What if the Austro-Hungarian Empire was the one that unified Germany?

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What if the Austro-Hungarian Empire was the one that unified Germany?

Post by SHAM00E on Sun Jul 09, 2017 1:13 am

Just like the topic says, what if instead of Prussia it was Austria that unified Germany?
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Re: What if the Austro-Hungarian Empire was the one that unified Germany?

Post by Aaronklk on Sun Jul 09, 2017 2:15 am

A very powerful German state that would be very hard to challenge, that is if they can maintain stability in all their new lands.
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Re: What if the Austro-Hungarian Empire was the one that unified Germany?

Post by normie™ on Sun Jul 09, 2017 8:30 am

Well, first off, I doubt it would've been Austria-Hungary to do it- they might finish the job, but the primary unifier would be the Austrian Empire.

Anyways, I see several flaws in the plausibility of this scenario, but it's an interesting one, so I suppose I'll contribute my own two cents.

Firstly, of course, the German state would be doubled in size- instead of just Germany, they would also hold dominion over much of the Balkans and eastern Europe. It would be the second largest land-based empire in Europe, following Russia.

However, this isn't to say everything would be peachy for the Austro-German Empire (let's call it that, ye?). Prussia would obviously not be happy with Austria marching in and unifying Germany (especially since this scenario would likely stem from Austria and the German Confederation defeating Prussia in the Austro-Prussian War), a goal that they'd dedicated years toward accomplishing. Britain would grow weary of the new empire as well, as Austria would likely remain a French ally.

However, it's hard to say between whom war would break out. It might be a far earlier Great War, with Austria-Germany and France being pitted against Prussia and the United Kingdom, and even possibly Russia. However, France and Britain might have also distanced themselves from the dispute, and simply let this be a second Austro-Prussian War (which I now deem the German War). France might've even feared Austria-Germany overpowering it and sided with Britain to oppose the empire. In such a scenario, with Prussia, France, Russia, and the UK (with possible Italian intervention as well), it's unlikely Austria-Germany could last very long, and would lose such a war badly.

Those are just my thoughts, though. This was probably littered with false logic, bad predictions, and unfactual information, but this is such a fun scenario, I couldn't resist.
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Re: What if the Austro-Hungarian Empire was the one that unified Germany?

Post by Königreich Preußen on Mon Jul 10, 2017 1:01 am

Well, I can for sure see them taking on Catholic South Germany, Bavaria, Württemberg, and Baden. But, direct rule of Protestant North Germany? With all the liberal German nationalism that would come with both South and North? I can't see it. However, they might decide to "abandon" the majority of the Old Hapsburg Empire, excluding Bohemia, Austria, and Slovenia. And out of the remnants of the old empire, create satellite states like the Kingdom of Hungary, Kingdom of Croatia, and a Kingdom of Galicia. So they wouldn't have to continue managing all the other ethnicities, on top of managing their new German subjects.
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Re: What if the Austro-Hungarian Empire was the one that unified Germany?

Post by Cold War Communist on Tue Jul 11, 2017 10:29 pm

There would be no good way for Austria to unify the Germanic states. IIRC, Bismark deliberately left Austria out of the unified German Empire because they were a powerful Catholic nation, which immediately pit them against his interest.

If they did somehow manage to bring dominion to the Germanic states though, I would imagine the new Austrian-German-Hungarian Empire would suffer from the same plague that struck down the Holy Roman Empire: too big for its own good, disjointed politically, a patchwork of states and ethnicities, and no cohesion.It would likely collapse under its own weight.
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Re: What if the Austro-Hungarian Empire was the one that unified Germany?

Post by normie™ on Wed Jul 12, 2017 9:56 am

Cold War Communist wrote:There would be no good way for Austria to unify the Germanic states. IIRC, Bismark deliberately left Austria out of the unified German Empire because they were a powerful Catholic nation, which immediately pit them against his interest.

If they did somehow manage to bring dominion to the Germanic states though, I would imagine the new Austrian-German-Hungarian Empire would suffer from the same plague that struck down the Holy Roman Empire: too big for its own good, disjointed politically, a patchwork of states and ethnicities, and no cohesion.It would likely collapse under its own weight.  

which is also what happened to austria hungary in our timeline... guess this is coming full circle, huh? XD
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Re: What if the Austro-Hungarian Empire was the one that unified Germany?

Post by Thorfinn Karlsefni on Sat Sep 23, 2017 2:57 pm

I have to dissent from the emerging consensus just a bit here. I believe the militarism of Prussia impressed (and possibly cowed into submission) a large number of Germans. I note that Hitler was Austrian, with plenty of opportunity for military service in that nation's armies during WW1, yet he deliberately chose to sign up with the Germans (under the hereditary Prussian Emperor). I believe many people felt that Prussian leadership gave the best potential for national prestige to the German People. (Yes, the "Volk" was an idea that easily predates the NAZI party.) I believe there was a sense of inferiority within what had been the Holy Roman Empire after the Feudal system was replaced by modern nation-states in Europe, because they had been left without one. I believe there was an automatic inclination toward whatever Germanic power emerged to lead the German people into the modern (post-Feudal) world. This was a natural role for Prussia, which had been based outside the old HRE, and fought many successful wars under famous leaders such as Frederick the Great.

HOWEVER, I do believe that under different leadership Austria might easily have become the kind of militaristic state that would attract German followers to its banner. Austria's martial history was scarcely inferior to that of Prussia following the Napoleonic Wars. Over the next 5 decades, Prussia soared as it industrialized, while Austria, perhaps excessively burdened by a Feudal era imperial system, struggled to keep up with the pace of change. Yet, Austria was successfully stepping into the power vacuum left in the Balkans by the collapse of the Ottomans there.

Austria-Hungary was potentially a strong candidate to unify Germany (and leave Prussia out). Otto von Bismarck understood this, and that is why he pushed for a short, decisive war that would demonstrate Prussia's military superiority over Austria. Only with this rival put in its place could Prussia unify Germany. Otherwise, certainly Bavaria and the other south German states would continue to look toward Vienna for leadership. This could have been leveraged by a forward-thinking Austrian leader, if one had stepped up.

Basically what I'm saying is, if the Bismarck had been Austrian, things might have gone very differently!
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Re: What if the Austro-Hungarian Empire was the one that unified Germany?

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