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Vengeance Through the Centuries

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Photo: Karl Habsburg is an underrated figure in Ukrainian history, Source: Wikipedia
Photo: Karl Habsburg is an underrated figure in Ukrainian history, Source: Wikipedia

Austria was the first to support stripping Hungary of its voting rights in the EU. Vengeance through the centuries. How would it be in German: this is for our Karl Habsburg, you bastards!

Seriously though, the treachery of the Hungarians equals that of the Russians (with whom they share blood ties). 

Karl ascended the throne in 1916. He endured defeat in World War I and the loss of the imperial crown. He emigrated to Switzerland but remained the King of Hungary. In 1920 (after suppressing a communist coup), Miklós Horthy became the ruler of Hungary. However, the admiral understood that he was acting as an usurper. Thus, he officially called himself a regent and repeatedly publicly swore loyalty to Karl. He assured that he was only "warming" Hungary for its rightful owner. 

In 1921, Karl Habsburg decided to visit Budapest. But the admiral wanted to get rid of the king once and for all. He lured him into a trap. Tired, ill, and morally broken, the king agreed to Horthy's venture – to lead a campaign on Vienna that was supposed to restore the empire. Miklós Horthy hoped that Karl Habsburg would be killed in some skirmish. But he still couldn’t keep his hands clean – he had to do the dirty work himself. Alarmed by Habsburg's intentions, the British demanded Horthy surround the king's camp and disarm his army. 

The last emperor surrendered. He died in exile, in Madeira, in poverty. 

Karl Habsburg is an underrated figure in Ukrainian history. He probably would never have achieved the same reverence among Ukrainians as his relative Vasyl (Wilhelm) Vyshyvanyi (Habsburg-Lorraine). But had God granted him as long a reign as Franz Joseph, he would have definitely displaced Our Most Serene from the pedestal of Galician-Bukovinian adoration. We’ll skip such an insignificant moment as his service in Kolomyia, where the young officer got to know Ukrainians. 

Between 1916 and 1918, Karl desperately tried to stop the war and generated various projects. One idea (in agreement with the Germans) was to create a Polish state. The Polish part of Galicia was to be given to the Poles – this was an old dream of Ukrainian independents. Moreover, the division of Galicia into Polish and Ukrainian parts was a key political demand since the mid-19th century. 

I swear by Yulia Latynina's curls!

But the emperor did not intend to stop at the creation of a Polish state. The next step was to transform the monarchy into a federation where Ukrainians (after the removal of the Poles) would take an equal place with Austrians and Hungarians. Some dreamers even talked about turning the empire into a tripartite one: Austro-Hungarian-Ruthenian. (An unclear noise then: Thalerhof, Holovatsky, hanging of Russian peasants, Franko, prison…). And although all these projects remained dreams of the visionary emperor and his advisers, Karl did accomplish one important practical thing. He agreed to the secret protocol of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, according to which Chełm and Podlachia were transferred to Ukraine. 

But the Poles were furious! 

In vain, only the treachery of the Hungarians and the hatred of the Poles towards this last dreamer emperor are enough for Ukrainians to someday duly honour his memory. However, betrayed and despised, the emperor influenced politics even after his death. His son Otto von Habsburg was a member of the European Parliament, and his grandson Karl von Habsburg wrote the foreword to one of the best studies on the history of the empire – "Corona and Roots". 

I have always had reverence for the Danubian monarchy. My discovery of the world began with the countries that were part of it. My great-grandmother, who died during Yushchenko's time, was born under Franz Joseph. But inspired by "Corona and Roots", I organized myself a coffee trip. I had my first coffee in Lviv and the last in Dubrovnik. I visited all the first coffee houses in Krakow, Prague, Vienna, Zagreb, Ljubljana, and Budapest. Some were hundreds of years old. 

And when I returned to Lviv, I re-read the foreword by Karl von Habsburg – the grandson of the last emperor: "I mean the aggression of the great eastern neighbour, who believes that they can still conduct such an influence policy that a hundred years ago led to disaster. Ukraine has made a clear decision: it is a European country, and its path is European. Undoubtedly, Ukraine must become a member of the European Union. Although the EU is not a state, in certain areas it has state-like features. Like the old Austro-Hungary, it unites different peoples and languages. In the old monarchy, this diversity resulted in the emergence of a rather unique culture of Central Europe. And even a hundred years after the end of the First World War, which destroyed this great Central European empire, its culture can still be felt in those parts of modern Ukraine that belonged to Austro-Hungary. The diversity of the empire, in particular, was manifested in a unique national anthem – Volkshymn, which was sung in the languages of all the peoples of the monarchy." 

What would you say, partner? Was "God Save the Tsar" sung in Ukrainian?


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