Franz Ferdinand‘s assassination at Sarajevo in 1914 triggered the First World War. The Austro-Hungarian Archduke and crown prince is known mainly for this (and for the Scottish band named after him), but here’s another interesting piece of info about him:

A group of scholars surrounding him came up with a plan to re-arrange the volatile Double Monarchy into a United States of Greater Austria. This specific plan was proposed by Aurel Popovici – a Romanian, by the sound of his first name – in 1906. What if he had not been killed, and had been able to push through this kind of reform? Would Austro-Hungary have been a viable state?

Prior to World War One, Austro-Hungary was unstable because, as a multi-ethnic state, it was dominated by two out of eleven nationalities – Germans and Hungarians, totalling 44%. Each of these two nationalities controlled roughly one half of the Double Monarchy. Revolts and resistance by the other nine nationalities made this situation untenable.

Franz Ferdinand wanted to re-draw the map of his country into a number of states that would be as ethnically and linguistically uniform as possible. These would be supplemented by small autonomous areas, mainly German-speaking ‘islands’, for example in the south of Hungary. The states in Popovici’s plan were defined as:

  • German Austria Present-day Austria and South Tyrol, now a part of Italy.
  • German Bohemia Northwestern part of the former Sudetenland, now in the Czech Republic.
  • German Moravia Northeastern part of the former Sudetenland, now in the Czech Republic.
  • Bohemia Present-day Czech Republic, minus the former Sudetenland.
  • Slovakia
  • West Galicia Part of present-day Poland.
  • East Galicia Part of present-day Ukraine.
  • Hungary
  • Szeklerland Part of present-day Romania.
  • Transylvania Part of present-day Romania and Ukraine.
  • Trentino Part of present-day Italy.
  • Triest Part of present-day Italy.
  • Carniola In German: ‘Krain’, present-day Slovenia.
  • Croatia
  • Vojvodina Part of present-day Serbia.

The borders don’t completely correspond to those of today, but some of the nations that would eventually appear after the First World War are prefigured quite accurately, especially Austria, Hungary, Slovenia and Croatia.


More information (and this map) on this Wikipedia page.