Separatism in Austria and Hungary before the start of World War I?

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Gooner1
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Re: Separatism in Austria and Hungary before the start of World War I?

Post by Gooner1 » 28 Feb 2018 17:45

Sid Guttridge wrote:Hi Gooner,

Unfortunately, theory and practice were apparently rather different:

"The Hungarian Nationalities Law (1868) guaranteed that all citizens of the Kingdom of Hungary (then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire), whatever their nationality, constituted politically "a single nation, the indivisible, unitary Hungarian nation", and there could be no differentiation between them except in respect of the official usage of the current languages and then only insofar as necessitated by practical considerations. In spite of the law, the use of minority languages was banished almost entirely from administration and even justice. Defiance of, or appeals to, the Nationalities Law met with derision or abuse. The Hungarian language was over represented in the primary schools and almost all secondary education was in Hungarian."
Hi Sid,

Yes, that was in the Lands of the Crown of Saint Stephen, they took a different approach than the Imperial lands.
Playing devils advocate a bit, but weren't the Hungarians just doing what every other nation was attempting at the time - standardising on one official language? In France there were only French schools, in Italy, Italian schools in Germany, German schools etc.
Austria was the odd-one out, and wasn't that a mistake? Wouldn't it have been better if Austria had imposed German as the standard language across the Empire, opening up the great wealth of that language to the peoples rather than them being stuck sharing a language with at most a few millions of fellow speakers?
You post regarding the fact that the only way to get on in the professions or state service was to speak either German or Hungarian, "Should jolly well hope so as well!"
So, you consider it right that any monoglot Czech, Slovak, Ukrainian, Pole, Croat, Slovene, Bosnian or Romanian should effectively be debarred from entering the professions or state service in Austria-Hungary?
Of course it's fair enough. Since when has it been an entitlement to join the professions or state service? In such a polyglot empire it is not unreasonable to require that candidates should know at least one of the lingua francas. Not being multilingual would for the Czech, Slovak, Ukrainian, Pole, Croat, Slovene, Bosnian or Romanian also prove a handicap in business, in academia, in the arts. Even a humble job on the railways would consign you to second choice.

Sid Guttridge
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Re: Separatism in Austria and Hungary before the start of World War I?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 04 Mar 2018 16:55

Hi Gooner,

Yup, the Hungarians were just trying to do what other dominant nations were trying to do at the time - extinguish minority identity on the territory they controlled.

However, they were not, as you suggest, just trying to standardize a language like the French, or Italians. They weren't trying to standardize different sorts of Hungarian. They were trying to homogenize their state by gradually extinguishing the use of rival languages on their territory, like the contemporary Germans in Poland or Russians almost anywhere under their control outside Russia itself. Indeed, between the wars the Romanians, Serbs and Slovaks began to use the same tactic on their Hungarian minorities.

You say, "In such a polyglot empire it is not unreasonable to require that candidates should know at least one of the lingua franca." It is, if they cannot get qualifications or professional progression at all with only their native tongue.

Furthermore, Hungarian was not the "lingua franca". It was the Hungarian aim to make it so by restricting professional advancement and higher education to Hungarian-speakers. If the language of adminstration, commerce, military and urban life could be made exclusively Hungarian, then Romanian, Slovak, etc., etc., would be restricted to ill-organized, largely illiterate peasantries and Hungarian would first become the lingua franca, and then ultimately the universal language.

Cheers,

Sid.

Gooner1
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Re: Separatism in Austria and Hungary before the start of World War I?

Post by Gooner1 » 06 Mar 2018 16:20

Sid Guttridge wrote:Hi Gooner,

Yup, the Hungarians were just trying to do what other dominant nations were trying to do at the time - extinguish minority identity on the territory they controlled.

However, they were not, as you suggest, just trying to standardize a language like the French, or Italians. They weren't trying to standardize different sorts of Hungarian. They were trying to homogenize their state by gradually extinguishing the use of rival languages on their territory, like the contemporary Germans in Poland or Russians almost anywhere under their control outside Russia itself. Indeed, between the wars the Romanians, Serbs and Slovaks began to use the same tactic on their Hungarian minorities.
Hi Sid,
the French suppressed Spanish, Flemish, German and Italian speakers in their time too. Pretty normal behaviour.

You say, "In such a polyglot empire it is not unreasonable to require that candidates should know at least one of the lingua franca." It is, if they cannot get qualifications or professional progression at all with only their native tongue.
Why should they be able to progress? Its not as someone only speaking Welsh or Gaelic would stand much chance of getting a job in the civil service or the professions in Britain. Ignorance shouldn't be a virtue.
Furthermore, Hungarian was not the "lingua franca". It was the Hungarian aim to make it so by restricting professional advancement and higher education to Hungarian-speakers. If the language of adminstration, commerce, military and urban life could be made exclusively Hungarian, then Romanian, Slovak, etc., etc., would be restricted to ill-organized, largely illiterate peasantries and Hungarian would first become the lingua franca, and then ultimately the universal language.
Hungarian and German were the lingua francas. What language(s) would Romanian speakers and Polish speakers most likely converse in? Or Ruthenians and Italians? As you say because Hungarian had a virtual monopoly on high school education in Transleithania it follows that anyone educated would know Hungarian. Whilst the Imperial lands lacked these language laws it seems unlikely that anyone educated beyong the primary level wouldn't know German.

Sid Guttridge
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Re: Separatism in Austria and Hungary before the start of World War I?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 06 Mar 2018 18:46

Hi Gooner,

I am very surprised you ask why speakers of only minority languages should be allowed to progress in the professions. Did you actually mean this, or am I missing your true intent? Please clarify.

Today there would be no problem for Welsh or Gaelic speakers getting a job in the civil service or the professions. Such diversity is actively encouraged.

Unfortunately, historically it was not. I don't think there are any monoglot Scots Gaelic speakers left. Cornish has entirely disappeared as a functional means of communication. Only Welsh remains pretty robust, with several hundred thousand primary speakers. However, this is not just a British issue. Irish Gaelic has continued to retreat as a primary language, even after Irish independence and a century of state support.

No, Hungarian wasn't the lingua franca. It was the language of central government. It was the Hungarian intention to make it the local lingua franca by ensuring that all government, commercial, military and professional business was conducted in it at the Hungarian-dominated end of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Cheers,

Sid.

DocHawkeye
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Re: Separatism in Austria and Hungary before the start of World War I?

Post by DocHawkeye » 20 Dec 2018 18:30

The idea that the Empire's breakup was some kind of inevitability is a bit deterministic to me. Certainly things had not been going swell for the Hapsburgs for the last...century or so. AH does not seem have been on the precipice of some kind of apparent failure before or even a year or two into the war before the food and transport systems began to break down. I'm just starting to read about Austria-Hungary these days, but most Empires of the time had Cassandras claiming The Doom(tm) was always just around the corner. Such people would've found the Allies useful for spreading their regional nationalism and using the Empire's defeat to retroactively claim post war that its death was inevitable. "Yes the good Czechs/Magyars/Austrians/insert regional identity always knew in our hearts that the weak Jewish-Liberals could never keep it all together hurf hurf".

This is not the say the Empire did not have problems, major problems even. It seems that much of the history printed about it is really oblivious to the very nuanced nature of its politics, and the fact that there was much in the way of politics at all levels of the Empire owing to how broad its identity was. So naturally there were many voices telling many stories about the Empire, and the voices that got the biggest speakers after the war were the ones saying things the Allies liked to hear.

Sid Guttridge
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Re: Separatism in Austria and Hungary before the start of World War I?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 21 Dec 2018 07:35

Hi DocHawkeye,

The Austro-Hungarian Empire was a thing out of its time. Before the rise of nationalism during the Napoleonic Wars, multi-national empires were perfectly normal. However, the rise of the concept of racial, linguistic and cultural nationalism undermined their legitimacy.

This worked two ways. Firstly, the minorities began to assert their national identities through literacy and education in their own languages and political activity. To pre-empt this, the empires (Austria and later Hungary) tried to promote their own national identities as those of the empire by deliberately makinging their own national languages of German and Hungarian as the only ones of administration, the army and education. Thus Austria-Hungary was in a state of dynamic tension before WWI.

By 1914 Austria-Hungary was clinging to an obsolescent concept of statehood and fell apart under the stress of WWI. By contrast, Germany, which was 90% a national state already, emerged from WWI slightly smaller, by virtue of losing almost all its miniorities, but nationally consolidated.

Today Europe (except the UK) seems to be looking towards building a new multinational state in the European Union. However, even this, so far largely consensual, act still discourages the self determination of minorities such as the Catalans, Corsicans or Scots.

Cheers,

Sid.

DocHawkeye
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Re: Separatism in Austria and Hungary before the start of World War I?

Post by DocHawkeye » 23 Dec 2018 22:46

A pleasure Sid,
The Austro-Hungarian Empire was a thing out of its time.
True but was not most of Europe out of its time by the same standard? It was apparent that ancient Dynastic families of Europe were not adjusting well to a world increasingly changed by industry, mass transit, and education. The Hapsburgs were not the only royalty holding a tenuous position at the top of a complex society increasingly characterized by identities, especially a middle class, they were out of touch with.
This worked two ways. Firstly, the minorities began to assert their national identities through literacy and education in their own languages and political activity. To pre-empt this, the empires (Austria and later Hungary) tried to promote their own national identities as those of the empire by deliberately makinging their own national languages of German and Hungarian as the only ones of administration, the army and education. Thus Austria-Hungary was in a state of dynamic tension before WWI.
By population most in Austria Hungary spoke...German or Hungarian. The presence of so many different languages in the Empire would've made coordination between the state's different levels of bureaucracy harder and this could easily be explained in the light of an attempt to solve a complex problem with the state's administration rather than just to suppress regionalism.
By 1914 Austria-Hungary was clinging to an obsolescent concept of statehood and fell apart under the stress of WWI. By contrast, Germany, which was 90% a national state already, emerged from WWI slightly smaller, by virtue of losing almost all its miniorities, but nationally consolidated.

Today Europe (except the UK) seems to be looking towards building a new multinational state in the European Union. However, even this, so far largely consensual, act still discourages the self determination of minorities such as the Catalans, Corsicans or Scots.


Cheers,

Sid.
I do not see your point in this last part.

Sid Guttridge
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Re: Separatism in Austria and Hungary before the start of World War I?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 29 Dec 2018 09:49

Hi Hawkeye,

Yes, much of Europe was out of its time in terms of its state model. However, Austria-Hungary was exceptional in that in it alone were the dominant nationalities,(1) dual and (2) a minority of the total population even when combined. The Russians were at least the single majority population of their empire. The Germans, French, etc., were clear and overwhelmingly dominant national majorities on their own territory. I am not sure of Turkey's situation, but I inmagine it was closer to A-H.

The first language of most people in the Austro-Hungarian Empire was not German or Hungarian. They together formed only about 42% of the population in the census of 1910 - and this was after decades of Germanization and Magyarization that had seen minority languages under attack by the state.

Certainly administration in many languages would have been more complex than administration in one. However, Austria-Hungary had settled on TWO, so it had already undermined this objection itself! Even then, why would this justify preventing minorities getting higher education in their own languages?

I think my last two paragraphs are self explanatory, but I will clarify. The first contrasts the comparitive robustness of post-WWI Germany, which was already largely a modern national state, with the complete disintegration of comparitively archaic Austria-Hungary, which was not. The second points out that in continental Europe the move currently seems to be back towards a multi-national state, the "European Union", but this still discourages self determation of minorities, much like Austria-Hungary.

Cheers,

Sid.

DocHawkeye
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Re: Separatism in Austria and Hungary before the start of World War I?

Post by DocHawkeye » 30 Dec 2018 18:26

Sid Guttridge wrote:
29 Dec 2018 09:49
Hi Hawkeye,

Yes, much of Europe was out of its time in terms of its state model. However, Austria-Hungary was exceptional in that in it alone were the dominant nationalities,(1) dual and (2) a minority of the total population even when combined. The Russians were at least the single majority population of their empire. The Germans, French, etc., were clear and overwhelmingly dominant national majorities on their own territory. I am not sure of Turkey's situation, but I inmagine it was closer to A-H.
Combined the population of Germans and Hungarians did not exceed 50%, but they were still the most populous identities in the Empire by head count. It's true that minority populations of the Empire combined outnumbered them and that was a unique problem that Austria-Hungary faced as a continental power, but not too dissimilar from what the British faced in regards to their own multi-ethnic Empire. The British standardized English throughout their Empire and did not much care that the Indians grossly outnumbered them and even the rest of the Dominions combined. Why is Austria-Hungary uniquely foolish for this then? Seems like a better deal if anything.
The first language of most people in the Austro-Hungarian Empire was not German or Hungarian. They together formed only about 42% of the population in the census of 1910 - and this was after decades of Germanization and Magyarization that had seen minority languages under attack by the state.
See above. If it was not German or Hungarian than pray tell what was it? Other languages would not have been better candidates by virtue of commonality.
Certainly administration in many languages would have been more complex than administration in one. However, Austria-Hungary had settled on TWO, so it had already undermined this objection itself! Even then, why would this justify preventing minorities getting higher education in their own languages?
Can you explain how the state was actively preventing and undermining the education of its minorities as part of a conspiracy against them and not simply as a result of negligence, incompetence, or excessive expense? I think that's the divide in our thinking here. You seem to believe that AH was persecuting its non-German/Hungarian minorities. I think it was just failing to represent them.
I think my last two paragraphs are self explanatory, but I will clarify. The first contrasts the comparitive robustness of post-WWI Germany, which was already largely a modern national state, with the complete disintegration of comparitively archaic Austria-Hungary, which was not. The second points out that in continental Europe the move currently seems to be back towards a multi-national state, the "European Union", but this still discourages self determation of minorities, much like Austria-Hungary.

Cheers,

Sid.
I fail to see how this is a proper comparison. Germany was a racially homogeneous state as you say, making the integrity of Germany easier to maintain by any successive administration. Austria-Hungary faced a much more challenging problem, that any administration would've have had difficulty managing at the time, and under the circumstances of total war.

Zoltan
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Re: Separatism in Austria and Hungary before the start of World War I?

Post by Zoltan » 31 Dec 2018 05:32

I'm coming late to this discussion.

My cousin lives in Cluj-Napoca (Transylvania, Romania). Prior to 1918, the city was known as Kolozsvár, at different times part of the Principality of Transylvania, Kingdom of Hungary, Austro-Hungarian Empire etc.

In completing a (Romanian) census today, I suspect my cousin would declare Romanian as her primary language but her nationality as (a proud) Hungarian.

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