The New Europe]
[26 July 1917
GERMANY AND THE HABSBURG PROBLEM
try their utmost to hinder this federation, for it is less difficult to dismember the Empire than to federalise it in the Slav sense: for so long as it is a question of federalising it, it is they who will have a voice in the matter, and having the power in their hands they will use it to prevent these changes.
The two dominant nations in Austria-Hungary at present are doing all they can to persuade the ruling classes that the sole possibility of saving Austria is to govern it with a strong hand, to make a display of concessions, but to preserve Austria as it is. If not, the Emperor is menaced by rebellion or by the indifference of these two loyalist nations, who would in such circumstances lose all interest in defending the Monarchy.
The dynasty is thus in a terrible dilemma:—(1) Either the status quo with small modifications, in order to throw dust in the eyes of Europe; (2) Or the attempt to establish a true Slav federation, which will inevitably lead to the final dissolution of the Monarchy; for true federation would on the one hand let loose the revolt of the Germans and Magyars, and, on the other hand, it would fatally strengthen the separatist tendencies amongst the Slavs and would drive them finally to a complete and inevitable separation from the Monarchy. The Austro-Hungarian problem would thus appear to be insoluble.
The rôle of Germany in this impasse is worth watching. German tactics are curious and very skilful. Germany sees that two eventualities must be excluded: (1) In the first place, the present state of affairs, in which the oppressed nationalities make too much noise, which the Entente exploits against the Central Empires, and in which the Polish question no longer admits of adjournment, has become intolerable, and Germany, therefore, desires a modification of the present state with a view to bringing nearer a speedy and advantageous peace; (2) The Monarchy must not be dismembered, for the preservation of Austria is a vital German interest. The Prussian plan is to originate a so-called “federation” in Austria, with fairly wide provincial autonomy, certain concessions to the nationalities, and, if necessary, the separation of the Poles and Italians from the Monarchy. But the preservation of the Monarchy is, above all else, necessary to Germany! And Germany begs