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Austria’s last Kaiser: Karl I (1887-1922) Preservation
funding, awards
by Martin Ederer The wedding of Karl and Zita. both military and diplomatic avidly sought to mitigate the info available
fronts, if he could preserve Aus- stresses of war on his empire’s
Most of us know something Karl usually shows up in stan- tria-Hungary while recognizing le- civilian populations. On this front Are you a community group or
about Kaiser Franz Josef I dard histories of World War I as a gitimate expressions of ethnic Karl established a remarkably pro- non-profit looking for some help
of Austria-Hungary. A member of pathetic footnote and both a disas- autonomy, if he could preserve the gressive social welfare ministry. for a preservation project? Join
the prestigious Habsburg dynasty, trous political and military leader. monarchy, if he could get Germa- This ministry would oversee com- Preservation Buffalo Niagara as it
he belonged to a remarkable gen- By the time Karl was crowned, ny to agree to Austria-Hungary prehensive social welfare pro- reviews a variety of different fund-
eration of long-reigning European Austria-Hungary found itself un- quitting their alliance. Then all of grams to manage rent control ing sources and organizations that
monarchs of the19th century: Wil- equal to the demands of modern this was further complicated by programs and housing services, can help on Wednesday, Nov. 20
helm I of Prussia and later Germa- mechanized warfare. U.S. entry into the war with a care for war widows, injured vet- at 6 p.m. The meeting will be at the
ny (1861-1888), Victoria of Great whole new set of democratic de- erans, and youth and orphans as PBN Office, 617 Main St., Buffa-
Britain (1837-1876), and Alexan- Multiethnic Austria-Hungary mands. Good luck! well as a social insurance program. lo. Suggested donation $10. Ques-
der II of Russia (1855-1881). Of had already been out of step with tions? Contact Christiana at (716)
this generation only Franz Josef the superheated nationalism that Despite a few serious moral Undoubtedly growing fear of 852-3300, or climniatis@
(1848-1916) lived to see World had fueled the war in the first policy misfires early in his career, revolution played a role in Karl’s pbnsaves.org.
War I. As things turned out, the place. Perhaps more importantly, Karl increasingly attempted decisions, but so too did his deep
1914 assassination of his heir Karl lacked the stomach for what healthy change. Some changes devotion to his Catholic faith. Ulti- Also, Preservation Award
Franz Ferdinand advanced his modern warfare had become. were simply a move away from mately any understanding of nominations are due on Feb. 15.
great nephew, Karl, to the unex- ruling styles that age had forced on Karl’s rule must recognize the role Know of a deserving preservation
pected position of imperial heir. He mainly seemed intent on Franz Josef. Franz Josef tended to of his (and Zita’s) deeply held project or advocate? Nominate
After Franz Josef’s death in 1916, extricating Austria-Hungary from work alone in his study. faith. them for a 2019 Preservation
Karl ascended the throne as Karl I the war, if he could sell the world Award! Nominations are open un-
of Austria, Karl IV of Hungary on Pope Benedict XV’s peace plan As World War I progressed, In political terms, Karl was a til Friday, Feb. 15. For details con-
and Croatia, and Karl III of Bohe- based on Catholic social teaching, military and diplomatic decisions failure. In November 1918 Karl tact Olivia at (716) 852-3300, or
mia. if he could withdraw honorably on increasingly fell into the hands of carefully proclaimed in separate ocammisa-frost@pbnsaves.org.
an entrenched military elite. In documents that both the Austrian
February-March contrast, Karl consulted openly and the Hungarian people had the throne in 1921, the British Navy
April-May with his ministers all gathered to- right to determine the form of their offered Karl and his family a one-
June-July gether. Karl also took more direct states and renounced participation way, non-refundable, involuntary
control of the war effort, effective- in the administration of those voyage into exile to the island of
Oktoberfest Guide ly breaking the hold of military states. He was careful to avoid the Madeira. Karl died there, still a
August-September interests over the conduct of the word “abdication”, insisting that young man, in 1922.
October-November war. he remained the rightful emperor,
December-January perhaps in the hope of maintaining Ultimately, Karl’s political
Perhaps most revolutionary of some role as a ceremonial head of failures were overshadowed by his
all, Karl’s Italian wife, Zita (of the state. But the Entente powers had faith successes. Pope John Paul II
house of Bourbon-Parma), regu- no compulsion to block Austria- beatified him in 2004: not a bad
larly participated in his meetings Hungary’s breakup or to prop up way for a storied dynasty to end its
of state; he also regularly sought Karl’s rule. active political role.
her ideas and advice.
After Karl made two abortive
As Karl became more commit- attempts to reclaim the Hungarian
ted to extricating Austria from the
war, his balancing act with all the
unappeasable parties he faced be-
gan to fail. Ultimately he gained a
reputation as a duplicitous incom-
petent who made reckless promis-
es that failed. That outcome was
probably inevitable.

Germany and France grew
more insistent on a hardline ap-
proach to achieve total victory.
Then Woodrow Wilson’s demands
reshuffled the game. Later Nazi
historians portrayed Karl as a
shameless traitor. Some Germans
and Austrians saw his Italian wife
as an enemy tail wagging the im-
perial dog.

But the other reputation that
Karl gained was that of a kind and
decent man, an indication, per-
haps, that leadership and decency
make a difficult combination. Karl
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