In 1917, on this day Emperor Karl I abdicated the throne of the Habsburg Monarchy, heralding the dissolution of the Dual Monarchy.
Article continues from Part #2.
The Last Chance for Peace #3 By Steven FisherDomestic turmoil in Austria-Hungary had been steadily increasing ever since the signing of the Treaty of Berlin on August 2. The devastating Austrian defeat in the Third Balkan war, and the harsh terms given to it by the Russians, had greatly increased peoples dissatisfaction with the government. This, combined with a faltering Austro-Hungarian economy had turned people against the Habsburg Monarchy.
An unusually harsh winter, combined with the already existing economic deprivation, finally lit the tinderbox of revolution. On December 19, people took to the streets of Vienna, calling for an end to the Monarchy. The army and police were sent to stop them, but to the governments horror, some army units and policemen began siding with the rebels. The riots quickly spread from Vienna to the other parts of the Empire. Clashes began between protesters and army troops. But defecting troops managed to turn the tide in favor of the protestors, since many in the army blame the current government for getting them into a losing war, and having them fight for nothing. A loyalist Army group moving to attempt to rescue the King from his palace in Vienna is defeated in heavy street fighting.
Finally, the Republican forces break into the palace in Vienna, and force Karl I to abdicate the Habsburg throne. The Austro-Hungarian Empire is dissolved, with Austria and Hungary both breaking off and forming the Austrian Federation and the Republic of Hungary. Ethnic minorities in both nations attempt to break off and form their own nations, such as the Czechs in Austria, but their attempts fail. The Austrians are more compromising, and form a federation within which the Czechs have some autonomy.
The peace was not to last though. On January 2, 1918, the Italians announce the annexation of Trentino, and march troops into the region. International condemnation of the move does occur, but the Italians brush it off by saying that they are taking this action to protect the Italaians living in the region, who they claim are suffering oppression from the Austrian authorities. The Austrians vehemently oppose this act, but cannot do anyhting, as their people are unwilling to fight a war.
Their inability to prevent the annexation of Trentino would spell the end of the Austrian government. On May 19, the Austrian military coups the government, establishing a German backed military dicatorship under Conrad Von Hotzendorf. It heralds the beginning of the poalrization around the powers of Russia and Germany, a situation that will inflame tensions between the two nations, and be a cause of World War 1 in 1921.
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