Germany and Austria: a European Crisis

Courtesy Reuters

MOST Americans who have heard of the great dispute about the Anschluss of German Austria with the German mother-country have ranged themselves on the side of those who favor this union. They have entirely failed to understand why Germany's neighbors should be endeavoring, at any cost, to prevent what seems so entirely in the nature of things and, indeed, almost inevitable. To understand the opposition which exists to the Anschluss, this most recent manifestation of the tendency of the so-called Central Powers toward unification must be viewed as an incident in the stream of European history.

Before the war the Hapsburg monarchy represented the last remnant of the old super-national German Empire, or, as it was always styled in documents, the "Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation." This super-national empire was the foundation stone of Europe's unity. In those days Germany was accustomed to safeguard her position in Europe not by a large army but by federal union with her neighbors. The border lands, the so-called "marches," were especially designed to further such federation. The rulers of the German southeast march, Austria, made it their business to foster the union of the nations in southeastern Europe with the German race by means of dynastic marriages -- "Tu, felix Austria, nube!"

Long after this old German Empire had succumbed to the divisions resulting from the Reformation, from the Thirty Years' War, more recently from the Napoleonic Wars, and last of all from Bismarck's war against Austria, the latter still continued to have an external existence. But the super-national system had been gradually deprived of its moral and political basis, i.e., the super-national ideology. After the foundation of the new German Empire under the hegemony of Prussia, the nationalism of this new Germany invaded Austria also, thereby stimulating the nationalism of Slavs and Magyars. As a result, the super-national Austrian state, which no longer had a soul, became the scene of embittered struggles between the various nationalities. The World War had

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