To me, one of the coolest things about reading books on history is finding out stuff I never knew about different historical epochs.
I recently finished a book entitled The Fall of the Dynasties by Edmond Taylor, which was primarily a chronicle of the shenanigans of Imperial Germany, Imperial Russia, The Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the Ottoman Empire which ultimately resulted in World War I, in which one such bit of information hitherto unknown to me was brought to light.
As an aside, I must say it was a fascinating read. Some friends of mine have been trying to get me interested in an HBO tv series called Game of Thrones , based on a series of novels by author George R. R. Martin. Part of the appeal is supposed to be the degree of plotting & scheming going on among a the members of a number of royal houses & nations all vying for power & position & whatnot. I've seen the first season of the show courtesy of a borrowed DVD collection of the episodes, and it's quite entertaining, but the show's got nothin' on the stuff that actually went on among the rulers of the aforementioned nations right here on good ol' planet Earth...
I mean - you got the Kaiser, with his title of Imperial and Apostolic Majesty left over from the Holy Roman Empire days... ...a product of the grand old Prussian tradition that built a "nation to support an army"; Czar Nicholas of Russia, whose empire was practically being run by some quasi-mystic nut-case claiming to be a healer and seer who just sort of wandered in out of the wilderness one day; the schizophrenic Austro-Hungarian Empire, with an administrative apparatus so convoluted that apparently its secret service was at one point operating against itself due to conflicting foreign entanglements engaged in by the Hungarian Royal and Austrian Imperial departments; and last but certainly by no means least, the hazy decadence of the Ottoman Empire, whose ruling Sultans came of age regarding the learning of any practical knowledge to be beneath their station (that's what they had foreign-born servants for, after all), and who were raised amid the endless plotting & planning and "feminine wiles" of their father's harem girls ! And these bozos ruled a good hunk of the world !
You can't make shit like this up...
As to the point referred to in the title of this post - in the final chapters of the book, which describe the fates of the rulers of the aforementioned nations & the lands they ruled in the aftermath of WW1 - one area focused on is the breakup of the Austro-Hungarian Empire which resulted in the birth of a number of Balkan/East European nations, and the creation of what we now know as Austria & Hungary. Apparently, whilst the Hungarians were content enough to carry on as a nation - at least as content as being on the losing end of the war and having your proverbial collective destiny dictated to you by the countries that kicked your ass might allow - the ethnically German Austrians suffered a sort of "national identity crisis" which they felt would be solved by merging with Germany.
Problem was, none of the victorious Allied nations were willing to accept the bnotion of Germany gaining any territory as a result of the war, and the planned Anschluss was forbidden. I'm almost surprised nobody thought of letting the Austrians join up with Germany so they could hand them a copy of the war reparations bill they served Germany with...
Disagree on the last paragraph. Wille the Deuce was practically begging for a war, IMO a legacy war like Shrubsie's second Iraq war, to cement his position among the legends of imperial European rule.
When push came to shove he got cold feet and tried to back out in some last ditch telegraphs pleading his cousin Nikkie to help him out of the mess. Like most all bullies he was a truly gutless cocksucker. Germany got what she deserved. I don't believe Franz-Joseph would have moved to a military solution without Germany's backing.