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The voice of an oppressed people/Dismemberment of Austria

DISMEMBERMENT
OF AUSTRIA.

DISMEMBERMENT OF AUSTRIA.

 

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 Joseph hesitated for a while and was on the verge of making his empire a federal structure with equal rights for all races, but instead of that he put into effect a compromise by means of which he pacified the Magyars and sacrificed all the rest. He divided his empire into two parts. In the Austrian half of it the German minority was made the ruling race, while the Hungarian half with its Slav and Ruman majority, was turned over to the Magyars.

A few figures will show the galling injustice of this arrangement. But before Austrian official statistics are cited, it is necessary to mention that they are notoriously biased in favor of the two ruling races. In 1910 the racial figures for the Austrian half of the monarchy were as follows:

 
Germans
....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
9,950,266
Bohemians
....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
6,435,983
Poles
....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
4,967,984
Little Russians
....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
3,608,844
Slovenians
....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
1,252,940
Serbo-Croatians
....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
783,334
Italians
....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
768,422
Roumanians
....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
275,115
 

The German population, which numbers only 35·58 per cent, has a majority in parliament and treats the Slavs, who number more than 60 per cent, as "minderwertig", inferior people.

In Hungary the Slavs and the Roumanians fared even worse, for the Magyars, an Asiatic race, proceeded ruthlessly to make the world Magyar and Hungarian synonymous. Everything non-Magyar was treason against the Hungarian state, and races that lived in Hungary, when the Magyars were still an unknown tribe wandering on the steppes of Central Asia, were condemned to extinction. This barbarous policy did bring results, for in 1910 the Magyars, according to their statistics, for the first time formed a bare majority of the people of Hungary. The figures for 1910 are as follows:

Magyars
....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
10,050,575
Roumanians
....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
2,949,027
Germans
....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
2,037,435
Slovaks
....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
1,967,970
Croatians
....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
1,833,167
Serbians
....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
1,106,471
Little Russians
....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
472,587

The policy of oppression pursued by the two ruling races of the dual empire made the collapse of the whole crazy structure of the Hapsburg monarchy inevitable sooner or later. For years, as Francis Joseph was growing old, speculation was rife about the fate of Austria after his death. As it is, Francis Joseph preceded his empire into the tomb by only a year or so. When he declared war on Serbia, he signed the death warrant of the greatness of the Hapsburg dynasty.

Today not a single one of the eleven races subject to Emperor Charles desires the continuation of Austria-Hungary. Poles expect the restoration of Poland; Little Russians want to join twenty-five million of their kinsmen in Russia; Roumanians hope to form a part of greater Roumania; Croatians, Slovenians and Serbians plan the union of their race with Serbia and Montenegro in a Great Yugoslav kingdom. Italians of Austria will naturally be joined to Italy. Bohemians and Slovaks want independence in a common Czechoslovak state. Magyars care for only one thing, to maintain their tyranny over all Hungary, while the Germans want the closest union with or even annexation to imperial Germany. The only Austrian left is the emperor. Dismemberment of Austria will hurt Emperor Charles in pride and pocket, but it will be welcomed by the overwhelming majority of the people of the empire.

During the nineteenth century the Turk was the sick man of Europe. Today that ignoble role is played by Austria. The sooner it is partitioned in accordance with the legitimate aspirations of its races, the better for the peace of the world.

 


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1924.


The author died in 1937, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 80 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.