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‘Compulsory Independence’: Irish Nationalist Images of Empire and Republic after the Birth of Independent German-Austria, 1919–1922

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 November 2020

Lili Zách*
Affiliation:
Associate Member of the Maynooth University Arts and Humanities Institute, County Kildare, Ireland
*Corresponding
*Corresponding author. Email: lili.zlil@gmail.com

Abstract

After 1918, the birth of independent small states in Central Europe was a common point of reference in Ireland. This article aims to provide a more complex understanding of Irish images of postwar Austria, highlighting the coexistence of some elements of Austria’s imperial legacy and new characteristics of the independent small state. Irish commentators focused heavily on the newly drawn borders in Central Europe, including the redistribution of nationalities, which was considered a significant factor in the formulation of identities in the newly independent, self-declared nation-states. This article discusses how Irish intellectuals, journalists, and politicians connected the issues of changing borders and the ethnic composition of Austria to actual Irish problems, especially in relation to the question of (greater German) unity. In addition, this article also explores how the significance of religion in Irish national identity determined perceptions of postwar Austria. Catholicism came to symbolize more than the everyday religion of the majority of the Irish population, and it manifested itself in Irish perceptions of the wider world, including the small successor states of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Type
Special Issue Article
Copyright
© The Author(s), 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of Association for the Study of Nationalities

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