THE moment at which the new scheme presented by the Committees of Experts offers the most promising and most serious attempt yet made to solve the central economic problem of Europe, is an appropriate one at which to examine the progress made in the reconstruction of Austria. For among the reconstruction schemes already put into operation the one undertaken in September, 1922, is beyond comparison the most interesting and the most significant which the world has seen since the war. It is a scheme at once constructive and international in character. It is not only keeping a country alive, but it is putting it on its feet, and it is doing this by a combination of national self-help and international coöperation. After the havoc and disorganization left by the war we have seen some countries sink into chaos and destitution, others struggling painfully to comparative prosperity, still others kept alive by external charity. In Austria alone we have a country which, after definitely failing to save itself unaided, and after drifting to the very brink of chaos and destitution, is being brought back by sustained and effective international action. It is now nineteen months since the experiment was planned and sixteen since it has been in effective operation. The task is not indeed accomplished, but the experience already gained is sufficient to permit a general description of the present situation and a reasonable judgment of the future.
The situation of Austria which confronted the League of Nations when it was asked by the Allied Powers to intervene in August, 1922, may be very briefly summarized. Its main features are well known. The rich and powerful Empire of Austria-Hungary had in 1919 been broken in war and dismembered by peace as no other country has been in recent history. Of the fragments into which the old empire was divided Austria was by far the most miserable. Vienna, once the rich capital of over sixty millions, was left the center of a small country
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