United States of Greater Austria

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Proposed map of the United States of Greater Austria, superimposed on the major ethnic groups of Austria-Hungary

The United States of Greater Austria (German: Vereinigte Staaten von Groß-Österreich) was a proposal, conceived by a group of scholars surrounding Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, that never came to pass. This specific proposal was conceived by the lawyer and politician Aurel Popovici in 1906 and aimed at federalizing Austria-Hungary to help resolve widespread ethnic and nationalist tensions.

Nationality conflict[edit]

The first program for the federalisation of the Habsburg Empire was developed by the Hungarian nobleman Wesselényi Miklós. In his work titled "Szózat a magyar és a szláv nemzetiség ügyében" and published in Hungarian in 1843 and in German in 1844, he proposed not only social reforms but reforms of the state structure of the Empire its nationality policy. He aimed to replace the centralized empire with a federation of five states: a German state (containing the Slovene provinces as well), a state of Bohemia and Moravia, Galicia as a Polish state, and the state of historical Hungary (including Croatia).[1]

Another idea came from Hungarian revolutionary Lajos Kossuth: "True liberty is impossible without federalism".[2][3] Kossuth proposed to transform the Habsburg Empire into a "Danubian State", a federal republic with autonomous regions.[4][5]

The Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867 established the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary. The Compromise partially re-established[6] the sovereignty of the Kingdom of Hungary, separate from, and no longer subject to the Austrian Empire. However, the favoritism shown to the Magyars, the second largest ethnic group in the dual monarchy after the Germans, caused discontent on the part of other ethnic groups like the Slovaks and Romanians.[7]

As the twentieth century started to unfold, the greatest problem facing the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary was that it consisted of about a dozen distinctly different ethnic groups, of which only two, the Germans and Hungarians (who together accounted for about 44% of the total population), wielded any power or control. The other ethnic groups, which were not involved in the state affairs, included Slavic (Bosniaks, Croats, Czechs, Poles, Ruthenians, Serbs, Slovaks, Slovenes and Ukrainians) and Romance peoples (Italians, Romanians). Among them, only Croats had limited autonomy in the Kingdom of Croatia and Slavonia. In the Kingdom of Hungary, several ethnic minorities faced increased pressures of Magyarization.[8]

The idea of the Dual Monarchy system of 1867 had been to transform the previous Austrian Empire into a constitutional union, one German-dominated and one Hungarian-dominated part, having also common institutions. However, after various demonstrations, uprisings and acts of terrorism, it became readily apparent that the notion of two ethnic groups dominating the other ten could not survive in perpetuum.

The population of Hungary according to the census of 1880-81

Franz Ferdinand had planned to redraw the map of Austria-Hungary radically, creating a number of ethnically and linguistically dominated semi-autonomous "states" which would all be part of a larger confederation renamed the United States of Greater Austria. Under this plan, language and cultural identification was encouraged, and the disproportionate balance of power would be corrected. The idea was set to encounter heavy opposition from the Hungarian part of the Dual Monarchy, since a direct result of the reform would have been a significant territorial loss for Hungary.

However, the Archduke was assassinated at Sarajevo in 1914, triggering the outbreak of the First World War. After the war, Austria-Hungary was dismantled and several new nation-states were created, and various Austro-Hungarian territories were ceded to neighbouring countries by the victorious Entente powers. However, many of the new national borders drawn immediately after World War I or afterwards approximately follow the proposed borders of the various states of the proposed United States of Greater Austria.

States proposed by Aurel Popovici[edit]

According to Popovici's plans, the following territories were to become states of the federation after the reform. The majority ethnic group within each territory is also listed.

Proposed map of the United States of Greater Austria, by Popovici, 1906

In addition, a number of mostly German-speaking enclaves in eastern Transylvania, the Banat and other parts of Hungary, southern Slovenia, large cities (such as Prague, Budapest, Lviv, and others) and elsewhere were to have autonomy within the respective territory.

“The great origin, language, customs and mentality diversity of different nationalities requires, for the whole Empire of the Habsburgs, a certain state form, which can guarantee that not a single nationality will be threatened, obstructed or offended in its national political life, in its private development, in its national pride, in one word – in its way of feeling and living”

Aurel Popovici (1906)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ ROMSICS Ignác: A Habsburg Birodalom föderalizálási tervei. In: Európai Utas 2001. IV. sz. http://www.hhrf.org/europaiutas/20014/4.htm
  2. ^ Patrick Pasture (2015). Imagining European Unity since 1000 AD. Springer. p. 85. ISBN 9781137480477. 
  3. ^ Patrick Pasture; John Neubauer (2006). History of the Literary Cultures of East-Central Europe: Junctures and disjunctures in the 19th and 20th centuries, Volume 2. John Benjamins Publishing Company. p. 242. ISBN 9789027293404. 
  4. ^ "Encyclopædia Britannica: Kossuth article"
  5. ^ Lessons of the War and the Peace Conference : Oreste Ferrara
  6. ^ André Gerrits; Dirk Jan Wolffram (2005). Political Democracy and Ethnic Diversity in Modern European History. Stanford University Press. p. 42. ISBN 9780804749763. 
  7. ^ Cornwall, Mark. Last Years of Austria-Hungary: A Multi-National Experiment in Early Twentieth-Century Europe, 2nd ed. Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 2002.
  8. ^ Seton-Watson, R. W. (1925). "Transylvania since 1867". The Slavonic Review. 4 (10): 101–23. 

External links[edit]