AUSTRIA TOO CAUTIOUS TO RISK WAR?This man didn’t see WWI coming.
From John Corson’s travelogue, 1848:
The Austrian government was intrusive.
- My baggage was searched for seditious publications.
- To obtain a permit to remain in Vienna, I had to give the names of the friends to whom I had letters of introduction, the business that brought e to Vienna, the time I wished to remain, and the studies and pursuits I intended to follow.
- They also required me to fully declare his intentions, much as a father does when speaking to the suitor of his daughter.
- Friends warned me that the police kept an eye on visitors, and if you talk politics freely in the cafes, you will probably hear of them, and if you are refractory and very meddlesome, you may be sent to the frontier under an escort.
- It came as a surprise to find that the common people are the most carefully educated of any country in Europe, except Prussia. Books and instruction are free. No person can marry or set up in business without a written certificate that they have attended school.
- At the same time, education serves as a means of indoctrination. The government makes sure that its favourite religion (Catholicism) and passive loyalty are carefully taught.
Austria strenuously opposed all liberal tendencies, Corson found.
- Doubtless her leading motive is fear. ..She is much weakened by being divided into several distinct nations differing in language and religion, some of whom are discontented. Parts of Galicia were in a state of dangerous anarchy. Hungary demanded more reforms. Bohemia was asking for an extension of its liberties. Austrian Italy is seeking for a constitution.
- But Corson was convinced that such unrest would not lead to war. Austria is probably too cautious and temporizing to risk an aggressive war.
But revolts broke out in the very year Corson published his travelogue. And two generations later…WWI.
(From Dr. John W. Corson, Loiterings in Europe, 1848)
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