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Historians, the nationality question and the downfall of the Hapsburg Empire

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Was the Habsburg Empire doomed to collapse, and if so, at what point did its collapse become inevitable? This is a question which has been debated consciously and unconsciously by historians ever since 1918. Today, it is true, Austrian historians are warning against it— Professor Wandruszka even a decade ago advised us to do our ‘duty’ and accept ‘the tragic element in history’1—yet the issue is still discussed. Alexander Gerschenkron, for example, in his last work on Austrian history2 chose a counter-factual theme, and in the introduction to his book condemned historians—presumably those like Professor Wandruszka—who were ‘anxious to prevent people from asking pertinent and interesting questions and [had] neither the wit nor the imagination for asking those questions themselves’. Whether Professor Gerschenkron himself employed too much imagination is only one of the issues to be examined in this paper.

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en

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http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/26426/

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