Page:The Bohemian Review, vol1, 1917.djvu/136

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the fate of the two empires was sealed. Turkey’s downfall came sooner, for on the one hand the rule of the Turks was more brutal and blood-thirsty than the rule of the Hapsburgs and on the other hand between the rulers and the subjects there was the fundamental difference of religion in addition to the difference of race. So the sway of the sultan which in the seventeenth century reached almost to the gates of Vienna receded constantly toward Asia during the last two hundred years, until when the present war broke out it extended only a few miles out from Constantinople. The greatest gainer, at the expense of Turkey was Austria. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries Serbians and Croatians north of the Danube and Save rivers and the Roumanians of Transylvania and Bukovina became subjects of the Hapsburgs. Now it is a fact of the most vital importance that when the larger half of the Serbian and Roumanian races were delivered from Turkish tyranny in the nineteenth century, they did not become subject to the rule of Austria, but were allowed to set up national states of their own.

The great war was brought on by Austria’s ultimatum to Serbia. Vienna claimed that certain Serbian officers were guilty of complicity in the murder of Archduke Francis Ferdinand and his wife and that the Serbian government connived at the agitation among the Jugoslav population of Austria-Hurgary aiming at the detachment of the southern provinces of the monarchy and their union with the kingdom of Serbia. That the assassination of the archduke was a mere pretext for crushing independent Serbia has been established to the satisfaction of everyone outside the Central Empires. But it cannot be denied that the very existence of Serbia was a danger to the integrity of the Hapsburg monarchy. The Serbian race—and in this connection one must keep in mind that Croatians and Slovenians are of the same race as the Serbians and that all three peoples have the consciousness of one common nationality—the Jugoslav race could not remain permanently half slave arid half free. The rulers in Vienna and Budapest realized this danger and the realization made them willing vassals of Berlin. In return for Germany’s guarantee to Austria of free hand against the Serbian swineherds they were ready to lend themselves entirely to the larger designs of Germany for a place in the sun.

Roumania was in a similar situation with reference to Austria-Hungary. Six million Roumanians lived their own national life in the kingdom east of the Transylvanian mountains, while four million of their kinsmen were subjects of Magyars and Germans who by fair means and foul tried to denationalize them. That the relations between the Dual Monarchy and Roumania were not acute before the war is due to the fact that a Hohenzollern king governed the foreign policy of the Latin state. A treaty of alliance bound Roumania to the Central Empires; in fact upon Roumania was conferred the nickname of Austria’s gendarme in the Balkans. Serbia had gone through the same experience during the reign of the dissolute king Milan, but it was emancipated from German influences earlier than her neighbor. The Roumanian King Charles died soon after war broke out; the events of the war uncovered the German ambition of a central European block, and the Magyars introduced a reign of terror in Transylvania. That made the statesmen of Roumania realize that their people, too, must become all slave or all free. They cast their lot with the Allies.

It is not necessary to dwell at length on the conflict of the Italian and Polish national aspirations with the integrity of Austria. When the union of Italy was accomplished after Austria’s defeat in the wars of 1859 and 1866, small fractions of the Italian people in the Trentino and around Trieste remained subject to the Hapsburgs. Italy will not rest, until these her children are united to the rest of the nation of which they feel themselves to be a part. Should Italy fail to accomplish the redemption of the Irredenta in this war, there will have to be another war. The districts, however, that are inhabited by the 760,000 Italian subjects of the monarchy, are a mere fringe on the southern border of the Austrian territories. Their geographical and commercial importance is very great, but the existence of the Dual Monarchy would not be menaced by their loss. Even the loss of the Polish districts, large and populous though they be, would not affect the foundations of the empire, and the ruling circles of Vienna and Budapest are pretty well reconciled to the idea of the restoration of Poland. But what about the Little Russians or Ukrainians? The absorption of the Pol-