Translation of the New and Revised Edition, «Kronprinz Rudolf. Ein Leben» (Amalthea, 2005)
Chapter 11: Germany
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When Rudolf was eight years old, Austria’s dominant position in Germany was lost in the Battle of Königgrätz. When he was thirteen, Austria for a short time contemplated revenge and considered intervening in the Franco-Prussian War on the side of France. The fast victories of the Prussian army annihilated all hope. In Versailles, the Prussian king became a German emperor, claiming the leading position in Europe, which was noted by the Austrian Imperial House with anything but amity.
In order to avoid a French-Austrian alliance, Bismarck made efforts to improve the relationship between the new German Empire and the old Habsburg Empire. The thirteen-year-old Crown Prince, however, commented on the first visit of Wilhelm I in Austria in 1871 with veritable torrents of hate.
At the Congress of Berlin in 1878, Bismarck gave Austria-Hungary the right to occupy the former Turkish provinces Bosnia and Herzegovina, skillfully diverting the Habsburg Empire from a Western-oriented politics (threatening Germany) to unpredictable struggles in the Balkans. The less than honest ulterior motives of the “honest broker” were not perceived in Vienna. In 1878, Bismarck wrote:
It is not in the German interest to establish a lasting peace in the East, since—given our geographic location—the great powers, all of which hate us, are seeking a rallying point against Germany and would find it, as soon as their hands were free. Within a short time, Austria could experience a change in government and...
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