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Austrian Memorandum (1863)

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II. Austria's reorganization proposals can only rest on a federative principle held with complete clarity and determination.

Much has changed in Europe since 1815, but now as then the provision that the German states will be independent and united through a federative tie – a provision made into a necessity by the dissolution of the German Reich and sanctioned by European treaties – represents the only possible foundation for Germany's political constitution. One cannot oppose this truth, either directly or indirectly, without leaving the firm ground of reality. One cannot exclude the measure of reform from ideal demands or from doctrines that are artificially adjusted to a specific interest without sacrificing the present to an uncertain future surrounded by the most obvious perils. A course contrary to the confederal principle cannot be taken for Germany's common concerns without confronting warning signs at every step and, at the end of the road, arriving at a precipice. Monarchical states, among them two great powers, constitute the German union of states. Institutions such as a unified head [of government] or a parliament emerging from direct popular elections are not appropriate for this union; they go against its nature, and whoever demands them only wants a confederation in name or something that has been called a confederal state; in reality, he wants the gradual extinguishment of the individual states' vitality; he wants a condition of transition toward future unification; he wants the division of Germany, without which this transition cannot take place. Austria will not propose such institutions. But it seems the moment has arrived when concern for Germany's welfare requires that the principles upon which the Confederation was founded be strengthened, and the federative principle be given greater power over the sovereignty of the individual states, which was already limited by the very concept of a federation. The German Confederation was concluded as a confederation of princes; but it is also expressly recognized as the national union of Germans that has taken the place of the former Reich [Holy Roman Empire], and in the future – in order to meet the requirements of our era, and even by virtue of the character of its constitutional forms – it will necessarily have to present itself before the world as a union of German states as such, of princes as well as of peoples. The Kaiser therefore sees in the fortification of the executive power, and in the appeal to the constitutional [parliamentary] bodies of the individual states to participate in confederal legislation, two equally irrefutable and, at the same time, mutually dependent tasks. The government of the Kaiser has already given expression to this conviction with the note to Count v. Bernstoff from February 2, 1862, and then again with the above-mentioned declaration in the Confederal Diet meeting of January 22 of the current year.

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