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From Empire to Republic

Peter Berger
Günter Bischof
Fritz Plasser

I. End of Empire/Early Republic: Political (Domestic and Foreign) Legacies

Selectively Perceived Legacies of World War I: The Little-Known Halstead Mission in Austria, 1919

Siegfried Beer

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[In 1919] the cards of history were stacked against Austria and Hungary.
—Nicholas Roosevelt, member of the Coolidge Mission, 19191

The Great Powers who had insisted on a new artificial [Austrian] state, if they wished to maintain it, would have to pay for it. It would have been difficult, but it might have been possible to make another “Switzerland”, permanently neutralized, with democratic institutions, guaranteed externally and internationally by the League of Nations (who might have put their capital in Vienna), and financed by the Great Powers. The Great Powers have never been willing to do anything except hand out doles.
—FO minute, A. W. Leeper, March 3, 19342

Most historians would agree that the role and attitude of the United States in the dissolution process of the Habsburg Empire during the last war year, 1918, was crucial if not decisive.3 While and when U.S. President Wilson gave up the idea of keeping the Dual Empire intact, the faltering war-leadership in Vienna could onl...

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