the open plains of Northern Europe and the broken mountain country
of the Balkan Peninsula lies the great inland basin of the Danube.
The Danube river-basin is the heart of Central Europe. It is a well-defined
geographical area. Bounded on every side by highlands or mountain-ranges,
it possesses a distinct general unity. Internally, however, the Danube
basin is divided into two portions of unequal size. The smaller western
portion is mainly hilly or mountainous country; the larger eastern
portion is a vast plain.
thus seems to have designed the Danube basin to be politically either
one nation or two nations in more or less intimate association. That
has, in fact, been the tendency during much of its history -- a tendency
which was fairly well realized in the" Dual" Empire of Austria-Hungary.
But the recent break-up of that empire at the close of the late war
reveals dramatically the presence of other factors hostile to the
geographicaf trend. If the Danube basin had been isolated by more
inacessible barriers, political unity would probably have been a certainty.
The Danube basin, however, lies in the heart of Europe, and its natural
boundaries, while well defined, have not been sharp enough to keep
out penetration from all sides. The result has been a confused series
of invasions, conquests, and settlements which have overlaid natural
with human diversity. Instead of being inhabited
by one or, at most, two races building up a home-made culture and
political organization, the Danube basin has been a battle-ground
of diverse stocks, streaming in from different directions and seeking
either to conquer their rivals or to annex their particular part of
the Danube basin to homelands lying beyond its natural frontiers.
These conflicts of race, language, and nationality have disrupted
the haIf-formed political unity of the Danube basin more than once
in the past, and they have just done it again. The peace treaties
which closed the late war shattered the Dual Empire of Austria-Hungary
and remade the Danube basin into a political crazy-quilt, with frontiers
running in defiance of geography and economics, and only imperfectly.
corresponding even to those divisions of language and nationality
which were the excuse for making the new borders.
the Dual Empire two diminished remnants are left: the Republic of
Austria and the Kingdom of Hungary. The Dual Empire was one of the
largest and most populous states in Europe. It had a total area of
260,000 square miles and a population of 52,000,000. Of this total,
Austria possessed about 116,000 square miles of territory with 29,000,000
population, while Hungary had 125,000 square miles with 21,000,000
people. In addition, there was the dependency Of Bosnia-Herzegovina
-- a federal territory held in common by the two halves of the empire,
with an area of 20,000 square miles and about 2,000,000 population.
Contrast these figures with the present situation: the Republic of
Austria has an area of 32,000 square miles and a population of 6,500,000,
present Kingdom of Hungary has an area of 35,000 square miles and
a population slightly under 8,000,000. In other words, as a result
of the late war, Austria has lost three-fourths of her territory and
four-fifths of her population, while Hungary has lost over two-thirds
of her territory and almost two-thirds of her population. These lost
lands and people have gone chiefly to Czechoslovakia, Jugoslavia,
Poland, and Rumania-states which we will discuss in subsequent chapters,
since they are linked with Eastern Europe or with the Balkan Peninsula
as well as with the Danube basin. In the present chapter we will limit
our survey to Austria and Hungary, which are distinctly Danubian states.
foundations of Austria and Hungary were laid in the period following
the fall of the Roman Empire. In that same period likewise originated
the germs of their present misfortunes. The fall of Rome was followed
by centuries of turmoil. All over Europe mighty movements of population
took place. And nowhere were these movements more violent than in
the Danube basin. Wave after wave of conquest and migration swept
across its broad surface, causing endless complications. Race, speech,
and culture became overlaid and confused.
racial changes were especially sweeping. In very ancient times the
Danube basin and the adjacent mountainous regions were alike occupied
by populations belonging to the round-skulled Alpine race. Later on,
blond Nordic tribes seem to have expelled the Alpines from most of
the Danube basin, though the surrounding high-lands appear to have
remained largely in Alpine hands. This was particularly true of the
mountainous region to
the northeast -- the region known as the Carpathians. In the Carpathian
highlands the Alpines steadily amassed strength and numbers until,
in the period following the fall of Rome, they burst out in all directions
as the Slav-speaking peoples. In a previous chapter we saw how the
Slavs overran the lands now known as Eastern Germany, Poland, and
Western Russia. But while this was going on, another great Slav tide
surged from the Carpathians over the Danube basin and into the Balkan
Peninsula, which was thereby transformed into the predominantly Slav
land that it has ever since remained. For a time the whole of Central
and Eastern Europe became one vast Slavdom stretching unbroken from
the Baltic to the Adriatic Sea.
Slav supremacy was, however, of short duration. From east and west
two new streams of conquest set in which soon deprived the Danube
basin of its Slav character. Out of the remote East came a series
of Asiatic nomad hordes, of Finnish, Turkish, and Mongolian blood.
These wild horsemen, ranging far and wide on their shaggy ponies in
quest of plunder, found the Hungarian plains (so like their Asiatic
homelands) particularly attractive. Slaughtering or enslaving the
Slavs, they settled down as masters. The last of these Asiatic invaders
were the Magyars, or "Hungarians," who absorbed their nomad
predecessors and built up a powerful state which was to endure. Such
was the origin of modern Hungary.
the Asiatic nomads were overrunning the Hungarian plains from the
east, the other stream of conquest already referred to was flowing
from the west down the valley of the Danube. These western conquerors
the Germans. Having occupied western Europe, after the fall of Rome,
the Teutonic Nordics turned their arms eastward, and the conquest
of the Danube valley was merely part of the great eastward movement
which was redeeming their old German homelands from the Slav invaders.
The Germans and the Magyars presently collided with one another. After
much fierce fighting they divided the Danube basin between them, the
boundary being practically that which exists between Austria and Hungary
to-day. This frontier is clearly traced by nature, being the place
where the river Danube leaves the hilly country of Austria and enters
the great Hungarian plain. Thus the Danube basin was partitioned between
two conquering stocks: the Nordic Teutons and the Asiatic Magyars.
dual conquest of the Danube basin had important consequences. In the
first place, it dealt a terrible blow to the Slavs. The Slav world
was thereby cut in twain, . the Slav peoples of the Balkans being
thereby sundered f:om the main body of their kinsmen by a broad band
of Germans and Magyars. Politically and culturally, the cleft remained
absolute. Racially, however, the situation was not so definite. Here
emerges a second point which must be remembered: the way in which,
throughout the Danube basin, race-lines are blurred and cross-cut
by non-racial factors like language, culture, and national consciousness.
Neither the Teutonic Nordics in Austria nor the Asiatic Magyars in
Hungary destroyed the earlier populations. Instead, they imposed themselves
as conquerors and ultimately intermarried extensively with the subject
elements. For this reason both
the Austrians and the Hungarians became racially mixed peoples, pretty
thoroughly crossed by various racial elements. To be sure, the Teutonic
and Magyar strains remained dominant and gave the political and cultural
tone to their respective countries; nevertheless, the physical type
and temperament of both stocks rapidly altered. The Austrian Germans
differ distinctly from their kinsmen even of South Germany, and differ
still more widely from the pure-blooded Teutonic Nordics of North
Germany. As for the Magyars, they underwent an even profounder transformation.
The modern Magyars are so saturated with Alpine and Nordic blood that
they have lost most of their ancestral Asiatic traits and have become
almost wholly "European" in appearance.
the Middle Ages, Austria and Hungary grew in power and prosperity.
As yet they were entirely independent of one another, their political
interests lying in different directions. Hungary was concerned chiefly
with east European or Balkan matters, while Austria became linked
more and more closely to Germany. Austria's fortunes presently came
to be guided by a famous princely family, the House of Habsburg. The
Habsburgs gradually raised Austria from a frontier district to the
most powerful German state and made their capital, Vienna, one of
the chief cities of Europe.
Austria steadily prospered, but Hungary was destined to be stricken
down by a terrible foe -- the Turks. At the close of the Middle Ages
the Ottoman Turks burst into Europe, overran the Balkan Peninsula,
and then attacked Hungary. In the fateful year 1526, the flower of
the Hungarian nation was annihilated in a
great battle and Hungary fell under Turkish rule. For nearly 200 years
Hungary was a Turkish province. Then the Habsburgs drove out the Turks,
but for the Hungarians this meant little more than a change of masters,
since they now fell under Habsburg sway. Hungary was only the shadow
of its old self. The best of the Hungarian stock had been killed by
the Turks or had fled into exile, and when the Austrians expelled
the Turks, the land lay half-depopulated. Herein was the root of Hungary's
later misfortunes. Down to the time of the Turkish conquest the Hungarian
plains had been inhabited almost entirely by a "Hungarian"
people -- that is to say, by a population which, though of mixed Magyar
and European blood, was Magyarized in speech and culture, and therefore
felt itself Magyar in nationality. Only in the mountainous border
districts had the old Alpine populations kept their Slav speech and
self-consciousness. After the Turkish conquest, however, the situation
radically altered. The non-Magyar mountaineers descended into the
half-deserted plains, turning many regions once Magyar into Slav-speaking
areas. Indeed, the Habsburg rulers of Hungary intensified this process
by systematic colonization, inviting in settlers from many lands,
who turned parts of Hungary into racial checker-boards, with almost
every village differing in blood, customs) and language from its neighbor
Magyars hated their Habsburg masters and longed for their old independence.
However, Austrian rule did promote Hungary's material prosperity.
The Danube basin is an economic whole, and now that it was politically
united the natural economic tendencies could work
unchecked. Down to the middle of the nineteenth century the Habsburg
Empire was in some respects the most powerful state in Europe. Steadily
expanding, it annexed many territories lying outside the Danube basin,
parts of northern Italy, Poland, and the Balkans being included within
its frontiers. Furthermore, through its historic connection with Germany,
it was the leading German state.
nineteenth century, however, raised up an enemy to the Habsburg Empire
which was destined to be its undoing. This enemy was not a rival state
but an idea: the idea of Nationality. The nineteenth century has often
been called the Age of Nationality. All over Europe men began thinking
in nationalistic terms, and desiring to remould their political institutions
on nationalistic lines.
here we should understand the true meaning of Nationalism, and should
closely distinguish it from Race, with which Nationalism is so often
confused. Nationalism is, at bottom, a state of mind. Nationalism
is a belief, held by a large number of persons, that they
constitute a "Nationality" ; it is a sense of belonging
together as a "Nation." This "Nation," as visualized
in the minds of its believers, is a people organized under one government
and dwelling together in a distinct territory. When the nationalist
ideal is realized, we have what is known as a body-politic or "State."
But a state need not necessarily be a nation; its subjects may not
possess national feeling. National feeling may be aroused by many
things like blood-kinship, political association, language, culture,
religion, or geography. Some of these elements must be present to
make a nationality, but a strong national feeling may arise
even though some are absent. Blood-kinship ("Race") is one
of the strongest factors which can go to make up a nation. It is not.indispensable,
but its absence is always a hidden weakness, which may reveal itself
at any time. It will undoubtedly become increasingly important for
harmonious national life as men realize its full significance and
come to think more and more in racial terms. However, that must not
obscure the fact that Race and Nationality are, in themselves, two
distinct things. Nationality is a state of mind. Race, on the other
hand, is a physical fact, which may be accurately determined by scientific
tests such as skull-measurement, hair-formation, and color of eyes
and skin. In other words, Race is what people physically really
are; Nationality is what people politically think they
difficulty for the Habsburg Empire was that it took account neither
of Nationality nor of Race. It was an old-fashioned "Empire,"
founded on the principle of loyalty to the Habsburg dynasty and on
certain geographical tendencies, chief among these being the natural
unity of the Danube basin, which promoted the material prosperity,of
its inhabitants. To the principle of Nationality, in particular, the
Habsburg Empire was not merely indifferent but positively hostile.
Its ideal was the old Roman Empire, and the Habsburg monarchs called
themselves "Emperors," and considered themselves the successors
of the Roman Caesars. They long governed as absolute rulers, supported
by a nobility, a bureaucracy, an army, and an established church,
all "imperialist" in spirit, drawn from all parts of the
empire yet united in common loyalty to the Emperor.
this old-fashioned dynastic empire the principle of nationality worked
like a powerful explosive. Region after region began thinking "nationally,"
glorifying its particular language and culture, demanding local self-government
or even dreaming of independence. In the year 1848 a series of revolts
broke out, the most serious being the rebellion of Hungary. This was
only natural, because, as already stated, the Magyars had always disliked
Habsburg rule, and had never given up hopes of independence. After
much bloody fighting these revolts were put down and the Habsburgs
re-established their absolute government. But within twenty years
a series of fresh misfortunes forced them to change their policy.
Their old rival, Prussia, expelled Austria from Germany and transformed
Germany from a loose federation into a modern nation-state. The rising
tide of Italian nationalism likewise drove the Austrians from their
north Italian provinces and forged Italy into another nation-state.
Meanwhile, nationalist movements in other parts of the Habsburg Empire
steadily grew in strength.
by these disasters, the Habsburgs bolstered up the tottering empire
by compromise. Unable to resist entirely the nationalist principle,
they took the two leading nationalities into partnership. In the year
1867, the Habsburg realm was transformed into the "Dual Empire"
of Austria-Hungary. Though preserving certain common institutions
like a single army, navy, and diplomatic service, the two halves of
the empire were politically distinct. In Austria the Germans, and
in Hungary the Magyars, were put in command to control the lesser
nationalities such as Czechs, Croats, and Rumanians.
Under this system Austria-Hungary lived for half
a century, until the Dual Empire was destroyed at the close of the
is interesting to speculate whether Austria-Hungary might have survived
if the war had not taken place. Because the Dual Empire did in fact
die in the war is not necessarily proof that it would have died anyway.
Despite the nationalist disorders which racked its frame, the Dual
Empire was a real political organism possessing many qualities that
tended to keep it together. For one thing, the geographical unity
of the Danube basin created ties of self-interest which were growing
rapidly stronger as the country became more industrialized and its
inhabitants more interlaced-by economic co-operation. Also, there
was the old "imperialist" feeling of the powerful upper
classes, and the almost fanatical loyalism of the populations of certain
provinces like Tyrol, where historic devotion to the Habsburg dynasty
survived unchanged. Lastly there were other unifying factors, less
capable of exact definition, yet none the less existent. It must be
remembered that the Habsburg Empire was not a sudden or recent creation;
that, on the contrary, it was the product of many centuries of growth.
Its inhabitants, therefore, were not. just so many Germans, Slavs,
Magyars, and Rumanians, dropped down haphazard upon the map; they
had all been modified by longstanding political, economic, and cultural
association. These factors may have been subtle, yet they were certainly
present. Anyone who knew Austria-Hungary' before the war will remember
the distinctive "Austrian atmosphere," so intangible yet
so self-evident wherever
you crossed the Austrian frontier. You could not precisely lay your
finger on it, but you knew that it was there.
course, Austria-Hungary might have exploded even without the shock
of the Great War, and at best it would have had to pass through a
long and troubled transition period. Austria-Hungary could probably
never have become a strong, harmonious nation-state, made up as it
was of many national and racial elements. Still, some formula for
such a loose federalism might have been devised by which these elements
could have subordinated their nationalistic differences to their common
it was not to be. The war destroyed the Dual Empire and the peace
treaties cut Central Europe into a number of little nations. The results
have been deplorable. Conditions in Central Europe to-day are far
worse than they were before the war. Nationalistic passions have become
even more inflamed, while economic considerations have been absolutely
disregarded. Few treaties have ever been drawn more stupidly than
those which pretended to "re-settle" the Danube basin. Mr.,
Lloyd-George, one of the chief treaty-makers, later confessed his
error when he exclaimed ruefully: "We have Balkanized all that
part of Europe!"
stated the bald truth. That geographical unity, the Danube basin,
has been slashed by a network of frontiers which are not merely fortified
political borders bristling with soldiers but are also tariff-walls
that strangle trade and kill prosperity. Raw materials are cut off
from their factories, factories are cut off from their natural
markets, rich harvests are kept from starving cities; yet so fanatically
jealous are the new nations of one another that they are ready to
keep themselves poor if tbey can thereby prevent their neigbbors from
growing rich. That is, indeed, good "Balkan" doctrine, as
we shall see in a later chapter when we come to examine the affairs
of those troubled lands. Meanwhile, let us here observe what has happened
to post-war Austria and Hungary -- the diminished remnants of the
have already seen how both countries have shrunk in area and population,
these cessions involving also the loss of most of their raw materials
and other sources of wealth. Austria and Hungary have alike passed
through terrible times since the war. Austria rapidly collapsed into
bankruptcy and the impoverishment of her city population, as Germany
is now doing. Hungary had an even worse experience. She was cursed
with a Bolshevik revolution which developed into a bloody reign of
terror and ended with a combined counter-revolution and foreign intervention,
leaving her half ruined and utterly disorganized. Though alike afflicted
by misfortune, it is interesting to observe how different are the
attitudes of the two peoples, the Austrian Germans being apparently
broken in spirit, whereas the Magyar spirit is most emphatically unbroken.
This difference in attitude is due partly to racial differences in
the two stocks and partly to the fact that the Austrian Germans never
possessed a real national consciousness while the Magyars have been
a true nationality for centuries.
have already seen that Old Austria was in many ways a survival from
another age. With its ideals founded
on Roman and Medireval Imperialism, it was a sort of political dinosaur
living on in an increasingly nationalist Europe. Though Austria was
trying to adapt itself to modern conditions, the Great War caught
it in transition, and it perished. Now Old Austria centred in the
German-speaking provinces, its heart being the capital-city -- Vienna.
The Austrian Germans were practically untouched by nationalism. They
were not, and never had been, a "nation." Instead, they
were the favored element in a dynastic empire. Their political creed
was, therefore, not national patriotism, but rather a curious blend
of feudal and imperial loyalty to the reigning House of Habsburg.
This attitude was most marked in Vienna. Habsburg Vienna, like ancient
Rome, was an "imperial" city; its inhabitants prided themselves
on being citizens of the capital of the Habsburg Empire, with its
traditions stretching back through the Middle Ages to the Roman Caesars.
They were distinctly "cosmopolitan" in spirit and they were
also cosmopolitan in blood, because Imperial Vienna had for centuries
attracted people not only from all parts of the Habsburg Empire but
from all parts of Europe. The Viennese show their varied ancestry
by their lively quickness as well as by their superficial instability,
both being characteristic of highly mixed populations.
was the people upon whom descended the catastrophe of 1918. Almost
without warning their empire was shattered and the Habsburgs disappeared.
This sudden disaster acted like a blow in the solar plexus. The Austrian-Germans
were stunned-paralyzed. Then came fresh misfortunes: financial collapse,
tion. Beneath the force of these terrific blows the Austrian spirit
broke. No more amazing transformation has probably ever occurred than
that between the Vienna of ten years ago and the Vienna of to-day.
The soul of the city has basically altered, and "Imperial"
Vienna is as dead as the Caesars. Few Austrians even dream of regaining
their former greatness. The Viennese, in particular, have renounced
their past, have resigned themselves to their loss, and limit their
hopes to a modest future. One feels of the Viennese that here is a
people which has ceased to struggle; which has, so to speak, "thrown
up the sponge."
past being not only dead but buried, the interesting question arises
as to what shall be German' Austria's future. The catastrophe of 1918
left the Austrian Germans in a sort of political vacuum. Of course,
as always happens in such cases, the Austrian Germans began casting
about for new gods to take the place of the old. Never having possessed
a national consciousness of their own, the " nationality"
artificially imposed upon them by the peace-treaties seemed to most
Austrians little short of an absurdity. Feeling that the "Republic
of Austria" was a mere paper creation which could not stand alone,
the overwhelming majority of the Austrian Germans instinctively turned
to the idea of political union with their kinsmen to the northward,
their programme being the entry of. German Austria as a federal state,
a sort of second Bavaria, into the German Reich. This seemed the most
natural thing to do, not only owing to present circumstances but'
also because German Austria had formed part of the old Germanic Federation
down to the year 1866, when, as the result of a war between Austria
and Prussia, the loose-
knit Germanic Federation had been transformed into a modern nation-state
from which Austria haa been excluded. In addition to this historic
reason, the Austrian Germans also felt that their desire to join their
German kinsmen was based on clear moral right, because the peace treaties
had been drawn ostensibly according to the principle of "self-determination."
The Austrian Germans, however, were in for a rude awakening. Their
plea to be allowed to join their German kinsmen was sternly denied
by the victorious Entente Powers, particularly by France. The Austrian
Germans were given clearly to understand that union with Germany would
under no circumstances be permitted; that logic must yield to Allied
self-interest; and that .the principle of "self-determination,"
however fine in theory, did not apply to the vanquished.
thrown back upon themselves, surrounded by hostile neighbors, and
with no patriotic faith to give them moral strength, the Austrian
Germans fell into despair, covered their debts by inflating their
currency, and plunged into a slough of misery and bankruptcy from
which they were rescued only by the unique expedient of an international
receivership. This is one of the most interesting experiments which
have been tried in post-war Europe. It began in the autumn of the
year 1922, when Austria was granted an international loan supervised
by the League of Nations. At that moment Austria's situation seemed
hopeless; she was bankrupt and literally starving. Her government
had solemnly warned the world that it could no longer carryon and
that, unless something were speedily done, collapse and probably chaos
would ensue. The loan averted bankruptcy, stabil-
ized the currency, and improved the general economic situation. Austria
is to-day in fairly good shape, its inhabitants enjoying an increasing
measure of moderate well-being. Vienna, in particular, has been saved
from threatened ruin and is fast reasserting its position as the natural
financial and commercial centre of Mid-Europe.
all this has to be paid for, and the price is a practical loss of
independence. We must remember that Austria is no longer an independent
state; that it has passed under international control exercised by-the
League of Nations. The real ruler of Austria is the League, acting
through its commissioner in Vienna. The commissioner is an able Dutchman
who uses his power most tactfully. He is not formally part of the
Austrian Government, his position being "merely" head of
the League Commission to protect the international loan. But, of course,
in reality he has the last word, because he makes the loan payments
which alone keep Austria from bankruptcy, and since these payments
are made monthly he has the power to
close the purse-strings if the Austrian Government should decline
to follow his recommendations.
is really an extraordinary situation, this spectacle of a people only
a few years ago the heart of a great empire now fallen under an international
receivership. Notliing like it has been seen since Lord Cromer became"
financial adviser" to the bankrupt Khedivial Government of Egypt
a little less than half a century ago. So far, the strange experiment
has proved a success. But even should it continue to be a success,
that should not blind us to the peculiar circumstances of the case.
In Austria we have a people with no real national consciousness, whose
past has suddenly been shorn away. In the dark days before the League
took control it is literally true that nobody cared whether the "Republic
of Austria" lived or died. In this frame of mind, the Austrians
were quite ready to barter away an independence for which they cared
nothing in return for financial assistance coupled with international
control. This situation cannot be duplicated anywhere else in Europe.
To peoples with real national consciousness, loss of independence
is a supreme disaster. Therefore, even if other peoples should be
tempted by suffering to follow Austria's example, the chances are
that they would try to shake off foreign control as soon as their
condition had slightly improved, while from the very beginning they
would not give that moral assent which alone could insure the lasting
success of the undertaking.
that German Austria does acquire enough economic strength and political
stability to exist as an independent state, what is to be its future?
This raises one of the most interesting and important questions that
the Europe of to-morrow will have to face. The blotting out of Austria's
past leaves something like a clear field and opens up several possible
lines of development.
most likely possibility still seems to be ultimate union with Germany.
Not to-day, of course: the veto of the victors in the late war is
absolute, while in addition Germany's present condition is so bad
that few Austrians would under existing circumstances care to join
Germany even if the Entente veto were removed. Even the leaders of
the "Pan-German" party in Austria, the champions of political
fusion with the Reich, admit frankly that their
programme is "Zukunftsmusik" -- "music o£
the future." Yet sooner or later the chances are that Germany
will regain stability and strength, while the diplomatic line-up in
Europe shifts almost from year to year. Should Austria get the chance
to join Germany under such altered conditions, would she do so?
chances are that she would. History, language, culture, and to a lesser
degree blood-kinship arid geography, all point that way. However,
it is not a certainty. Another possibility presents itself: the possibility
that German Austria may continue to stand alone and may ultimately
develop an individual political consciousness, part national, part
international, which will make of Austria a permanently neutralized
state -- a sort of second Switzerland. Although the Austrians do not
to-day possess a national consciousness, they have long had a local
consciousness and a culture in many ways distinct from that of their
kinsmen of the Reich. Also, it must not be forgotten that
their racial make-up differs somewhat even from their south German
neighbors, and differs markedly from that of North Germany. This shows
clearly in the Austrian temperament, particularly the temperament
of the Viennese. If Austria should remain independent for even ten
or twenty years, these factors might engender a real national consciousness
on the Swiss model. Such an Austria would probably be safe from attack,
because it would menace no one, while its neighbors are so jealous
of each other that they might welcome a neutral Austria in their midst.
these two alternatives do not exhaust the list of possibilities. German
Austria might conceivably join
Hungary in some form of partnership, thereby reproducing the old Dual
Empire on a small scale. Again, Austria might join some future "Danube
Federation" or Danubian customs-union, should the states of Central
Europe ever be able to harmonize their political and economic interests.
Or, lastly, Austria may fly to pieces and be absorbed by its various
neighbors. Which of these things will happen no one can say. The important
point to remember is the fluid condition of Austria's state of mind,
which makes anyone of these various developments a possibility.
different is the situation in Hungary. Unlike Austria, Hungary was
one of the first states in Europe to acquire a national consciousness.
Hungary's national life runs back for a thousand years, and its people
feel an intense national patriotism. The Magyars are an unusually
high-spirited folk. The fierce, warlike blood of their nomad ancestors
still runs hot in their veins, and despite extensive intermarriage
the Magyar stock differs perceptibly from the other Central European
peoples. It is really extraordinary to see how boldly the Magyars
confront ill-fortune. No broken spirit here! Partitioned, impoverished,
burdened with debts and war-indemnities, disarmed by the peace treaties
and surrounded by watchful enemies, the Magyars grimly refuse to resign
themselves to their present fate and sternly resolve to right what
they consider to be the wrongs inflicted upon them. High and low,
rich and poor, noble and peasant, the Magyars denounce the peace-treaties
and swear to obtain their revision in' one way or another. Everywhere
one sees maps contrasting Hungary's pre-war and post-war
frontiers, these maps further bearing the significant words: Nem!
Nem! Sohar! ("No! No! Never !")
does not mean that Hungary is likely to start a war to-morrow. Though
high-spirited, the Magyars are also an intelligent people, and their
present leaders are capable men who understand the situation. They
know that for the time being little can be done. But they will also
tell you frankly that the Hungarian people will not permanently endure
conditions deemed intolerable. Furthermore, it must not be forgotten
that Magyar bitterness is constantly exasperated by the plight of
their brethren who have passed under foreign rulee. Nearly one-third
of the whole Magyar stock (about 3,000,000 people) to-day lives in
Czechoslovakia, Jugoslavia, or Rumania, where their lot is a hard
one. In Czechoslovakia the Magyars seem to be less harshly treated,
but in Jugoslavia and Rumania they are badly persecuted) the position
of national minorities in those two countries being probably the worst
in Europe. And of course every story of injustice and suffering leaks
across the frontiers (however closely guarded) further inflaming Magyar
determination to aid their persecuted kinsmen.
this is well known to Hungary's neighbors. Fearing the Magyars' fierce
fighting qualities, Czechoslovakia, Jugoslavia, and Rumania, who have
alike profited so largely at Hungary's expense, have formed an alliance
(the so-called "Little Entente") the main object of which
is to uphold the peace-treaties, preserve intact the new frontiers,
and keep Hungary down. For the moment the task is easy: the peace-treaties
forbid Hungary to have more than the skeleton of an army, while the
tente Powers can arm as much as they choose--and are, in fact, armed
to the teeth. But how about the future?
Little Entente knows that the Magyar spirit is unbroken and that some
sudden shift in European politics may give Hungary her chance of revenge.
This naturally alarms and exasperates Hungary's neighbors, and tempts
them to think of "preventive measures." The exceptionally
cool-headed leaders who guide Czechoslovakia's destiny apparently
frown on such proposals, but in Jugoslavia and Rumania sentiment is
less restrained. In both the latter countries there is an influential
body of opinion which would like to smash the Magyars and practically
wipe Hungary off the map.
we see a vicious circle of mutual hatred which may at any time plunge
Central Europe once more into war. And we must also remember that
to the southward lies the Balkan Peninsula -- a veritable powder-magazine
of national feuds. A spark struck in the Balkans could easily touch
off an explosion which would shatter Central Europe as well. Meanwhile
Central Europe fails to attain either true peace or prosperity. The
situation is frankly bad, and there are few signs of real improvement.