by Sturmheim, E. ; [pseudonym of Emil Müller-Sturmheim]
Wien [Vienna]: Anzengruber. Very Good. 1918. First Edition; First Printing. Hardcover. 100 pages; Publisher's binding: boards with a marble-like vein pattern, front cover is printed on a label with a vivid design in green, gold and black, lettering at the center in white against a black background. The pages are set in a bold, modern Roman typeface, with large initial letters throughout in bright green, which matches the green decorative frames which surround each page's text-block. [The design is by Josef Böhm and shows influence of Jugenstil and the Wiener Werkstätte; the printing was done by the Hermes Buch-und-Kunst-druckerei in Vienna]. This is the first book from Emil Müller-Sturmheim, who was born in 1886 in Boryslaw (then part of the Kingdom of Galicia, now in Ukraine) and died in London as a refugee from Vienna. He wrote a novel in 1920, and followed this with a series of pacifist and anti-fascist texts in the '30's -- [Ohne Amerika geht es nicht (1930); Die am Krieg verdienen (1936); Rüstungen als Rettung (1937)]. His political activity led to his position as Generalsekretär der österreichischen Völkerbundliga -- [Secretary General of the Austrian League of Nations League]. In the crucial year of 1938, he found it necessary to flee Austria for Britain, where he spent the rest of his life. The subject of this elegantly printed and designed essay is the difficult situation in which the last of the Hapsburg Emperors found himself in 1918, who reigned as Charles I of Austria or Charles IV of Hungary. In his mid-twenties, Karl/Charles became heir presumptive after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo in 1914, the event which precipitated the Great War. Charles succeeded to the Hapsburg thrones in November 1916, after the death of Emperor Franz Joseph. The "neue Wege" (new ways) of the title refer to Charles attempt to extricate Austria from a bad position as the tide was turning near the end of the first World War. Following his official coronation occurred on 30 December. In 1917, Charles secretly entered into peace negotiations with France. His foreign minister, Ottokar Czernin, was only interested in negotiating a general peace which would include Germany, but Charles himself went much further in suggesting his willingness to make a separate peace. When news of the overture leaked in April 1918, Charles denied involvement until French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau published letters signed by him. This led to Czernin's resignation, forcing Austria-Hungary into an even more dependent position with respect to its prinicpal ally, Germany. The United States played a significant role in this drama, in the form of President Wilson's Fourteen Points, which demanded that the Empire allow for autonomy and self-determination of its peoples. In response, Charles agreed to reconvene the Imperial Parliament and allow for the creation of a confederation with each national group exercising self-governance. "New ways," indeed. But the process proved impossible to control by Charles or anyone else within the old Austro-Hungarian empire's framework. And events rapidly developed, and in the weeks following the publication of this book, on 11 November 1918—the same fateful day as the armistice ending the war between allies and Germany—Charles issued a carefully worded proclamation in which he recognized the Austrian people's right to determine the form of the state and "relinquish(ed) every participation in the administration of the State." It was pointedly not an abdication, as far as Charles was concerned, and he spent the rest of his short life attempting to reclaim his crown[s] before dying in 1922. His story is not yet concluded, as Charles was Beatified on the 3rd of October 2004 by Pope John Paul II, and seems well on the way to Catholic sainthood. In any event, Emil Müller-Sturmheim's first book is a part of a complex and rapidly developing situation in Vienna as World War I came to its difficult end. It was an unusually (and unnecessarily) beautiful book. How many copies survived the Anschluss, just 20 short years in the future? See OCLC Number: 72291232 . (Inventory #: 39782)
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