The Great War
The Great War
As East Central Europe was at the epicenter of the conflagration, in a way starting already with the Balkan Wars in 1912–13, the debate on war aims was extremely vivid in the region. Political conflict occurred over whether to enter the war or remain neutral, or else over the choice between the two alliance systems, which also implied choosing a civilizational model. Perceived war aims shifted considerably over time, particularly among national movements lacking independent nation-states: whereas in 1914 most demanded national emancipation within the imperial framework, by autumn 1918 the postulate of independence became prevalent. Importantly, World War I can be considered the climax of developments in fin-de-siècle political thought: expansion of the political sphere found powerful expression in national mobilization; the war experience was seen as proof that the lower classes and women deserved political rights; and the space for moderate rhetoric shrank further, driving radicals on the right and left further apart.
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