Austria-Hungary, a Great Power?

Discussions on all aspects of Austria-Hungary. Hosted by Glenn Jewison.
EL KAISER
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Austria-Hungary, a Great Power?

Post by EL KAISER » 22 Aug 2019 14:08

I’m aware that Austria-Hungary was considered a Great Power by the rest (that it was “part of the club”), that it was the second largest country in Europe, the third most populated, and that it was much more industrialized than Russia. Regardless, I want to know what do YOU think:

Would you consider Austria-Hungary, from its foundation in 1867 until the Great War, and of course taking into account its economy and army, a great power?

In a comparison with Italy, would you consider Austria-Hungary to have been economically and militarily superior to Italy? Or the opposite?

In a hypothetical ranking among the great powers of Europe in 1913, considering military and economic might, in which number would you place Austria-Hungary? Include Italy in the Ranking, but of course not the U.S.

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Loïc
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Re: Austria-Hungary, a Great Power?

Post by Loïc » 22 Aug 2019 19:23

hello

Austria(-Hungary) was traditionnally the 4th military power after Russia, France, and Prussia-Germany so part of a "top 4" of the major Armies in the World until World War I with around 400 000 men peacetime-Army

Austria has ever been as one of 4 or 5 major European powers, not only until 1918 but centuries before 1867 and the birth of Austria-Hungary

Italy became only a new great power after 1871 and its Army should occupy at best the 5th or 6th rank in competition with the Ottoman Army or the British-Indian Armies together, depending the period and so the size of both armies challengers

not including China hardly comparable with such military powers despite the size of its Army

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Re: Austria-Hungary, a Great Power?

Post by EL KAISER » 25 Aug 2019 01:34

Thanks. And economically speaking, in which place would you put it? Above what countries? Under what countries?

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Re: Austria-Hungary, a Great Power?

Post by Peter89 » 27 Aug 2019 09:18

Hardly.

British armies and navies were definately in the top. Germany became very powerful after his unification. I would say Russia followed them. France and A-H were in competition, but I would say France was stronger. Italy was relatively weak. Turkey existed as a former shadow of itself, but still played a role. And don't forget about the Imperial Japan.

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Loïc
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Re: Austria-Hungary, a Great Power?

Post by Loïc » 27 Aug 2019 14:01

British armies and navies were definately in the top
France and A-H were in competition
??? Royal Navy maybe for a Naval topic but the British Army certainly not, Great Britain didn't playing at all in same "league" than 4 others,
I give it the 5th or 6th rank only because adding the Indian Army but even with that Italy e.g. c.1900 have a more stronger Army with 266 000 active (not including Colonial troops in Eritrea) than British+Indian Armies numbered together ~265 000
so Italian Army could have the 5th rank

Russia had clearly the first rank reaching 1 400 000 to 1 700 000 men in active service c.1913 with no equivalent in the world followed by France 979 000 men...twice and more than Austria-Hungary!
then Germany ~850 000
that is the podium
then Austria-Hungary

British Army was only basically a colonial army than anything else, at the same period, not counting the Indian Army, reached only 181 000 men
while Italy had 300 000 men Ottoman and Japan around 250 000

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Re: Austria-Hungary, a Great Power?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 27 Aug 2019 15:51

Hi El-Kaiser,

You ask, "In a comparison with Italy, would you consider Austria-Hungary to have been economically and militarily superior to Italy? Or the opposite?"

Austria-Hungary was certainly more powerful. Over 1915-1918 it held Italy at arms length with only a relatively small part of its army and limited German help. Furthermore, many of the troops used against Italy were from ethnic groups who were unreliable against Russia and so hardly elite.

This probably says more about Italy's weakness and the strength of the Alps defensively than about Austria-Hungary's strength.

Italy had united itself without winning any major victories against Austria in the previous century and was still coalescing as a modern state. Only northern Italy was significantly industrialized.

Cheers,

Sid

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Re: Austria-Hungary, a Great Power?

Post by Stiltzkin » 27 Aug 2019 21:00

The Austro-Hungarian empire was a dying constellation and there is no doubt that the performance of its armed forces during WWI might have been suboptimal, not least attributed to its poor leadership. I have never encountered any thorough analysis though, so we still roam in the sphere of opinions.

Military expenditures before the war (1913 figures in million pounds) are from Hobson "Wary Titan", pp.464f, presented in Prof. Ferguson's "the Pity of War":
Britain 72.5
France 72.0
Russia 101.7
Germany 93.4
Austria 25.0
Italy 39.6

Peacetime strength of Austria was set at 478,000 men. Wartime strength 1,338,000 (referring to the average actual strength in 1914). Approx. 50 Infantry Divisions and 11 Cavalry Divisions. 6,100,000 men of military age (about 49% of them trained) out of a population of 51,000,000.


We can compare the territories, GDPs and respective populations of the involved powers. Data is from Harrison: The Economics of WWI. GDPs (in PPP, 1913 figures in billion $) are from Maddison (2001, unfortunately, but it will do), data on populations from: League of Nations (1927). World War I was more of a total war of production (somewhat a contrast to WW2, in so far that the war economy disintegrated by the contraction of the controlled territory), in which one Nation after another collapsed under the strain of war, from weakest to strongest.
Harrison World War I comparison of territory GDPs and population Central Powers.jpg
Harrison World War I comparison of territory GDPs and population Entente.jpg
Italy was relatively weak
I have to object. The Austro-Hungarian empire must have suffered approx. 560,000 KIA on the Italian front. They had similar GDPs (in PPP) and Italy seemed to enjoy higher per capita levels, but this is somewhat problematic to compare.

Another way is to look at shell production (1914-1918):
WW1 shell production_zpsg5zubjnc.png
France and A-H were in competition
WWI was decided by the blood of the french soldiers, 85% of all men of military age were trained at some point.
Austria-Hungary was certainly more powerful.
Debatable, definitely populations and territory. The one thing that surpassed Italian levels was the Austrian core land.

This leaves us with: Britain, France, Germany, Russia as 1st grade powers so to speak and Austria-Hungary, Italy somewhat below.
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Re: Austria-Hungary, a Great Power?

Post by Kelvin » 14 Sep 2019 14:30

Stiltzkin wrote:
27 Aug 2019 21:00
The Austro-Hungarian empire was a dying constellation and there is no doubt that the performance of its armed forces during WWI might have been suboptimal, not least attributed to its poor leadership. I have never encountered any thorough analysis though, so we still roam in the sphere of opinions.

Military expenditures before the war (1913 figures in million pounds) are from Hobson "Wary Titan", pp.464f, presented in Prof. Ferguson's "the Pity of War":
Britain 72.5
France 72.0
Russia 101.7
Germany 93.4
Austria 25.0
Italy 39.6

Peacetime strength of Austria was set at 478,000 men. Wartime strength 1,338,000 (referring to the average actual strength in 1914). Approx. 50 Infantry Divisions and 11 Cavalry Divisions. 6,100,000 men of military age (about 49% of them trained) out of a population of 51,000,000.


We can compare the territories, GDPs and respective populations of the involved powers. Data is from Harrison: The Economics of WWI. GDPs (in PPP, 1913 figures in billion $) are from Maddison (2001, unfortunately, but it will do), data on populations from: League of Nations (1927). World War I was more of a total war of production (somewhat a contrast to WW2, in so far that the war economy disintegrated by the contraction of the controlled territory), in which one Nation after another collapsed under the strain of war, from weakest to strongest.
Harrison World War I comparison of territory GDPs and population Central Powers.jpg
Harrison World War I comparison of territory GDPs and population Entente.jpg
Italy was relatively weak
I have to object. The Austro-Hungarian empire must have suffered approx. 560,000 KIA on the Italian front. They had similar GDPs (in PPP) and Italy seemed to enjoy higher per capita levels, but this is somewhat problematic to compare.

Another way is to look at shell production (1914-1918):
WW1 shell production_zpsg5zubjnc.png
France and A-H were in competition
WWI was decided by the blood of the french soldiers, 85% of all men of military age were trained at some point.
Austria-Hungary was certainly more powerful.
Debatable, definitely populations and territory. The one thing that surpassed Italian levels was the Austrian core land.

This leaves us with: Britain, France, Germany, Russia as 1st grade powers so to speak and Austria-Hungary, Italy somewhat below.
I don't know why Austro-Hungarian Army or Austrian army also lost and were defeated in war with other great powers, in World war One, she was defeated many many times by Russian Army during WWI and also not so successful in initial Invasion of Serbia in 1914. Only with German help, she can defeat Italian in Caporetto in 1917

And before this, she was defeated by Prussian in 1866 and was routed by French in 1859 war. Why she Always lost ?

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Re: Austria-Hungary, a Great Power?

Post by Stiltzkin » 15 Sep 2019 12:30

she was defeated many many times by Russian Army during WWI and also not so successful in initial Invasion of Serbia in 1914
Yes, but so was Germany. Serbia did really well, they obtained experience by fighting in such an environment, prior to WW1.
Only with German help, she can defeat Italian in Caporetto in 1917
Indeed, fighting the Italian Army was no easy feat.
Prussian in 1866
Absolutely, since Prussian power outgrew Austrian influence and Germany manifested as one of the most powerful Nations on the continent in 1871.
was routed by French in 1859 war.
I did not claim that their power surpassed that of France.
Why she Always lost ?
Either warmaking potential, decision making and leadership? Decline of power as a consequence of the Napoleonic Wars and the shift towards Germany and Russia?

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Re: Austria-Hungary, a Great Power?

Post by Peter89 » 15 Sep 2019 17:03

Loïc wrote:
27 Aug 2019 14:01
British armies and navies were definately in the top
France and A-H were in competition
??? Royal Navy maybe for a Naval topic but the British Army certainly not, Great Britain didn't playing at all in same "league" than 4 others,
I give it the 5th or 6th rank only because adding the Indian Army but even with that Italy e.g. c.1900 have a more stronger Army with 266 000 active (not including Colonial troops in Eritrea) than British+Indian Armies numbered together ~265 000
so Italian Army could have the 5th rank

Russia had clearly the first rank reaching 1 400 000 to 1 700 000 men in active service c.1913 with no equivalent in the world followed by France 979 000 men...twice and more than Austria-Hungary!
then Germany ~850 000
that is the podium
then Austria-Hungary

British Army was only basically a colonial army than anything else, at the same period, not counting the Indian Army, reached only 181 000 men
while Italy had 300 000 men Ottoman and Japan around 250 000
Your arguments are totally false.

The numerical size of an army is one factor only, you have to take into account their armament, leadership, equipment, morale, training, the political, societal and economical background, geography, etc. Eg. the Imperial Russian army (and navy) got defeated by Japan in 1904.

Regarding equipment and industry, Italy couldn't supply her armies with proper gas masks.

Regarding political background, Imperial Russia got finally defeated because of a revolution.

Regarding societal background, the A-H army's main weakness was the masses of conscripts from disloyal ethnicities.

Regarding the British army, you are utterly false again.

The British Army consisted of 4 armies:
1. A full-volunteer imperial army, with 265 000 men, and approximately 270 000 reservists. Half of them posted all over the Empire.
2. The Territorial Force, made up from auxiliary volunteers, deployed overseas as well. 246 000 men
3. Kitschener's Army (1914-1916), a volunteer army of 2 500 000 men
4. Conscripted army (1916-)

Thanks to the open sea routes, the British army was properly fed and equipped troughout the war.

The very high number of volunteers suggests a very high morale. Etc etc. It was a top army.

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Loïc
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Re: Austria-Hungary, a Great Power?

Post by Loïc » 15 Sep 2019 17:58

You oppose totally off topic-periods arguments here, it is not a discussion about armies during WWI
The "Kitchener Army" and post-1916 "Conscription" (?!) what are they doing in this thread,
the Japanese have beaten Russia in 1904-1905, really? And so what about 450 000 men from all the Empire trying to defeat 20 to 30 000 Boers peasants with few Krupp & French 155mm...

is your description of the British Army of that time you are giving totally false
c.1913 there were only
181 727 regulars...so ri-di-cu-lous in comparison with any others active peacetime continental major army
a reserve of the regular army 137 682 men
a "special reserve" 61 951 men
at last the Territorial Army 265 911

so gathered 647 271 by 1st january 1912, active + reservists + territorials didn't even reach the Russian French and German peacetime armies even adding the Indian indigenous Army

a large part of the British Army is located Overseas, there were only 5 divisions organized in 1914, even the Belgians had more...

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Re: Austria-Hungary, a Great Power?

Post by Peter89 » 16 Sep 2019 06:03

Loïc wrote:
15 Sep 2019 17:58
You oppose totally off topic-periods arguments here, it is not a discussion about armies during WWI
The "Kitchener Army" and post-1916 "Conscription" (?!) what are they doing in this thread,
the Japanese have beaten Russia in 1904-1905, really? And so what about 450 000 men from all the Empire trying to defeat 20 to 30 000 Boers peasants with few Krupp & French 155mm...

is your description of the British Army of that time you are giving totally false
c.1913 there were only
181 727 regulars...so ri-di-cu-lous in comparison with any others active peacetime continental major army
a reserve of the regular army 137 682 men
a "special reserve" 61 951 men
at last the Territorial Army 265 911

so gathered 647 271 by 1st january 1912, active + reservists + territorials didn't even reach the Russian French and German peacetime armies even adding the Indian indigenous Army

a large part of the British Army is located Overseas, there were only 5 divisions organized in 1914, even the Belgians had more...
Do you really fail to understand why the numerical strength of a peacetime army does not show you the strength of a country?

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Re: Austria-Hungary, a Great Power?

Post by Stiltzkin » 10 Oct 2019 11:54

Here are the material capabilities before the onset of war, CINC index. To get the global index, ratio= Nation/Global with CINC of a nation= (1/n)* Σ CAPn; (TPR+UPR+ISPR+ECR+MER+MPR)/6
It somewhat overstates Austro-Hungarian power and understates Italian power, but this calculation does not factor in effectiveness. Clearly visible is the undermilitarization of the US.

Image
https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/ga ... D2588B533E

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