July 6, 2009 at 12:07 am #1647
Clearly the Hapsburg dynasty and the Austro-Hungarian Empire were facing serious problems before World War I. Even without WWI it's likely the empire would have split apart (a process that started with the 1867 compromise.) That being said, prior to WWI the “minorities” were seeking greater autonomy, not independence. Wilson and the 14-points were, arguably, the dead knoll for the Empire. Originally the US favored greater autonomy. It's position changed to a demand for total independence for the "minorities." But had US stuck with the original 14-points position the Empire would have survived; other scenarios can be spun that also would see the Empire survive. Suppose the Austro-Hungarian Empire (and Hapsburg dynasty) survived World War I. What would be the impact on history? Would there have been a World War II? Would there have been a Bosnian War in the 1990s?July 6, 2009 at 11:15 pm #15914
Along with this, would the Treaty of Versailles still have been put into effect?From the Treaty of Versailles: "It will be forbidden to Germany to maintain or build fortifications... in this territory (West of the Rhine).... It is forbidden for Germany to maintain an army.... the German army will not include more than seven infantry divisions.... It is forbidden for Germany to import or export tanks or any other military hardware.... The German naval forces will be limited and are not to include submarines. The armed forces of Germany will not include any air forces.... In the political realm, Germany is forbidden to enter into any treaty with Austria."July 7, 2009 at 2:03 am #15915
Along with this, would the Treaty of Versailles still have been put into effect?
I'm guessing that had the Austro-Hungarian Empire survived WWI the terms the Treaty of Versailles terms would have been different.WWI was a war nobody really wanted; the Treaty of Versailles was a disaster. Had the allied leaders posed greater foresight--such as seen in the 1815 Treaty of Vienna ending the Napoleonic Wars--we might have had an enduring peace instead of WWII.July 7, 2009 at 7:21 am #15916
Suppose the Austro-Hungarian Empire (and Hapsburg dynasty) survived World War I. What would be the impact on history? Would there have been a World War II? Would there have been a Bosnian War in the 1990s?
Point 10 of the original 14 Points argue against any continuation of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It states: ?X. The peoples of Austria-Hungary, whose place among the nations we wish to see safeguarded and assured, should be accorded the freest opportunity to autonomous development.? Doesn?t autnonous development seem to presage independence at some point? This quote also argues against it: ?We have spoken now, surely, in terms too concrete to admit of any further doubt or question. An evident principle runs through the whole program I have outlined. It is the principle of justice to all peoples and nationalities, and their right to live on equal terms of liberty and safety with one another, whether they be strong or weak.? The nods tro nationalism in the 14 Points and others of Wilson?s speeches say that Wilson was all about ethnic independence not some kind of autonomy within an existing state. Wilson staked his reputation on redrawing the map of Europe. The full text of Wilson's 14 point speech is here: President Wilson's Fourteen Points The whole tone of Wilson's 14 Points speech was about national self-determination along ethnic lines. Further, one of the stated war-goals of both the British and French was the dismantling of the Germanic monarchies. I am not certian that they would have let it survive even absent the 14 Points. One of the prevailing views at the time was the inherent militancy of the Germans led to the war in the first place. That also fed into the insistence on the war guilt clause in the treaty of Versailles.
Clearly the Hapsburg dynasty and the Austro-Hungarian Empire were facing serious problems before World War I. Even without WWI it's likely the empire would have split apart (a process that started with the 1867 compromise.)
As you allude to, the polyglot nature of the Empire with its multi-ethnic character meant that the Empire was doomed to extinction if Wilson's vision were to come to pass. It did in fact not survive the war. The amazing thing about the break-up of the Empire is its peaceful nature. This is especially surprising given the ethnic tensions of the last 150 or so years of the Empires history. 1867 was just a watershed moment and a desperate attempt to stabilize the Empire other events also point to the Empire?s instability. The most notable event of the 19th century for Austria was the revolution of 1848 in which the Empire was only held together by a virtual civil war and substantial military assistance from the Russians.The survival of the Austro-Hungarian Empire is an interesting cou8nter-factual but it is hard to see how it would have survived the war. Even without WWI the Empire?s days were numbered. The stresses of fighting WWI actually hastened the disintegration of the empire by showcasing the ethnic faults within Austrian society.
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