Of all the major protagonists in World War 1, Austria-Hungary had the highest percentage of its borders abutting on enemy territory. At various stages, it was invaded by Serbia, Romania, Italy, Russia and even Montenegro. It was also landlocked, except for the Adriatic coast which was effectively blockaded by Allied navies. By 1916 its war economy, armed forces and general population, progressively starved of resources, began to suffer severe exhaustion. The central organs governing military direction and provisioning had effective control over the economy, keeping the army adequately supplied. The government was able to borrow to cover the collapse of tax revenues, but the war inflamed separatist tendencies, reflected in both administrative in-fighting and regional unrest. Only a resounding victory might have held back these inherent weaknesses for any length of time. The ‘paper’ acquisitions of Brest–Litovsk were illusory; the Treaty of Versailles would be the empire’s executioner.
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