic manifesto Die österreichische Aktion, where he overtly claims that “after 1866 Austrian history concentrates upon the conflict of the Austrian genius and the Prussian demon.”[21] Just a few years earlier, in 1920, a Polish aristocrat wrote with bitter satisfaction: “Your attachment to the Teuton, for whom you sacrificed everything … killed you, Austria; such a stupidity had to be punished!!”[22]

The pattern of the Austro-German relations underscores the very problem of Austria-Hungary’s exceptionality. What was that country overall, and who was an Austrian? These questions remain open for the inter-war generation, and hence, they are frequently answered or being referred to by historians of that time. Apparently, the Austrian identity at the turn of the century was a mess and an enigma, and the breakdown of Austria-Hungary only contributed to the confusion of those who identified themselves with the country or simply were left within ‘the smaller Austria’ by the treaty of St. Germain. Yet, it was Franz Grillparzer who lived long enough to ask himself, when the German Empire was founded in 1871: “I have been German all my life, who am I now?” The most famous interpretations of this dilemma have been produced by Austrian novelists and dramatists, who successfully introduced the paradoxes of the Austrian identity problem into world literature. As a consequence, the inter-war debates have been largely forgotten, and the most fashionable manner in which historians writing since 1960s have dealt with the problem is by just quoting one of Robert Musil’s witty and ironic lines.

However, for an inter-war historian it seems important to somehow sum up the Austro-Hungarian experience. Here we arrive at the problem of Austria-Hungary’s mission in history. Again, when examining this idea it is very difficult to distinguish the standpoints of the authors of various ideological orientations, for they tend to support their claims with very similar arguments. The appeal of the German-nationalist Hugelmann, who calls for recognizing the “historical greatness” of the monarchy as a school of national consciousness (modeled after the German romanticism) of its people has already been mentioned above. A very similar opinion may be found in leftist democrat and emigrant writer Walter Kolarz, who claimed:

The importance of these multi-national states [Austria-Hungary and Russia] for the development of the anonymous peoples is indisputable. The advantages offered by the two states of living in contact with other nationalities to a certain extent even outweighed the evils of police terrorism in Austria and of absolutism in Russia … Vienna was indeed the finest example of a center from which enlightenment and culture radiated into area of peoples without history and where the representatives of all various small and young peoples could come into contact with world civilization ”. [23]

German nationalist authors of course go further with this reasoning, claiming that the purpose of Austria-Hungary’s existence was to bring German culture to Eastern Europe. And in the eyes of the pan-German authors of a history textbook published in 1937 under the shadow of the Nazi success in Germany, it is clear that not only the Slavs, but also the Hungarians, albeit evidently superior in this respect, owe everything they possess in the field of culture to Austria and to her German colonists.[24]

The historical argumentation of Otto Bauer, a leader of the left wing of the Austrian Social Democracy, seems astonishingly similar. “With the break down of the leadership over the other nations [during the World War],” explains Bauer “the German bourgeoisie has finished its historical mission, for which it voluntarily tolerated the separation from the German motherland”.[25] Seemingly, Bauer considers Austria-Hungary an obstacle on the German nation’s way to its destiny, yet he regards it necessary for the fulfillment of the “historical mission” of educating the non-Germans. Exactly the same point is recognized by those who actually despise Austria-Hungary for their pan-German sentiments, like Kleinwaechter, who calls Austrian Germans “victims of both the Hohenzollerns and the Habsburgs,” even if they were “partially unaware” of the fact that they were missing the Reich.[26] The above-mentioned textbook from 1937 adds to this argument: the battle of Königgratz was a victory for Prussia, but a defeat for the German people, since after Königgratz Austria had to tolerate a rising Slav influence on her state-affairs.[27] Remarkable in this approach is not only the socialist-nationalist unison, but also a concurrent readiness to condemn the political consequences of the Habsburgs’ rule and at the same time to appraise its cultural implications. Yet, a controversy arises over the question whether Austria’s mission in history is to bring German culture to the Easterners, or whether it is rather to protect those who already posses this culture against the barbarians, since history, as the Austrian historian Jaschke points out (supporting his claim by appealing to Herodotus), is determined by the eternal conflict between the cultural West and the barbaric East.[28]

Nevertheless, the Austro-Hungarian experience proves that besides culture the peoples of East-Central Europe also need peace. And this is the core of the Austrian Idea, as developed by the Austrian liberal conservatives in reference to the official Habsburg propaganda, as well as reflecting the attitude of the supranational elite of the old monarchy towards its state, especially of the liberal, culturally German Jewry. For many of those who missed the Habsburg rule after the war, the supranational Austrian state is a response to the Austrian problem, which is a problem of the peaceful coexistence of nations. Austria is, for such authors like Benda, Missong or Zessner-Spitzenberg, a name for the supranational organization of Central Europe, which is a “political necessity.” That the region should be organized under the leadership of the real Austria is obvious, because of the cultural superiority of Austria and simply because Austriacarries this idea. The Habsburgs’ claim for leadership among the catholic powers, and for the legacy of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, also makes the openly catholic authors suggest that ‘Austria’ is a proper name for a Christian Reich (and a Reich is more than just a state, and it is supra-national by nature). The Roman Empire and the empire of Charlemagne (a predecessor of the Habsburgs) fell because of their de-christianization. However, they argue, the Austrian idea should help in reconstructing the Orbis Europaeus Christianus.[29]

This semi-mystical ideology develops during the inter-war years along with the urgent need for building some positive identity for the citizens of the First Austrian Republic. Its vocabulary, once again, is eagerly employed by those who remained skeptical or indifferent towards its political implications. “ Austria,” wrote a distinguished English historian in 1926, “the incorporated seat of the Habsburgs’ will-to-power, changed its frontiers every decade; it was indefinable, it was almost a poetic idea.”[30]

Numerous writers and historians contribute to the construction of the image of Austria as a phantom rising from the glorious imperial past, and of the Austrian Man as a human being especially sensitive towards other nationalities, as well as a true bearer of the German Kulturidee. This tendency culminates during the Austro-Fascist regime;[31] some of its arguments, however, survived up to after the Second World War in an almost unchanged shape. The Austrian historian Heinrich Benedikt, writing just after the war, claims, for example, that Austria-Hungary was a country more democratic than England, for Austria stood firm on her excellent laws, and law should be estimated higher than parliamentary democracy, which “nobody ever took seriously” in Austria.[32] Hugo Hantsch, another historian writing in this period, remains skeptical towards various aspects of Austro-Hungarian politics, but he also refers to the universal Kulturidee of the Habsburgs uncritically. Moreover, he insists that the dynasty and the Catholic Church have managed to instill in the Austrians a universal and Christian spirit, on which the future “united Europe” should be based.[33] The Austrian Idea survived, accordingly, not only Austria-Hungary, but also Schuschnigg and Hitler, and for a conservative writer like Felix Braun there seem to be nothing astonishing about it, for, as he wrote in 1951: “Austria is an idea, and all ideas suffer from incompleteness of their applications, even the Church-idea. Why should the Austrian idea be exceptional?”[34]

Indeed, there is almost nothing truly exceptional in the inter-war historical discourse about Austria-Hungary. Comparable historical controversies, idealist and chauvinist claims, mystical concepts about the country’s past and destiny, as well as innumerable and unlimited accusations against those not patriotic enough, have probably arisen in all modern countries. A time of defeat or fear of defeat usually fuels such interpretations. Toutes proportions gardées, the ways in which Czechs, Poles and Serbs viewed their states and their history in the inter-war time were certainly somehow similar to the Austro-Hungarian version of history. Their states were located at the borderlands of the so-called Western world, between the dangerously powerful Germany and Russia, and contained a large (if not predominant) number of national minorities, to whom they wanted to bring peace, stability and occasionally also culture, under the condition of the minorities’ loyalty and subordination, of course. Hungarians, who for many decades remained traumatized by the loss of territory and population imposed on Hungary by the treaty of Trianon, desired nothing but a reconstruction of Austria-Hungary, but without Austria and the Habsburgs; that is, rather, a Central-European federation under Hungarian rule.[35] It is doubtful whether these countries modeled their self-images on the Austro-Hungarian pattern, since Austria-Hungary had fallen and proved itself unsuccessful. Still, they certainly borrowed a lot from the monarchy before it passed, politically and from the minds of its former inhabitants.

Considering the political realities of the inter-war epoch, all the above-discussed attempts to justify its historical claims, to honor its rulers and to finally establish an agreeable basis for the identity of an Austro-Hungarian patriot seem desperate, pathetic and hopeless. Yet, the monarchy’s ability for a spiritual recovery appears astonishing and incomparable. While the other great powers of Europe continued their ambiguous policies, fought their wars and were loosing their empires, the reputation of the once unbearably anachronistic Austria-Hungary continuously grew and improved. Since the early 1960s, historians have started to focus on the impressive and unique cultural and intellectual heritage of the monarchy, praising its relative liberalism, and paying less attention to its numerous, but bloodless internal national conflicts.


1. H.W.Steed, The Hapsburg Monarchy, (London: Constable & Co., 1914), p. xxi.

2. J. Redlich, Emperor Francis Joseph of Austria, (London; Mac Millan, 1929), p. 507.

3. See also: H. Hantsch, Die Geschichte Österreichs, (Vienna, Verlag Styria, 1953) pp. 399-403 and 493-495; F.G. Kleinwachter, Von Schönbrunn bis St. Germain, (Graz: Verlag Styria, 1964), pp. 20-21; H. Benedikt, Monarchie der Gegensätze. Österreichs Weg durch die Neuzeit, (Vienna; Verlag Ulstein, 1947), pp. 176-177 and 200-201, V. Bibl, Der Zerfall Österreichs, (Vienna, Rikola Verlag, 1924) vol. II, p. 411.

4. A.F. Pribram, Austrian Foreign Policy 1908-1918, (London: Unwin Brothers, 1923), p. 19

5. K.G. Hugelamann (ed.), Das Nationalitätenrechet des alten Österreich, (Vienna-Leipzig 1934), pp. 266-267.

6. See: F. Hertz, Nationalgeist und Politik, (Zurich 1937), vol. I, pp. 385-391.

7. Hugelmann, p. 282.

8. O. Jaszi, The Dissolution of the Habsburg Monarchy, (Chicago: Univ. Press, 1929) p. 287.

9. See: Hugelmann, pp. 277-283. Edmund Glaise-Horstenau adds that: “… it would be unfair not to mention that this policy [of magyarization] was relatively mild, as compared to what the successor states have actually introduced after the war’, in: idem, Die Katastrophe (Vienna, Amalthea Verlag, 1929), p. 9.

10. See: Hertz, p. 436.

11. Redlich, p. 451.

12. There are very few authors who dare to criticize Francis Joseph as a ruler, but they often suggest that being old, he had serious difficulties in effectivly fulfilling his prerogatives, or, as Pribram puts it, that “with advancing age [he] preferred advisors who knew how to unite a knot instead of cutting it.” Pribram, p. 56.

13. See: V. Bibl, Die Tragödie Österreichs, (Vienna-Leipzig, 1937), p. 13; Der Zerfall Österreichs, pp. 431-441.

14. Bibl, Der Zefall Österreichs, p. 447.

15. Hantsch, p. 399.

16. Glaise-Horstenau, pp. 21-22.

17. Pribram, p. 63.

18. Glaise-Horstenau, op.cit, p. 22.

19. Hantsch, p. 550.

20. A. Polzer-Hoditz, Kaser Karl, (Vienna: Amalthea Verlag, 1929)., pp. 148-153.

21. Die österreichische Aktion, A.M. Knoll, A. Missong, W. Schmid, E.K. Winter and H.K. Zessner-Spitzenberg (eds.), (Vienna, 1927), p. 93.

22. L. Sapieha, Virbus Unitis, (Lwow, 1920), p. 57.

23. W. Kolarz, Myths and Realities in Eastern Europe, (London: Lindsay Drummond, 1946) pp. 44-45.

24. See: H. Kirchegger (ed.) Geschichte und Kulturleben Deutchösterreich von 1792 bis nach dem Weltkrieg, (Vienna: Breumüller, 1937), pp. 311-318

25. O. Bauer, Die österreichische Revolution, (Vienna: Volksbuchhandlung, 1933), p. 101.

26. F.G. Kleinwaechter, Der Untergang der österreichisch-ungarischen Monarchie, (Leipzig: Kochler Verlag, 1920), p. 289.

27. Kirchegger, p. 309.

28. See: A.R.C. Jaschke, Österreichs Deutsche Erbe. Ein europäisches Raumproblem, (Graz,1934), pp. 5-6.

29. See: O. Benda, Die österreichische Kulturidee in Staat und Erziehung, (Vienna: Satam Verlag, 1936), pp. 77-95; Die österreichische Aktion, pp. 60-93; J. Wolf, K.J. Heilig and H. M. Gorgen, Österreich und die Reichsidee, (Vienna: Österreichischer Verlag für Kunst und Wissenschaft, 1937), pp. 22-24 and 169-175.

30. C.A. Macartney, The Social Revolution in Austria, (Cambridge: Univeristy Press, 1926), p.1.

31. It has been thoroughly researched on the field of literary history by F. Aspetsberger, Literarisches Leben im Austrofaschismus, (Frankfurt am Main: Hain, 1980) pp. 81-90.

32. H. Benedikt, Monarchie der Gegensatze, p. 188.

33. H. Hantsch, Die Geschichte Osterreichs, pp. 559-576.

34. F. Braun, Anrufe des Geistes. Essays, Reden, Errinerungen, ( Graz 1965), p. 137, cited in: Staat und Gesellschaft in der modernen österreichischen Literatur, F. Aspetsberger (ed.), (Vienna: Österreichischer Bundes Verlag, 1972), p. 32.

35. Count Szilassy, an Austro-Hungarian diplomat, loyal to the dynasty till its last day, put this idea elegantly. The Germans and Hungarians of Austria were victims of 50 years of their own wrong policy – he wrote already in 1921 – but these are brave nations and they should soon recover, and a reconstruction of a ‘Hungarian federation’ will follow, for the sake of all its ex-citizens J. Szilassy, Der Untergang der Donau-Monarchie, (Berlin: Verlag Neues Vaterland, 1921), pp. 374-378.

IWM Junior Visiting Fellows’ Conferences, Vol. XXI/2

History and Judgement

© 2006 by the author
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Preferred citation: Kozuchowski, Adam. 2006. Why and How Do States Collapse?
The Case of Austria-Hungary in the Inter-war Historical Discourse.
In History and Judgement, eds. A. MacLachlan and I. Torsen, Vienna: IWM Junior
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