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11-08-2015, 17:14

NATIONALIST LEADERS AND THE EMPIRE'S ENEMIES

The ability and even the willingness of national leaders to undermine the prewar system turned out to be highly limited. Figures like Thomas Masaryk, a Czech university professor and political leader who had escaped to Italy early in the war, tried to raise support abroad for an independent Czechoslovakia. But meanwhile, leaders in the Czech regions of the empire continued to profess (and practice) loyalty to the empire. Edward Crankshaw sums up the situation: "Until 1917 every anti-Habsburg gesture was regularly condemned by the local Czech authorities and countered by formal declaration of soUdarity with the Monarchy and loyalty to the throne."! Austria-Hungary's enemies showed little interest in subverting the basic structure of the empire until 1918. It still seemed that, in the postwar world, Austria-Hungary might be a useful counterweight to revived German power in central Europe. In his Fourteen Points, U.S. president Woodrow Wilson spoke only about greater autonomy for the subject peoples of the empire, and as late as January 5, 1918, Prime Minister David Lloyd George of Great Britain hedged his call for "genuine self-government on true democratic principles" for the peoples of Austria-Hungary by stating that "a break-up of Austria-Hungary is no part of our war aims."

 

 

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