Background to Eastern Europe by F. B. Singleton, D. F. Bratchell and E. F. Candlin (Auth.)

By F. B. Singleton, D. F. Bratchell and E. F. Candlin (Auth.)

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The Monarchy might have held the movement in check within its own borders for at least another generation had it not been for the agitation led by the Serbs. The leaders of Vienna saw this, and came to the conclusion that Serbia must be crushed if the Monarchy was to survive. Similarly, the Serbs sensed that if the schemes of the heir to the throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, came to fruition, the Croats and Slovenes might be bought off by the creation of a semiautonomous south Slav state within the Habsburg framework.

Others, like Italy, presented for payment the IOU's which had been given to them during the war under cover of secret treaties. Even without these complications, the task of drawing frontiers which would give the expression to the principles of ethnic justice would have tried the patience of saints. Even if President Wilson aspired to a halo, "Tiger" Clemenceau, Lloyd George and the others were cast in a profaner mould. Where situations arose in which the populations of an area were an inextricable mixture of nationalities — as in Transylvania — they drew the lines in favour of their friends, and salved their consciences by writing into the treaties clauses designed to protect the rights of national minorities.

From Finland in the far north to Greece and the Balkans in the south, the liberal 1 Its limits were set as a result of a compromise between Napoleon and the Russian Emperor, Alexander I, at the Peace of Tilsit (1807). 38 BACKGROUND TO EASTERN EUROPE movement awoke the submerged nations to a realisation of their separate identities. Before any political manifestations brought the national question to the attention of the chancelleries of the big powers, the work of teachers, poets, folklorists and scholars began to arouse the consciousness of individual national personality in the minds of the educated classes of Eastern Europe.

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