The Home of American Intellectual Conservatism — First Principles

June 18, 2018

The Tragic Death of the Habsburg Empire
James Kurth (MA 49:4, Fall 2007) - 03/26/08

As the twentieth century recedes ever further into the past, we are able to discern its nature and its meaning with a clearer, and a deeper, understanding. And we can see that its length as defined by its meaningful substance was slightly different than its length as defined by calendar years. Historians have often referred to the previous century as “the long nineteenth century,” lasting from 1789 to 1914 or from the French Revolution to the First World War. So too, they are coming to think of the twentieth century as “the short twentieth century,” extending from 1914 to 1989 or from the First World War to the end of the Cold War.1

The Twentieth Century and Central Europe

The short twentieth century was not kind to Europe, and it was especially cruel, even catastrophic, for Central Europe or Mitteleuropa. It has been said of Central Europe that it produced too much history for it all to be consumed locally. Throughout the short twentieth century, conflicts that began in Central Europe had a way of quickly spilling over into the rest of Europe and then into the rest of the world, particularly into the two world wars.2 Moreover, the conflicts in Central Europe did not just spread far; they also burnt deep. The sheer number of violent deaths in the region as a result of its wars and revolutions was greater than in any period there since the catastrophic Thirty Years War (1618–48). And at the burning core of all this death and destruction, this murder and mayhem, was the Holocaust, the greatest genocide in history. Most of the deaths of the Holocaust occurred within the lands of Mitteleuropa.3

At the end of this terrible short twentieth century, of course, a redemption of sorts at last came to this torn and tragic region. With the collapse of the Soviet empire, a certain amount of peace and prosperity at last returned to Mitteleuropa and indeed the region could once again be seen explicitly as Central Europe and a part of all of Europe, and not just as Eastern Europe, dragged to the east after 1945 by an eastern (and in some respects even Asian) empire which ruled over and repressed it.4

But it was on the eve of this terrible short twentieth century, of course, that not just peace and prosperity, but the most spectacular vitality and creativity had come to Mitteleuropa and especially to its capital, the legendary, fin de síècle, Vienna. A very good case can be made that the cultural achievements of Mitteleuropa in the generation before the First World War reached a height of imagination and excellence that has never been surpassed.5

From the perspective of scholars and academics, Central-European innovations in the social sciences—particularly sociology, psychology, and economics—were probably the most important, and even foundational. The great complexity and pressing diversity in the social structure and social conflicts of the Habsburg Empire made it the most fertile setting in the world for the development of social inquiry. Even more importantly, however, the high standards and rigorous discipline of the Habsburg educational system enabled this social inquiry to become excellent social science.

But from the perspective of almost everyone living in Central Europe, the achievements in both art and architecture were probably the most impressive. Mitteleuropa developed its own version of the Art Nouveau style of the time, which was known as Jugendstil and which was especially imaginative, lush, and ornate. But the Habsburg authorities also continued to favor in their public architecture the earlier, Historicist style, whose buildings were magnificent reproductions in the great Western styles of the past (e.g., Classical, Gothic, Renaissance). A rich plethora of new buildings in the Jugendstil and the Historicist style continued to be erected throughout the cities of the Empire right down to 1914. Today, these buildings continue to be impressive, not only for their architectural excellence but as enduring monuments to the incomparable dignity and grandeur of a vanished Empire. It was often said by those who had grown up in the Empire during its last brilliant decades that the Habsburgs built as though they were going to be there for a thousand years.

And so the stark contrast and vast distance between the height of the striking achievements and the depth of the subsequent tragedies of Central Europe raises some obvious and insistent questions. Could these catastrophes somehow have been averted and if so, how? In particular, were there paths not taken, and if so, why not? And then, more darkly and more tragically, in the classical sense of tragedy as a fatal flaw, were the very achievements and catastrophes somehow connected in a causal way?

The Habsburg Empire among the Rising Nationalities

These are great questions indeed, and they are almost of a metaphysical nature (as was so much in Mitteleuropa). However, they can be refracted and focused through the very concrete prism of a particular historical institution, and that is the Habsburg Empire.6 For although Mitteleuropa was a vast region stretching from the Baltic to the Balkans and from the Rhine to the Vistula, its character was set by its core, the Habsburg Empire (and by the Danube, which was the river running through it). Formally known since “the Great Compromise” of 1867 as Austria-Hungary or the Dual Monarchy, the Habsburg Empire was at the very center of the events in the summer of 1914 which detonated the First World War,7 and its collapse and dismemberment in November 1918 at the end of that war in turn initiated the chain of events which led to most of the Central-European catastrophes and horrors which were to come.

Most historians have concluded that the Habsburg Empire did indeed contain an intractable problem or tragic flaw. This was the famous “national question.” During the nineteenth century and in the wake of the French Revolution, one European ethnic community after another (in a movement that went roughly from west to east and from north to south) developed a national self-consciousness, rising first to the level of a nationality, then to that of a nation, and then, it usually hoped, to that of an independent nation state. By the middle of the nineteenth century, this development was very lively among the nationalities of the Habsburg Empire, and by the beginning of the twentieth century, it was very far advanced. It was applauded and supported by the liberal and progressive opinion of the time, which was prominent in the enlightened nations of the West and particularly in France, Britain, and the United States.

The first of the subordinate nationalities of the Habsburg Empire to achieve political autonomy were the Hungarians, or Magyars. Austria had been the loser in the Austro-Prussian War of 1866. In the aftermath of that defeat, the Hungarians (actually the minority that was composed of the traditional landed gentry and the emerging urban middle class) assembled enough political power to force the Compromise of 1867, which awarded Hungary (technically, the Kingdom of Hungary) co-equality with Austria (technically, a complex of diverse lands ruled by the Emperor of Austria and by the German population within it). The Habsburg Empire then became variously known as Austria-Hungary, or the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, or the Dual Monarchy.

However, just as “Austria” retained and ruled over many non-German lands and peoples (the most prominent being the Czechs in Bohemia and Moravia), so too did “Hungary” retain and rule over many non-Magyar lands and peoples (the most prominent being the Slovaks and the Croats). The great majority of the still-subordinate peoples in Austria-Hungary were Slavic in origin and in their language, but that is about all that they had in common.

The Czechs were the most advanced in their national development. It was only a matter of time before they too asked for co-equality (technically, as the Kingdom of Bohemia) with Austria and Hungary within the Empire, and this they did as early as 1871. However, unlike in Hungary, in Bohemia and Moravia there were also large German communities, especially in the cities and including historically-monumental Prague. This made the Czech problem a much more difficult one than the Hungarian. The Habsburg Empire therefore rejected the Czech proposal, and it continued to reject Czech national demands down until the end of the Empire in 1918.

This was probably the most consequential of the paths not taken. Of course, had it been taken, the journey would have begun with the burden of some awkward names. The Dual Monarchy would have become the Triple Monarchy, and Austria-Hungary would have become Austria-Hungary-Bohemia. However, the traditional term, the Habsburg Empire, could have represented the principle of historical unity, lifted above the principle of diverse—and divisive—nationalities.

Perhaps the Habsburg Empire could have taken a path similar to that which the British Empire was beginning to take at that very same time. In the 1850s, Britain had given a substantial degree of political autonomy to the provinces of Upper Canada or Ontario (whose population was principally English) and Lower Canada or Quebec (whose population was principally French, with a significant English minority, especially in Montreal). In 1867, Britain brought these two provinces, as well as those in Maritime Canada, into “Confederation,” creating the Dominion of Canada within the British Empire. Other self-governing Dominions followed, e.g., Australia, New Zealand, and the much more problematic South Africa. Eventually (formally in 1932), Britain and these self-governing Dominions together became known as the British Commonwealth of Nations, rather than as the British Empire. The far-flung Dominions had many different interests from Britain and from each other, but they all came together when it most counted, to fight alongside Britain in the two world wars.

Not long after the Czechs pressed their national claims against Austria, the Croats pressed their own against Hungary. They were joined by the other “South Slavs” or “Yugoslavs” within the Empire: the Slovenes, who were in Austria, and the small Serbian community, which was in Hungary. (However, most Serbs were outside the Habsburg Empire, inside Serbia itself, which had just achieved independence from the disintegrating Ottoman Empire.) Consequently, if the Czechs in Bohemia and Moravia had achieved co-equality, the South Slavs in Croatia and Slovenia would have insisted upon co-equality for themselves. As it happened, the Croats and Slovenes pressed anyway for their own version of a Triple Monarchy, and the heir to the Habsburg throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, advocated this kind of “trialism” as a solution to the Empire’s nationality problems.

If the principle and practice of self-governing kingdoms within the Habsburg Empire, which had been adopted with the Kingdom of Hungary in the Great Compromise of 1867, had been extended to the Czechs in a later compromise, it could have been extended to the South Slavs in a still later compromise as well. It might have been a process and a sequence similar to the succession (very different from secession) composed of the Dominions of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa within the British Empire. The succession of new kingdoms within the Habsburg Empire eventually, within a generation or so, could have become something like a Habsburg Commonwealth of Nations.

In the Habsburg case, the kingdoms or dominions would not have been far-flung, but all close by. Of course, they too would have had many different interests from the Habsburg Monarchy itself, and from the Germans in Austria, and from each other. However, they too could have come together when it most counted, to fight alongside Austria and Hungary in the Empire’s wars, all the more so since each of these nationalities had specific grievances against their neighbors outside the Empire.

In the actual event (the First World War), of course, some Czechs resisted fighting for the Empire, and a few (the famous Czech Legion) fought against it. However, despite having never received their political autonomy, the Slovenes and the Croats fought honorably and even heroically for the Empire, virtually down to its collapse. Other nationalities, such as the Poles and the Slovaks, also largely remained loyal during the war. It is an important and revealing fact about the legitimacy of the Habsburg Empire that the many soldiers of its subject nationalities fought loyally for it almost to the bitter end.

The Habsburg Empire among the Great Powers

Some analysts of international politics have argued that the place and role of the Hapsburg Empire in the international, particularly the European, system of Great Powers condemned it to eventual defeat and death. Austria-Hungary was one of five Great Powers in Europe; the others were Germany, Russia, France, and Britain. By some of the criteria of power, the Dual Monarchy was the weakest of the five, and given the dynamic growth of the German and the Russian economies, it would have become, in relative terms, even more weak in the future.8

Austria-Hungry had joined with Germany in a Dual Alliance in 1879, and together they came to be known as the Central Powers. By 1904, the five Great Powers had divided into two alliance systems, with Germany and Austria-Hungry on one side and with Britain, France, and Russia on the other (known as the Triple Entente). Within the Dual Alliance, Germany clearly was the more powerful of the two.

The contrast between an economically dynamic, politically unified, and military efficient Germany, on the one hand, and an economically comfortable, politically heterogeneous, and militarily cumbersome Austria-Hungary, on the other, gave rise at the time to many compare-and-contrast accounts, including a few jokes. One of the most familiar was: “In Germany, the situation is serious, but not desperate; in Austria, the situation is desperate, but not serious.” Alas, as history would soon demonstrate, the situation in Austria-Hungary and then in its successor states would become very serious indeed.

At any rate, given Austria-Hungary’s place among the Great Powers and within the Dual Alliance, it is easy to conclude that the Habsburg Empire was fated for decline and probably for an early defeat and death. Because all the Great Powers at the time (including the rising great powers on the periphery, the United States and Japan) were engaged in an intense competition of expansion, Austria-Hungary also had to expand. But because it was hemmed in by geography to the west and by Germany to the north, it had to expand to the south and to the east, and specifically into the Balkans. However, this automatically put it into conflict with Russia, which was also expanding into that region. This in turn, necessitated that Austria-Hungary ally, and stay allied, with Germany. But this meant that it would be involved in any war between Germany and another Great Power. If Germany were to be defeated in that war (as eventually happened in the First World War), Austria-Hungary would share in that defeat and would have to pay the consequences (as also eventually happened in the First World War). Conversely, if Germany were to win its war, it would be even more powerful vis-à-vis Austria-Hungary in the Dual Alliance than it had been before the war, and Austria-Hungary would have to pay the consequences of this instead.

However, even this apparently deterministic international system still contained important alternatives. For example, in the case of Germany and Austria-Hungary being defeated (the actual course of events), we can discern another path not taken. By late 1917, the Habsburg Empire was seeking a way to get out of the war, even to the point of considering a separate peace with the Western powers. Because of their traditional and long-standing interest in supporting the Habsburg Empire in Central Europe as a useful element in the balance of power vis-à-vis Germany and Russia, Britain and France might have come to accept a negotiated settlement which would have left the Empire largely in place, albeit with some territorial losses to Italy as the cost of having been on the losing side.

The Wilsonian Intervention

However, the United States was now in the war and was steadily becoming the leading Western power. Then, in January 1918, President Woodrow Wilson announced his famous Fourteen Points as the principles for a peace settlement. Point ten called for “limited self-government for the peoples of Austria-Hungary.” A month later, he expanded this into full “self-determination,” which meant the actual dissolution of the Habsburg Empire. He soon backed this up by giving aid and recognition to exile nationality organizations.9

Wilson saw himself as representing the most advanced liberal and progressive opinion of the time; he had been a leader of the Progressive reform movement and he called his domestic program “The New Freedom.” Like other liberals and progressives, then and now, Wilson rejected hierarchy and tradition in general and the Roman Catholic Church and old Europe in particular. The Habsburg Empire was the very embodiment of what he despised. Moreover, like other liberals and progressives, then and now, Wilson believed that any old order of hierarchy and tradition could easily be replaced by a new order of freedom and universal rights. Wilson’s ideas in 1918 live on in the ideas of the neo-Wilisonians of our own time, especially in the worldview of President George W. Bush and his “neoconservative” supporters (who are not really conservative at all, but are rather some kind of hyper-progressive).10

Wilson’s ideas about self-determination and national independence were attended by certain paradoxes and ironies. Wilson was a Democrat, but many Republicans were also very much proponents of an assertive American nationalism. Indeed, in the election of 1912 which brought Wilson to the Presidency, the ex-President and ex-Republican, Theodore Roosevelt, ran as a Progressive and called his own program “The New Nationalism.” Moreover, the Republican Party had promoted an assertive American nationalism ever since its founding in the 1850s, and it deployed its ideology—and its vast armies—to crush the self-determination and national independence of the Southern states in the Civil War. Wilson himself was born and reared a Southerner (and was the first Southerner to be elected President since the Civil War). His obsession with self-determination drew its ideological justification and political support from the liberal and progressive movement, but its psychological animus derived from his roots in the Old South.11

Wilson thus torpedoed any possibility of a separate peace with Austria-Hungary. He also greatly encouraged the national movements in the Empire to push for full independence. He consequently was the most important figure in bringing about the Habsburg Empire’s dissolution and death. As we shall see below, this put Mitteleuropa and the world on a very fateful, and fatal, path indeed.

The Habsburg Empire among the Successor Empires of Mitteleuropa

Although it had been allied with Germany since 1879, the Habsburg Empire in many respects had served as a buffer state between the German Empire and the Russian Empire. The diverse nationalities that composed the Habsburg Empire and the independent successor states which followed it were too small and too hostile toward each other to fill the vast power vacuum that was created when the Empire collapsed. Eventually, some other great power, even a successor empire, would have to take its place.

At first, in the early 1920s, Germany (now the Weimar Republic) and Russia (now Bolshevik Russia) were themselves too weak to fill the vacuum. This permitted almost two decades in which the post-Habsburg successor states lived in a fantasyland, a kind of adolescent party, of independence. With respect to their foreign policies, most of them immediately got into acrimonious quarrels with their neighbors over disputed borders (Poland versus Czechoslovakia; Czechoslovakia versus Hungary; Hungary versus Yugoslavia and Romania). With respect to their internal politics, most of them quickly adopted some kind of conservative authoritarian regime (successively, Hungary, Poland, Yugoslavia, Romania, and Austria). (However, unlike what was happening in Italy at the time, these regimes were definitely not fascist or totalitarian ones.) And, in an ironic mockery of Woodrow Wilson’s principle of “self-determination,” which had been used to legitimize the dismemberment of the Habsburg Empire in 1918, most of the successor states contained large national minorities, which were treated as badly (or worse) by their new rulers as they had been by the Habsburg regime (Poland, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, and Romania). Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia, in particular, were themselves multinational states, in many ways shrunken and cramped parodies of the cosmopolitan and expansive Habsburg realm that once had been.

Eventually, however, the German Empire was re-created as Nazi Germany, and the Russian Empire was re-created as the Soviet Union. By the late 1930s, each was moving decisively to fill the vast power vacuum that Mitteleuropa had become. The first successor empire to that the Habsburgs became that of the Nazis. After the Second World War, a major part of which was fought over Mitteleuropa, the Soviets became the second. It is fair to say that, by 1950, there were almost no nationalists left in any of the successor states who concluded that, all things considered, they preferred the rule of either the Nazis or the Soviets to that of the Habsburgs. Since the national independence of the successor states proved to be an illusion, if not a delusion, their peoples would have been wiser to stay with the empire with which they first began. As it was, there was a certain amount of dark and cosmic justice in their having to pay the consequences for their hubris and their foolishness in bringing about the Habsburg Empire’s dissolution.

A Counterfactual 1920s and 1930s for Mitteleuropa

Let us speculate, however, what might plausibly have happened if somehow in 1918 the subordinate nationalities and the victorious Allies had allowed the Habsburg Empire, although defeated in the Great War, to survive. With respect to internal politics, and given the nature of the regimes of most of the successor states, it is reasonable to assume that the counterfactual Habsburg regime would also have been a conservative authoritarian one, very likely with a close affiliation with the Roman Catholic Church and perhaps legitimized by the doctrines of Catholic Social Teaching at the time. The Habsburg state would probably have been a Catholic “corporatist” one, based upon organizations of the different social and economic sectors (as did indeed occur in Austria during 1932–38, as well as in Portugal after 1928).

The most interesting counterfactual history, however, would have unfolded in the arena of international politics. Let us stipulate that Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union would have developed largely as they actually did, and each would seek to expand into the Central Europe that lay between them. However, if the Habsburg Empire had survived, they would have confronted a Catholic, conservative Great Power there, one which would have good reasons to oppose each of them, not only because of power-politics calculations, but also because of ideological and theological convictions.

Thus, when Hitler undertook to expand to the east, perhaps in 1938, he would not have been able to annex isolated Austria, because it instead would have been the core and capital of a Great Power. He would not have been able to annex the sullen German community in the Sudetenland, because it instead would have been a prominent and largely-satisfied community within a grand Empire. (There would have been no Munich Crisis in September 1938.) And he would not have been able to annex Bohemia and Moravia in 1939, because they instead would be two of the most vital provinces (and perhaps the most vital kingdoms) within the Empire. In short, our counter-factual Habsburg Empire would have deterred and prevented Nazi Germany from carrying-out each of its first three actual aggressions and annexations in Central Europe.

At most, Hitler would have had to first target Danzig and Poland (which probably would have existed in a counter-factual Habsburg history much like it did in the actual post-Habsburg one). However, German plans for an invasion of Poland would have been greatly complicated by the existence of a Habsburg Great Power on Germany’s and Poland’s southern borders, particularly since the Catholic, conservative Habsburg regime would have had much in common with the Catholic, conservative Polish one. Indeed, it is plausible that the two regimes might have become military allies, and this might have deterred and prevented Nazi Germany from carrying-out its actual aggression and annexation in Poland (which was the actual event that initiated the Second World War).

Finally, what would this counterfactual Habsburg Empire have meant for the Holocaust? A large majority of the victims of the actual Holocaust were Jews who had been living in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and the Soviet Union. Moreover, several of the Nazi death camps, including Auschwitz, were located within Poland or Czechoslovakia, particularly within former Habsburg territories. (It was a deliberate Nazi policy not to locate any death camp within Germany itself.) If the counterfactual Habsburg Empire had been able to deter or prevent the Nazi conquest of these countries, the Jews within them would have remained outside the reach of any Holocaust.

In the actual history, however, the absence of the Habsburg Empire opened the doors to the Nazi conquests of Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland in 1938–39; to German domination or invasion of Hungary, Romania, and Yugoslavia in 1940–44; to the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941; and to the Holocaust in 1941–45. And finally, after the Soviet Army ultimately prevailed over the German Wehrmacht in the longest and most deadly military campaign in history, it surged into virtually all of Mitteleuropa, bringing with it rape and pillage, death and destruction, and Communist revolution. Stalin established a brutal second successor empire to the Habsburgs, tearing Mitteleuropa away from its dense ties with the West and converting and reducing it into being merely Eastern Europe.

Four decades later, this second successor empire to the Habsburgs underwent its own collapse, and this collapse occurred even without military defeat in a great and terrible war. And thus, the short twentieth century—which for Mitteleuropa had been particularly catastrophic and all too long—at last came to an end.

Today, can it be said that the dream of the national independence of the successor states of Mitteleuropa has at long last become a reality? Given their terrible ordeals in the course of the short twentieth century, it might seem comforting if this were so, and, at first glance, it certainly looks as though it is.     

With a second glance, however, we can see that virtually every single successor state to the Habsburgs is now a member of the American-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a status which each one of them desperately sought in order to receive protection, if and when the power and imperial ambitions of Russia (or perhaps of Germany) would one day once again revive. Of course, an American-led NATO is certainly not an empire in the conventional sense, and if it is an empire of sorts (more accurately it is an hegemony), it is a kinder, gentler one. But then, by the late nineteenth century, the Habsburg Empire had become a kinder, gentler one as well.

Habsburg Lessons for Today’s Conservatives

Today, the Habsburg Empire is long ago and far away. Although during its last century, it was the most conservative of the Great Powers and of the European regimes, what can its fate teach today’s conservatives, particularly those in the United States, a country whose fundamental principles are so different from those of the Habsburgs?

Although the Habsburg Empire is long gone, the problems which it had to confront are not. Every day and around the world, Americans have to deal with the problems of rising ethnic groups and intensifying ethnic conflicts. Sometimes these problems occur abroad, as is now most obvious and most destructive in Iraq. Sometimes they occur at home, as is now most obvious and most divisive with illegal Latino immigrants. In either case, the Habsburg authorities would have recognized our problems, with our Iraq (or Middle East) being prefigured by their Balkans (or, as it was often termed then, Near East) and with our Latino immigrants being prefigured by their Slavic immigrants into their once-German cities.

And Americans, like the Habsburgs, also have to deal with the liberal and progressive purported solutions to these problems. Of course, conservatives believe that these liberal and progressive solutions actually make a problem worse; indeed they sometimes are the very cause of the problem. But in the United States, much more than in the Habsburg Empire, the dominant ideology among the political and cultural elites is in fact liberal and progressive. This means that the United States is much more likely than the Habsburg Empire periodically to be creating new problems for itself. Sometimes this occurs abroad, as when the United States undertakes a misbegotten military intervention in some ethnically complex and divided society, in order to bring about its own narrow and eccentric (and ethno-centric) version of individual freedom and universal rights. Sometimes this occurs at home, when American elites and the U.S. government promote the growth of a whole new and massive ethnic community, whose tradition, culture, and even language are very different from their own.

For many years, a prominent motto of most Americans, and particularly of most American conservatives, was “liberty under law.” The emphasis, ever since the Declaration of Independence, was on the liberty. Today, that emphasis has reached the point that there is a great deal of individual liberty, and not much rule of law. Many of our current problems are the result of this loss of our classical balance.

In the last decades of the Habsburg Empire, the de facto motto of the Habsburg authorities had become “under law, liberty.” The emphasis, grounded in the Catholic origins and worldview of the Habsburg dynasty, was still on the law, but more and more liberty—both for individuals and for national groups—was being permitted.

Looking back now over many years, we can see that it might have been better for everyone, the Habsburgs included, if there had been even more recognition of liberty, at least in the sense of more national autonomy within the Empire (or within a Habsburg Commonwealth of Nations). And perhaps this development would have eventually come about, in the natural course of time and in the sensible and realistic conservative way.

However, when liberal and progressive Americans of the early twentieth century—most consequently their President and representative, Woodrow Wilson—turned their attention to the problems of the Habsburg Empire, they not only aborted any natural development of sensible and realistic solutions, and they not only made the problems worse, but they prepared the ground for cruelties and catastrophes on an hitherto unimaginable scale. These were the fruits of the American liberal and progressive ideology as they matured in the short twentieth century. We should not be surprised if now, in the early twenty-first century, liberals and progressives are once again sowing the seeds of new cruelties and catastrophes yet to come.

  1. Eric Hobsbawm, The Age of Extremes: A History of the World, 1914–1991 (New York, 1994). I reviewed this book in my “‘If Men Were Angels . . . ’: Reflections on the World of Eric Hobsbawm,” The National Interest (Summer 1995), 3–12.
  2. Niall Ferguson, The War of the World: Twentieth Century Conflict and the Descent of the West (New York, 2006).
  3. In the famous film, Schindler’s List (1993), all of the scenes occurred in what had been territories within the Habsburg Empire (e.g., Krakow, Moravia, and Auschwitz), and virtually all of the persons depicted came from there.
  4. James Kurth, “Germany and the Reemergence of Mitteleuropa,Current History (November 1995), 381–86.
  5. A comprehensive account of Vienna’s role in these achievements is given by Hilde Spiel, Vienna’s Golden Autumn, 1866–1938 (New York, 1987).
  6. Robert A. Kann, A History of the Habsburg Empire, 1526–1918 (Berkeley, 1974).
  7. Rebecca West gave a vivid and memorable account of the assassination of the heir to the Habsburg throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, on June 28, 1914 and of the July 1914 international crisis, which followed it in her Black Lamb and Grey Falcon: A Journey through Yugoslavia (New York, 1982; originally published 1941).
  8. Paul Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers: Economic Change and Military Conflict from 1500 to 2000 (New York, 1989).
  9. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Pandemonium: Ethnicity in International Politics (New York, 1993), 78–85.
  10. Richard M. Gamble, The War for Righteousness: Progressive Christianity, the Great War, and the Rise of the Messianic Nation (Wilmington, DE, 2003); James Kurth, “The Protestant Deformation,” The American Interest (Winter 2005), 4–16; Paul Gottfried, “The Invincible Wilsonian Matrix: Universal Human Rights Once Again,” Orbis (Spring 2007), 239–250. Wilson’s own Secretary of State, Robert Lansing, was greatly concerned about the dangerous consequences of self-determination and recorded his fears in his “Confidential Diaries”; “The phrase is simply loaded with dynamite. . . . It will, I fear, cost thousands of lives . . . what misery it will cause!” Quoted in Moynihan, Pandemonium, 83.
  11. James Kurth, “Partition Versus Union: Competing Traditions in American Foreign Policy,” Diplomacy and Statecraft (December 2004), 809–31.
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