Page:The voice of an oppressed people.pdf/36

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The foundations for the present Austrian empire were laid in 1526, when Ferdinand, to whom his elder brother Charles conveyed the Hapsburg dominions on the Danube and in the Alps, secured his election to the thrones of Bohemia and Hungary made vacant by the death of his brother-in-law Louis. Austria-Hungary of today contains in addition to these three elements only the Polish-Ruthenian provinces of Galicia and Bukovina on the northeast and smaller districts inhabited by Italians and Croatians on the southwest. The two Turkish provinces of Bosnia and Herzegovina, annexed recently, are purely Serbo-Croat in race and language.

Out of this brief statement of the origin and growth of the Hapsburg empire one fact stands out clearly, namely, that this great power, second in area and third in population among the states of Europe, is not the product of the expansion of a single race occupying constantly new lands and assimilating new people. The races that the Hapsburgs gathered under their sway are still in existence, full of energy, conscious of their separate nationality, eager to live their own life, fighting bitterly all attempts to make them over into something else, whether it be into Germans or Magyars. The dynasty could have justified and made possible the continued existence of this collection of nations and fragments of nations only if it had allowed each race full opportunity for self-development and widest possible measure of autonomy. But the dynasty was German. Up to 1866 its ambition was to be the head of the entire German nation, of which the Hapsburg territories were to form an integral part. When the Prussian kings supplanted the rulers of Austria in the leadership of Germany, Francis