Courtesy Reuters

Danubian Reconstruction

SOME time ago, discussing the peace settlement that will some day come, the London Times voiced this warning: "The danger is that revulsion from Hitler's methods and achievements may, at the moment of his defeat, carry us back into the anarchy of a Europe divided herself by a multiplicity of strategic and economic frontiers, and tempt us to renew the cardinal errors of 1919. That danger can be averted only if we constantly remind ourselves of the lessons which the war has brought home to us." Such a statement by Great Britain's most influential newspaper must have come as a surprise to all those who for many years had been taught to regard the order established in 1919 as primarily designed to liberate oppressed peoples. Above all, it was on the soil of the Danubian Monarchy that "strategic and economic frontiers" were drawn by peacemakers who certainly did not expect to be described as anarchists only two decades later. They were, no doubt, inspired by noble principles. They wanted to "make the world safe for democracy" and to ensure "national self-determination" along with the "protection of national minorities."

Before trying to analyze their achievements and the consequences, I must insert a general remark. The argument is often heard that it is unjust to regard the victors of 1918 as originators of the ensuing peace, since all they did was bow to the wishes of the nations concerned. The Germans, so the argument runs, wanted a democratic republic, and the peoples of the Austro-Hungarian Empire wanted independence. But this is only half the truth. It was the Allies who during the war encouraged the tendencies to which they gave way when the war was over. Republicanism won the upper hand in Germany mainly because the Allies had promised that better peace terms would be granted the German people if they dispensed with the crown. Czech desertions from the Habsburg Army were a trickle until the worsening of the military situation coincided with Allied propaganda to

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