How Did Nationalism and the Breakup of the Austro-Hungarian Empire Lead to World War One?

How Did Nationalism and the Breakup of the Austro-Hungarian Empire Lead to World War One?

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This article is an edited transcript of The Causes of the First World War with Margaret MacMillan on Dan Snow’s Our Site, first broadcast 17 December 2017. You can listen to the full episode below or to the full podcast for free on Acast.

By the time of World War One, Austria-Hungary had survived for a very long time as a series of muddles and compromises.

The Empire was spread across a huge swathe of central and eastern Europe, encompassing the modern-day states of Austria and Hungary, as well as the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Bosnia, Croatia and parts of present Poland, Romania, Italy, Ukraine, Moldova, Serbia and Montenegro.

The notion of a shared national identity was always going to be a problem given the disparate nature of the union and the number of ethnic groups involved – most of whom were keen to form their own nation.

Margaret MacMillan talks to her nephew Dan about the road to 1914. They discuss the role that masculine insecurity played in the build up to the war and also examine the construct of and myths surrounding nationalistic feeling in the pre-war years.

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Nonetheless, until the rise of nationalism in the years preceding World War One, the Empire had managed to incorporate a degree of self-governance, with certain levels of devolution operating alongside the central government.

Various diets – including the Diet of Hungary and the Croatian-Slavonian Diet – and parliaments allowed the Empire’s subjects to feel some sense of dual-identity.

We’ll never know for sure, but without the combined forces of nationalism in the First World War, it’s possible that Austria-Hungary could have carried on into the 20th and 21st century as a sort of prototype for the European Union.

It was possible to be both a good servant of the Kaiser and proud of Austria-Hungary and identify as a Czech or a Pole.

But, increasingly, as World War One approached, nationalist voices began to insist that you couldn’t be both. Poles should want an independent Poland, just as every true Serb, Croat, Czech or Slovak should demand independence. Nationalism was beginning to tear Austria-Hungary apart.

On the eve of the Battle of the Somme, cameraman Geoffrey Malins visited the front lines near Beaumont-Hamel to film footage of the troops as they prepared for the supposed, decisive offensive. He went on to film some of the most iconic footage of the battle. This short drama follows in the footsteps of Malins that fateful morning in 1916.

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The threat of Serbian nationalism

Key decision-makers in Austria-Hungary had been wanting to go to war with Serbia for some time.

The chief of the Austrian General Staff, Conrad von Hötzendorf, had called for war with Serbia a dozen times before 1914. This was because Serbia was growing in power and becoming a magnet for the South Slav people, including Slovenes, Croats, and Serbs, most of whom lived within Austria-Hungary.

Conrad von Hötzendorf had called for war with Serbia a dozen times before 1914.

For Austria-Hungary, Serbia was an existential threat. If Serbia had its way and the South Slavs began to leave, then surely it was only a matter of time before the Poles in the north would want out.

Meanwhile, the Ruthenians were beginning to develop a national consciousness that might lead to them wanting to join with the Russian Empire and the Czechs and the Slovaks were already demanding more and more power. Serbia had to be stopped if the Empire was to survive.

When Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo, Austria-Hungary had the perfect excuse to go to war with Serbia.

The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand was the perfect excuse to go to war with Serbia.

Backed by Germany, the Austro-Hungarian leaders presented a list of demands – known as the July Ultimatum – to Serbia that they believed would never be accepted. Sure enough, the Serbs, who were given just 48 hours to answer, accepted nine of the proposals but only partially accepted one. Austria-Hungary declared war.

How did militarism alliances imperialism and nationalism lead to ww1?

Militarism denoted a rise in military expenditure, an increase in military and naval forces, more influence of the military men upon the policies of the civilian government, and a preference for force as a solution to problems. Militarism was one of the main causes of the First World War.

Also Know, how did militarism lead to ww1 quizlet? Military power and arms race lef to fear and suspicion. Fuelded the M.A.I.N causes, led to better military technolodgy and more of it. Machine guns, artillery, posion gas, mines, tanks, airplanes, battleships and submarines.

Similarly one may ask, how did nationalism and military buildup contribute to the outbreak of war in 1914?

These groups hoped to drive Austria-Hungary from the Balkans and establish a 'Greater Serbia', a unified state for all Slavic people. It was this pan-Slavic nationalism that inspired the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo in June 1914, an event that led directly to the outbreak of World War I.

What is an example of militarism in ww1?

The clearest and most direct example of militarism in world war 1 is the Kingdom of Romania having an army of 500,000 soldiers. So an kingdom of that size created a 500,000 man army for no actual gain.

Table of Contents

Contemporary analysts were convinced, and many historians have agreed, that the population of Austria-Hungary consisted of nations, and that conflicts between them were the main cause of its ultimate demise. According to this view, nations inevitably gravitated towards independence the First World War enabled them to attain it by fatally weakening the forces keeping the empire together.

However, recent research has questioned this view. Not only were people’s identifications far more complex and the effects of nationalisms limited but nationalisms were also rarely in conflict with the Habsburg state. On the contrary, most nationalists sought to attain their goals within the imperial framework. This article will show the development of Habsburg nationalisms during the war and the effect of wartime developments on national identifications and the relations between nationally construed groups.

Serbian and Croatian Nationalism and the Wars In Yugoslavia

The creation of Yugoslavia as part of the reordering of Europe after the first world war made a great deal of sense. In geopolitical terms, it helped accomplish the dismemberment of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, removing Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia & Hercegovina and Vojvodina from Austrian or Hungarian control. At the same time, the creation of a Land of the South Slavs, or Yugoslavia (Jugoslavija, from jug, south, plus slavija, of Slavs) met the demands of at least some of the dominant political figures among the South Slavic peoples, particularly the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. These peoples and the Mecedonians speak closely related languages or dialects of the same languages or dialects of the same language. Serbian and Croatian are as closely related and mutually intelligible as British English and American English, while the relationships of Slovenian and Macedonian to Serbo-Croatian are about the equivalent of those of Dutch and Schweizerdeutsch, respectively, to German. The fact that Croats and Slovenes are mainly Catholic while Serbs and Macedonians are mainly Orthodox Christians did not seem to differentiate these peoples overwhelmingly. In terms of criteria of language/dialect, religion, traditional economic structures and other cultural features, there were and are probably fewer differences between Serbs and Croats than between Bavarians and Prussians. The existence of a sizable population of Serbo-Croatian speaking Muslims in Bosnia and Hercegovina was an additional complication, but many of those Muslims who identified themselves as Turks had left Bosnia for Turkey at the end of the war, and most of those remaining identified themselves as Serbs or Croats, albeit of Muslim confession. The large Albanian population of Macedonia and Kosovo was another potential problem, but was ignored under the Serbian urge to recover Kosovo, the site of the Serbs' legendary defeat by the Turks in 1389.

As an empirical matter, the South Slav peoples were so closely related that they should be able to live together as well as the speakers of the various dialects of German. As a practical matter, they were so intertwined territorially that they had to do so. Hundreds of thousands of Serbs lived in Croatia, largely as a result of migrations there during the seventeenth century, which had been encouraged by the Austro-Hungarian Empire although some Serbs had migrated to Croatia long before this time. Serbs, Croats and Muslims lived intermingled in the towns of Bosnia, and their separate villages were intermingled throughout the countryside. Vojvodina was and is a complex ethnic mosaic, with large Serb and Hungarian populations and smaller groups of Croats, Germans (until 1945), Romanians, Ruthenians, Slovaks and others. There was no way to delineate state boundaries on a national basis unless the South Slavs could be conceived of as a nation.

The call for a joint state of these closely related peoples had arisen in Croatia in the mid-19th century, and was embraced at different times and with different intensities by political figures from all of the Yogoslav peoples. However, this idea of a common Yogoslav identity competed throughout the 19th century with the separate nationalist ideologies of Serbs, Croats, Slovenes, Macedonians and Bosnian Muslims, which were developed at the same time. These separate national ideologies identified the individual nations quite differently, and in ways that were incompatible. The creation of Yogoslavia was in part a Wilsonian response to those political figures who called for the self-determination of the South Slavs in their own Yogoslav state. This decision was supported by ethologies, notably the great Serbian scientist Jovan Cvijic, and the borders of Yogoslavia were drawn keeping in mind the linguistic and cultural characteristics of the Yogoslav peoples.

The political success of the Yugoslav ideology at the Versailles conference did not mean that the separate nationalist ideologies were overcome rather, they drove Croat, Macedonian and Slovene nationalists into determined opposition to the Yugloslav state. From their point of view, the creation of Yugoslavia denied the right of self-determination to the separate Yugoslav peoples. Croat and Macedonian nationalists created terrorist movements, with the support of the fascit government of Italy, to attack the Yugoslav state. In 1932, these terrorists succeeded in assassinating the King of Yugoslavia while he was visiting France.

Since Yugoslavia was based on the coexistence of the speakers of Serbo-Croatian, who formed the great majority of the population, we will concentrate on the Serbian and Croatian nationalist ideologies and programs. The Serbs of Serbia had been the first people in the Balkans to attain autonomy from the Ottoman Empire, and the Serbian national ideology had its inception before the others. This Serb ideology tended to be inclusive, viewing the speakers of most dialects of Serbo-Croatian as Serbs. The Yugoslav ideology that started in Croatia in the 1840s was also all-inclusive, but recognized the diversity of most South Slavs. The Croatian ideology that developed in the 1850s, however, was exclusive, particularly in regard to Serbs. Where Serbian linguistic ideology saw most of the dialects of Serbo-Croatian as one language, the Croatian ideology took pains to distinguish them, making an article of faith out of distinguishing as separate languages Croatian and Serbian dialects that were and are mutually intelligible.

The Serbian ideology was compatible with Yugoslavism in that Serbs could consider most of the other Yugoslav peoples, excepting the Slovenes, as Serbs, and most of Yugoslavia, except Slovenia, as Serbian land. The Croatian ideology was absolutely incompatible with a Yugoslav identity, however. To distinguish the Croats from the Serbs required rejection not only of the idea of a common language, but also rejection of the idea that these peoples are interrelated. The main founder of the Croatian ideology in the mid-19th century, Ante Starcevic, was frankly racist about Serbs, viewing them as "slaves" and "the most loathsome of beasts." At the same time, and rather inconsistently, Starcevic was inclusive in regard to Muslims, regarding them as "the best Croats," and dismissed a separate Slovene identity by calling them "Mountain Croats." At this time, national identity was clearly not bound exclusively to religious confession.

The first Yugoslavia (1919-1941) was clearly dominated by the Serbs, under a Serbian royal family. The inclusive Serb ideology led to centralist government policies and a dictatorship after 1929, which provoked greater resistance from other national groups. Whether Yugoslavia would have survived the 1940s had World War Two not occurred is not known. The Serb-controlled government had granted autonomy amounting to virtual independence to the Croats in 1939, and the Yugoslav state might have split a few years later. However, he April 1941, the Axis powers bombed Belgrade and invaded Yugoslavia. The Germans proceeded to dismantle the Versailles division of territory by returning much of Vojvodina to Hungary and Macedonia to Bulgaria, while attaching Bosnia and Hercegovina to a newly proclaimed "Independent STate of Croatia," known as the NDH after its Croatian name: Nezavisna Drazava Hrvatska. This new state was put under the control of a Croatian fascist party, the Ustasa. A much reduced Serbia was occupied by the Germans.

1941-45: The First Round of Ethnic Cleansing

The Ustasa government of the NDH embarked on an ambitious plan for creating the purely Croat Croatia envisioned by the exclusivist ideology. They planned to do this by eliminating "disordering elements," namely the Serbs, Jews, and Gypsies. The last two groups were to be completely eliminated, according to the doctrines of the Ustasas' Nazi patrons. The Serbs, however, were treated according to the Ustasas' own ideology, which as a rather inconsistent blend of racism and political hatred. As historian Aleksa Djilas puts it, the Ustasas viewed serbs as a political enemy but described them in racist terms, and treated them in the way the Nazis treated "racially inferior" peoples. By July and August 1941, the Ustasas began to implement their agenda for dealing with the Serbs: one-third would be killed, one-third driven from Croatia (including Bosnia and Hercegovina), and one-third converted to Catholicism, a step that would remove their "national consciousness" and render them harmless politically.

The techniques of the Ustasa campaign against the Serbs of Croatia and Bosnia from 1941-45 will be familiar to all who have seen the details of "ethnic cleansing" in Bosnia since 1992. Some concentration camps were created, but most of the slaughter took place in towns and villages. The techniques of the 1940s were like those of the 1990s: a group of armed men would descend upon a settlement of people who they defined as ethnonational enemies. Murder, rape, and burning of the structures would follow.

The numbers of dead in the 1940s slaughter have been debated with increasing intensity, with some Serbs claiming that more than a million Serbs were slaughtered, and some Croats, including the President of Croatia, claiming that the numbers were closer to 100,000. A conservative estimate given by Aleska Djilas is that one in six of the approximately 1,900,000 Serbs in the NDH in 1941 had been killed by 1945: 125,000 in Croatia, or 17.4% of the Serb population there, and 209,000 in Bosnia and Hercegovina, or 16.7% of the Serb population there. Many more were expelled from their homes. In revenge, Serbs mounted terror campaigns against their enemies, especially against Muslims in Bosnia. It would be fair to characterize the 1940s slaughter, however, as one in which the main victims were Serbs, at the hands of Croats and Muslims, in that order.

1945-1991: From "Brotherhood and Unity" to Enmity and Partition

The main non-nationalist force in Yugoslavia during the war years of 1941-45 was Tito's Communist-led army, the Partisans. By the end of the international war, the Partisans had also won the civil wars within Yugoslavia, overthrowing the Ustasa regime and the Serbian royalists, the Cetniks. The regime set up by Tito was avowedly anti-nationalist, both for reasons of the ideology of communist internationalism and for the practical political reason that the major potential for opposition to communist rule lay in nationalist parties. A basic principle of communist Yugoslavia was the "brotherhood and unity" (bratstvo - jedinstvo) of the Yugoslav peoples. Communist Yugoslavia was set up as a federation of republics, all but one of which bore the name of one of which bore the name of one of the constituent peoples of Yugoslavia: Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia. The exception was Bosnia and Hercegovina, the Muslims were the largest group, followed by Serbs, then Croats, and others. Until the 1971 census, "Muslim" was not one of the categories listed for identification, and Serbs were the nominal majority in Bosnia and Hercegovina. In 1971, however, Muslims could identify themselves as such on the census forms, and from then on, Muslims were the largest national group in Bosnia and Hercegovina.

The forty-five years of communist Yugoslavia did not produce "brotherhood and unity." Instead, the country fragmented into an increasingly loose federal structure, with the republics becoming increasingly independent of control by the federal government. Whatever central control existed depended on the communist party, and when that fragmented in January of 1990, there was no central authority left in the country. In free elections in 1990, the message that won in all of the republics was one of nationalism, of a distinctly illiberal bent. In each instance, the winning party promised to turn the republic into the national state of the majority "nation," ethnically defined. In constitutional terms, the ethnic nation became sovereign: the Slovenes in Slovenia, the Croats in Croatia. Minorities were thereby excluded from among the primary bearers of sovereignty. Thus the post-communist transformation was from state socialism, in which the state was dedicated to the rule of that part of the population that formed the "working class," to state chauvinism, in which the state was dedicated to rule by that part of the population that formed the majority nation, ethnically defined. Others were excluded politically, and soon, in many cases, physically.

the premise of the movement to state chauvinism was that the Yugoslav peoples were not so closely related as to be able to live within the same state, but rather so incompatible as to make life together impossible. Empirically this was nonsense, since wherever Yugoslav peoples lived intermingled they intermarried in large numbers, particularly from the 1960s until late into the 1980s. However, the political rhetoric of enmity and partition rapidly overcame that of brotherhood and unity. What succeeded politically within Yugoslavia was the message that joint state of Serbs, Croats and others was not in fact possible, and that the various nations had the right to "self-determination." When the "international community" accepted this message, Yugoslavia, a founding member of both the United Nations and the League of Nations before it, was doomed.

One difference between the demise of Yugoslavia in 1991 and its creation in 1919 was a change in the dominant patterns of serbian nationalism. Where the dominant Serb national ideology had been inclusive of all speakers of Serbo-Croatian in 1919, by 1991 the Serbs had accepted a nationalist ideology that was an exclusive as that of the Croats. The single distinguishing criterium of Serbs, Croats and Muslims became religion, as an inherited characteristic rather than active belief. Thus Serbs did not contest the identities of Croats and Muslims as separate peoples, nor did they contest the rights of the various Yugoslav peoples to "self-determination." What they did contest was the right of the Yugoslav republics to self-determination. From their point of view, the Croats could have their Croatia, but it could not include areas with Serb majorities. Similarly, if the Muslims wanted an independent Bosnia and Hercegovina, that was fine, but it would not include regions with large numbers of Serbs.

In the case of Croatia, the Serbs' suspicion was perhaps justified. The Croatian Democratic Union party, led by Franjo Tudjman, had won the 1990 elections on an antiSerb platform. It had then immediately taken steps to ensure that the Serbs would be rendered second-class citizens in a Croatia defined constitutionally as the national state of the ethnically Croat people. The partition of Croatia began in August 1990, when Krajina region Serbs, who formed a strong local majority there, resisted attempts by the new nationalist Croatian government to impose upon them purely Croat state symbols, including a flag very much like that of the fascist state that had slaughtered so many Serbs in 1941-45. When Croatia declared independence in June 1991, the Serbs in this region and in some other parts of Croatia announced their own desire to remain in Yugoslavia. The Yugoslav army, rapidly transforming into a Serbian army, supported the Serbs. In the course of the fighting, from August 1991 until January 1992, the Serbs took control of about one-third of the territory of Croatia. Some of these regions had a Serbian majority before the war began, but others had not.

The pattern of the war in Croatia was the de facto partition of the regions of the republic that had been most mixed ethnically. In effect, in these six months of war, the mixed areas of Croatia were divided, and the populations forced to divide themselves, rather like the Hindu and Muslim populations of India and Pakistan in 1947, though on a much smaller scale. The effects of the population transfers have been to render hundreds of thousands of people homeless, refugees, while homogenizing the populations. An index of this homogenization is that by March of 1994, only about 150,000 Serbs remained in parts of Croatia under government control, of the more than 300,000 in those regions before the war began. The others had fled to Serb-controlled areas of Croatia and Bosnia, or to Serbia itself.

The Partition of Bosnia and Hercegovina

The Bosnian situation was more complicated. Since there was no single majority nation, in independent Bosnia and Hercegovina could not be the nation-state of any single group, unless its citizens chose to define themselves primarily as Bosnians rather than as Muslims, Serbs, and Croats. Unfortunately, they did not do so, and in the free elections of 1990 more than 80% of the voters chose separate nationalist parties, one Muslim, one Serb, one Croat. This political partition of and by the voters proved fatal to Bosnia as it became increasingly clear that Yugoslavia would disintegrate in the name of the separatist self-determination of the separate Yugoslav peoples.

The increasing likelihood that there would be separate, independent Serb and Croat states made an independent Bosnia and Hercegovina an unattractive option for most Serbs and Croats living in that republic, at least outside of Sarajevo. By joining Serbia and Croatia, respectively, they would become members of ruling, sovereign majorities, rather than of potentially threatened minorities. Further, annexing large areas of Bosnia and Hercegovina had always been elements of the Serbian and Croatian nationalist ideologies.

Reflecting these beliefs, the presidents of Serbia and Croatia met on the border of their republics in March 1991, while Yugoslavia still existed, and agreed on the partition of Bosnia between Serbia and Croatia upon the breakup of Yugoslavia. This agreement was restated by the leaders of the Bosnian Serbs and Croats in a meeting in Austria in May 1992. The Serb and Croat political parties in Bosnia and Hercegovina acted on their plans to divide the republic. As Yugoslavia disintegrated, these parties armed their own people and made plans for the military partition of Bosnia and Hercegovina once Yugoslavia was gone.

In terms of public politics, the Serbs and Croats differed, since the Croats stood officially for an independent Bosnia and Hercegovina. However, as noted at the time by Lord Carrington, the European Community's mediator in Yugoslavia, the Croats combined this official stance, in favor of an independent Bosnia and hercegovina, with practical politics aimed at ensuring that this "republic" would have literally no central authority of any kind. This left it an empty shell, much like the former Yugoslavia after 1990. Thus the Croat position amounted to favoring Bosnia's secession from Yugoslavia, making it easier to annex Croat-dominated regions to Croatia.

Bosnia remained peaceful, if extremely tense, as Serbs and Croats fought in Croatia from August 1991 until January 1992. As the cease-fire held in Croatia, Bosnia's Serbs and Croats began to implement their plans for dividing the republic, proclaiming "autonomous" Serb and Croat territories. A referendum on independence at the end of February 1992 looked like an ethnic census, with 63% of the electorate voting, more than 99% in favor of the separation. The Serbs, 33% of the population, boycotted the vote, and said that they would defend their territories against any attempt to separate them from what was left of Yugoslavia.

March saw increasing tensions and outbreaks of violence. On April 1, 1992, Serb forces, some from Serbia, attacked Muslims in Eastern Bosnia. Croat forces, some from Croatia, attacked Serb settlements in the north of Bosnia and in Hercegovina. Fighting quickly spread. In an attempt to stop the fighting, the EC and US recognized the independence of Bosnia on April 6, 1992. However, since so many of the putative citizens of this supposed state preferred to be Serbs in a greater Serbia or Croats in a greater Croatia rather than "Bosnians" in an independent Bosnia, recognition only ensured that the war would intensify. Having been told that they could not partition Bosnia and Hercegovina through negotiations, the Serbs and Croats proceeded to do it in the field, with bloodshed. The Bosnian Serb forces received enormous support from the former Yugoslav Army, while the Bosnian Croat forces were supported by the Croatian Army.

The course of the war has effected the partition of Bosnia and Hercegovina. The campaign of "ethnic cleansing" there since 1992, like those in Croatia in 1941-45, have been aimed at creating homogenous nation-states. The difference is that while in the 1940s the primary victims were Serbs at the hands of Croats and Muslims, in the 1990s the primary victims are Muslims at the hands of Serbs and Croats. An estimated 200,000 people have been killed thus far. While their ethnic breakdown is unknown, the UNHCR has released figures (September 1994) on some of the almost 1,000,000 displaced persons in Bosnia and Hercegovina. Of these, 765,000 Muslims and Croats were displaced from areas under Serb control, while 189,000 Serbs were displaced from areas under Muslims of Croat control.

Figures on Muslims displaced in areas under Croat control, or of Croats displaced in areas under Muslim control, were not reported, although these two groups fought in Hercegovina and central Bosnia, and each displaced members of the other in areas in which they attained control. However, Bosnia's Croats and Muslims, under very strong American pressure, agreed in March 1994 to create a "Federation" between themselves. This "Federation" seems to exist primarily in the minds of the American diplomats who created it, since virtually no steps have been taken to implement it on the ground, and its Constitution does not provide a structure for a workable government. Croat and Muslim refugees cannot return home even within this "Federation."

Self-determination and Ethnic Cleansing

It would be comforting but irresponsible to view the Yugoslav tragedy as the result of "irrational passions" or the criminality of some individual politicians. However, the courses of the wars of the Yugoslav secessions and succession have been driven by a very firm logic, that of self-determination of the nations involved. By this logic, states serve the interest of the nation, ethnically defined, not of all citizens. Minorities have few rights indeed in the new states state chauvinism, like state socialism, is a totalizing ideology. Minorities are thus always under threat, which is why they reject the state which excludes them. In areas where an overall minority forms a local majority, war is likely. But a more difficult problem follows as well: a state can exist only when it has a nation to serve, and if the population does not define itself as a nation, the state cannot exist. When the population of Yugoslavia partitioned itself into Serbs, Croats, and others, Yugoslavia was doomed. In the same manner, when the population of Bosnia and Hercegovina partitioned itself into Serbs, Croats, and others, that supposed state was stillborn.

Yugoslavia collapsed when separate, exclusivist Serbian and Croatian nationalism triumphed politically, thus rendering the joint state nonviable. This same triumph of nationalism, ratified internationally by the diplomatic recognition of the self-determination of the republics in the former Yugoslavia, also rendered the joint state of Bosnia and Hercegovina nonviable. The tragedy is that the former Yugoslavia, which was built upon the premise of the coexistence of the Yugoslav peoples, provided the only framework for avoiding armed conflict between them. When it was dismembered as a result of nationalist movements based on their supposed implacable hostility, "ethnic cleansing" was the logical result.

Article copyright Cultural Survival, Inc.

How Did Nationalism Contribute to World War I?

In World War I, nationalism led to the desire of countries with strong self-identities to unite and attack other countries. Nationalism, along with militarism and imperialism, is a contributing factor of World War I.

The term "nation" refers to a group of people who share the same language, history and traditions. In politics, a nation is similar to an ethnic group. Nations are sometimes equated with countries or states, but nations may not have political control. Countries may have multiple nations within their borders. Nationalism arises when a nation seeks to exert influence and dominance over another group. This may include an attempt to expand its borders into another nation or country. In World War I, nationalist fervor led to a growing competition among Europe's leading powers to assert their dominance. Nationalism is intertwined closely with patriotism, which is the love of one's country. The leading European powers, fueled by their citizens, formed strategic military blocs and eventually engaged in warfare.

The Rise of Nationalism
The seeds of nationalism were sown prior to the war. In the 19th century, there were many small European nations under the control of one dominant nation. Nationalism prompted the expansion of many European countries' boundaries to include like groups in neighboring countries. The Austro-Hungarian empire, for instance, included what we now know as 13 different nations, 16 languages and five religions in its heyday. Nationalist tendencies were also strengthened during the Enlightenment, which introduced the concept of common power to Europe. Enlightenment philosophers encouraged freedom and democracy and gave power to people who were previously subjected to aristocratic rule. Instead of identifying with their kings and other leaders, citizens formed strong identities with others in their nation. This new unity transcended political boundaries and tested the limits of existing country lines.

Nationalism's Effect on World War I
Political unrest in the Balkans, largely fueled by nationalism, grew for years before World War I broke out. Eventually, it led to the outbreak of the war after Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian empire, was assassinated by a Serbian nationalist. The empire's leaders blamed the attack on the Serbian government, citing nationalism as the motive for the shooting. World leaders quickly mobilized. Germany backed the Austro-Hungarian empire, while Russia allied itself with France and Britain after Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia.

Militarism, another factor in World War I, is closely linked with nationalism. Militarism refers to a nation's capacity to develop a standing army and fortify it with advanced weaponry. The goal of militarism is to build a strong and powerful army that can be deployed quickly when necessary. In the years leading up to World War I, European nations, sparked by the Industrial Revolution, had competed against each other to build the strongest armies and economies. When war broke out, many countries were armed to defend themselves. Militarism combined with patriotism in World War I as citizens supported their countries' role in combat. Ultimately, World War I ended with the reorganization of the European continent as many of the old empires fell, including Turkey, Austria-Hungary and Russia.

How did a single event start a chain reaction that sparked World War I? The assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand sparked World War I. It caused a chain event that escalated out of control because countries were driven by the alliance system, militarism, and nationalism.

They hoped for new markets to sell to and wanted easy access to natural resources. Why was western Imperialism so successful? Europeans had strong economies, powerful militaries, improved medical technologies, well organized governments.

How Did Imperialism Lead to WW1?

The continued imperialistic aspirations of the major European powers in the nineteenth century and the early twentieth century, are often cited as one of the four longterm causes of World War One.

While it is true that imperial rivalries had improved somewhat in the couple of years immediately prior to the war, there is no doubting the role imperialism played in encouraging both the nationalism and militarism of all the countries involved.

In this article, we shall attempt to define what imperialism was, in the context of nineteenth and twentieth century Europe, and have a look at how imperialism contributed to the start of World War I.

What is Imperialism?

Imperialism is a nation’s policy or ideology for extending the country’s power and influence, either through gaining political and economic control of another territory or by direct territorial acquisition, whether that be through diplomatic means or by military force.

The Main European Imperial Powers

As you will see below, the reasons for imperialism by the major European powers varied from country to country some started out very much from an economic perspective, while other nations’ expansions came more from political and even nationalistic objectives.

The British Empire

By 1914, the British Empire was both the largest and the richest imperial power in the world. Although the famous saying, “The Empire on which the sun never sets”, might not have been totally accurate, it was still the largest empire the world had ever seen—at its height covering more than 22% of the earth’s landmass.

British imperialist ambitions date back as early as the sixteenth century, and over the next couple of centuries Britain established colonies in the Americas, the Caribbean and India.

The British Empire was originally based on mercantilism, although Britain’s nationalistic policy was also evident with the creation of a commonwealth of countries, such as Canada and Australia, who had a shared national identity and common language.

Following the American Revolution and the loss of the American colonies in 1776, Britain turned her attention to Asia, Africa and the Pacific, in the nineteenth century, and following the defeat of Napoleon, in 1815, enjoyed a century of almost unchallenged dominance, expanding her imperial territories around the globe.

Map of the British Empire

At the outbreak of World War One, the British Empire included India, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, parts of North Africa, islands in the Pacific and Caribbean, Hong Kong and concessions in China.

The French Empire

By 1914, the French Empire was the second largest colonial empire in the world, behind only the British Empire.

France’s imperial ambitions in the nineteenth century began with the conquest over Algiers, in 1830, but it wasn’t until the second half of the century when she started making serious inroads into both North and West Africa.

Prior to World War One, in addition to her African colonies, France also maintained colonies in what is now Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, parts of India, and islands in the Pacific and Caribbean.

France saw it as their moral duty to bring French civilisation and Catholicism to the world, but in return the country benefited from a supply of raw materials and important manpower during the war.

A poster showing the colonisation of Madagascar, after the defeat over the Marina Kingdom in the Franco-Hova Wars.

The Russian Empire

Having expanded her empire southwards, during the first half of the nineteenth century, Russia turned her attention southwestwards towards the Ottoman Empire in the second half of the century.

Victory over the Ottomans in the Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878), resulted in Russia successfully claiming provinces in the Caucasus, as well as helping to liberate new independent states in the Balkans.

By 1914, Russia also ruled over the Ukraine, Georgia, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.

The Ottoman Empire

Having once boasted the largest empire in the world, the Ottoman Empire had become a shadow of its formal self, following heavy defeats in a series of wars over the previous sixty years, most notably to Russia.

That said, at the outbreak of war, the Ottoman Empire still included most of its old empire, including Turkey, Syria, Palestine and Egypt.

The German Empire

Having only been established as a new country, in 1871, Germany was naturally a latecomer to the building of empires abroad.

Bismarck happy with other nations being busy down there.

And even after the unification of Germany, to begin with the German chancellor, Otto von Bismarck, had been far more interested in establishing a power base in Europe, rather than the gathering of colonies in the far flung corners of the world.

However, this was not a view shared by many others in the government, nor the German people for that matter, who were all for German imperial expansion.

Bismarck reluctantly came round to the idea of colonial expansion from about 1884 onwards, when the government began to place the privately acquired properties of German colonisers under the protection of the German Empire.

However, following Wilhelm II’s ascension to the throne, and Bismarck’s resignation as chancellor shortly thereafter, a more aggressive policy towards imperialism was undertaken, called Weltpolitik.

The main objective of Weltpolitik (meaning world politics) was to transform Germany into a world power. In doing so, this aggressive imperial policy led to Germany treading on the toes of some of the more well-established imperial powers.

The Italian Empire

As a relatively new country (the Kingdom of Italy not being completed until 1871), Italy was late to the colonial game, and found herself relying on the bigger European powers to help in her efforts at empire-building.

The Italian Nationalist Association, which embodied the feeling of nationalism sweeping through the country at the beginning of the twentieth century, had pressed the government hard for the expansion of Italy’s empire. However, by 1914, the Italian Empire consisted of only a few territories in North Africa and a small concession in China.

The Austro-Hungarian Empire

Following the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, and then the unification of Germany in 1871, the Austro-Hungarian Empire was no longer the dominant power in Central Europe that it had once been.

Despite this, and despite owning no colonies outside of Europe, Austria-Hungary still ruled over several different nation-states prior to WWI, including Bohemia, Moravia, Slovakia, Galicia, Silesia and Transylvania, as well as the newly acquired Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Other Imperial Powers

Other European nations with colonies abroad included Belgium, Holland, Portugal and Spain (albeit with an empire that was a fraction of the size it had once been).

Outside of Europe, the two nations with notable imperial ambitions were Japan and the United States, who by 1914 had managed to gain control over the Philippines, Puerto Rico and a number of islands in the Pacific.

How Did Imperialism Lead to WW1?

By the end of the nineteenth century, all of the major European powers had become imperialists, and had expanded their empires to colonies across the globe. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the imperialistic policies the governments of these countries took sometimes led to fierce rivalries, as one nation’s ambitions came into direct conflict with another’s.

Imperial Rivalries

The second half of the nineteenth century saw the imperial policies of the major European powers go into overdrive, as each tried to obtain more land for economical, political and strategic reasons. This was intensified further towards the end of the century when Italy and especially Germany joined in the game of empire-building, fearful that they might have already missed out on the best opportunities.

This rush to acquire new lands abroad, naturally led to confrontations between the major powers, with Germany in particular standing on a few toes, as the Kaiser’s new policy of Weltpolitik got into full flow. And nowhere in the world were rivalries more fierce between the major European powers, in this era of ‘New Imperialism’ than on the continent of Africa.

The Scramble For Africa

The Scramble for Africa (also known as the Rape of Africa), was the name given to the occupation, division and colonisation of different African territories by the European powers at the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century.

In 1884, Otto von Bismarck organised the Berlin Conference, which in effect formalised the Scramble for Africa and was intended by him to provide a way for the European powers to expand in the face of the rising imperial ambitions of Russia, Japan and the United States. Bismarck also hoped that by engaging in constructive dialogue, it might limit any future potential hostilities between the European countries involved.

The Scramble for Africa

Things didn’t end up going quite as smoothly as Bismarck had planned, and in the years that followed, the Scramble for Africa saw a number of conflicts between the major European power, some of which almost led to war.

The Tangier Crisis

On March 31, 1905, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany went to Tangier, Morocco, to talk with representatives of the Sultan Abdelaziz. While there, the Kaiser infamously toured the city on the back of a white horse, declaring he had come to support the sovereignty of the Sultan.

This statement was seen by the French as a provocative challenge to their influence in Morocco, where France sought to establish a protectorate, and led to the Tangier Crisis (also known as the First Moroccan Crisis).

The Tangier Crisis
[Left] The Dreaded Guest, [Right] There Is Always Trouble When I Travel

Germany wanted the French to be called into account over Morocco and sought a multilateral conference. At first, France refused such a conference, but finally agreed to attend one, which would end up taking place from January 1906.

Tensions between France and Germany continued in the half year leading up to the conference at Algeciras, with at one point Germany calling up reserve units and with France even mobilising troops to the German border.

In the end, France was given overwhelming support from the 13 nations present at the conference, with only Austria-Hungary supporting Germany. The events of the crisis also resulted in France and Britain growing closer in their alliance, eventually leading to the Triple Entente, in the following year.

The Agadir Crisis

A Satirical Look At The Agadir Crisis

In 1911, a second crisis erupted in Morocco. The Agadir Crisis (also known as the Second Moroccan Crisis), came about at a time when the French were attempting to suppress a rebellion against the Sultan, Abdelhafid.

Without any warning, or obvious reason, the German gunboat SMS Panther landed at the port of Agadir, supposedly under the pretext of protecting German trade interests.

France was outraged by this, and for a while it looked again that France and Germany might be on the brink of war.

Britain was also concerned, worried that Germany might be attempting to turn Agadir into a naval base on the Atlantic, for its ever strengthening navy.

In the end, the crisis was averted and in November of that year, the Franco-German Accord was signed, under which Germany accepted France’s position in Morocco, in exchange for territory in France’s colony of Middle Congo.

However, the Agadir Crisis once more led to the strengthening of ties between Britain and France, leaving Germany feeling even more vulnerable from their continuing entente cordiale.

The Berlin–Baghdad Railway

The Berlin–Baghdad Railway, which started being built in 1910, was a railway connecting Berlin with the then Ottoman city of Baghdad. It was thought that the railway would give Germany better access to her colonies from a port on the Persian Gulf.

Russia, France and Britain had all had their concerns about the railway since its conception, at the turn of the century, speculating that it might end up strengthening the Ottoman Empire, as well as its ties to Germany, which in turn might well have shifted the balance of power in the region. Britain was also concerned about her own interests further afield.

In the immediate aftermath of the war, the Berlin–Baghdad Railway was considered by many to be a major cause of WW1 in its own right, but we now know from diplomatic records, released by all the concerned parties in the nineteen twenties and thirties, that the main controversies regarding the railway had actually been resolved by the summer of 1914.

Imperial Instability

Back closer to home, the decay of a once great empire had started to set the alarm bells ringing amongst the major powers within Europe. Known as the ‘Sick Man of Europe’, the Ottoman Empire had become a shadow of its former self, which in turn had resulted in a crisis situation in the Balkans.

Amongst the imperial instability, during the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, former states sought and received international recognition as independent countries. Meanwhile, Austria-Hungary and Russia were closing in with the intention to expand their own empires at the Ottomans’ expense.

Britain and France also had their own trade interests in the area and Germany was hell-bent on completing her Berlin-to-Baghdad railway, which would run through the region.

The “Eastern Question”, concerning the issue of the political and economic instability of the Ottoman Empire, had intensified. More specifically, the trouble in the Balkans, which had threatened to boil over in the years leading up to the war, finally did just that.

Trouble In The Balkans
The Boiling Point – Published in Punch, October 1912


While there is no doubt imperialism was one of the four main causes of war, especially in regard to the breakup of the Ottoman Empire and the resulting imperial aspirations within Europe of both the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Russian Empire, it is important not to exaggerate the role imperialism played.

After all, the overriding imperial rivalry of that period, between Britain and Germany, had cooled somewhat in the two years prior to the war, with both sides seemingly willing to compromise in order to ease tensions between the two countries.


The Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867 (called the Ausgleich in German and the Kiegyezés in Hungarian), which inaugurated the empire's dual structure in place of the former Austrian Empire (1804–1867), originated at a time when Austria had declined in strength and in power—both in the Italian Peninsula (as a result of the Second Italian War of Independence of 1859) and among the states of the German Confederation (it had been surpassed by Prussia as the dominant German-speaking power following the Austro-Prussian War of 1866). [17] The Compromise re-established [18] the full sovereignty of the Kingdom of Hungary, which was lost after the Hungarian Revolution of 1848.

Other factors in the constitutional changes were continued Hungarian dissatisfaction with rule from Vienna and increasing national consciousness on the part of other nationalities (or ethnicities) of the Austrian Empire. Hungarian dissatisfaction arose partly from Austria's suppression with Russian support of the Hungarian liberal revolution of 1848–49. However, dissatisfaction with Austrian rule had grown for many years within Hungary and had many other causes.

By the late 1850s, a large number of Hungarians who had supported the 1848–49 revolution were willing to accept the Habsburg monarchy. They argued that while Hungary had the right to full internal independence, under the Pragmatic Sanction of 1713, foreign affairs and defense were "common" to both Austria and Hungary. [19]

After the Austrian defeat at Königgrätz, the government realized it needed to reconcile with Hungary to regain the status of a great power. The new foreign minister, Count Friedrich Ferdinand von Beust, wanted to conclude the stalemated negotiations with the Hungarians. To secure the monarchy, Emperor Franz Joseph began negotiations for a compromise with the Hungarian nobility, led by Ferenc Deák. On 20 March 1867, the re-established Hungarian parliament at Pest started to negotiate the new laws to be accepted on 30 March. However, Hungarian leaders received the Emperor's coronation as King of Hungary on 8 June as a necessity for the laws to be enacted within the lands of the Holy Crown of Hungary. [19] On 28 July, Franz Joseph, in his new capacity as King of Hungary, approved and promulgated the new laws, which officially gave birth to the Dual Monarchy.

The realm's official name was in German: Österreichisch-Ungarische Monarchie and in Hungarian: Osztrák–Magyar Monarchia (English: Austro-Hungarian Monarchy ), [20] though in international relations Austria–Hungary was used (German: Österreich-Ungarn Hungarian: Ausztria-Magyarország). The Austrians also used the names k. u. k. Monarchie (English: k. u. k. monarchy ) [21] (in detail German: Kaiserliche und königliche Monarchie Österreich-Ungarn Hungarian: Császári és Királyi Osztrák–Magyar Monarchia) [22] and Danubian Monarchy (German: Donaumonarchie Hungarian: Dunai Monarchia) or Dual Monarchy (German: Doppel-Monarchie Hungarian: Dual-Monarchia) and The Double Eagle (German: Der Doppel-Adler Hungarian: Kétsas), but none of these became widespread either in Hungary, or elsewhere.

The realm's full name used in the internal administration was The Kingdoms and Lands Represented in the Imperial Council and the Lands of the Holy Hungarian Crown of St. Stephen.

    : Die im Reichsrat vertretenen Königreiche und Länder und die Länder der Heiligen Ungarischen Stephanskrone : A Birodalmi Tanácsban képviselt királyságok és országok és a Magyar Szent Korona országai

From 1867 onwards, the abbreviations heading the names of official institutions in Austria–Hungary reflected their responsibility:

  • k. u. k. (kaiserlich und königlich or Imperial and Royal) was the label for institutions common to both parts of the Monarchy, e.g., the k.u.k. Kriegsmarine (War Fleet) and, during the war, the k.u.k. Armee (Army). The common army changed its label from k.k. to k.u.k. only in 1889 at the request of the Hungarian government.
  • K. k. (kaiserlich-königlich) or Imperial-Royal was the term for institutions of Cisleithania (Austria) "royal" in this label referred to the Crown of Bohemia.
  • K. u. (königlich-ungarisch) or M. k. (Magyar királyi) ("Royal Hungarian") referred to Transleithania, the lands of the Hungarian crown. In the Kingdom of Croatia and Slavonia, its autonomous institutions hold k. (kraljevski) ("Royal") as according to the Croatian–Hungarian Settlement, the only official language in Croatia and Slavonia was Croatian, and those institutions were "only" Croatian.

Following a decision of Franz Joseph I in 1868, the realm bore the official name Austro-Hungarian Monarchy/Realm (German: Österreichisch-Ungarische Monarchie/Reich Hungarian: Osztrák–Magyar Monarchia/Birodalom) in its international relations. It was often contracted to the Dual Monarchy in English or simply referred to as Austria. [23]

The Compromise turned the Habsburg domains into a real union between the Austrian Empire ("Lands Represented in the Imperial Council", or Cisleithania) [8] in the western and northern half and the Kingdom of Hungary ("Lands of the Crown of Saint Stephen", or Transleithania). [8] in the eastern half. The two halves shared a common monarch, who ruled as Emperor of Austria [24] over the western and northern half portion and as King of Hungary [24] over the eastern portion. [8] Foreign relations and defense were managed jointly, and the two countries also formed a customs union. [25] All other state functions were to be handled separately by each of the two states.

Certain regions, such as Polish Galicia within Cisleithania and Croatia within Transleithania, enjoyed autonomous status, each with its own unique governmental structures (see: Polish Autonomy in Galicia and Croatian–Hungarian Settlement).

The division between Austria and Hungary was so marked that there was no common citizenship: one was either an Austrian citizen or a Hungarian citizen, never both. [26] [27] This also meant that there were always separate Austrian and Hungarian passports, never a common one. [28] [29] However, neither Austrian nor Hungarian passports were used in the Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia. Instead, the Kingdom issued its own passports, which were written in Croatian and French, and displayed the coat of arms of the Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia-Dalmatia on them. [30] Croatia-Slavonia also had executive autonomy regarding naturalization and citizenship, defined as "Hungarian-Croatian citizenship" for the kingdom's citizens. [31] It is not known what kind of passports were used in Bosnia-Herzegovina, which was under the control of both Austria and Hungary. [ citation needed ]

The Kingdom of Hungary had always maintained a separate parliament, the Diet of Hungary, even after the Austrian Empire was created in 1804. [32] The administration and government of the Kingdom of Hungary (until 1848–49 Hungarian revolution) remained largely untouched by the government structure of the overarching Austrian Empire. Hungary's central government structures remained well separated from the Austrian imperial government. The country was governed by the Council of Lieutenancy of Hungary (the Gubernium) – located in Pressburg and later in Pest – and by the Hungarian Royal Court Chancellery in Vienna. [33] The Hungarian government and Hungarian parliament were suspended after the Hungarian revolution of 1848 and were reinstated after the Austro-Hungarian Compromise in 1867.

Despite Austria and Hungary sharing a common currency, they were fiscally sovereign and independent entities. [34] Since the beginnings of the personal union (from 1527), the government of the Kingdom of Hungary could preserve its separate and independent budget. After the revolution of 1848–1849, the Hungarian budget was amalgamated with the Austrian, and it was only after the Compromise of 1867 that Hungary obtained a separate budget. [35] From 1527 (the creation of the monarchic personal union) to 1851, the Kingdom of Hungary maintained its own customs controls, which separated her from the other parts of the Habsburg-ruled territories. [36] After 1867, the Austrian and Hungarian customs union agreement had to be renegotiated and stipulated every ten years. The agreements were renewed and signed by Vienna and Budapest at the end of every decade because both countries hoped to derive mutual economic benefit from the customs union. The Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary contracted their foreign commercial treaties independently of each other. [8]

Vienna served as the Monarchy's primary capital. The Cisleithanian (Austrian) part contained about 57 percent of the total population and the larger share of its economic resources, compared to the Hungarian part.

There were three parts to the rule of the Austro-Hungarian Empire: [37]

  1. the common foreign, military, and a joint financial policy (only for diplomatic, military, and naval expenditures) under the monarch
  2. the "Austrian" or Cisleithanian government (Lands Represented in the Imperial Council)
  3. the "Hungarian" or Transleithanian government (Lands of the Crown of Saint Stephen)

Joint government Edit

The common government was led by a Ministerial Council (Ministerrat für Gemeinsame Angelegenheiten), which had responsibility for the Common Army, navy, foreign policy, and the customs union. [19] It consisted of three Imperial and Royal Joint-ministries (k.u.k. gemeinsame Ministerien [de] ):

    , known as the Imperial Chancellery before 1869 , known as the Imperial Ministry of War before 1911
  • Imperial and Royal Ministry of Finance, known as the Imperial Ministry of Finance before 1908, responsible only for the finances of the other two joint-ministries. [38]

In addition to the three ministers, the Ministerial Council also contained the prime minister of Hungary, the prime minister of Cisleithania, some Archdukes, and the monarch. [39] The Chief of the General Staff usually attended as well. The council was usually chaired by the Minister of the Household and Foreign Affairs, except when the Monarch was present. In addition to the council, the Austrian and Hungarian parliaments each elected a delegation of 60 members, who met separately and voted on the expenditures of the Ministerial Council, giving the two governments influence in the common administration. However, the ministers ultimately answered only to the monarch, who had the final decision on matters of foreign and military policy. [38]

Overlapping responsibilities between the joint ministries and the ministries of the two halves caused friction and inefficiencies. [38] The armed forces suffered particularly from the overlap. Although the unified government determined the overall military direction, the Austrian and Hungarian governments each remained in charge of recruiting, supplies and training. Each government could have a strong influence over common governmental responsibilities. Each half of the Dual Monarchy proved quite prepared to disrupt common operations to advance its own interests. [39]

Relations during the half-century after 1867 between the two parts of the dual monarchy featured repeated disputes over shared external tariff arrangements and over the financial contribution of each government to the common treasury. These matters were determined by the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867, in which common expenditures were allocated 70% to Austria and 30% to Hungary. This division had to be renegotiated every ten years. There was political turmoil during the build-up to each renewal of the agreement. By 1907, the Hungarian share had risen to 36.4%. [40] The disputes culminated in the early 1900s in a prolonged constitutional crisis. It was triggered by disagreement over which language to use for command in Hungarian army units and deepened by the advent to power in Budapest in April 1906 of a Hungarian nationalist coalition. Provisional renewals of the common arrangements occurred in October 1907 and in November 1917 on the basis of the status quo. The negotiations in 1917 ended with the dissolution of the Dual Monarchy. [38]

Parliaments Edit

Hungary and Austria maintained separate parliaments, each with its own prime minister: the Diet of Hungary (commonly known as the National Assembly) and the Imperial Council (German: Reichsrat) in Cisleithania. Each parliament had its own executive government, appointed by the monarch. In this sense, Austria–Hungary remained under an autocratic government, as the Emperor-King appointed both Austrian and Hungarian prime ministers along with their respective cabinets. This made both governments responsible to the Emperor-King, as neither half could have a government with a program contrary to the views of the Monarch. The Emperor-King could appoint non-parliamentary governments, for example, or keep a government that did not have a parliamentary majority in power in order to block the formation of another government which he did not approve of.

The Imperial Council was a bicameral body: the upper house was the House of Lords (German: Herrenhaus), and the lower house was the House of Deputies (German: Abgeordnetenhaus). Members of the House of Deputies were elected through a system of "curiae" which weighted representation in favor of the wealthy but was progressively reformed until universal manhood suffrage was introduced in 1906. [41] [42] To become law, bills had to be passed by both houses, signed by the government minister responsible and then granted royal assent by the Emperor.

The Diet of Hungary was also bicameral: the upper house was the House of Magnates (Hungarian: Főrendiház), and the lower house was the House of Representatives (Hungarian: Képviselőház). The "curia" system was also used to elect members of the House of Representatives. Franchise was very limited, with around 5% of men eligible to vote in 1874, rising to 8% at the beginning of World War I. [43] The Hungarian parliament had the power to legislate on all matters concerning Hungary, but for Croatia-Slavonia only on matters which it shared with Hungary. Matters concerning Croatia-Slavonia alone fell to the Croatian-Slavonian Diet (commonly referred to as the Croatian Parliament). The Monarch had the right to veto any kind of Bill before it was presented to the National Assembly, the right to veto all legislation passed by the National Assembly, and the power to prorogue or dissolve the Assembly and call for new elections. In practice, these powers were rarely used.

Public administration and local governments Edit

Empire of Austria (Cisleithania) Edit

The administrative system in the Austrian Empire consisted of three levels: the central State administration, the territories (Länder), and the local communal administration. The State administration comprised all affairs having relation to rights, duties, and interests "which are common to all territories" all other administrative tasks were left to the territories. Finally, the communes had self-government within their own sphere.

The central authorities were known as the "Ministry" (Ministerium). In 1867 the Ministerium consisted of seven ministries (Agriculture, Religion and Education, Finance, Interior, Justice, Commerce and Public Works, Defence). A Ministry of Railways was created in 1896, and the Ministry of Public Works was separated from Commerce in 1908. Ministries of Public Health [de] and Social Welfare were established in 1917 to deal with issues arising from World War I. The ministries all had the title k.k. ("Imperial-Royal"), referring to the Imperial Crown of Austria and the Royal Crown of Bohemia.

Each of the seventeen territories had its own government, led by a Governor [de] (officially Landeschef, but commonly called Statthalter or Landespräsident), appointed by the Emperor, to serve as his representative. Usually, a territory was equivalent to a Crown territory (Kronland), but the immense variations in area of the Crown territories meant that there were some exceptions. [44] Each territory had its own territorial assembly (Landtag) and executive (Landesausschuss [de] ). The territorial assembly and executive were led by the Landeshauptmann (i.e., territorial premier), appointed by the Emperor from the members of the territorial assembly. Many branches of the territorial administrations had great similarities with those of the State, so that their spheres of activity frequently overlapped and came into collision. This administrative "double track", as it was called, resulted largely from the origin of the State – for the most part through a voluntary union of countries that had a strong sense of their own individuality.

Below the territory was the district (Bezirk) under a district-head (Bezirkshauptmann), appointed by the State government. These district-heads united nearly all the administrative functions which were divided among the various ministries. Each district was divided into a number of municipalities (Ortsgemeinden), each with its own elected mayor (Bürgermeister). The nine statutory cities were autonomous units at the district-level.

The complexity of this system, particularly the overlap between State and territorial administration, led to moves for administrative reform. As early as 1904, premier Ernest von Koerber had declared that a complete change in the principles of administration would be essential if the machinery of State were to continue working. Richard von Bienerth's last act as Austrian premier in May 1911 was the appointment of a commission nominated by the Emperor to draw up a scheme of administrative reform. The imperial rescript did not present reforms as a matter of urgency or outline an overall philosophy for them. The continuous progress of society, it said, had made increased demands on the administration, that is to say, it was assumed that reform was required because of the changing times, not underlying problems with the administrative structure. The reform commission first occupied itself with reforms about which there was no controversy. In 1912 it published "Proposals for the training of State officials". The commission produced several further reports before its work was interrupted by the outbreak of World War I in 1914. It was not till March 1918 that the Seidler Government decided upon a program of national autonomy as a basis for administrative reform, which was, however, never carried into effect. [45]

Kingdom of Hungary (Transleithania) Edit

Executive power in Transleithania was vested in a cabinet responsible to the National Assembly, consisting of ten ministers, including: the Prime Minister, the Minister for Croatia-Slavonia, a Minister besides the King, and the Ministers of the Interior, National Defence, Religion and Public Education, Finance, Agriculture, Industry, and Trade, Public Works and Transport, and Justice. The Minister besides the King was responsible for coordination with Austria and the Imperial and royal court in Vienna. In 1889, the Ministry of Agriculture, Industry, and Trade was split into separate ministries of Agriculture and Trade. The Ministry of Public Works and Transport was folded into the new Ministry of Trade.

From 1867 the administrative and political divisions of the lands belonging to the Hungarian crown were remodeled due to some restorations and other changes. In 1868 Transylvania was definitely reunited to Hungary proper, and the town and district of Fiume maintained its status as a Corpus separatum ("separate body"). The "Military Frontier" was abolished in stages between 1871 and 1881, with Banat and Šajkaška being incorporated into Hungary proper and the Croatian and Slavonian Military Frontiers joining Croatia-Slavonia.

In regard to local government, Hungary had traditionally been divided into around seventy counties (Hungarian: megyék, singular megye Croatian: Croatian: županija) and an array of districts and cities with special statuses. This system was reformed in two stages. In 1870, most historical privileges of territorial subdivisions were abolished, but the existing names and territories were retained. At this point, there were a total of 175 territorial subdivisions: 65 counties (49 in Hungary proper, 8 in Transylvania, and 8 in Croatia), 89 cities with municipal rights, and 21 other types of municipality (3 in Hungary proper and 18 in Transylvania). In a further reform in 1876, most of the cities and other types of municipality were incorporated into the counties. The counties in Hungary were grouped into seven circuits, [35] which had no administrative function. The lowest level subdivision was the district or processus (Hungarian: szolgabírói járás).

After 1876, some urban municipalities remained independent of the counties in which they were situated. There were 26 of these urban municipalities in Hungary: Arad, Baja, Debreczen, Győr, Hódmezővásárhely, Kassa, Kecskemét, Kolozsvár, Komárom, Marosvásárhely, Nagyvárad, Pancsova, Pécs, Pozsony, Selmecz- és Bélabanya, Sopron, Szabadka, Szatmárnémeti, Szeged, Székesfehervár, Temesvár, Újvidék, Versecz, Zombor, and Budapest, the capital of the country. [35] In Croatia-Slavonia, there were four: Osijek, Varaždin and Zagreb and Zemun. [35] Fiume continued to form a separate division.

The administration of the municipalities was carried on by an official appointed by the king. These municipalities each had a council of twenty members. Counties were led by a County head (Hungarian: Ispán or Croatian: župan) appointed by the king and under the control of the Ministry of the Interior. Each county had a municipal committee of 20 members, [35] comprising 50% virilists (persons paying the highest direct taxes) and 50% elected persons fulfilling the prescribed census and ex officio members (deputy county head, main notary, and others). The powers and responsibilities of the counties were constantly decreased and were transferred to regional agencies of the kingdom's ministries.

Bosnia and Herzegovina Edit

In 1878, the Congress of Berlin placed the Bosnia Vilayet of the Ottoman Empire under Austro-Hungarian occupation. The region was formally annexed in 1908 and was governed by Austria and Hungary jointly through the Imperial and Royal Ministry of Finance's Bosnian Office (German: Bosnische Amt). The Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina was headed by a governor (German: Landsschef), who was also the commander of the military forces based in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The executive branch was headed by a National Council, which was chaired by the governor and contained the governor's deputy and chiefs of departments. At first, the government had only three departments, administrative, financial and legislative. Later, other departments, including construction, economics, education, religion, and technical, were founded as well. [46]

The Diet of Bosnia, created in 1910, had very limited legislative powers. The main legislative power was in the hands of the emperor, the parliaments in Vienna and Budapest, and the joint-minister of finance. The Diet of Bosnia could make proposals, but they had to be approved by both parliaments in Vienna and Budapest. The Diet could only deliberate on matters that affected Bosnia and Herzegovina exclusively decisions on armed forces, commercial and traffic connections, customs, and similar matters, were made by the parliaments in Vienna and Budapest. The Diet also had no control over the National Council or the municipal councils. [47]

The Austrian-Hungarian authorities left the Ottoman division of Bosnia and Herzegovina untouched, and only changed the names of divisional units. Thus the Bosnia Vilayet was renamed Reichsland, sanjaks were renamed Kreise (Circuits), kazas were renamed Bezirke (Districts), and nahiyahs became Exposituren. [46] There were six Kreise and 54 Bezirke. [48] The heads of the Kreises were Kreiseleiters, and the heads of the Bezirke were Bezirkesleiters. [46]

Judicial system Edit

Empire of Austria Edit

The December Constitution of 1867 restored the rule of law, independence of the judiciary, and public jury trials in Austria. The system of general courts had the same four rungs it still has today:

  • District courts (Bezirksgerichte)
  • Regional courts (Kreisgerichte)
  • Higher regional courts (Oberlandesgerichte)
  • Supreme Court (Oberster Gerichts- und Kassationshof).

Habsburg subjects would from now on be able to take the State to court should it violate their fundamental rights. [49] Since regular courts were still unable to overrule the bureaucracy, much less the legislature, these guarantees necessitated the creation of specialist courts that could: [50]

  • The Administrative Court (Verwaltungsgerichtshof), stipulated by the 1867 Basic Law on Judicial Power (Staatsgrundgesetz über die richterliche Gewalt) and implemented in 1876, had the power to review the legality of administrative acts, ensuring that the executive branch remained faithful to the principle of the rule of law.
  • The Imperial Court (Reichsgericht), stipulated by the Basic Law on the Creation of an Imperial Court (Staatsgrundgesetz über die Einrichtung eines Reichsgerichtes) in 1867 and implemented in 1869, decided demarcation conflicts between courts and the bureaucracy, between its constituent territories, and between individual territories and the Empire. [51][52] The Imperial Court also heard complaints of citizens who alleged to have been violated in their constitutional rights, although its powers were not cassatory: it could only vindicate the complainant by declaring the government to be in the wrong, not by actually voiding its wrongful decisions. [51][53]
  • The State Court (Staatsgerichtshof) held the Emperor's ministers accountable for political misconduct committed in office. [54][55] Although the Emperor could not be taken to court, many of his decrees now depended on the relevant minister to countersign them. The double-pronged approach of making the Emperor dependent on his ministers and also making ministers criminally liable for bad outcomes would firstly enable, secondly motivate the ministers to put pressure on the monarch. [56]

Kingdom of Hungary Edit

Judicial power was also independent of the executive in Hungary. After the Croatian–Hungarian Settlement of 1868, Croatia-Slavonia had its own independent judicial system (the Table of Seven was the court of last instance for Croatia-Slavonia with final civil and criminal jurisdiction). The judicial authorities in Hungary were:

  1. the district courts with single judges (458 in 1905)
  2. the county courts with collegiate judgeships (76 in number) to these were attached 15 jury courts for press offences. These were courts of first instance. In Croatia-Slavonia these were known as the court tables after 1874
  3. Royal Tables (12 in number), which were courts of second instance, established at Budapest, Debrecen, Győr, Kassa, Kolozsvár, Marosvásárhely, Nagyvárad, Pécs, Pressburg, Szeged, Temesvár and Ban's Table at Zagreb.
  4. The Royal Supreme Court at Budapest, and the Supreme Court of Justice, or Table of Seven, at Zagreb, which were the highest judicial authorities. There were also a special commercial court at Budapest, a naval court at Fiume, and special army courts. [35]

The first prime minister of Hungary after the Compromise was Count Gyula Andrássy (1867–1871). The old Hungarian Constitution was restored, and Franz Joseph was crowned as King of Hungary. Andrássy next served as the Foreign Minister of Austria–Hungary (1871–1879).

The Empire relied increasingly on a cosmopolitan bureaucracy—in which Czechs played an important role—backed by loyal elements, including a large part of the German, Hungarian, Polish and Croat aristocracy. [57]

Political struggles in the Empire Edit

The traditional aristocracy and land-based gentry class gradually faced increasingly wealthy men of the cities, who achieved wealth through trade and industrialization. The urban middle and upper class tended to seek their own power and supported progressive movements in the aftermath of revolutions in Europe.

As in the German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire frequently used liberal economic policies and practices. From the 1860s, businessmen succeeded in industrializing parts of the Empire. Newly prosperous members of the bourgeoisie erected large homes and began to take prominent roles in urban life that rivaled the aristocracy's. In the early period, they encouraged the government to seek foreign investment to build up infrastructure, such as railroads, in aid of industrialization, transportation and communications, and development.

The influence of liberals in Austria, most of them ethnic Germans, weakened under the leadership of Count Eduard von Taaffe, the Austrian prime minister from 1879 to 1893. Taaffe used a coalition of clergy, conservatives and Slavic parties to weaken the liberals. In Bohemia, for example, he authorized Czech as an official language of the bureaucracy and school system, thus breaking the German speakers' monopoly on holding office. Such reforms encouraged other ethnic groups to push for greater autonomy as well. By playing nationalities off one another, the government ensured the monarchy's central role in holding together competing interest groups in an era of rapid change.

During the First World War, rising national sentiments and labour movements contributed to strikes, protests and civil unrest in the Empire. After the war, republican, national parties contributed to the disintegration and collapse of the monarchy in Austria and Hungary. Republics were established in Vienna and Budapest. [58]

Legislation to help the working class emerged from Catholic conservatives. They turned to social reform by using Swiss and German models and intervening in private industry. In Germany, Chancellor Otto von Bismarck had used such policies to neutralize socialist promises. The Catholics studied the Swiss Factory Act of 1877, which limited working hours for everyone and provided maternity benefits, and German laws that insured workers against industrial risks inherent in the workplace. These served as the basis for Austria's 1885 Trade Code Amendment. [59]

The Austro-Hungarian compromise and its supporters remained bitterly unpopular among the ethnic Hungarian voters, and the continuous electoral success of the pro-compromise Liberal Party frustrated many Hungarian voters. While the pro-compromise liberal parties were the most popular among ethnic minority voters, the Slovak, Serb, and Romanian minority parties remained unpopular among the ethnic minorities. The nationalist Hungarian parties, which were supported by the overwhelming majority of ethnic Hungarian voters, remained in the opposition, except from 1906 to 1910 where the nationalist Hungarian parties were able to form government. [60]

Ethnic relations Edit

In July 1849, the Hungarian Revolutionary Parliament proclaimed and enacted ethnic and minority rights (the next such laws were in Switzerland), but these were overturned after the Russian and Austrian armies crushed the Hungarian Revolution. After the Kingdom of Hungary reached the Compromise with the Habsburg Dynasty in 1867, one of the first acts of its restored Parliament was to pass a Law on Nationalities (Act Number XLIV of 1868). It was a liberal piece of legislation and offered extensive language and cultural rights. It did not recognize non-Hungarians to have rights to form states with any territorial autonomy. [61]

The "Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867" created the personal union of the independent states of Hungary and Austria, linked under a common monarch also having joint institutions. The Hungarian majority asserted more of their identity within the Kingdom of Hungary, and it came to conflict with some of her own minorities. The imperial power of German-speakers who controlled the Austrian half was resented by others. In addition, the emergence of nationalism in the newly independent Romania and Serbia also contributed to ethnic issues in the empire.

Article 19 of the 1867 "Basic State Act" (Staatsgrundgesetz), valid only for the Cisleithanian (Austrian) part of Austria–Hungary, [62] said:

All races of the empire have equal rights, and every race has an inviolable right to the preservation and use of its own nationality and language. The equality of all customary languages ("landesübliche Sprachen") in school, office and public life, is recognized by the state. In those territories in which several races dwell, the public and educational institutions are to be so arranged that, without applying compulsion to learn a second country language ("Landessprache"), each of the races receives the necessary means of education in its own language. [63]

The implementation of this principle led to several disputes, as it was not clear which languages could be regarded as "customary". The Germans, the traditional bureaucratic, capitalist and cultural elite, demanded the recognition of their language as a customary language in every part of the empire. German nationalists, especially in the Sudetenland (part of Bohemia), looked to Berlin in the new German Empire. [64] There was a German-speaking element in Austria proper (west of Vienna), but it did not display much sense of German nationalism. That is, it did not demand an independent state rather it flourished by holding most of the high military and diplomatic offices in the Empire.

Italian was regarded as an old "culture language" (Kultursprache) by German intellectuals and had always been granted equal rights as an official language of the Empire, but the Germans had difficulty in accepting the Slavic languages as equal to their own. On one occasion Count A. Auersperg (Anastasius Grün) entered the Diet of Carniola carrying what he claimed to be the whole corpus of Slovene literature under his arm this was to demonstrate that the Slovene language could not be substituted for German as the language of higher education.

The following years saw official recognition of several languages, at least in Austria. From 1867, laws awarded Croatian equal status with Italian in Dalmatia. From 1882, there was a Slovene majority in the Diet of Carniola and in the capital Laibach (Ljubljana) they replaced German with Slovene as their primary official language. Galicia designated Polish instead of German in 1869 as the customary language of government.

In Istria, the Istro-Romanians, a small ethnic group composed by around 2,600 people in the 1880s, [65] suffered severe discrimination. The Croats of the region, who formed the majority, tried to assimilate them, while the Italian minority supported them in their requests for self-determination. [66] [67] In 1888, the possibility of opening the first school for the Istro-Romanians teaching in the Romanian language was discussed in the Diet of Istria. The proposal was very popular among them. The Italian deputies showed their support, but the Croat ones opposed it and tried to show that the Istro-Romanians were in fact Slavs. [68] During Austro-Hungarian rule, the Istro-Romanians lived under poverty conditions, [69] and those living in the island of Krk were fully assimilated by 1875. [70]

The language disputes were most fiercely fought in Bohemia, where the Czech speakers formed a majority and sought equal status for their language to German. The Czechs had lived primarily in Bohemia since the 6th century and German immigrants had begun settling the Bohemian periphery in the 13th century. The constitution of 1627 made the German language a second official language and equal to Czech. German speakers lost their majority in the Bohemian Diet in 1880 and became a minority to Czech speakers in the cities of Prague and Pilsen (while retaining a slight numerical majority in the city of Brno (Brünn)). The old Charles University in Prague, hitherto dominated by German speakers, was divided into German and Czech-speaking faculties in 1882.

At the same time, Hungarian dominance faced challenges from the local majorities of Romanians in Transylvania and in the eastern Banat, Slovaks in today's Slovakia, and Croats and Serbs in the crown lands of Croatia and of Dalmatia (today's Croatia), in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and in the provinces known as the Vojvodina (today's northern Serbia). The Romanians and the Serbs began to agitate for union with their fellow nationalists and language speakers in the newly founded states of Romania (1859–1878) and Serbia.

Hungary's leaders were generally less willing than their Austrian counterparts to share power with their subject minorities, but they granted a large measure of autonomy to Croatia in 1868. To some extent, they modeled their relationship to that kingdom on their own compromise with Austria of the previous year. In spite of nominal autonomy, the Croatian government was an economic and administrative part of Hungary, which the Croatians resented. In the Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina many advocated the idea of a trialist Austro-Hungaro-Croatian monarchy among the supporters of the idea were Archduke Leopold Salvator, Archduke Franz Ferdinand and emperor and king Charles I who during his short reign supported the trialist idea only to be vetoed by the Hungarian government and Count Istvan Tisza. The count finally signed the trialist proclamation after heavy pressure from the king on 23 October 1918. [71]

Language was one of the most contentious issues in Austro-Hungarian politics. All governments faced difficult and divisive hurdles in deciding on the languages of government and of instruction. The minorities sought the widest opportunities for education in their own languages, as well as in the "dominant" languages—Hungarian and German. By the "Ordinance of 5 April 1897", the Austrian Prime Minister Count Kasimir Felix Badeni gave Czech equal standing with German in the internal government of Bohemia this led to a crisis because of nationalist German agitation throughout the empire. The Crown dismissed Badeni.

The Hungarian Minority Act of 1868 gave the minorities (Slovaks, Romanians, Serbs, et al.) individual (but not also communal) rights to use their language in offices, schools (although in practice often only in those founded by them and not by the state), courts and municipalities (if 20% of the deputies demanded it). Beginning with the 1879 Primary Education Act and the 1883 Secondary Education Act, the Hungarian state made more efforts to reduce the use of non-Magyar languages, in strong violation of the 1868 Nationalities Law. [72] After 1875, all Slovak language schools higher than elementary were closed, including the only three high schools (gymnasiums) in Revúca (Nagyrőce), Turčiansky Svätý Martin (Turócszentmárton) and Kláštor pod Znievom (Znióváralja). From June 1907, all public and private schools in Hungary were obliged to ensure that after the fourth grade, the pupils could express themselves fluently in Hungarian. This led to the further closing of minority schools, devoted mostly to the Slovak and Rusyn languages.

The two kingdoms sometimes divided their spheres of influence. According to Misha Glenny in his book, The Balkans, 1804–1999, the Austrians responded to Hungarian support of Czechs by supporting the Croatian national movement in Zagreb.

In recognition that he reigned in a multi-ethnic country, Emperor Franz Joseph spoke (and used) German, Hungarian and Czech fluently, and Croatian, Serbian, Polish and Italian to some degree.

Jews Edit

Around 1900, Jews numbered about two million in the whole territory of the Austro-Hungarian Empire [73] their position was ambiguous. The populist and antisemitic politics of the Christian Social Party are sometimes viewed as a model for Adolf Hitler's Nazism. [74] Antisemitic parties and movements existed, but the governments of Vienna and Budapest did not initiate pogroms or implement official antisemitic policies. [ citation needed ] They feared that such ethnic violence could ignite other ethnic minorities and escalate out of control. The antisemitic parties remained on the periphery of the political sphere due to their low popularity among voters in the parliamentary elections. [ citation needed ]

In that period, the majority of Jews in Austria–Hungary lived in small towns (shtetls) in Galicia and rural areas in Hungary and Bohemia however, they had large communities and even local majorities in the downtown districts of Vienna, Budapest and Prague. Of the pre-World War I military forces of the major European powers, the Austro-Hungarian army was almost alone in its regular promotion of Jews to positions of command. [75] While the Jewish population of the lands of the Dual Monarchy was about five percent, Jews made up nearly eighteen percent of the reserve officer corps. [76] Thanks to the modernity of the constitution and to the benevolence of emperor Franz Joseph, the Austrian Jews came to regard the era of Austria–Hungary as a golden era of their history. [77] By 1910 about 900,000 religious Jews made up approximately 5% of the population of Hungary and about 23% of Budapest's citizenry. Jews accounted for 54% of commercial business owners, 85% of financial institution directors and owners in banking, and 62% of all employees in commerce, [78] 20% of all general grammar school students, and 37% of all commercial scientific grammar school students, 31.9% of all engineering students, and 34.1% of all students in human faculties of the universities. Jews were accounted for 48.5% of all physicians, [79] and 49.4% of all lawyers/jurists in Hungary. [80] Note: The numbers of Jews were reconstructed from religious censuses. They did not include the people of Jewish origin who had converted to Christianity, or the number of atheists. [ citation needed ] Among many Hungarian parliament members of Jewish origin, the most famous Jewish members in Hungarian political life were Vilmos Vázsonyi as Minister of Justice, Samu Hazai as Minister of War, János Teleszky as minister of finance and János Harkányi as minister of trade, and József Szterényi as minister of trade.

Foreign policy Edit

The minister of foreign affairs conducted the foreign relations of the Dual Monarchy, and negotiated treaties. [81]

The Dual Monarchy was created in the wake of a losing war in 1866 with Prussia and Italy. To rebuild Habsburg prestige and gain revenge against Prussia, Count Friedrich Ferdinand von Beust became foreign secretary. He hated Prussia's diplomat, Otto von Bismarck, who had repeatedly outmaneuvered him. Beust looked to France and negotiated with Emperor Napoleon III and Italy for an anti-Prussian alliance. No terms could be reached. The decisive victory of Prusso-German armies in the war of 1870 with France and the founding of the German Empire ended all hope of revenge and Beust retired. [82]

After being forced out of Germany and Italy, the Dual Monarchy turned to the Balkans, which were in tumult as nationalistic efforts were trying to end the rule of the Ottomans. Both Russia and Austria–Hungary saw an opportunity to expand in this region. Russia in particular took on the role of protector of Slavs and Orthodox Christians. Austria envisioned a multi-ethnic, religiously diverse empire under Vienna's control. Count Gyula Andrássy, a Hungarian who was Foreign Minister (1871 to 1879), made the centerpiece of his policy one of opposition to Russian expansion in the Balkans and blocking Serbian ambitions to dominate a new South Slav federation. He wanted Germany to ally with Austria, not Russia. [83]

When Russia defeated Turkey in a war the resulting Treaty of San Stefano was seen in Austria as much too favourable for Russia and its Orthodox-Slavic goals. The Congress of Berlin in 1878 let Austria occupy (but not annex) the province of Bosnia and Herzegovina, a predominantly Slavic area. In 1914, Slavic militants in Bosnia rejected Austria's plan to fully absorb the area they assassinated the Austrian heir and precipitated World War I. [84]

Voting rights Edit

Towards the end of the 19th century, the Austrian half of the dual monarchy began to move towards constitutionalism. A constitutional system with a parliament, the Reichsrat was created, and a bill of rights was enacted also in 1867. Suffrage to the Reichstag's lower house was gradually expanded until 1907, when equal suffrage for all male citizens was introduced.

The 1907 Cisleithanian legislative election were the first elections held under universal male suffrage, after an electoral reform abolishing tax-paying requirements for voters had been adopted by the council and was endorsed by Emperor Franz Joseph earlier in the year. [85] However, seat allocations were based on tax revenues from the States. [85]

The following data is based on the official Austro-Hungarian census conducted in 1910.

Population and area Edit

Area Territory (km 2 ) Population
Empire of Austria 300,005 (≈48% of Austria–Hungary) 28,571,934 (≈57.8% of Austria–Hungary)
Kingdom of Hungary 325,411 (≈52% of Austria–Hungary) 20,886,487 (≈42.2% of Austria–Hungary)
Bosnia & Herzegovina 51,027 1,931,802
Sandžak (occupied until 1909) 8,403 135,000

Languages Edit

In Austria (Cisleithania), the census of 1910 recorded Umgangssprache, everyday language. Jews and those using German in offices often stated German as their Umgangssprache, even when having a different Muttersprache. 36.8% of the total population spoke German as their native language, and more than 71% of the inhabitants spoke some German.

In Hungary (Transleithania), the census was based primarily on mother tongue, [86] [87] 48.1% of the total population spoke Hungarian as their native language. Not counting autonomous Croatia-Slavonia, more than 54.4% of the inhabitants of the Kingdom of Hungary were native speakers of Hungarian (this included also the Jews – around 5% of the population – as mostly they were Hungarian-speaking). [88] [89]

Note that some languages were considered dialects of more widely spoken languages. For example: in the census, Rhaeto-Romance languages were counted as "Italian", while Istro-Romanian was counted as "Romanian". Yiddish was counted as "German" in both Austria and Hungary.

Linguistic distribution
of Austria–Hungary as a whole
German 23%
Hungarian 20%
Czech 13%
Polish 10%
Ruthenian 8%
Romanian 6%
Croat 6%
Slovak 4%
Serbian 4%
Slovene 3%
Italian 3%
Language Number %
German 12,006,521 23.36
Hungarian 10,056,315 19.57
Czech 6,442,133 12.54
Serbo-Croatian 5,621,797 10.94
Polish 4,976,804 9.68
Ruthenian 3,997,831 7.78
Romanian 3,224,147 6.27
Slovak 1,967,970 3.83
Slovene 1,255,620 2.44
Italian 768,422 1.50
Other 1,072,663 2.09
Total 51,390,223 100.00

Spoken languages in Cisleithania (Austria) (1910 census)
Land Most common language Other languages (more than 2%)
Bohemia 63.2% Czech 36.45% (2,467,724) German
Dalmatia 96.2% Serbo-Croatian 2.8% Italian
Galicia 58.6% Polish 40.2% Ruthenian 1.1% German
Lower Austria 95.9% German 3.8% Czech
Upper Austria 99.7% German 0.2% Czech
Bukovina 38.4% Ruthenian 34.4% Romanian 21.2% German 4.6% Polish
Carinthia 78.6% German 21.2% Slovene
Carniola 94.4% Slovene 5.4% German
Salzburg 99.7% German 0.1% Czech
Silesia 43.9% German 31.7% Polish 24.3% Czech
Styria 70.5% German 29.4% Slovene
Moravia 71.8% Czech 27.6% German 0.6% Polish
Gorizia and Gradisca 59.3% Slovene 34.5% Italian 1.7% German
Trieste 51.9% Italian 24.8% Slovene 5.2% German 1.0% Serbo-Croatian
Istria 41.6% Serbo-Croatian 36.5% Italian 13.7% Slovene 3.3% German
Tyrol 57.3% German 38.9% Italian
Vorarlberg 95.4% German 4.4% Italian
Mother tongues in Transleithania (Hungary) (1910 census)
Language Hungary proper Croatia-Slavonia
speakers % of population speakers % of population
Hungarian 9,944,627 54.5% 105,948 4.1%
Romanian 2,948,186 16.0% 846 <0.1%
Slovak 1,946,357 10.7% 21,613 0.8%
German 1,903,657 10.4% 134, 078 5.1%
Serbian 461,516 2.5% 644,955 24.6%
Ruthenian 464,270 2.3% 8,317 0.3%
Croatian 194,808 1.1% 1,638,354 62.5%
Others and unspecified 401,412 2.2% 65,843 2.6%
Total 18,264,533 100% 2,621,954 100%

Religion Edit

Religion in Austria–Hungary 1910 [4]
Religion Austria–Hungary Austria/Cisleithania
Bosnia and
Catholics (both Roman and Eastern) 76.6% 90.9% 61.8% 22.9%
Protestants 8.9% 2.1% 19.0% 0%
Eastern Orthodox 8.7% 2.3% 14.3% 43.5%
Jews 4.4% 4.7% 4.9% 0.6%
Muslims 1.3% 0% 0% 32.7%

Solely in the Empire of Austria: [90]

Religion Austria
Latin Catholic 79.1% (20,661,000)
Eastern Catholic 12% (3,134,000)
Jewish 4.7% (1,225,000)
Eastern Orthodox 2.3% (607,000)
Lutheran 1.9% (491,000)
Other or no religion 14,000

Solely in the Kingdom of Hungary: [91]

Religion Hungary proper & Fiume Croatia & Slavonia
Latin Catholic 49.3% (9,010,305) 71.6% (1,877,833)
Calvinist 14.3% (2,603,381) 0.7% (17,948)
Eastern Orthodox 12.8% (2,333,979) 24.9% (653,184)
Eastern Catholic 11.0% (2,007,916) 0.7% (17,592)
Lutheran 7.1% (1,306,384) 1.3% (33,759)
Jewish 5.0% (911,227) 0.8% (21,231)
Unitarian 0.4% (74,275) 0.0% (21)
Other or no religion 0.1% (17,066) 0.0 (386)

Largest cities Edit

Austrian Empire
Rank Current English name Contemporary official name [93] Other Present-day country Population in 1910 Present-day population
1. Vienna Wien Bécs, Beč, Dunaj Austria 2,031,498 (city without the suburb 1,481,970) 1,840,573 (Metro: 2,600,000)
2. Prague Prag, Praha Prága Czech Republic 668,000 (city without the suburb 223,741) 1,301,132 (Metro: 2,620,000)
3. Trieste Triest Trieszt, Trst Italy 229,510 204,420
4. Lviv Lemberg, Lwów Ilyvó, Львів, Lvov, Львов Ukraine 206,113 728,545
5. Kraków Krakau, Kraków Krakkó, Krakov Poland 151,886 762,508
6. Graz Grác, Gradec Austria 151,781 328,276
7. Brno Brünn, Brno Berén, Börön, Börénvásár Czech Republic 125,737 377,028
8. Chernivtsi Czernowitz Csernyivci, Cernăuți, Чернівці Ukraine 87,128 242,300
9. Plzeň Pilsen, Plzeň Pilzen Czech Republic 80,343 169,858
10. Linz Linec Austria 67,817 200,841
Kingdom of Hungary
Rank Current English name Contemporary official name [93] Other Present-day country Population in 1910 Present-day population
1. Budapest Budimpešta Hungary 1,232,026 (city without the suburb 880,371) 1,735,711 (Metro: 3,303,786)
2. Szeged Szegedin, Segedin Hungary 118,328 170,285
3. Subotica Szabadka Суботица Serbia 94,610 105,681
4. Debrecen Hungary 92,729 208,016
5. Zagreb Zágráb, Agram Croatia 79,038 803,000 (Metro: 1,228,941)
6. Bratislava Pozsony Pressburg, Prešporok Slovakia 78,223 425,167
7. Timișoara Temesvár Temeswar Romania 72,555 319,279
8. Kecskemét Hungary 66,834 111,411
9. Oradea Nagyvárad Großwardein Romania 64,169 196,367
10. Arad Arad Romania 63,166 159,074
11. Hódmezővásárhely Hungary 62,445 46,047
12. Cluj-Napoca Kolozsvár Klausenburg Romania 60,808 324,576
13. Újpest Hungary 55,197 100,694
14. Miskolc Hungary 51,459 157,177
15. Pécs Hungary 49,852 145,347

Education Edit

Austrian Empire Edit

Primary and secondary schools

The organization of the Austrian elementary schools was based on the principle of compulsory school attendance, free education, and the imparting of public instruction in the child's own language. Side by side with these existed private schools. The proportion of children attending private schools to those attending the public elementary schools in 1912 was 144,000 to 4.5 millions, i.e. a thirtieth part. Hence the accusation of denationalizing children through the Schulvereine must be accepted with caution. The expenses of education were distributed as follows: the communes built the schoolhouses, the political sub-districts (Bezirke) paid the teachers, the Crown territory gave a grant, and the State appointed the inspectors. Since the State supervised the schools without maintaining them, it was able to increase its demands without being hampered by financial considerations. It is remarkable that the difference between the State educational estimates in Austria and in Hungary was one of 9.3 millions in the former as opposed to 67.6 in the latter. Under Austria, since everywhere that 40 scholars of one nationality were to be found within a radius of 5 km. a school had to be set up in which their language was used, national schools were assured even to linguistic minorities. It is true that this mostly happened at the expense of the German industrial communities, since the Slav labourers as immigrants acquired schools in their own language. The number of elementary schools increased from 19,016 in 1900 to 24,713 in 1913 the number of scholars from 3,490,000 in 1900 to 4,630,000 in 1913. [94]

Universities in Austrian Empire

The first University in the Austrian half of the Empire (Charles University) was founded by H.R. Emperor Charles IV in Prague in 1347. The second oldest university (University of Vienna) was founded by Duke Rudolph IV in 1365. [95]

The higher educational institutions were predominantly German, but beginning in the 1870s, language shifts began to occur. [96] These establishments, which in the middle of the 19th century had had a predominantly German character, underwent in Galicia a conversion into Polish national institutions, in Bohemia and Moravia a separation into German and Czech ones. Thus Germans, Czechs and Poles were provided for. But now the smaller nations also made their voices heard: the Ruthenians, Slovenes and Italians. The Ruthenians demanded at first, in view of the predominantly Ruthenian character of East Galicia, a national partition of the Polish university existing there. Since the Poles were at first unyielding, Ruthenian demonstrations and strikes of students arose, and the Ruthenians were no longer content with the reversion of a few separate professorial chairs, and with parallel courses of lectures. By a pact concluded on 28 January 1914 the Poles promised a Ruthenian university but owing to the war the question lapsed. The Italians could hardly claim a university of their own on grounds of population (in 1910 they numbered 783,000), but they claimed it all the more on grounds of their ancient culture. All parties were agreed that an Italian faculty of laws should be created the difficulty lay in the choice of the place. The Italians demanded Trieste but the Government was afraid to let this Adriatic port become the centre of an irredenta moreover the Southern Slavs of the city wished it kept free from an Italian educational establishment. Bienerth in 1910 brought about a compromise namely, that it should be founded at once, the situation to be provisionally in Vienna, and to be transferred within four years to Italian national territory. The German National Union (Nationalverband) agreed to extend temporary hospitality to the Italian university in Vienna, but the Southern Slav Hochschule Club demanded a guarantee that a later transfer to the coast provinces should not be contemplated, together with the simultaneous foundation of Slovene professorial chairs in Prague and Cracow, and preliminary steps towards the foundation of a Southern Slav university in Laibach. But in spite of the constant renewal of negotiations for a compromise it was impossible to arrive at any agreement, until the outbreak of war left all the projects for a Ruthenian university at Lemberg, a Slovene one in Laibach, and a second Czech one in Moravia, unrealized.

Kingdom of Hungary Edit

Primary and secondary schools

One of the first measures of newly established Hungarian government was to provide supplementary schools of a non-denominational character. By a law passed in 1868 attendance at school was obligatory for all children between the ages of 6 and 12 years. The communes or parishes were bound to maintain elementary schools, and they were entitled to levy an additional tax of 5% on the state taxes for their maintenance. But the number of state-aided elementary schools was continually increasing, as the spread of the Magyar language to the other races through the medium of the elementary schools was one of the principal concerns of the Hungarian government, and was vigorously pursued. In 1902 there were in Hungary 18,729 elementary schools with 32,020 teachers, attended by 2,573,377 pupils, figures which compare favourably with those of 1877, when there were 15,486 schools with 20,717 teachers, attended by 1,559,636 pupils. In about 61% of these schools the language used was exclusively Magyar, in about 6 20% it was mixed, and in the remainder some non-Magyar language was used. In 1902, 80.56% of the children of school age actually attended school. Since 1891 infant schools, for children between the ages of 3 and 6 years, were maintained either by the communes or by the state.

The public instruction of Hungary contained three other groups of educational institutions: middle or secondary schools, "high schools" and technical schools. The middle schools comprised classical schools (gymnasia) which were preparatory for the universities and other "high schools", and modern schools (Realschulen) preparatory for the technical schools. Their course of study was generally eight years, and they were maintained mostly by the state. The state-maintained gymnasia were mostly of recent foundation, but some schools maintained by the various churches had been in existence for three or sometimes four centuries. The number of middle schools in 1902 was 243 with 4705 teachers, attended by 71,788 pupils in 1880 their number was 185, attended by 40,747 pupils.

Universities in Kingdom of Hungary

In the year 1276, the university of Veszprém was destroyed by the troops of Péter Csák and it was never rebuilt. A university was established by Louis I of Hungary in Pécs in 1367. Sigismund established a university at Óbuda in 1395. Another, Universitas Istropolitana, was established 1465 in Pozsony (now Bratislava in Slovakia) by Mattias Corvinus. None of these medieval universities survived the Ottoman wars. Nagyszombat University was founded in 1635 and moved to Buda in 1777 and it is called Eötvös Loránd University today. The world's first institute of technology was founded in Selmecbánya, Kingdom of Hungary (since 1920 Banská Štiavnica, now Slovakia) in 1735. Its legal successor is the University of Miskolc in Hungary. The Budapest University of Technology and Economics (BME) is considered the oldest institute of technology in the world with university rank and structure. Its legal predecessor the Institutum Geometrico-Hydrotechnicum was founded in 1782 by Emperor Joseph II.

The high schools included the universities, of which Hungary possessed five, all maintained by the state: at Budapest (founded in 1635), at Kolozsvár (founded in 1872), and at Zagreb (founded in 1874). Newer universities were established in Debrecen in 1912, and Pozsony university was reestablished after a half millennium in 1912. They had four faculties: theology, law, philosophy and medicine (the university at Zagreb was without a faculty of medicine). There were in addition ten high schools of law, called academies, which in 1900 were attended by 1569 pupils. The Polytechnicum in Budapest, founded in 1844, which contained four faculties and was attended in 1900 by 1772 pupils, was also considered a high school. There were in Hungary in 1900 forty-nine theological colleges, twenty-nine Catholic, five Greek Uniat, four Greek Orthodox, ten Protestant and one Jewish. Among special schools the principal mining schools were at Selmeczbánya, Nagyág and Felsőbánya the principal agricultural colleges at Debreczen and Kolozsvár and there was a school of forestry at Selmeczbánya, military colleges at Budapest, Kassa, Déva and Zagreb, and a naval school at Fiume. There were in addition a number of training institutes for teachers and a large number of schools of commerce, several art schools – for design, painting, sculpture, music.

How did nationalism imperialism and militarism help cause ww1?

How did nationalism, imperialism, and militarism help set the stage for World War 1? Nationalism can serve as a unifying force within a country. Imperialism in their sense of rivalry and mistrust of one another deepened. Militarism is having military power and keeping an army prepared for war.

Also, how did militarism play a role in ww1? Militarism denoted a rise in military expenditure, an increase in military and naval forces, more influence of the military men upon the policies of the civilian government, and a preference for force as a solution to problems. Militarism was one of the main causes of the First World War.

Also know, how does militarism relate to nationalism?

Nationalism, imperialism and militarism had major roles in the war. Nationalism, for example, can allow countries to unite, and become strong. To get these countries at high demand, powerful armies were needed, eventually leading to militarism, glorifying military power and have a standing army at all times.

How did nationalism imperialism and militarism help raise tensions in Europe?

Terms in this set (13) the belief that people's loyalty shouldn't be to a king or empire, but to their own nation. How did nationalism increase tensions among European nations? It increased power among the European nations. European colonies competed for colonies in Asia and Africa.

This document was written by Stephen Tonge. I am most grateful to have his kind permission to include it on the web site.

The most likely essay on Austria-Hungary will deal with the question of nationalism within the Empire. These notes deal with this issue. There is information on Foreign policy that is also important especially in understanding the outbreak of World War One.

Austria-Hungary was a multi-national empire created by the Ausgleich or compromise of 1867. Before 1867 the Empire had been dominated by the Austrian Germans. After defeat in the Seven Weeks War the Germans were forced to share power with the other major group in the Empire, the Hungarians.

The Ausgleich placed the Hungarians (Magyars) on an equal footing with the Germans. Each half of the empire had its own government and control of internal affairs in that half. There were three common ministries: war, finance and foreign relations.

It was called the "Dual Monarchy". The Emperor of Austria was also King of Hungary. The Emperor from 1848 until 1916 was Francis Joseph I from the Hapsburg family, the traditional rulers of Austria. Francis Joseph's personal life was very tragic. His brother had been shot during a revolt in Mexico in 1867 (where he had been Emperor). His only son and heir, Rudolf, committed suicide at Mayerling in a lover's pact in 1889. His wife Elizabeth was assassinated in 1898. His heir and nephew Francis Ferdinand was assassinated at Sarajevo in 1914.

The arrangement of the Dual Monarchy worked well until 1918 although there were tensions between the two countries. For example 1903 and 1906 there was a serious row over Hungarian demands for increased control over Hungarian units of the army. They wanted to replace German as the language of command in these regiments.

The major factors that kept the Empire together were:

  1. loyalty to the Emperor: Francis Joseph was personally very popular throughout the empire. He was multi-lingual and spoke nearly all the languages of the Empire.
  2. the Catholic religion: - 90% of the population of the Austrian half of the Empire were Catholic and 60% of the Hungarian half were.
  3. the civil service and the army, both of which were dominated by Germans.
  4. mutual suspicion among the subject peoples.

The main ethnic groups in Austria-Hungary

Germans 24% * Croats 5%
Magyars (Hungarians) 20% *Serbs 4%
*Czechs 13% *Slovaks 4%
*Poles 10% *Slovenes 3%
*Ruthenians (Ukranians) 8% Italians 3%.
Rumanians 6% * These peoples are Slavic

The single most important issue facing the Empire was nationalism. This took the form of demands for political and cultural equality for all the different national groups in the Empire. The response of the Germans and Hungarians to these demands was very different.


In the Austrian half of the Empire, the power of parliament was restricted by the fact that the government was responsible to the Emperor. He also had control of foreign affairs. The parliament was elected on a limited franchise.

The Austrians made attempts to give their subject nationalities a share in the government of their half of the empire. The peoples controlled by the Austrians were the Poles (who received better treatment than in either Russia or Germany), the Czechs, the Slovenes, the Ruthenians and the Italians.

The problem for the government was that when it introduced reforms to improve minority language or cultural rights, it drew opposition from the Germans and vice versa. This made reform very difficult. There was also a movement among many Germans that wanted to see the creation of a greater Germany.

The major cause of difficulty for the Austrian half of the empire was relations between the Czechs and the Germans in Bohemia. The industrialised and prosperous Czechs resented German domination, e.g. in the area of language. They hoped to see their position elevated to equality with that of the Germans and the Hungarians. They demanded the creation of a Triple Monarchy.
The Prime Minister from 1879 until 1893 was Count Eduard Taaffe (of Irish descent). He ruled with support from a coalition of German, Polish and Czech Catholics and landowners. This was called the “Iron Ring”.

Taaffe’s government improved linguistic and cultural equality between the Czechs and Germans in Bohemia. However while successful in the short-term, his reforms caused outrage among the Germans who saw their position of political supremacy being undermined. Nationalist rivalry between the Czechs and the Germans became intense.

Count Badeni, a Polish landowner (Prime Minister from1895 until 1897) introduced a reform proposing that every civil servant in Bohemia had to be fluent in German and Czech. Whereas most educated Czechs (and the other subject nationalities) could speak German, very few Germans could speak Czech (or any other language). This measure caused outrage, demonstrations and riots among Germans all over Austria. Badeni was forced out of office. In 1913 the constitution of Bohemia was suspended amid renewed inter-ethnic tension.

There was also rivalry between Slovenes and Germans in Styria and Carniola. A dispute over the funding of Slovene language classes in a predominantly German town led to the resignation of the Prime Minister in 1895. Many Italians wished to join with Italy especially in the town of Trieste which was one of the largest cities in the Empire.

Universal male suffrage was introduced in the Austrian half of the empire in 1907 partly as a result of pressure from the growing Social Democratic Party. The Emperor hoped that extending the right to vote would increase support for parties that supported the Empire and weaken nationalist parties.


In the Hungarian half the Magyars monopolised political power more fully than the Germans in Austria. Nationalities in Hungary- Romanians, Serbs, and Slovaks- were forced to endure a policy of Magyarisation. The Hungarian language was made compulsory in government, education, the law and the railways. Teachers were liable to be dismissed if their pupils did not know Maygar.

Nearly all towns and villages were given Hungarian names even in areas where there were few Hungarians. Over 90% of official posts were reserved for Hungarians.

The Hungarian nobility controlled the Parliament in Budapest. Out of 400 members of Parliament in 1913, only 18 were non-Magyar. Tensions were particularly strong between the Hungarians and the Croats.

By the turn of the 20th Century a further source of concern for the Empire was the growth of south Slav nationalism among the Slovenes, Croats and especially the Serbs. This movement was called Yugoslvism. The growth of Serbian power in the Balkans had encouraged this movement. Many hoped for South Slav unity with Serbia while others hoped for greater political control within the monarchy.

This movement and the growth of Serbia was seen by both the Hungarians and Austrians as the major threat to the unity of the Empire. It was agreed that Serbian power had to be destroyed. When Archduke Francis Ferdinand was shot in Sarajevo in 1914 by a Serb, this was the pretext needed to crush Serbia. This unleashed World War I and the eventual ending of the Empire.

For all the tension between the different nationalities the destruction of the empire was not seriously wanted by any of the major national groups before 1914. Imperial rule was seen as a protection for many against a worse oppression. Historians debate whether the empire would have collapsed without defeat in World War I. However the inability of the Empire to solve its ethnic problems meant it was too weak to survive defeat in war.

Foreign Policy

  • To gain land in the Balkans at the expense of Turkey (this was called the "Drang nach Osten" or the drive to the East) e.g. annexation of Bosnia.
  • To prevent the growth of South Slav nationalism (Yugoslavism) undermining her Empire. She viewed with considerable unease the growth of Serbian power in the Balkans. Serbia was seen as the major threat to the unity of the Empire as there was a large Serbian minority in the Empire.
  • To prevent Russian influence from spreading in the Balkans or in the Mediterranean e.g. Congress of Berlin.

A power in decline since her defeat at the hands of Prussia in 1866. In most European crises before 1914 Russia and Austria were to be found on opposite sides. German-Austrian relations were close particularly after 1905. However Austria's relations with the other member of the Triple Alliance, Italy were poor. This was because of the presence of an Italian minority in the Austrian Empire (Trento, Istria and Trieste)

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