Would it have been a good idea for Serbia and Romania to join Austria-Hungary before WWI?


Ad Honoris
May 2014
In his memoirs, Ottokar von Czernin (the Austro-Hungarian foreign minister late in World War I) wrote about how, before his assassination, Franz Ferdinand flirted with a plan to give Transylvania to Romania in exchange for Romania joining Austria-Hungary. This 1919 memoir by Czernin talks about this:

In the world war : Czernin von und zu Chudenitz, Ottokar Theobald Otto Maria, graf, 1872-1932 : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive

The logic behind this plan was to eliminate Romanian hostility towards Austria-Hungary and to secure the Romanians as Austro-Hungarian allies.

In turn, this proposal makes me wonder--would it have been a good idea for Serbia and Romania to join Austria-Hungary before WWI? The logic behind this is that such a move--combined with internal reforms in Austria-Hungary to make life fairer for its various minorities--could have allowed all of the Serbs and South Slavs (minus the Bulgarians) to be together in one country and would have also allowed all Romanians other than the Bessarabian ones to be together in one country. In other words, it would achieve national unification for Serbia and Romania without a World War while at the same time also expanding Hapsburg power. Given the massive casualties that Serbia and Romania--especially Serbia--suffered in World War I in real life, one would think that this would look like an attractive option--especially with the benefit of hindsight.

Anyway, what are your own thoughts on this idea? Was this idea ever actually realistic or was it always a pipe dream and fantasy?


Ad Honoris
May 2014
Also, some additional thoughts:

-An annexation of Romania would give Austria-Hungary access to the Black Sea cost and thus isolate Russia from the Balkans.
-If Poland were to ever successfully rebel against Russia (possibly following a revolution in Russia), then Austria-Hungary could offer to let Poland join its empire and to have the Poles in Poland reunite with their Polish brothers in Galicia. Of course, this would be based on the assumption that any revolutionary fervor in Russia is not going to spread to Austria-Hungary--because if it does spread to Austria-Hungary, then things could become very complicated there.
Apr 2017
I'm pretty sure Romania and Serbia wouldn't have been onboard with the idea. They wanted the right of self-determination, even if it meant being poor.

As for all the south slavs and Romanians being under one state, this already happened under the Ottoman empire. It wasn't very popular.

If the Balkans and Poland joined the Austrian empire it would transform it to a multi-state country unified only by a shared ruler. This would make it a confederation at best, that could fall apart at a moments notice. Only the fear of Germany and Russia would hold it together.

If we are talking about what would be best for pre-ww1 eastern Europe (putting aside the will of the people), then they should all be under the rule of Germany, as it was the most economically powerful and organized state with the power to improve things. Imagine what Germany could do with the farmlands and oil of the region. Of course they would oppress the people, but that aside their standard of living would probably improve. This would give Germany access to the black sea, Mediterranean and the Turkish border. The Kaiser could build his Berlin-Baghdad railroad, make the Ottomans their vassals (like India to the British) and have a mighty empire to rival the rest of the world.
Likes: Futurist
I think that the Serbs had nostalgic memories of their ancient medieval empire in the Balkans, and dreamed of recreating it. They also had strong sentimental attachments to their Orthodox religion, and to their language and culture. I don't think that they'd have favoured becoming part of Austria-Hungary.
Pretty much the same with Rumania. They were probably more attached to their medieval heritage under the princes of Moldavia and Wallachia, and preferred independence to union with Austria-Hungary. Although giving them Transylvania would have been a strong incentive, but Hungary would surely have objected to this, and prevented it from happening.
The Austro-Hungarian Empire, in spite of it's efforts to be inclusive of all it's nationalities, was nevertheless perceived as a primarily Austrian entity.
Actually, not all of the South Slavs had been in the Turkish Ottoman Empire, as the Croatians were in the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Likes: sailorsam


Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
Serbia and A-H were vying for influence and control in the same region so I don't see that happening. Romania had hope to get additional land as well, being bordered by Central Powers A-H, Ottoman and Bulgaria. I don't see what benefit would have come from fighting with the Central powers.
Sep 2012
would it have been feasible for Romania / Serbia / Bulgaria to join together? they could have been a buffer state between A-H and Russia.
.. add Ottoman Empire in the equation. One huge happy balkan family once more under the wise guidance of the Ottoman sultan and an obstacle for centuries-old dream of Russia for controlling the straits of ancient Constantinopolis.

Balkan Federation - Wikipedia
Oct 2013
would it have been feasible for Romania / Serbia / Bulgaria to join together? they could have been a buffer state between A-H and Russia.
It would be difficult for Serbia and Bulgaria to be a buffer against Russia (and not only geographically speaking ... ).

OTOH, Romania was a buffer against Russia anyway.
Oct 2013
Futurist, Futurist, You and Your ifs ... !

(thank You for Czernin, I wasn't aware of that!)

Joining A-H ? Nope. We're in the rise of nations heights, everyone in Central and Eastern Europe was discovering, creating, promoting it's own culture, history, ethnos.

Alliance, that could be discussed. I'm not sure about Serbs (rather reluctant, to be honest) but Romanians weren't anti-German at the time and giving them Transilvania would make them good allies, IMHO.

But that would be impossible because Hungary.

And if it had been done, A-H would explode: Hungary would never accept that. (after a century and two WW lost, most Hungarian still don't accept the idea ...)

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