“Gut und Blut für’s Vaterland”: Habsburg Militarization Policy and the War Production Law of 1912
„GUT UND BLUT FUER´S VATERLAND“: HABSBURG MILITARIZATION POLICY AND THE WAR PRODUCTION LAW OF 1912
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This study examines the creation and legal operation of the 1912 War Production Law in the Habsburg Monarchy. This law formed the legal basis for the creation and operation of the Habsburg Monarchy’s industrial mobilization apparatus during the First World War. I argue that the creation of this law emerged as a compromise measure between the sclerotic rigidities of Habsburg policy-making and increasing security deficits in the late pre-war period. Lacking the ability to compensate for military weakness ante bellum through armaments programs or conscription due to the structure of Habsburg politics, the Habsburg government instead sought security ex post through enabling the coercion of industrial labor. This coercion took the form of the War Production Law, which most critically created a labor obligation on the part of all work-capable males between sixteen and fifty and granted to the state the right to seize and operate industrial concerns together with their workforces. This declaration of direct state control over industrial concerns and their workers, unlike the other belligerent powers in the First World War, occurred in peacetime rather than during the height of the war. A brief survey of the industrial mobilization measures of the other European Great Powers demonstrates the uniqueness of the Austro-Hungarian model. The parliamentary debate over the War Production Law between government supporters and the opposition Social Democrats further reflected a paternalist and authoritarian conception of the Habsburg state and the role of its citizens.
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