A Plan for a 'United States of Greater Austria'
Had Franz Ferdinand not been assassinated in Sarajevo, he might have pushed through this plan, and the empire might have survived
From a young age, Frank was fascinated by maps and atlases, and the stories they contained. Finding his birthplace on the map in the endpapers of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings only increased his interest in the mystery and message of maps.
While pursuing a career in journalism, Frank started a blog called Strange Maps, as a repository for the weird and wonderful cartography he found hidden in books, posing as everyday objects and (of course) floating around the Internet.
"Each map tells a story, but the stories told by your standard atlas for school or reference are limited and literal: they show only the most practical side of the world, its geography and its political divisions. Strange Maps aims to collect and comment on maps that do everything but that - maps that show the world from a different angle".
A remit that wide allows for a steady, varied diet of maps: Frank has been writing about strange maps since 2006, published a book on the subject in 2009 and joined Big Think in 2010. Readers send in new material daily, and he keeps bumping in to cartography that is delightfully obscure, amazingly beautiful, shockingly partisan, and more.
The assassination at Sarajevo in 1914 of archduke Franz Ferdinand, the Austro-Hungarian crown prince, led to the First World War, and the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Had the bullet missed, Franz Ferdinand might have become the saviour of his empire rather than its unwitting destroyer.
Before his death, a group of scholars associated with him had come 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 in 1906. What if he had not been killed, and had been able to push through this kind of reform? Would Austro-Hungary have become a more stable state, and perhaps still be around today?
Prior to World War One, Austro-Hungary was unstable because, as a multi-ethnic state, it was dominated by only two out of its main eleven nationalities – Germans and Hungarians, totalling 44% of the entire population. 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:
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.
Strange Maps #17
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