Appendix II: German-Austria at the end of WWI

This Appendix II concerns itself with the parts of Habsburgian Austria that ardently desired to be part of the new Austrian Republic, whatever the views of the victors of WWI or of the majority inhabitants of what had become a new country - especially areas around the fringes of today's Czech Republic.

In 2017, Hartmut Liebermann wrote a long, authoritative, and lavishly illustrated article for the APS Journal "Austria" entitled "From Austro-Hungarian Empire to independent Czechoslovakia". He has kindly allowed me to reproduce it, in its original PDF format. It covers the historical and political aspects from about 1848 to full independence.

Here, we'll consider some geographical and legalistic aspects.

On 21 October 1918, the 210 German members of the Imperial Parliament (Reichsrat) of Austria formed themselves into a national assembly for Deutschösterreich, or German-Austria, and on 30 October they proclaimed this an independent state under the direction of a State Council (Staatsrat) composed of the leaders of the three main parties and other elected members. Revolutionary disturbances in Vienna and, more important, the news of the German revolution forced the State Council down the republican path. On 12 November, the day after Charles's stepping aside, the National Assembly resolved unanimously that "German-Austria is a democratic republic" and "German-Austria is a component part of the German republic". On paper, Deutschösterreich included all the German-speaking areas: today's Austria, plus Sudtirol and parts of Bohemia, Moravia and Carinthia, plus various German-speaking enclaves, but excluding Italian and Yugoslavian enclaves. Details of the subsequent events are in Appendix 1's section German-Austria is born so won't be repeated here. Summary: might is right.

This map was adapted from a map created by Michael Postmann and lodged in Wikipedia Public Domain. The extensive German-speaking areas are on the higher ground, surrounding the Bohemian Basin. The larger green splodge is Iglau, the smaller Brno and Olmütz. The capital cities of each major area are shown on the map as a black square, and named in the text below.

The thick red line near the bottom is the modern boundary between the Austrian Republic (in pink) and the Czech Republic.

The brown on the map is Deutsch-Böhmen / The Province of German Bohemia, a province in Bohemia established for a short period of time after WWI as part of the Republic of German-Austria. It included parts of northern and western Bohemia, at that time primarily populated by ethnic Germans. Important population centres were its capital at Reichenberg (now Liberec), Aussig (Ústí nad Labem), Teplitz-Schönau (Teplice), Dux (Duchcov), Eger (Cheb), Marienbad (Mariánské Lázne), Karlsbad (Karlovy Vary), Gablonz an der Neiße (Jablonec nad Nisou), Leitmeritz (Litomerice), Brüx (Most) and Saaz (Žatec).

The red on the map is Deutsch-Sudetenland / The Province of the Sudetenland which was established on 29 October 1918 by former members of the Cisleithanian Imperial Council, the governing legislature of the non-Hungarian part of the crumbling Austro-Hungarian Empire. They were acting as the provisional government of the so-called "German Moravia", which intended to represent German interests in Moravia. The provisional capital was declared as Troppau/Opava. The Sudeten mountain range stretches from Reichenberg to Troppau, hence the name of the original province.

The purple on the map is Kreise Deutsch-Südmähren / German South Moravia, historically an integral part of the Habsburgian Margraviate of Moravia. With the imminent collapse of Habsburg Austria-Hungary at the end of the war, areas within the Czech-majority Moravia but with an ethnic German majority began to take actions to avoid joining a new Czechoslovak state. German South Moravia was declared on 2 November 1918 with its capital at Znojmo/Znaim. To its left, the separate but adjacent purple spot is Neu Bistritz.

And the lime-green on the map is Kreise Deutsch-Südböhmen / The district of German South Bohemia. This name is unknown to Wikipedia, which calls it the Bohemian Forest Region. It comprised ethnic German areas of southwestern Bohemia with main towns of Prachatice/Prachatitz and Ceský Krumlov/Krummau.

There were also cities with German-speaking neighbourhoods (since people of the same national group tended to live adjacent to each other) who also wanted to be parts of Deutschösterreich and to unite with Germany as German-Austria. These included Olmütz/Olomouc; Iglau/Jihlava; Brünn/Brno; Teschen/Ceský Tešín; Bielitz/Bílsko; Troppau/Opava; and Brünn/Brno.

As the 1920s progressed into the 1930s, all the above German-speaking parts of Moravia, Bohemia and Austrian Silesia still wanted to become an integral part of the hoped-for Republic of Deutschösterreich. They became collectively known as "the Sudetenland", in spite of their being in the independent country of Czechoslovakia and not contiguous.