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Örjan Martinsson

Modern Austria

= Austria   = Territorial gains 1815   = Other states in the German Confederation
= States ruled by collateral branches of the house of Habsburg

After the humiliation of Austria in 1809 would Napoleon's fortunes come to an end. His armies suffered great defeats in Spain and Russia, and Austria joined the Sixth Coalition, which would finally defeat France 1813-14. The Congress of Vienna was given the task to rewrite the European map and they followed the Principle of Legitimacy. This meant that Austria regained almost all territories that had been lost since the beginning of the Revolutionary Wars. The only exceptions were the Austrian Netherlands, West Galicia and the Swabian possessions. Austria was compensated for these old losses with a much stronger position in Italy, where collateral branches of the Habsburg dynasty were also given principalities of their own. As a replacement for the Holy Roman Empire, which Napoleon had dissolved in 1806, was a German Confederation created (of which the Austrian emperor was the permanent president).

= Austria   = Other states in the German Confederation   = Territorial gains 1846 and 1865   = Territorial losses 1859-60

Something the Congress of Vienna did not took any regard of was the emerging nationalism. The Austrian Empire was composed of a many different nationalities. Germans, Italians, Poles and Hungarians all demanded to create Nation states that threatened the continued existence of Austria. Krakow, which had been an independent city republic since 1815, was annexed by Austria in 1846 with approval from Russia and Prussia because it had become a centre for Polish nationalism. an insurrection in Hungary erupted during the revolutionary year of 1848, which could only be subdued with the help from Russia. And it was also with aid from Russia that Austria the following year could prevent the Prussian king to create a unified Germany without the inclusion of Austria. Also in Italy had the Austrian managed to resist attempts from the Italian nationalists to throw out the Austrians from Italy.

But this development was not possible to stop in the long run. The French Emperor Napoleon III allied himself with the Italian nationalists and in a war in 1859 was Lombardy conquered from Austria. Shortly afterwards were the Collateral Habsburg branches deposed in Tuscany, Modena and Parma whereby these states joined the kingdom of Sardinia to create a unified kingdom of Italy. Danish nationalists would a few years later try to create a Danish nation state by creating a common constitution for both the duchy of Schleswig and the kingdom of Denmark. This resulted in a declaration of war from Prussia and Austria because Schleswig was also included in the German nationalist's plan for a unified Germany. The war resulted in the conquest of the Danish ruled duchies of Schleswig and Holstein. Because Prussia did not want another German petty state was the duchies put under Prussian and Austrian administration, the latter being in charge of Holstein.

= Austria   = Hungary   = Territorial losses 1866

The differences between Austria and Prussia regarding the future status of Schleswig-Holstein proved to be irreconcilable. Prussia wanted to annex both duchies and did not accept Austria's proposed exchange of Holstein with territories in Silesia. A war between Austria and Prussia broke out 1866. Most German states sided with Austria, but Prussia was allied with Italy and possessed a more modern army. Prussia won a clear victory and dissolved the German Confederation, replacing it with a confederation of its own (and without Austria), which would be transformed to the German Empire (Reich) in 1871. Austria had thus lost its position as the leading German state, a position it had had since 1438. But apart from this was the peace treaty relatively mild and Austria was only forced to cede Holstein to Prussia and Venetia to Italy.

Because the unification of Germany and Italy had seriously weakened Austria's status in central Europe was it now important to reach a settlement with the Hungarian nationalists if the Austrian monarchy was to have any future. A compromise was negotiated in 1867 with the result that Austria was divided into two realms in a union with each other. One part was a Hungarian nation state and the new creation was to be called "Austria-Hungary". The Hungarians were satisfied with this solution but there were plenty of other nationalities who envied the Hungarian's achievement, such as Czechs, Romanians, Poles and South Slaves.

= Austria   = Hungary   = Territorial gain 1878/1908   = Occupied 1878-1908

A rebellion against the Ottoman Empire broke out 1875 in Bosnia-Herzegovina. This escalated to a war between Russia and the Ottoman Empire 1877-78, which ended with a clear Russian victory and the creation of a large pro-Russian Bulgarian state in the Balkans. The other great powers could not tolerate such a large expansion of Russian influence in the region so they called for a congress in Berlin to be assembled and settle the differences in 1878. The result was a great reduction in size of the Bulgarian state and permission for Austria-Hungary to occupy Bosnia-Herzegovina and Sancak-Novi Pazar as a way to preserve the balance or power. The occupation would last until 1908 when the Young Turks took power in Istanbul made a permanent solution of Bosnia's status necessary. Austria-Hungary decided to annex Bosnia-Herzegovina but returned Sancak-Novi Pazar to the Turkish authorities. This action worsened the relations between Austria-Hungary and Russia who rivalled each other over influence in the Balkan Peninsula. The Russian discontent with the annexation made Russia very determined to prevent a repeat in 1914 and thus contributed to the break out of the First World War.

= Austria   = Territorial gain 1919   = Territorial losses 1919

When Austria-Hungary's successor to the throne was killed 1914 by Serbian nationalists in Sarajevo began a serious if events that would lead to the First World War 1914-18 and the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Austria-Hungary fought on the losing side in the victorious allies allowed the various nationalities in the empire to create their own nation states with borders drawn unfavourably for the German-speaking Austrians and the Hungarians. The little that remained of the Austrian state after the treaty of Versailles in 1919 was an almost homogenous German-speaking republic. The only territorial gain was a strip of Hungarian land, which had voted in a referendum 1919 to join Austria as the part state of Burgenland.

= German Reich   = Austrian territorial losses 1938

In the new Austrian republic was there a large support for joining the country with Germany. But the allied powers had prohibited this in the Treaty of Versailles. The reluctantly independent Austria was to be tormented by internal conflicts between Christian Democrats and Social Democrats. The former were in power for the most of the time. But the economic depression in the 1930s made an election defeat inevitable so the Christian Democrats choose to prevent this by making Austria a dictatorship in 1933. The Social Democratic movement was thereafter wiped out. But this did not make regime more popular and the Nazis became instead the leading opposition force. German troops marched into Austria in 1938, not met with any resistance but rather enthusiastic crowds. "Anschluss" was now a fact.

 

= Soviet occupation zone
= American occupation zone
= British occupation zone
= French occupation zone

= Second Austrian Republic

Austria lost the Second World War 1939-45 as a part of Germany and was occupied by the allied powers for ten years after the war. They had decided that Austria would be restored as an independent state and this happened in 1955 when Austria became a democratic state with permanent neutrality.

Back to Austria's start page.