The Kaiser stood at the tracks of Sopron. Out here at the border, the only thing to disrupt the beautiful peace was the rumble of locomotion and the arrival of goods and people from other parts of the Empire. One of the top railway executives of Austria stood with him and went over the details of the railway, though it was a state owned company of course. To the east, the extensive railways crossed through Hungary and dotted about major towns and junctions from Budapest all the way to the east to Czernowitz and to the south at Temeswar in Romania. But, ever since the split of Hungary and Austria there hadn’t been a train to come from that side of the rails. Instead, most travel on the rails was domestic. The ghost of the former Austria-Hungary ran like the fossils of an ancient beast, the rails like a spine and the cities like joints. The Kaiser ordered a total map of the old imperial railways brought to his office for when he returned to Vienna. Like a necromancer in the folk tales, Kaiser Karl would breathe life into that skeleton again. He stepped onto the train and road along the long unused track towards Budapest. Hungary had bent the knee.
A map of the Austro-Hungarian Imperial Railways
DER FÜNFTE REICHSRAT
The Fifth Imperial Council
The House of Deputies and the House of Lords convened on April 1st, 1933 for the first time under the reign of Kaiser Karl I. However, this legislature had been elected for two years; it was the fifth democratically elected Imperial Council (or atleast in terms of the House of Deputies… the House of Lords was not elected). Nevertheless, the council had been in session for half of its term.
The House of Deputies, which was elected through male suffrage, was dramatically affected by the loss of the Boheme, Hungarian, and Bosnian lands. Its Minister President was one Josef Duurich, a veteran deputy who had been elected for the past two sessions of the Reichsrat as a Christian Social party member from Burgenland. In fact, the conservative politician was the president of his party, which once had its own wings in each of the Empire’s formerly lost kingdoms.
108 Christian Social Deputies
55 Constitutional Deputies
10 Austrofascist Deputies
10 Southern Interest Party
60 Republican Deputies
270 Vacated Deputy Seats
In a not-so-shocking rebuttal to the Empire’s territorial losses under Franz Ferdinand, Republicans had won several seats out in the countryside, the losses were felt the most in the country as key business from Hungary, Bohemia, and Bosnia was lost. The Croats and Dalmatians had forged a party to protect their interests, as they had not won independence after the Bosnian revolt; the Southern Interest Party caucused with the Republicans in an attempt to stab at the monarchy which had supposedly abused them so.
The Christian Social Party was an ultra-Catholic party which touted Austria as the last true Catholic Germanic state. It had a vehement opposition to working with the German Protestants and an infamous record of taking legislation against Protestants, Orthodox Christians, and communists. More importantly, however, it supported the monarch and the Church. The Constitutionalist Party and the Austrofascist party caucused alone, with the Constitutionalists being a liberal voice for Austrians who did not outrightly oppose the monarch. The Austrofascists on the other hand had not been able to gain much seats because of the efforts of the Christian Social Party who painted them as irreligious and dangerous to the Church, to the monarch, and to the Austrian people most importantly.
The Christian Social Party and the Constitutional Deputies forged an alliance called the Federal-Monarchists. This gave them a super majority over the rest of the Reichsrat and, urged by the Kaiser, they were able to successfully federalize the Empire.
The next form of legislature would be full, once the war in Bohemia and the union with Hungary-Romania was complete.
THE APRIL CONSTITUTION
April 2, 1933
FROM IMPERIAL HOLDING OF BUDAPEST, IT IS DECREED;
The lands of the Austro-Hungarian Empire shall be made up of several different states and territories.
The state of BOHEMIA, comprised of Prague and the surrounding Czech country.
The state of MORAVIA, unified with the Moravian lands that were under former Hungary-Romanian control.
The state of SUDETENLAND, the north-running western side of Bohemia, comprised of the Boheme-German folk.
Let it be known that this clause is in the case that Bohemia is completely occupied by Austria-Hungary.
Vorarlberg and Tyrol
The Duchy of Tyrol and County of Vorarlberg shall be comprised of the State of TYROL.
Carinthia and Carniola
These aforementioned regions shall be merged into the state of CARNIOLA.
Shall become its own federal state, administered by its unique Italian populace.
Salzburg, Upper Austria, and Lower Austria
These three areas will remain under direct Imperial control and not be a state, but instead referred to as the KAISERPFALZ.
Croatia and Dalmatia
Croatia and Dalmatia shall be merged into the greater state of CROATIA.
Hungary, Transylvania, and Romania
UNGARN will be considered a Royal State, with more votes and more influence than the other states. The Royal State of Ungarn has more autonomy than other states.
TRANSYLVANIA and ROMANIA shall become territories of the Empire which will be overseen and administered by the Königspalast of Hungary.
The new system of federalist government has been worked out by leaders from the newly recaptured lands, deputies from Cilisethania, lords from the Imperial Council, and the Emperor himself.
The national legislature shall be referred to as the BUNDESKAISERRAT, the Federal Imperial Council.
Each state shall elect a number of deputies, or Abgeordnete based on its population to send to the House of Deputies.
Each state shall send three of its top aristocrats, discluding their Palatine (if he is noble), to be represented in the House of Lords.
A Federal Chancellor shall be appointed to oversee the Bundeskaiserrat, usually picked from amongst its ranks. Nominees, after the first is appointed, will be sent to the Kaiser for confirmation by a ⅔ vote. Terms are for life or until the Kaiser dismisses.
Each State shall be granted its own form of government which can administer over its region.
Each state shall elect a Palatine, or Pfalzgraf, to govern as a chief statesman of that specific federal state.
The Palatine must be confirmed by the Emperor and granted a sash with a pinned coat of arms as a sign of his stature.
The Palatine can organize the state military, influence the state economy, and make any decisions granted him by that particular state’s constitution.
The Royal State of Ungarn will elect a Königspalast, who has more autonomy than the other Palatines. However, he answers directly to the Kaiser.
Each state is required to have atleast a democratically elected legislature so as to guarantee its peoples’ representation in their own governments.
Any breach of this procedure will result in the federal government revoking the state government’s privileges and establishing of a federally managed territory.
Each state is permitted its own State Guard, that is a defensive army of its own training, recruitment, and armament.
The only exception shall be the Royal State of Ungarn which is granted the special condition of Reichsverteidiger, giving it the ability to launch its own offensive campaigns at the permission of the Kaiser.
Each Catholic citizen of the Empire of Austria-Hungary will be granted the right to vote in both state and federal elections.
The Kaiser has the ability to revoke the constitution, dissolve the federacy, and dissolve the Bundeskaiserrat.
He has the privilege to revoke any state’s privileges he sees fit, he has the privilege to occupy states, he has the privilege to deny a state’s Palatine.
Signed, KARL FRANZ JOSEPH LUDWIG HUBERT GEORG OTTO MARIA, Seine Kaiserliche und Königliche Apostolische Majestät von Gottes Gnaden Kaiser von Österreich, König von Ungarn und Böhmen, von Dalmatien, Kroatien, Slawonien, Galizien, Lodomerien und Illyrien; König von Jerusalem etc.;Erzherzog von Österreich; Großherzog von Toskana und Krakau; Herzog von Lothringen, von Salzburg, Steyer, Kärnten, Krain und der Bukowina; Großfürst von Siebenbürgen, Markgraf von Mähren; Herzog von Ober- und Niederschlesien, von Modena, Parma, Piacenza und Guastalla, von Auschwitz und Zator, von Teschen, Friaul, Ragusa und Zara; Gefürsteter Graf von Habsburg und Tirol, von Kyburg, Görz und Gradisca; Fürst von Trient und Brixen;Markgraf von Ober- und Niederlausitz und in Istrien; Graf von Hohenems, Feldkirch, Bregenz, Sonnenberg etc.; Herr von Triest, von Cattaro und auf der Windischen Mark; Großwojwode der Woiwodschaft Serbien
The Federalized States of Austria-Hungary, as of April 1933.
SZÉKESFEHÉRVÁR BASILICA, BUDAPEST, 16:00
König Karl IV of Ungarn, Crowned by the Archbishop of Esztergom in Budapest, 1933
The crowd gathered outside the basilica as the freshly coronated Karl IV marched out. To his right was the archbishop, to his left the newly appointed Königspalast of Hungary, one Otto Stefan von Habsburg. A distant cousin of Karl’s who had been raised in Hungary, Otto was key in the negotiations for Hungary by recruiting the Norwegians for aid. The Norwegians, who had gained significant power over the weak Romanian-Hungarian upstart count turned King were able to foster a relationship between pro-Habsburgers in Hungary and the Kaiser. From therein, the pretender King was arrested by the Norwegian allies in the chaotic Kingdom and the Austro-Hungarians were allowed across the border.
He, the pretender king, was imprisoned in Vienna now. All that was left to fill his seat was Otto Stefan, who now reigned as Count of Heves and was elected… or appointed… the first Königspalast, the head statesmen of the Royal State of Hungary. Otto was also granted the Wardenship of the Transylvanian-Romanian Territories, which were in dire need of administration and subjugation. Karl Franz, Otto Stefan, the Archbishop, and several important attendees travelled in motor car to the train station.
Federal Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss, appointed April 1933.
The entourage exited their vehicle, Karl IV kissed the ring of the Archbishop as they reached his train, which was waiting in the grand station. On the train ride back to Vienna, the Kaiser’s special council gathered. On it was a new face, the newly appointed Federal Chancellor, Engelbert Dollfuss. An experienced war veteran of the War of Fractures, which saw Austria defending from Bohemians, Hungarians, and Czechs, he gained fame amongst those enemy provinces for his valor, tact, and knowledge. Further, he had impressed the Kaiser with his policies on agricultural coops and devout Catholicism.
The government was an a state of dissolve, the Kaiser and his privy were the only governors of the vast Empire and it was time to make some decisions while the federal elections took place and the war in Bohemia was cleaned up.
The Kaiser and his council decide that the threat of Bolshevism is extremely threatening. They take steps to ensure that the newly acquired lands, and the former lands, enforce a series of anti-Bolshevik acts that see Communists imprisoned and brought to their local capitals for trial and execution. Furthermore, the Empire orders tariffs on Yugoslavian trade and tight checkpoints, checking for Bolshevik propaganda and any sorts of weapons on trains travelling up from Yugoslavia. The Kaiser, upon hearing of the Yugoslav union with Greece decides to send a diplomat by the way of rails down to discuss the land of Bosnia and Herzegovina.(Greece)
The Imperial Rail Company, a state owned company, is ordered to begin work on an armored train prototype. Once the thing was completed, it’d be decided how many were to be built. The Empire will fund the project and supply its engineers to aid. It will be outfitted with anti-air, anti-armor, machine guns, and artillery. (Mod).
Austrian soldiers posing for a camera in the recaptured city of Budweis, early 1933.
The Imperial army was victorious in its first wave. The Baron von Hefe laid out a new plan of operations as the line was established, running up along the influence of Prague. They had received word of Hungarian reinforcements on their way from the south but the Austrian men were full of pride. They were part of The Ruckeroberung, the reconquest of the Empire!
“We shall push forward! For the Kaiser!” declared the Baron General, seeking for Bohemia to fall before the end of the summer. He laid out a strategic plan of offense, hoping to completely wipe out the remaining Prague loyalist army and force a surrender. If the battles didn’t result in total annihilation, they would send one division to go and secure the countryside while the rest of the invasion force laid siege to Prague.
Karl Franz and Prince Christian of Norway handing out flowers to girls in the Viennese hills, April 1933
The Norwegian prince, a fine man named Christian, had attended the Kaiser’s kingly coronation in Budapest. The night before, he had been in Vienna discussing a new pact. There had been a serious escalation between the major powers of the world. Austria-Hungary’s neighbors of Russia and Germany had formed the Aschtenmache in defense of the heavily numbered Entente. This was a precarious balance, if the Kalmar Union and the Austro-Hungarian Empire joined with either side balance would be lost.
The Kalmar Union, made of Sweden and Norway, and the newly formed Austro-Hungarian Empire signed into being the pact of Osloforbundet. This alliance would serve as a sort of neutral ground, a place where the conflicts of the two great alliances were not felt and were petty proxy wars were not influential. Further, it allowed the two nations freedom of choice and not having to worry about a grand number of allies. For peace! For balance! For freedom of choice! The Kaiser issued a decree of official joining of the pact after the Council of Zurich. Here, the Kaiser’s diplomat became an influential voice in the mediating the decision for keeping the conflict regional. This stayed in line with Osloforbundet’s stance on proxy wars, finding it more suitable for the Italian to decide their fate and to avoid a large-scale, long-term world spanning escalation over who would rule who in the peninsula.
The Osloforbundet extended an invitation to the currently neutral nation of Poland, knowing that they were left out of any other nation’s leagues.
INNERHALB DES REICHES
Actions within the Empire
What had originally been the population of a crippled Empire, became that of a superpower. The federalization of the land would attempt to alleviate the issues caused by nationalism, but there had to be more than just that. Immediately propaganda and radio stations broadcast the unity and national identity of an Austro-Hungar, not just of a Austrian or a Hungarian, or a Croatian or Slav. No, it was time to make for a unified nation, a sense of purpose.
The government begins a series of radio stations aimed at making a more unified sense of culture in the Empire. Further, the Catholic Church is enlisted in establishing a sense of national duty in a religious sense, that it would be unlawful and a sin to disrespect the Kaiser’s reign and the duty to him as one of his subjects!
The Jagdkommandos are formed. An elite force of ‘manhunters’, they are to be the stormtroopers of the Empire. Posters and propaganda go up, recruiting the Empire’s subjects to the military for a chance of becoming a commando! The Kaiser’s top generals begin to complain of a serious lack of soldiery. In a series of sweeping reforms, the Kaiser proclaims an Imperial Military. He does away with the ethnic based divisions which were inspired in the old Austro-Hungarian Empire, instead commending all ethnicities to be trained together in a singular Imperial Army.
A huge recruitment drive sweeps the newly reforged Empire, even in those recently reclaimed Bohemian lands, seeking to begin training for 20 infantry divisions, 6 mechanized divisions, and 4 tank divisions. The newfound industrial might of the Empire is put to work to support this new Imperial Military.
The Kaiser sends diplomats to various nations. A diplomat sails for the Confederacy seeking to buy Jamaica or atleast open trade, a diplomat goes to the new Communist powers to the South, a diplomat to Poland on behalf of the Osloforbundet, and a diplomat to BOHEMIA demanding surrender. One is sent to Ireland on a secret mission. A diplomat goes to Genoa to discuss the Austrian minorities in Sud-Tirol.
The Kaiser creates the Ministry of Production. The Ministry begins to organize civilian owned and state sponsored private companies, so as to bring civilians away from Bolshevik tendencies. They also begin work on harvesting the raw materials of Austria-Hungary. The Ministry of Production works to break down the split of economies in the new federalized states, hoping to create more of a national economy that includes all peoples and avoid an ethnic based income difference. (Mod)
Diplomat sent to IRELAND, the UBSR, GENOA, CONFEDERACY
Recruitment and training of 20 infantry divisions, 6 mech divisions, and 4 tank divisions. (MOD)
Investment and research begins on an armored train prototype. (MOD)
The Bohemian Reconquest continues, an ultimatum of surrender and fair trial is sent to the Bohemian Pretender Government. (MOD)
The Ministry of Production works to connect the economies of the states and make them intertwined. They sponsor citizen owned corporations and foster relationships between different ethnic groups, in terms of business, in an attempt to lesser any tensions. (MOD)
The Osloforbundet sends a diplomat offering aid and support in return for membership in the pact to Poland (MOD)
The Federalization of Austro-Hungary results in national elections for the federal legislature. The hopeful effect is a lessening of ethnic tensions as people feel a sense of self-rule. (MOD)