Serbia, Europe, Historical Profile (1922), #032-The Collapse of Austria-Hungary


Events now followed each other with lightning speed. On Oct. 4 Austria-Hungary in a note to America accepted President Wilson's speeches as a basis of discussion, and on the 8th Baron Hussarek admitted that the Monarehy's internal structure must be modified and "full-grown nations" determine their own future. This only precipitated the collapse, and while Count Tisza voiced Hungarian public opinion in declaring the basis of the Dual system to be shattered, the Yugoslav National Council was transplanted from Ljubljana to Zagreb and strengthened by the inclusion of representatives of all parties (Oct. 10).

On the 16th the Hungarian Government, declared in favour of Personal Union, and next day Hussarek published an Imperial Proclamation, dated Oct. 16, dividing Austria (not Austria-Hungary) into four federal units (German, Czech, Yugoslav and Ukrainian), and leaving the Poles to make their own decision. Korosec, in the name of the Czech and Yugoslav Clubs unreservedly rejected this stillborn project and claimed that the future of both nations was an international problem which only the Peace Conference could solve.

Henceforth the Yugoslavs acted independently of both Vienna and Budapest; and when on Oct. 21 the news of President Wilson's answer to Count Burian's final Peace Note (refusing to negotiate save on the basis of a recognition of Czechoslovak and Yugoslav national claims) became generally known, the old regime vanished almost as if by magic. Extraordinary scenes took place in many towns, the troops tearing off their military badges with the Habsburg arms and trampling them underfoot.

National councils were speedily formed in Dalmatia and Bosnia, which arranged for the disarmament of the troops pouring northwards from the broken Albanian and Macedonian fronts. As early as the 23rd a Croat regiment stationed in Fiume disarmed the Magyar militia and took possession of the town. On the 24th Count Andrassy was appointed Joint Foreign Minister, but the machinery of State had ceased to work, and both the Austrian and Hungarian Cabinets were in statu demissionis.

On the 28th, the military command in Zagreb handed over its authority to the National Council, and next day the Diet proclaimed the independence of Croatia from Hungary and assumed cuntrol of Fiume. The arsenals of Pola and Cattaro were already in the hands of the insurgents; and the Emperor Charles, in the hope either of winning the favour of the new regime in Zagreb or throwing an apple of discord between it and the Entente, signed a decree on Oct. 31 making over the whole Austro-Hun garian fleet to the Yugoslav State-a step which was interpreted by the Italian Nationalists as a proof of collusion between Zagreb and Vienna.

On the other hand, tho action of the Supreme Council in Paris in prescribing the frontier line of the Secret Treaty of London as the line of occupation under the Austro-Hungarian Armistice was keenly resented by the Yugoslavs as a brcach with Wilsonian principles. The Allies very properly insisted that the fleet must be surrendered into their hands, but before this could take place a deplorable incident occurred in Pola harbour, the "Viribus Unitis" being blown up by an Italian mine, with a Yugoslav admiral and crew on board. In Italy Baron Sonnino's frankly anti-S'fav attitude threw Signor Orlando and the Pact of Rome into the shade; and the Consulta worked hard to prevent Yugoslavia's recognition by the Allies.

      "Serbia, Europe, Historical Profile (1922), #032-The Collapse of Austria-Hungary," The Encyclopedia Britannica. (New York: Encyclopedia Britannica, 1922); digital edition, ( : posted 15 Jan 2013)

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