The Austro-Polish Solution: Diplomacy, Politics, and State Building in Wartime Austria-Hungary 1914-1918

By Wargelin, Clifford F. | East European Quarterly, Fall 2008 | Go to article overview

The Austro-Polish Solution: Diplomacy, Politics, and State Building in Wartime Austria-Hungary 1914-1918


Wargelin, Clifford F., East European Quarterly


In the first decades after its demise in 1918, the Austro-Hungarian Empire's collapse assumed a decided air of inevitability in the national histories of the day. Scholarship since the Second World War, reflecting greater skepticism towards the nationalist agendas that superseded the multinational state, has generally adopted a more objective tone regarding the causes of its collapse. Samuel R. Williamson Jr., for example, concluded: "The Habsburg monarchy had problems to be sure in 1912, but its future did not appear more uncertain than at earlier times in its history. Indeed, the Dual Monarchy appeared to have a vitality that would ensure its survival." (1) This modern view seconds that of Baron Istvan Burian von Rajecz, the Austro-Hungarian Foreign Minister for much of the war, who wrote in his memoirs: "We, the official protectors of the venerable structure [of the state], were convinced of its adaptability to new developments." (2) The later President of the Austrian Republic, Karl Renner, also echoed this sentiment. Describing the Habsburg realm in 1918 in terms that foreshadowed the European Union, he wrote: "Therefore, the smaller nations have every reason to abolish the inequality of their natural existence, their defenselessness and helplessness alongside the greater nations, by joining a supranational association based on law. Such an association cannot eliminate their natural inequality, yet it can guarantee them continued existence and the ability to act on the world stage." (3)

In contrast, Count Ottokar Czernin, Burian's successor as Foreign Minister, concluded gloomily in his memoirs: "We were bound to die." However, even he conceded that options, however limited, existed for the Dual Monarchy: "We were at liberty to choose the manner of our death, and we chose the most terrible." (4) One wonders what constituted "death" for the conservative aristocrat, and whether the choices confronting the Habsburg government between 1914 and 1918 all would have led to the state's dissolution. Even the conclusion of Robert A. Kann, doyen of Habsburg studies for much of the twentieth century, to the effect that for Habsburg policy-makers "there generally was no right course but only a choice between greater and lesser evils," might be deemed unduly pessimistic. (5)

As a multinational state, the Austro-Hungarian Empire certainly faced severe challenges in the last years of its existence. Not least of these was the reality that its foreign policy was driven in large measure by internal, national considerations. As Count Leopold Berchtold, the prewar Minister of Foreign Affairs, concluded in 1914 on the eve of the Sarajevo assassination crisis: "Because of the events of the last years, an intensive relationship has been formed between foreign policy and those national questions which are connected with an irredentist movement supported from abroad, so that a firm conduct of foreign affairs, without the knowledge of internal treatment of these national questions, has become impossible." (6) If the relationship of the various Habsburg nationalities to each other and to the dynasty was complicated, and the foreign policy determined by those realities no less so, the outbreak of the World War offered the opportunity for more radical departures in both areas. With room in certain cases for both national agendas and dynastic loyalty, the multinational state's dissolution was anything but a foregone conclusion in the summer of 1914.

One national group within the Dual Monarchy, the Poles, not only supported the Habsburg war effort, but actively and openly advocated Polish national unification as one of Austria-Hungary's war aims. Unique among the nationalities, they did so with the general consent and support of the Austrian government. This reflected the privileged and loyal position that the Poles occupied in the Habsburg state structure. As an adjunct to the Ausgleich of 1867, the Poles were granted widespread political and cultural autonomy in Galicia. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Austro-Polish Solution: Diplomacy, Politics, and State Building in Wartime Austria-Hungary 1914-1918
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.