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War aims and peace conditions: Austro-Hugarian foreign policy in the Balkans, July 1914 - May 1917

Fried, Marvin Benjamin (2011) War aims and peace conditions: Austro-Hugarian foreign policy in the Balkans, July 1914 - May 1917. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Despite renewed scholarly interest in war aims during the First World War, those of Austria-Hungary have so far been neglected. This thesis examines the efforts of the Monarchy's elite decision-makers to establish and achieve their war aims in the Balkans. It covers the decisive period of war aims formation (1914-1917) and focuses particularly on the leadership of Foreign Minister Istvan Burian (1915-1916) and the forces which affected his decision-making. The thesis demonstrates that Austria-Hungary's most vital political, economic, and military interests principally lay in the Balkans, where the Monarchy's war aims were most aggressive and expansionist. Despite facing enormous pressure for radicalization from the annexationist General Franz Conrad von Hotzendorf and the mostly non-annexationist Hungarian Prime Minister Istvan Tisza, the Foreign Ministry retained overarching decision-making authority in the war aims question. This stands in stark contrast to Germany, where military influence became predominant. Burian pursued coherent and consistent war aims aimed at expanding Austro-Hungarian power, prestige, influence, and territory in the Balkans. By emphasizing Austria-Hungary's pre-eminence there, its leaders incurred serious German and Bulgarian opposition. Despite facing grave military setbacks and the risk of slipping into vassalage to Germany, until May 1917 the Monarchy's highest echelons refused to seriously entertain peace options until its Balkan war aims were met. Continued involvement in the First World War thus served a political purpose, and this thesis demonstrates that Austro-Hungarian war aims in the Balkans were among the underlying factors prolonging the world conflagration. The work concludes by demonstrating a continuing Austro-Hungarian interest in Balkan expansion right up to the closing stages of the war. The thesis addresses one of the most significant gaps in the literature on Austria-Hungary. It does so by using formerly secret Austrian and Hungarian materials in Budapest, in addition to employing national and military archives in Austria, Hungary, Germany, the UK, and the United States.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2011 Marvin Benjamin Fried
Library of Congress subject classification: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D501 World War I
D History General and Old World > DB Austria
D History General and Old World > DR Balkan Peninsula
Sets: Departments > International History
Supervisor: Stevenson, David

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