Post First World War Revolutions in Germany and the Former Habsburg Empire

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The causes for revolutions in both Germany and the former Habsburg lands bear similarities at the core, yet an array of differences set them apart. In both cases revolutions would not have taken place during the years of 1918-1923, if not for the First World War. Mass discontent on the home front served as an overarching instigator; nevertheless, the similarities stop at the First World War being the primary catalyst for home front discontent and the differences begin with the specific reasons for discontent. In Germany, food and resource shortages ravaged the home front causing major loss of support for the war by the winter of 1916-1917, leading to the formulation of the “stab in the back” myth once Germany was defeated; in addition, mutineers, Bolshevized soldiers, and those soldiers that found it impossible to make the transition back into civilian life comprised the core of revolutionaries and counterrevolutionaries. In the former Habsburg lands, the Empire’s formation of a police state in order to suppress ethnic groups, which were perceived to be traitorous elements, led to discontent on the home front, and this discontent only grew later in the war as mass unrest encompassed the working class as well as the peasantry; hard ethnic and political lines formed out of this discontent and were strengthened by a multitude of conflicts over newly formed national borders. However, Germany was able to avoid widespread revolution due to the parliamentary political system, which by the end of the First World War had become ingrained in German society; whereas, no such system had existed in the Habsburg Empire, and along with the dissipation of the Empire, after the war, inhibited the ability to finding a political solution, even if su...

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...tific Race-Protecting Society.” Thus, border conflicts were the final factor in tipping Hungary and the other former Habsburg lands into mass revolution.

Works Cited

Roger Chickering, Imperial Germany and the Great War, 1914-1918. (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1998)
Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius, War Land on the Eastern Front: Culture, National Identity and German Occupation in World War I (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000)
Stanley G. Payne, Civil war in Europe, 1905-1949. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011)
Mary Fulbrook, A Concise History of Germany, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press)
Irina Marin, Contested frontiers in the Balkans: Habsburg and Ottoman rivalries in Eastern Europe. (London: I.B. Tauris, 2013)
Joseph Rothschild, East Central Europe between the two World Wars. (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1974)

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