Behavior of immediate political relevance and the cultural background[1]


The Hungarian political history of the outbreak of World War I is a thoroughly researched area in Hungarian historical science.[2] One cannot expect huge surprises; there are no secrets yet to be uncovered, and it is not likely that new and formerly unknown, nevertheless relevant pieces of knowledge can be discovered.

The subject referred to in the main title, i.e. how the political elite approached the outbreak of World War I, can be answered very easily and simply: the political elite unanimously and clearly supported the participation in the war. As a matter of fact, we may well conclude having said this. However, this unanimous support was a result of sorts, as this process had had a development, and there were also differences in the intensity of support. These all need to be addressed in turn. Yet, it is even more important and interesting to specify those paradigms that defined the approach of immediate political relevance. These paradigms had cultural roots, yet they were becoming political, and they did not really allow any other behavior.

The time frame of our investigation concerning the behavior of immediate political relevance can be specified very easily. On June 28, 1941 Serbian student Gavrilo Princip assassinated heir presumptive Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie Chotek in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia, which had been annexed by the Monarchy. This was an event that the Monarchy had to react to. The compulsion to react contained the possibility of a general European war. It is undoubtedly true that this option had already been there, but the processes do not only have a dynamics, but also a dramaturgy, and the assassination of the heir presumptive brought about a dramaturgic turning point in longer-term processes. Therefore, the starting date of our investigation concerning the behavior of immediate political relevance will be June 28, 1914. Nevertheless, we know that the European constellation of great powers and the fight for the influence in the Balkans started much earlier.[3]

The other endpoint is also easily definable, as in a month, on July 28, the Monarchy declared war with Serbia, and, also as a result of the constellation of great powers, the series of events which contemporaries called the “Great War” or simply “World War” started.

Therefore from a chronological point of view, I will use intentional limits. I will cover neither the pre-history of the rule over the Balkans, nor the long-term consequences of the declaration of war.

Moreover, I need to mention another limit: I am going to describe European circumstances only from the point of view of how they affected the Hungarian political elite close to power. Therefore, I will regard as fact some issues that had developed also as a result of a process, but which, within the designated one-month interval, already functioned as determinant factors.


The behavior of the Hungarian Prime Minister

In those days, the Prime Minister of Hungary was 53 year-old Count István Tisza.[4] He was considered to be a mature politician, occupying this position not for the first time, as he had already been resident of the Sándor Palace, incident to holding this position, between 1903 and 1905. He had been President of the House of Representatives in 1912 and 1913. He was known as a very consequent and headstrong person and a strong character; he had both firmly committed followers and unrelenting opponents. He was a polarizing personality, who determined Hungarian politics.

Tisza was on vacation in his estate in Geszt when he heard the news of the assassination of the heir presumptive. He must have had mixed feelings, as he knew exactly that the Monarchy was compelled to do something, yet he also knew that Franz Ferdinand, because of his political ideas, was far from being the most popular person in Hungarian public opinion.

On July 1, he sent a memorandum to Franz Joseph[5], which stated that it would be a fatal error to use the attack as an excuse of a punitive action against Serbia. In Tisza’s opinion, there was no unequivocal evidence proving the complicity of Serbia, therefore, as a result of a precipitate military action, the Monarchy would become the peace-breaker, and this would bring about a highly unfavorable situation from a diplomatic point of view. He stated that Monarchy-neighbor Romania was lost for the “Triple Alliance”, and Bulgaria, a counter-balance to Romania, was still not in the position to act as an active ally of the Monarchy. He wrote that the Monarchy could always find an excuse for the war, which could be started with a reference to countless reasons, but not now. The most beneficial diplomatic constellation for the Monarchy and Germany should be created.

So Tisza was not at all against the war in principle, yet he thought that a more favorable time could be found with the help of proper diplomatic preparations. He was also ready to find an excuse for that more favorable time.

On July 6, Tisza was informed that German Emperor Wilhelm sent a definitive message to Franz Joseph.[6] According to this message, the Monarchy could count on the help of Germany in case of any military conflict, and this time was favorable for the Monarchy because Russia, the ally of Serbia, was not prepared.

During the common Council of Ministers on July 7, Tisza, against everybody else, said that he could not give his consent to the attack against Serbia, because this action was not properly prepared diplomatically. In his opinion, the Monarchy needed to pose tough demands for Serbia; nevertheless Serbs should still be able to meet these. In the situation in question, Serbia would probably accept these demands, and thus the prestige of the Monarchy would increase in the Balkans. Tisza also said that the opportunities of the Monarchy were favorable in the long run, as Germany had already given its consent to Bulgaria joining the alliance system. If Turkey also joined this system, then Serbia would be trapped in pincers, and the Romanians would also be forced to de facto return to the alliance system including the Monarchy.

According to the minutes, everybody but Tisza thought that the ultimatum to be sent to Serbia had to be of the kind that would be refused, which, in turn, would clear the way for a military solution. Tisza said that in case the Serbs refused an ultimatum containing reasonable demands, then he would also support the warlike solution.

On July 8, Tisza sent a new memorandum to Franz Joseph. He not only repeated his former arguments, but he also added that if Serbia refused the legitimate demands of the Monarchy, then this country should be occupied, and, as need be, its territory should be divided between Bulgaria, Greece and Albania. The Monarchy should only claim minor border changes.

There were many attempts from several directions to convince Tisza of a standpoint unconditionally supporting the war. The main argument was that Germany would dislike the passive behavior of the Monarchy, and this would definitely affect the German alliance assuring great power status to Austria-Hungary. Tisza was aware that the German alliance was very important, and any deterioration of the relationship with the German Empire would affect the position of Hungary. He was also influenced by the fact that the Germans had allowed Bulgaria to freely join the Triple Alliance, and he thought that Bulgaria could form a counter-balance against Romania. On top of that, the strong German commitment itself could hold back Romania from acting against the Monarchy, which could result in the occupation of Transylvania, i.e. the loss of the territorial integrity of the Hungarian state.

As a result of various consultations, Tisza clearly changed his standpoint in favor of the war. He thought that if the neutrality of Romania could be assured, then the warlike solution could be supported. (Note that on August 3, Romania did in fact declare its neutrality, so Tisza’s anticipation, at least for the time being, proved to be right.) Tisza held firm to only one conviction of his: the Monarchy should not aim to annex Serbia in the war. He thought that only some minor border changes were feasible.

It is palpable that Tisza had two major concerns. On the one hand, he was afraid that the territory of the Hungarian state could be in danger in case of any Romanian military actions, and this could result in losing Transylvania. On the other hand, he was worried that, should Serbia become part of the Monarchy, the ratio of Slavic population in the Monarchy would increase to such a degree that could make it impossible to maintain the dualist political structure, so the strength of the Hungarian influence would diminish.

In mid-July Tisza could already be classified as one of the supporters of the warlike standpoint, while personally he was aware of the great amount of horror and human suffering that any possible war could bring about.

On July 19, during the common Council of Ministers, Tisza’s standpoint was accepted, that is to say, the annex of Serbia was not considered to be the aim of the Monarchy. At the same time the participants agreed on the ultimatum to be sent to Serbia, which was highly definitive using very tough wording, and included some conditions that Serbia, as an independent state, could not meet. Here I especially refer to the ultimatum demanding the Serbs to allow the authorities of the Monarchy to carry out investigations related to the murder case. This would have meant that Serbia had allowed the authorities of another state to overwrite independent Serbian statehood, i.e. Serbian sovereignty.

The ultimatum was submitted on July 23, and on July 25, the Serbs accepted all the demands but the one described above. However, this meant that they did not accept the ultimatum after all. Serbia started mobilizing its army the same day, and the Monarchy also ordered partial mobilization. The declaration of war was sent on July 28. On the same day, Tisza held his first war speech in the Parliament.

On July 29, partial mobilization, then on July 30 general mobilization was ordered in Russia. On July 31, the Monarchy ordered general mobilization, and on August 1, Germany did the same.

The war machine had been started.


The opposition

On the one hand, there was a parliamentary opposition in Hungary in those days, and, on the other hand, due to the highly restricted voting rights, there was a well-organized and politically strong extra-parliamentary Social Democratic opposition. In addition, there was an intellectually strong bourgeois radical standpoint also outside the Parliament, which only covered a restricted circle of people.

If we take a look at the parliamentary opposition, then we see a relatively varied picture. The strongest line was represented by the Independence Party. This party had both a right-wing and a left-wing, i.e. it had all the characteristics of a parliamentary party club at the beginning of the 20th century. As a result of the political fights concerning the status of the church in the 1890s, the Catholic People’s Party was founded, which stood against the separation of the state and the church. Their organization was not based on the parliamentary party club model; it was closer to the Social Democratic model even though the party represented an ultraconservative standpoint. There were also party formulations of which one represented the interests of small-holders, while another stood mainly for the interests of the petty bourgeoisie of Budapest.

When the declaration of war was announced, 68-year-old Albert Apponyi gave a speech on behalf of the whole parliamentary opposition.[7] He was a veteran not only due to his age, but also based on his political experience. He was President of the House of Representatives between 1901 and 1903, and he was Minister of Religion and Education between 1906 and 1910. His informal prestige enabled him to speak on behalf of the whole parliamentary opposition. When the declaration of war was announced, he said: “We may also comment on the beginning of this reckoning by briefly saying: at last!”[8]

This statement clearly shows that the Hungarian parliamentary opposition unanimously applauded the war, and thought that Hungarians had to polish off the Serbs sooner or later anyway, because Serbs had caused the Hungarians many troubles already in 1848 and 1849. Of course this sentiment was also supported by the fact that Russians were pictured in Hungarian political culture as the repressors of the 1849 freedom fight, so the anti-Russian sentiments constituted an emotional capital. In plain English, everybody suspected that the war against Serbia was also a war against Russia.

Although Apponyi made his statement on behalf of the whole opposition, there were some differences in tone. Mihály Károlyi, of the left-wing of the Independence Party, who was abroad at the time, usually stood against the German orientation, and he often expressed pacifist views. Yet, when he returned to Hungary on October 1, he did not raise his voice against the war, and he was the one who read the statement of the Independence Party supporting the war in the Hungarian Parliament.[9]

The group of bourgeois radicals represented a very sharp form of the extra-parliamentary opposition from an intellectual point of view. Group members thought that economic integration was more important than militarism, and certain groups of the workers and the bourgeoisie would be able to prevent the aggravation of imperialist politics. Before the breakout of the war they clearly held an anti-war standpoint, and thought that nobody but the so-called feudalist and bank stakeholders had an interest in any military action against Serbia; and the public opinion of the country was rather pacifist. But when the war broke out, their rhetoric changed as if they did not think what they had said before, and their press clearly stood for the war. Obviously, this is mainly attributable to the fact that they were also part of the cultural paradigm system which was becoming political, and the Hungarian political elite was thinking within this framework.

However, it is even more interesting how the Hungarian Social Democratic Party changed its standpoint.[10] (Naturally, this was not a singular phenomenon, as this happened almost everywhere in Europe.) A political about-face is rarely so spectacular. After the assassination of the heir presumptive they wrote that the murder had been caused by Austro-Hungarian imperialism, represented by, among others, Franz Ferdinand. They argued further that Austro-Hungarian imperialism oppressed the Serbs living in the territory of the Monarchy, and although individual terror was inadequate, what Gavrilo Princip had done was a protest against the oppression. The ultimatum sent to the Serbs was referred to as one sent not by us, but by them, that is to say, Austro-Hungarian imperialist circles wanted to provoke the war. In Népszava, the newspaper of the Social Democrats, an article as late as on July 26 stated that “Today the voice of the Social Democrats is the only voice in this county shouting its protest against the war, until the last moment.”[11]

When it turned out that one of the main enemies of the Monarchy was the Russian Empire, the Hungarian Social Democrats joined their German comrades, and started to support the war. One of the reasons for this was, of course, that they did not want to risk their suspension, which would have been possible according to current Hungarian laws.

Again, we need to state that the about-face of Hungarian Social Democrats was not a singular phenomenon in Europe.

In summary, we can contend that there was no political force left in Hungary by the end of July or the beginning of August 1914, inside or outside the Parliament that was against the participation in the war. There were slight differences, they did not join the choir at the same time, nor did they lead the same voice part, but the war symphony finally added up. In the legal political area of Hungary everyone became a supporter of the idea that Serbia had to be got over with, even at the price of a war. So much so that even in the artistic life more and more pro-war pieces of art appeared from August 1914, and the theaters ordered and staged incendiary plays with a strong national content.[12]

The following triple slogan seemed to unite Hungary politically: Long live the King, long live the Homeland, and long live the war!

This unity of course broke up during the war – but this is another story.


Apparent and real national interest

Pro-war opinions in the participating countries were an all-European phenomenon. It seems that by 1914 the Hungarian as well as the majority of the European political elite had a pro-war standpoint. However, from a methodological point of view, this fact does not exempt us from specifically explaining why the Hungarian political elite accepted the pro-war standpoint.

This is also necessary because, from a Hungarian national point of view in the narrow sense, there were no apparent interests in favor of the war. The Hungary of the time – called historical, great, or sometimes St. Stephen’s, with a reference to the first Hungarian king – covered the entirety of the Hungarian ethnic group, except for one small population fragment (the Csango people). This country did not have any conquest purposes, because any conquests would have only increased the proportion of non-Hungarian ethnic groups. If we consider the situation from a purely logical aspect, then the Hungarian interest would have been to exactly maintain the status quo. The war meant border changes in case of a victory, which Hungary was not interested in, as described above, and in case the country lost the war, the result would be the same, which was not in the interest of Hungary, either, as in that case the territory of the country would become smaller. Of course the rate of the decrease of the territory could not be known, yet it was sure that no decrease whatsoever could be in the interest of the Hungarian political elite.

Therefore, we can state that the most beneficial outcome for Hungary would have been if the war had ended in a draw, and thus nothing had changed. But wars are usually not started or supported to be finished in a tie, i.e. to have everything unchanged.

Thus we can very legitimately ask this specific question: why did the Hungarian political elite support the launch of this war?

In my opinion, the underlying reason for this supportive standpoint is not to be found in the situation of actual political relevance. Nor is it to be found in the status of Hungary, i.e. in that the sovereignty of Hungary was not complete as it was part of the Monarchy, and had to adapt to other decision making mechanisms. Obviously, these also played a part, yet, in my opinion, not a crucial one.

The determining momentum lies in the characteristics of Hungarian nationalism that have been fixed as unquestionable axioms.


Axioms of Hungarian nationalism

In line with European trends, albeit with a slight delay compared to Western Europe, Hungarian national thought and national sentiment began to take shape during the second and third decades of the 19th century, becoming a mass-scale emotional reality in 1848-49.[13]

The structure of the process followed existing templates: it can be divided to an earlier cultural phase (language reform, national culture) followed by a later political phase (national sovereignty). The two phases had a significant overlap, as the cultural aspect was present when political demands were in dominance, and the creation of national culture immediately took on political significance.

Together with the development of Hungarian national thought, the concept of territoriality also appeared. Suffice it to refer to the Twelve Demands of the Hungarian Revolution in March, 1848: one of them concerns the “union” with Transylvania. Although it appeared only as the last one in the list of demands, it indicated that the idea of a unified country had emerged.

It is a well-known fact that at the time the “Hungarian nation” was made up of a multitude of different cultures and ethnicities. Before 1848 the Habsburgs had made the country administratively fragmented: Transylvania had a separate Assembly of the Estates, and the Southern territories of the country had been subjected to military administration. Therefore, from an administrative aspect, Hungary was not a unified state. Demanding a “national Hungary” was out of question due to the large number of nations and ethnic groups living in the country, but an administratively unified Hungary seemed feasible.

Without giving a detailed account of the historical events, it may be established that the Hungarian government responsible to the Parliament that came to power in 1848 never had actual authority over the entire territory of the former medieval feudal state. The Habsburgs, regaining power in 1849, again carried out an administrative restructuring to the effect that the reacquired Hungarian kingdom became administratively fractured.

The situation which allowed the Hungarian government to exercise authority over the whole territory of medieval Hungary was brought about by the Compromise of 1867 and lasted until 1918, the end of the First World War. By that time it had become self-evident that the idea of Hungary’s territorial integrity corresponds to the concept of Greater Hungary.

Hungarian national thought found itself in a peculiar trap situation. On the one hand, a completely sovereign Hungarian state was desired. On the other hand, however, the territorial integrity of the country was the result of a compromise with the Habsburgs, the price paid for that being that the country became integrated into the Empire, having internal but not external sovereignty. Thereby, Hungarian statehood existed but the Hungarian state did not possess complete sovereignty.

The territorial integrity of Hungary was considered such an important national objective that it made existence under the Empire acceptable, even though some proponents of the idea had a deep conviction that the country – with its current territory and national/ethnic makeup – would be able to prosper on its own, as the state of the Hungarians.

It became an established axiom that multiethnic historical Hungary was the country of the Hungarians, and therefore – although many ethnic groups lived in its territory – it had only one political nation, Hungarian.

Consequently, it also became axiomatic that in the country of Hungarians, Hungarians had the dominant position, and thereby they deserved supremacy.

As another axiom, on the level of sentiments, it also became established that it was desirable that Greater Hungary would become independent with the supremacy of Hungarians. The Habsburg Empire was thus seen as a necessary limitation hindering Hungarian self-fulfillment.

Within the territory of the Hungarian state as it existed between 1867 and 1918, Hungarians were in minority up until 1900. After 1900, Hungarians became a statistical majority. This majority was in some aspects a real one but in others only virtual. Statistical data inexorably showed that only slightly more than half of the country’s population was Hungarian. That, however, did not mean that Hungarians constituted the majority in all administrative units (villages, townships, towns, cities, etc.) In some regions Slovaks, Serbs or Romanians were in overwhelming majority. (It is certain that Romanians were in majority in Transylvania as early as in the 18th century.) In addition to that, some ethnic minorities living in Hungary now had a “mother state” formed in neighboring territories. Romanians had the newly formed Romania backing them, and Serbia emerged as a state, which supported the Serbs living in Hungary. Meanwhile, ethnic groups living in Hungary started the process leading to a national sentiment and territorial objective of their own.

After the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, that is, after Hungarians became a majority, demands for restructuring the country arose more and more often. Before his assassination in 1914, heir presumptive Franz Ferdinand was considering plans for reforming the Monarchy along the lines of the national principle. Others, such as Count István Tisza, had preferred the preservation of the status quo, unwilling to compromise as far as the territorial integrity of the country was concerned.

This is to emphasize that, even before the First World War serious doubts had been expressed as to Hungary was, in its current state, the “country of Hungarians.” In spite of these doubts, however, the standard view of the political and intellectual elite was that Hungary in its current state was precisely that, the “country of Hungarians.” (The celebrations of the Millennium in 1896 reinforced this belief and conviction on a mass scale.)

Another important element of the axioms defining the nature of Hungarian nationalism remains to be discussed.

Since historical Hungary had a significantly larger territory than the territorial spread of people of Hungarian ethnicity, fear or anxiety had become deeply rooted in Hungarian national consciousness. The fear that Hungarians would disappear in the sea of Slavic and Germanic peoples was widespread. This anxiety was expressed eloquently by Mihály Vörösmarty (1800-1855), author of one of the most important national poems, Szózat (Summons), as well as by one of the greatest figures of the Hungarian Reform Period, Count István Széchenyi (1791-1860). They both dreaded the “death of the nation”.

Anxiety and illusion-fed Hungarian nationalism became closely tied together. The more illusion-filled Hungarian nationalism became, the more its proponents became fearful, trying to compensate for their fear.

It is, therefore, not by accident that István Tisza was reluctant to immediately start a war, and that he did not want to annex Serbian territories. He was afraid of losing Transylvania, and also that the Monarchy would acquire another set of Slavic masses. Other political forces also did not want to relinquish the territorial integrity of the country, and were also afraid of incorporating large, new non-Hungarian ethnic groups in the country. Independently of political partisanship, the axioms of nationalism were in operation. The overwhelming conviction was that the war was essentially about fending off dangers to Hungarian supremacy, and as such, from a Hungarian point of view, was an act of self-defense rather than aggression. It was deemed necessary to demonstrate Hungarian power to Serbia and Romania relying on the strength of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy (even though the Monarchy was regarded as a coerced community), and thereby make the territorial integrity of Hungary and Hungarian supremacy – the cornerstones of Hungarian nationalism – unquestionable realities.

The Hungarian elite considered their own illusions to be reality, and their actual political actions were taken in line with this imaginary reality.

The Treaty of Trianon that concluded World War I in 1920 dissected Hungary. Large territories with Hungarian population got under the rule of other states. The ethnic character of these states was determined by the sentiment of ethnic groups formerly living in Hungary.

The decisions incorporated in the treaty, as they were unfair from an ethnic point of view, were unacceptable to Hungarian public opinion. Denial and a desire for revision arising from it suppressed the necessity for the revision of national thought.

After the Treaty of Trianon, Hungarian people thought – again, virtually independently of partisanship – that “Trianon” must be abolished. A popular slogan ran: “Mutilated Hungary is not a country, Greater Hungary is heaven!” People wanted to believe “in one God, in one Homeland, in one divine eternal justice, and in the resurrection of Hungary.” They believed that the country that came to existence due to the compromise with the Habsburgs was theirs, and desired that it would remain so. This Hungary was regarded as the country of Hungarians, and as such their homeland, while in actual fact the country was not exclusively “theirs” and other ethnic groups also regarded it as their own homeland.

Instead of inspiring the self-correction of territorial national thought, the defeat in World War I had the opposite effect: the actual state of affairs was regarded emotionally and politically unacceptable, and that which had been lost was regarded as genuine reality. The defeat and subsequent loss of territory and ethnic Hungarian population confirmed and reinforced the anxiety, fear and frustration that had been present in Hungarian national consciousness from the start, which, in turn, fostered compensatory behavior.

An approach based on the concept of Greater Hungary has been to some extent characteristic of Hungarian emotional culture and thought ever since. Even today, there are people displaying car stickers and wearing T-shirts showing Greater Hungary and maps showing the contours of the historical Kingdom of Hungary are often displayed in public events. To better understand this phenomenon, let us imagine that in today’s Austria some cars had red-and-white striped stickers showing the contours of the Monarchy.

Although Hungarian historiography makes the rational observation that revisionist thought was unsuccessful, historians often use phrasings that contain hidden references to the idea of Greater Hungary. For instance, when describing interwar revisionist policies, they not infrequently talk about reacquiring, or regaining territories, even when the ethnic foundations are – to put it mildly – questionable. (For example, when describing the events of the occupation of Subcarpathia in 1939, where the proportion of ethnic Hungarians in the given territory was as low as 5 %.)

Greater Hungary, St. Stephen’s Hungary, or call it as you may, did not exist as a territorial entity after 1541 (when the country was subdivided into three parts) and came into being again only in the era of modern national consciousness, after 1867. Its end effectively came in 1918, and it ceased to exist as a legal entity in 1920.

It was created by the compromise with the Habsburgs, and it came to an end with the dissolution of the Habsburg Empire.

The same Hungarians who thought of Greater Hungary, created and preserved by the final form of the Habsburg Empire, as their natural homeland given by God, usually related to the dynasty with disgust or disapproval – giving another proof of how illusion-fed Hungarian national consciousness was not capable of coming to terms with historical realities.

Greater Hungary has an emphatic presence in Hungarian national imagination, thought and sentiment. Many Hungarians regard as their homeland a country that does not exist any more; many of them are enthusiastic about something that exists no more; and many of them become emotionally touched by an entity that has been dead for a long time. This could be called a case of “national necrophilia”.




As a conclusion the following may be said:

  • At the time the war broke out the attitude of the Hungarian political elite was fundamentally determined by the world-view of Hungarian nationalism.
  • What they regarded as the national interest was very much culturally determined.
  • Hungarian nationalist thought was a peculiar mix of illusions and frustrations.
  • From a Hungarian viewpoint, there was no actual political interest in starting or entering the war.
  • However, the cultural determination of Hungarian nationalism overrode real political interests.


Fuelled by enthusiasm, Hungary entered the war on July 28, 1914.

[1] This essay was published in German by Böhlau Verlag (András Gerő: Die Politische Elite Ungarns und der Ausbruch des Ersten Weltkriegs. Politische haltungen und Kulturelle Motivationen. In: Maria Mesner – Robert Kriechbauer – Michaela Maier – Helmut Wohnout: Parteien und Gesellschaft im Ersten Weltkrieg. Das Beispiel Österreich-Ungarn. Böhlau Verlag, Wien-Köln-Weimar, 2014, 93-106. pp.

[2] The question was addressed in depth by József Galántai, who devoted a monograph to the history of World War I. His works addressing the topic are: Galántai, József. 1975. Szarajevótól a háborúig; 1914. július (From Sarajevo to the War; July 1914). Budapest: Kossuth Kiadó. Galántai, József. 1964. Tisza és a világháború (Tisza and the World War). Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó. His comprehensive work is: Galántai, József. 2001. Magyarország az első világháborúban, 1914-1918 (Hungary in World War I, 1914-1918). Budapest: Korona Kiadó.

Another valuable contribution is: Diószegi, István. 1984. “Tisza István és az első világháború” (“István Tisza and World War I.”). In A magyar külpolitikai útjai. Tanulmányok (Paths of Hungarian foreign policy. Collected papers.) 75–87. Budapest: Gondolat Kiadó. The latest collection of papers on this topic is: Romsics, Ignác, ed. 2010. Magyarország az első világháborúban (Hungary in World War I). Budapest: Kossuth Könyvkiadó.

[3] On the longer-term international aspects of the Balkan question see: Palotás, Emil, 1972. A Balkán-kérdés az osztrák-magyar és az orosz diplomáciában a XIX. század végén (The Balkan Question in Austro-Hungarian and Russian diplomacy at the end of the 19th century). Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó.

[4] For studying the life of István Tisza the following publications are of utmost importance: Pölöskei, Ferenc. 1985. Tisza István (István Tisza). Budapest: Gondolat. Vermes, Gábor. 1994. Tisza István (István Tisza). Budapest: Századvég. (The latter publication will henceforth be referred to as Vermes 1994.)

[5] Österreich-Ungarns Aussenpolitik. Von der bosnischen Krise 1908 bis zum Kriegsausbruch 1914. Diplomatische Aktenstücke des österreichisch-ungarischen Ministeriums des Ässern (The Foreign Policy of Austria-Hungary: From the Bosnian Crisis to the Outbreak of the War in 1914. Documents of the Austrian-Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs). Ed. Ludwig Bittner – Hans Übersberger. Vienna-Leipzig, 1930. Vol. VIII, pp. 248-249.

[6] The changes in Tisza’s views are discussed exhaustively in Vermes 1994, 234–259. His interpretation forms the basis of my discussion.

[7] On the standpoint of the parliamentary and extra-parliamentary opposition see: Hanák, Péter, principal editor, Mucsi, Ferenc, ed. 1978. Magyarország története. 1890-1918 (The History of Hungary. 1890-1918). Vol. 7/2, 1099–1102. Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó.

[8] Képviselőházi Napló 1910-1915 (Proceedings of the House of Representatives, 1910-1915). 1917. Vol. XXXVI, 192. Budapest.

[9] Károlyi, Mihály. 1977. Hit, illúziók nélkül (Faith without illusions) 66–75. Budapest: Magvető. According to Károlyi’s own account, he only blamed Apponyi for not having “blackmailed” the dynasty in exchange for a statement supporting the war.

[10] The turnaround of the Social Democratic parties is usually referred to in the literature as the breakdown of the Second International, since that organization uniting Social Democratic parties had previously stood against the war. However, as the war broke out almost all prominent European Social Democrats joined the pro-war camp. On this topic see: Jemnitz, János. 1969. A szocialista pártok és a háború (Socialist Parties and the War). Budapest: Kossuth Könyvkiadó.

[11] “The War Is On!” Népszava, July 26, 1914.

[12] In a short period of time more than a dozen propaganda plays were written, such as for instance: “Mindnyájunknak el kell menni” (“All of us must join”) by Gyula Hegedűs and Jenő Faragó, premiered on September 2, 1914 in Vígszínház (Comedy Theater), Budapest, and “Ferenc József azt üzente…” (“Franz Joseph sent a summons…”) by Árpád Pásztor, which was put on stage for the first time on August 25 in Király Színház (King Theater), Budapest. These two plays are worth noting because in their titles they contain references to the “Kossuth song”, a popular song from the period of the 1848-49 War of Independence, which became one of the emotional keystones of folklorized national identity.

[13] My views on Hungarian nationalism are discussed in detail in András, Gerő, 2006: Imagined History. Chapters from Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Hungarian Symbolic Politics. New York: Columbia University Press and in András, Gerő, 2008: Hungarian Illusionism. New York: Columbia University Press, 21-48.