With the proclamation of German-Austria on 12 November 1918 the former Duchy of Styria became a disputed frontier area in the new republic.
On 22 November 1918 the Provisional National Assembly of German-Austria decided that Styria, too, with the exception of the areas of compact Slovene settlement, should belong to the territory of the new state. Consequently the mixed language areas including Marburg/Maribor and Pettau/Ptuj should remain with German-Austria. However, as the former south of Styria had a majority Slovene population (420,000 Slovenes and 76,000 Germans), the area south of the river Mur was also claimed by State of the Slovenes, Croats and Serbs (SHS state), which had been founded in Zagreb/Agram on 29 October 1918.
Even before the frontier question could be resolved by means of diplomacy, troops led by Major Rudolf Majster tried to create facts on the ground by occupying Lower Styria in November 1918. Because of the catastrophic situation regarding the supply of food and the lack of military forces, Styria restricted itself to a political protest to the SHS state. This was also in line with the policies of the Council of State in Vienna headed by Chancellor Karl Renner. In order to feed its population, Austria was dependent on deliveries of food from the SHS state, which is why it did not want to jeopardize good relations. Nevertheless there were minor clashes, including the escalation known as ‘Marburg’s Bloody Sunday’ on 27 January 1919 and the uprising in Radkersburg/Radgona on 4 February 1919.
The peace negotiations in Paris did nothing to alter this situation. The Austrian delegation voted for the South Styrian districts (although the majority of the population was Slovene-speaking) to remain with German-Austria and hoped there would be a plebiscite, but neither wish was fulfilled. The Treaty of Saint-Germain awarded Lower Styria to the SHS state, Radkersburg/Radgona was divided and the surrounding communities on the left bank of the river Mur were given to the republic of Austria/German-Austria. The plebiscite which the Austrians wanted in the districts of Marburg/Maribor, Pettau/Ptuj and Luttenberg/Ljutomer was not carried out.
Translation: Leigh Bailey
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- The High Price of Peace
- Tyrol Is Divided
- Burgenland Is Gained
- The defensive campaign in Carinthia and the plebiscite on 10 October 1920
- Losing Southern Styria
- Fixing the Northern Frontier
- Austrian Federal Province or Swiss Canton?
- Austrian attempts to unite with Germany from the founding of the republic to the referendums in Tyrol and Salzburg in 1921