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Thread: The Proposed United States of Greater Austria

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    The Proposed United States of Greater Austria

    I saw this map posted by Ahnenerbe in the gallery so I decided to open a thread.

    United States of Greater Austria

    Second map:

    Has anyone heard about this proposal before?

    The United States of Greater Austria (German: Vereinigte Staaten von Groß-Österreich) was an idea created by a group of scholars surrounding the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand that never came to pass. This specific proposal was conceived by Aurel Popovici in 1906.

    As the twentieth century started to unfold, the greatest problem facing the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary was that it consisted of eleven distinctly different ethnic groupings, 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 eight groupings (Czechs, Poles, Ruthenians, Romanians, Slovaks, Serbs, Slovenes and Italians) hardly wielded any power at all, only some Croats and Serbs had limited autonomy in the Kingdom of Croatia and Slavonia. The idea of the Dual Monarchy system of 1867 had been to split the previous Austrian Empire into two realms, one German-dominated, the other Hungarian-dominated. However, after various demonstrations, uprisings and acts of terrorism, it became readily apparent that the notion of two ethnic groups dominating the other nine could not realistically survive in perpetuam.

    Franz Ferdinand had planned to radically redraw the map of Austria-Hungary, 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 which Austria-Hungary was dismantled and several new nation states were created, as well as various Austro-Hungarian territories ceded to existing neighbouring countries, by the victorious Entente powers.

    Proposed states from Aurel Popovici

    The idea came from Hungarian revolutionary Lajos Kossuth, who proposed to transform the Habsburg Empire into a so-called "Danubian State", a federal state with autonomous regions.[citation needed] The following territories were supposed 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

    * Deutsch-Österreich (German-Austria, present-day Austria and Italy (Bolzano-Bozen), ethnic German)
    * Deutsch-Böhmen (German-Bohemia, northwestern part of present-day Czech Republic, ethnic German)
    * Deutsch-Mähren (German-Moravia, northeastern part of present-day Czech Republic, ethnic German)
    * Böhmen (Bohemia, southern and central part of present-day Czech Republic, ethnic Czech)
    * Slowakenland (Slovakia, ethnic Slovak)
    * West-Galizien (West Galicia, part of present-day Poland, ethnic Pole)
    * Ost-Galizien (East Galicia, part of present-day Ukraine and Poland, ethnic Ruthenian/Rusyn)
    * Ungarn (Hungary, present-day Hungary, southern Slovakia, northern Vojvodina, ethnic Magyar)
    * Seklerland (Szeklerland, part of present-day Romania, ethnically related to the Magyars)
    * Siebenbürgen (Transylvania, plus Bukovina, part of present-day Romania and Ukraine, ethnic Romanian)
    * Trento (Trentino, part of present-day Italy, ethnic Italian)
    * Triest (Trieste and Gorizia, parts of present-day Italy, western Istria, part of present-day Croatia and Slovenia, ethnic Italian)
    * Krain (Carniola, present-day Slovenia and southern Carinthia, ethnic Slovene)
    * Kroatien (Croatia, Srem in present-day Serbia and Boka Kotorska in present-day Montenegro, ethnic Croatian and Serb)
    * Woiwodina (Vojvodina, part of present-day Serbia, ethnic Serbian)

    In addition, a number of mostly German-speaking enclaves in eastern Transylvania and elsewhere were to have limited autonomy.


    * (German) Kowalski, Erich (2005). Die Pläne zur Reichsreform der Militärkanzlei des Thronfolgers Franz Ferdinand im Spannungsfeld von Trialismus und Föderalismus. Vienna: Universitätsbibliothek Universität Wien.

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    I had heard the the Archduke Franz Josef planned on a reorganization of the Hapsburg Empire into a federation of the various ethnicities in the empire. Sort of like an imperial Switzerland. It might have worked but only if there were some sort of guaranty of ethnic stability within the designated borders. Free movements of people within the empire would have continued to add to ethnic strife & for changes to the boundaries to reflect shifting demographics.

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    Yes, I've heard about this proposal before. Here another article: United States of Greater Austria: Based On Ethnic Groups In the Austro-Hungarian Empire

    It’s based a proposal conceived by the lawyer and politician Aurel Popovici in 1906. The proposal has been superimposed on a map of the ethnic groups of Austria-Hungary in 1910 which is based on “Distribution of Races in Austria-Hungary” from the Historical Atlas by William R. Shepherd, 1911.
    “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)

    Some peoples considered it like Switzerland while other peoples called it as a step towards the European Union.

    The United States of Greater Austria – a step towards European Union?

    The political life, and not only, of Austro-Hungary at the beginning of the 20th century is characterized by Aurel C. Popovici in his work, as being marked by endless parliamentary crisis, bitter fights and “a savage kind hatred”, all the nationalities being bitter and throwing the responsibility on the Viennese circles. The development of the national feeling with the occasion of the 1848 Revolution permitted the apparition of numerous projects for the reformation and the reorganization of the Habsburgs monarchy which were starting, almost without exception, from the necessity of the empire’s federalization on national basis, preserving in the same time the political unity of the empire. Among the most important and elaborated plans is the one prepared by Frantisek Palacky beginning from 1848 and resumed in 1865-1866, which stipulated the division of the empire into eight national states and the one stipulated by Franz Schuselka, according to which Austria had to turn into a Völkerreich (“empire of peoples”) in which every nationality to be able to keep its national identity.

    A theory that was circulating in the epoch taken over by A.C. Popovici from Johann Caspar Bluntschli, was considering the nation, first of all, a cultural community and not a state one (towards which it strived, however!) estimating that the national feeling existing at the Austro-Hungarian Empire’s peoples had as an aim the national autonomy inside the monarchy. Partisan of the federalization of the monarchy by the nationalities principle, Aurel Popovici affirmed, based on an interesting analysis, not always without fervour, on the way of organising and functioning of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, the necessity of restructuring the empire, of reorganising it through “the territorial separation of the nationalities”.

    The project elaborated by Aurel C. Popovici enjoyed a special attention in the epoch, but not only, the more so as it had the support of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the successor of the imperial crown. Popovici considered that the new edifice which was going to be brought about had to have three pylons: the dynastic principle, the military skill and, first of all, “equity for all the peoples which give the content to this empire”. Starting from the supposition that the true essence of all the national fights is of national- constitutional origin and offering primacy to the national-political principle against the historical-political one, Aurel Popovici stipulated the forming of “numerous national states in an unitary federal Austrian state” through the national determination of all the big nationalities into states. This determination was going to be made on the account of the ethnographic map of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, observing that the peoples from the empire aren’t very mixed, despite the existence of numerous isles, which were going to be “sacrificed” for the general interest. Invoking again Bluntschli’s ideas, Aurel Popovici considered necessary that the new-created national states should become “neutral” from the national point of view, more like “community” states. This was possible only if, through the new political- territorial structure of the empire, the national pressure stopped giving place to a community of interests for all the empire’s peoples which to oust the national feeling; the main problem in the empire, considering its ethnic structure, was the Pan-Slavonic idea. “Our monarchy, Popovici asserted, was never a national state, it isn’t now and it will never be. It was and it has to stay a league of the nations”.
    In essence, Aurel C. Popovici’s plan stipulated the division of the empire’s territory into the following states:

    1. The German Austria – meaning the German interior Austria together with the whole German realm from the western Hungarian border, together with the German realm from the South-East of Bohemia and Southern Moravia;
    2. The German Bohemia – the North-West part of Bohemia together with Tratenau realm;
    3. The German Moravia (Silesia) which would contain almost the whole German Silesia with the German realms from Moravia and Bohemia, meaning the Schönhengst region;
    4. Bohemia – the whole Czech realm of Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia; 5. Western Galicia – the whole realm inhabited by Polish;
    6. Eastern Galicia – the Ruthenian part of the country with the Ruthean counties from Hungary and Bukovina;
    7. Transylvania with all the regions inhabited by Romanians from Hungary and Romania;
    8. Croatia – with Dalmatia, the Croatian Istria, Fiume and Mur Island; 9. Ukraine – which would contain all the Slovak settlements;
    10. Slovakia;
    11. Vojvodina – the Serbian realm of the Southern Hungary;
    12. Hungary – the Hungarian realm;
    13. The Country of Székely – the Hungarian parts of the following three counties from Transylvania: Trei Scaune, Ciuc, Udvasarhely, with the adjacent Hungarian parts from Mures-Turda;
    14. Tyrol;
    15. Trieste – with the Italian Görz and the Italian Istria.

    Banking of the analysis of the subjoined maps, we can observe the attention paid by A.C. Popovici to the idea of dividing the Empire on the ethnic-national criteria, trying to disprove another federal tendency, the historical-political one. An interesting idea, but hard to achieve because of the opposition manifested by the Romanian political class5, is that of the achievement of the Romanians unification inside the Habsburg monarchy by the integration of the independent state of Romania into the new political construction.

    The project of the territorial reorganization of the Empire was accompanied by a federal Constitution for the achievement of which A.C. Popovici was inspired by the U.S.A. Constitution, considered by Edward A. Freeman as the most complete creation of the political genius; even the title proposed for the new state suggests this thing – The United-States of Greater- Austria. He invoked, to support the federalization of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, the force of attraction exerted by the freedom, the autonomy and the possibility of development of U.S.A., which had got from 13 states to 45. Another source of inspiration for A.C. Popovici was the Swiss pattern, often invoked by him in his study as a success formula for the achievement of a federal state.

    Divided into twelve “chapters”, the federal Constitution suggested by A.C. Popovici contained a series of consecrate elements, but new ideas too, which will constitute an analysis base for the politicians and analysts as well, from the moment when this plan arose until today. (...)
    Aurel C. Popovici’s plan, although it appeared in 1906, through its concepts and the ways of organizing a state federation on the principle “a state, a nation”, represents an step towards the emergence of a supranational concept which “avouches and guarantees the national-political personality of its different nations, and on the other hand to really ensure its unity and power”. Although it remained a theoretical exercise, due to the opposition of different powers, parties and nations and the “adverse” evolution of history as well, Popovici’s project will be actualized, as a debate base, by Richard Nikolaus Coudenhove-Kalergi, the creator of the idea of Pan-Europe, who considered that the only hope for a Europe devastated by war was to become a federation following the patterns which A.C. Popovici and others proposed for Austro- Hungary.

    Unfortunately, the plan for the achievement of The United States of Greater Austria, besides the fact that it’s not a very well formulated one from the structural, constitutional and judicial point of view, it represents a part (a small part) of a study that is “soaked” with racist ideas, having as a source the theory which bases the nation on biological premises, theory which makes a career in the epoch and represents one of the fascism and Nazism’s roots. On the base of the creation of a multinational state, Aurel Popovici put on first the separation of the nations between the ethnographic borders, but this separation, from his view, doesn’t limit to the frontiers. Along his whole book, he pleaded directly for the rejection of the cultural interference, giving as an example precisely the Jews, who, in his opinion, had succeeded “to transform into a power that comprises the whole world” by the purity of their race.

    The evolution of the history confirmed at least two ideas supported by Popovici (too) – (1) in the context of the deployment of the World War I, the national states, but independent too, arose pursuant to the national pressure (but these didn’t become “neutral” from the national point of view) and (2) the realization of a pan-European construction of “community” essence.
    Here some articles from the proposed constitution:

    Every citizen of a national state is in the same time an Austrian citizen, too (art.3)

    The United-States of Austria form a common customs territory (art. 4)

    The competence of the Empire (or of the Union) and of its organism extend over the following matters, which are common for all the national states, members of the Union:
    - all the external affairs, including the diplomatic and commercial representation abroad
    - the whole army and navy, including the drafting and the enactment of the fulfilment of the military service
    - the common legislation concerning the civil and penal law and the procedure
    - the commercial and drafting law
    - the setting of the currency and its appreciation
    - the finance concerning the collecting and the expenses of the federal state (art. 6)

    The federal government is composed by the representatives of the national states (art. 7)

    The legislative power is commonly exerted by the Emperor, The House of Deputies and The Senate (art. 9)

    The House of Deputies is composed of deputies elected by the whole Empire’s people or of the Union by secret and direct universal vote (art. 10)

    The governs of the national states send three authorized representatives in the empire’s government in the following vote proportion: German Austria – 7, Hungary – 7, Bohemia – 5, Transylvania – 4, Croatia – 3, Eastern Galicia – 3, Western Galicia – 3, German Bohemia – 2, Slovak Country – 2, German Moravia – 1, Ukraine – 1, Vojvodina -1, Tyrol – 1, Trieste – 1, The Country of Székely - 1. Altogether 42 votes (art. 13).

    The empire’s government has the following committees: domestic affairs, external affairs, army and navy, finance and administration of the occupied realm. In everyone of each committee has to be represented at least 3 national states. Every state has a single vote (art. 14 and 15).

    It is instituted an Empire’s Court of Justice to decide: the litigations in which the Empire takes part, the litigations between some national state; these on the one hand and the Empire on the other hand; between a national state and the citizens or the guilds of another state; between the citizens and the Empire; between the citizens from different national state; the complaints against the federal clerks etc. (art. 18)

    In every national state is instituted a parliament, a different govern and a judiciary power (art. 20)

    Every national state elaborates its own Constitution which has to be approved by the Empire’s power (art. 23)

    The Constitution of the isolated states can’t contain instructions which might contradict the ones of the Empire’s Constitution (art. 24, par.1)

    It is forbidden any private alliance and any political treaty between different national states (art. 24, par. 4).

    The national states, in the middle of which there are avowed national minorities, have to guarantee them, the rights and liberties, which have to be specified (art. 24, par. 5).
    Some interesting discussion on the topic:

    Could the idea of the United States of Greater Austria have worked before WW1?

    There was also the idea of trialism in Austria-Hungary: the political movement that aimed to reorganize the bipartite Empire into a tripartite one, creating a Croatian state equal in status to Austria and Hungary.

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