The Day European Civilization Died
Blessed Charles of Austria, Our Holy Emperor, Pray for Us
Below, I reprint in full a document that stands as Europe's death certificate — Emperor Karl I's Abdication Proclamation, 11 November 1918:
- Since my accession I have incessantly tried to rescue my peoples from this tremendous war.
I have not delayed the re-establishment of constitutional rights or the opening of a way for the people to substantial national development. Filled with an unalterable love for my peoples I will not, with my person, be a hindrance to their free development.
I acknowledge the decision taken by German Austria to form a separate State. The people has by its deputies taken charge of the Government. I relinquish every participation in the administration of the State. Likewise I have released the members of the Austrian Government from their offices.
May the German Austrian people realize harmony from the new adjustment. The happiness of my peoples was my aim from the beginning. My warmest wishes are that an internal peace will be able to heal the wounds of this war.
- It’s rarely remembered now, but Woodrow Wilson set as one of the primary war aims of the U.S. as she entered (thanks to his careful maneuvering) World War I the destruction of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. As a multi-ethnic state based not on 19th century nationalism but ancient dynastic loyalty cemented by a majority Catholic faith, it offended his modern notions of what should constitute a country—and as a good Princeton academic, who was in addition convinced that he personally embodied the Will of God, Wilson knew that he could do better.