Austria-Hungary 1918

Austria-Hungary 1918
Austria-Hungary 1918

The Habsburg monarchy breaks apart, independent states come into being.

[Austria-Hungary, 1918] Already in the last days of the war, the Czechs, Galician, Polish, Slovenes and Croats had broken with Austria-Hungary. In Transylvania, Romania had assumed power.The Hungarian government had broken off the the Union with Austria on October 31, 1918. On November 3, Austria-Hungary signed the armistice at the Villa Giusti in Padua. Emperor Karl’s announcement of October 16 to convert Austria into a federal state of national individual states came too late.

Austria-Hungary has ceased to exist

Immediately after the armistice, Matthias and Lottie had traveled to Budapest. Joscha had met them and brought them to the Csabany estate. Now Lottie was standing at her father Andras’ grave. “Papa would not want us to stand at his grave and weep for long,” Joscha said finally, “he was so proud of you. His eyes lit up when he opened a bottle of wine from your vineyard and he drank it with great pleasure.” All at once they were again the two Csabany children, with a strong bond to Austria-Hungary and to Germany. The task of a diplomatic family was to connect people and their countries, so they had known ever since they were small. Now their parents were both dead, and their Austria-Hungary did no longer exist.

The Dual Monarchy’s ministers had resigned, and Emperor Karl I had finally laid down the crown. On November 12, what had remained of the German-speaking Austria-Hungary became a democratic republic. Many people thought it could not survive and wanted to unite with Germany. “In the next few weeks there will probably be a few meetings of the foreign ministers,” said Joscha, “Germany seems to go along with us.” Lottie sensed the marks that war, defeat, and the disintegration of Austria-Hungary had left on her brother. She also loved Austria, Hungary and all the people and countries whom she had met with her parents Sophie and Andras Csabany. Yet, with her husband Matthias and her children Kathi and Walter, she had grown strong roots at the Rhine. Joscha, however, was almost lost. He was Austrian, Hungarian, and German, and as a Austro-Hungarian diplomat he had represented all countries of the Dual Monarchy. He had also spent many years in Belgium as a boy, a student and later as a young diplomat, but that seemed another world and another life now.

“And you, what will you do?” Lottie asked. “I am afraid more hardships await us,” Joscha replied, “for both of us the war is not over yet. The Rhineland is occupied by the Allies, and Hungary is in turmoil. The Hungarian government was so intolerant towards the non-Magyars – the Slovaks, the Croats, the Romanians, they all want to leave us, and the Romanian army is already occupying territories belonging to Hungary, but with a majority of Romanian inhabitants. Moreover, I do not think that the new Prime Minister can hold on for to a long time, there will be more turmoil, so I will stay and help our people to find their way back into life, as far as I can. They have gone through hell.”

He hesitated for a while, then his face lit up. “But we will overcome this too,” he said, “and then it’s time to think of our own lives.” Lottie smiled. “You’re thinking about Marie, aren’t you?” Her brother nodded. “Yes, Marie,” he said, “the plan is that Austria’s Foreign Minister will meet with his German colleague Brockdorff-Rantzau in Berlin at the beginning of March. As it seems, I will go with him, in case he needs advice. After all, I am an Austro-Hungarian mixture with with German roots. And if all goes well, I’ll come for a visit afterwards.”

Fighting in Hungary

Joscha was to be proven right. Hungary went through turbulent months. In March 1919, the Communists assumed power and established a soviet republic. The conflict with Romania escalated, war broke out, Romanian troops advanced far into the interior of Hungary and marched into Budapest in early August 1919. The Soviet republic collapsed. Finally, on 16 November 1919, the former admiral Horthy entered Budapest with his troops, and was elected by the National Assembly to be head of state. Twice former emperor Karl tried to take over power again, but in vain. In the course of the peace negotiations, the restoration of the Habsburg monarchy was forbidden. In the Treaty of Trianon, Hungary had to surrender two-thirds of its territory to Czechoslovakia, Romania, the South Slav State and Austria.

No union with Germany

Germany-Austria and Germany had been negotiating and on March 2, 1919, the Foreign Ministers had signed a protocol on the union of their countries in Berlin. But the grand old Habsburg Monarchy was defeated. In the Parisian suburb Saint Germain, a peace treaty was discussed, on 10 September 1919 it was signed. And the Allies decided differently: Austria lost South Tyrol to Italy, the German-speaking areas in Bohemia and Moravia to Czechoslovakia. The Union of German-Austria and Germany was expressly forbidden.

The picture is from the German Wikipedia, public domain section.

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