Dissolution of Austria-Hungary

The Armistice

How people throughout the war had hoped for the day the ceasefire would come, for the moment that would put an end to the daily massacre! That would be, one thought, a day of redemption, a day of joy; then we would be able to heave a sigh of relief and look forward to better times! Now the armistice has been agreed and our troops have ceased hostilities. Then the Italians too, and at least the lives of our poor soldiers are now no longer endangered by an enemy attack or desperate fleeing, that’s the only thing the armistice has brought. […]

The conditions drawn up to stipulate the enemy’s military victory do not of course affect us in the slightest. We separated our cause from the damned “great power” a long time ago, and if this is now wiped out forever, what is no longer able to survive will only perish. But when we hear that the allied enemies have been granted free movement for their troops on all transport routes and the use of all means of transport required for free movement [sic], that even Habsburg provides the enemies of the Reich with the opportunity, if and when it suits them, to stab Germany in the back, one cannot find the words to express this moral disaster. It is highly likely that the enemy will not make use of this opportunity because Germany, which is now under enormous pressure, will negotiate its ceasefire even more swiftly; it is certainly true that the Austro-Hungarian Army Command […] was in no position to make a choice because indeed the enemy in just a few days, perhaps in just a few hours, would found no more resistance, the whole “Monarchy” could just as well have marched through; but that the miserable “great power” on whose claims the blinded Germans took up this disastrous war, treats its confederates in this way, or if you like, is forced to treat them in this way, is nonetheless appalling. […]

The armistice marks the end of Old Austria, a dirty, shameful end; we now want to see to it that a better, a nobler German Austria is created.

[Source: Workers’ newspaper: Zentralorgan der Deutschen Sozialdemokratie in Oesterreich, Midday edition, 4.11.1918, 1-2.]

 

Diary of Filomena Moroder from Gröden/Gardena, 8.11.1918

Armistice between Austria and Italy indeed! The great proud Austria has lost all along the line! Emperor Charles has abdicated, he’s apparently residing in Switzerland at the moment. Ever since the telegram about the armistice came on All Saints’ Day there has been no order, just pure anarchy. No one obeys, everyone steals, no post arrives, since All Saints’ Day no newspapers either, because none of the post offices are working, revolution reigns! People are flocking to Klausen and storming the military supply depots and food stores. Soldiers unlawfully divide up and sell foodstuffs and cattle. Most things are stolen. Generally speaking chaos and disorder have become appallingly common. Some of the soldiers returning home half starved or completely drunk collapse dead on the roadside. It is said to be a sorry sight between Neumarkt and Bozen: dead people, dead horses, soldiers in rags. The trains aren’t allowing any civilians aboard, they are packed with soldiers. The Italians are making their way through Tyrol to go and fight on the German border. It’s almost impossible for Germany to give in and make peace, for the Entente have set impossible conditions.

Negotiations are underway but it’s already almost certain now we’ll join Italy. Today or tomorrow an Italian detachment of 40 men is apparently going to be stationed here to establish order, and that’s good. Because the town looks dreadful, I would never have believed that St. Ulrich concealed so much scum. I’m absolutely horrified by what they’ve done. The more decent old Gröden people are of course more reserved, they are ashamed about what things are coming to. […]

[Source: Runggaldier-Mahlknecht, Margreth, Ed. Wenn doch endlich Frieden wäre! Aus dem Tagebuch der Filomena Prinoth-Moroder, Gröden 1914-1920. Bozen, Vienna: Folio Verlag, 2015, 169f.]

 

 

Captain in the General Staff Johann Hartl writing to Hertha Hartl, Innsbruck, 6.11.1918

[…] When I arrived here [in Innsbruck] at noon on the 4th [sic], there was utter chaos. The National Council had seized military power before the Army Group Command got here. The military commands have only been operating again since yesterday afternoon – in agreement with the National Council – everything is now in reasonably good order – in so far as we can speak of order when it comes to dissolution of the army like this. I’m very worried about you […]. I can’t get a telephone connection to Kitzbühel because the new line is extremely busy. Just two nights ago, I had to wait 2 ½ hours before I could to speak to Captain Koretz, who told me you had arrived in K. safely. That took a weight from my heart. Now I’m concerned again because I don’t know what the attitude of the civilian population is towards officers. Looting by soldiers is less worrying there, as K. is only a through station and trains don’t stop for long.

[…]

I’m now feeling more optimistic again – at first it was somewhat depressing because everything was in turmoil. Our great collective army is unfortunately a thing of the past. It’s something we officers educated under the Monarchy will have to come to terms with. Now we have to wait and see what will become of Old Austria after all the turmoil. Our march formations here are all being put into waggons and transported into the hinterland – to their squads in the homeland. […] I think that by the 9th or 10th everything will have been carted off – then I will come to K. with the rest of the detachments. […] Unfortunately we won’t be staying in K. for long as the detachment will be disbanded there. What will happen then I don’t know – let’s not give ourselves a headache over it, shall we, Herdi.

[…]

[Source: Matthias Egger Collection]

 

Prince Alfons von Clary-Aldringen, Reserve Officer

On 28 October 1918, I was on holiday in Teplice when the republic was proclaimed in Prague. The day after it was total chaos: red flags were flying, there was fraternising between the soldiers and provisional workers’ councils, even with the Russian and Serbian prisoners.

Before I left Vienna I agreed with some friends that they would let me know if any action were taken to restore order in Vienna. We arranged that all officers finding themselves in Vienna, on the orders of the Commanding General would put themselves at the disposal of the Emperor and provide for his protection. Even though revolution was raging in Prague, one could easily send a telegraph, and as a matter of fact I received a telegram with the wording we had agreed to. Railway transport was also still running, albeit slowly; the journey to Vienna lasted 36 hours, which I spent standing in an overcrowded carriage. When I arrived in Vienna, I discovered that the City Command had strictly forbidden any kind of military action. At first this made me angry; then however I realised that it was in any case too late now, that an operation, as we had envisaged it, would only have resulted in bloodshed and would surely have endangered the life of the imperial family; we were indeed aware of the gruesome end the Russian Tsar and his family had suffered. I’d rather not talk about the sadness that came over me at the time of the dissolution in Vienna. I returned to Teplice.

[Source: Clary-Aldringen, Alfons. History of an old Austrian. Berlin, Vienna: Ullstein, 1977.]