How could an Englishman be forced to fight for Austria-Hungary against his will during WW1?

How could an Englishman be forced to fight for Austria-Hungary against his will during WW1?

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I'm writing a novel set during the first world war. One of the characters is conscripted to fight for the Austria-Hungarian army while he is studying art in Vienna. How could this realistically go about happening? The final quarter of the novel deals with him facing political repercussions for this "betrayal" against his country.

  • He lives in Vienna
  • He is an Englishman
  • He is an art student
  • He is nineteen.
  • He has no prior military experience.

Based on the Austrian conscription law of 1868 and militia law 1886 only citizens could be conscripted.

The only exception would be for a foreigner to be conscripted would be with

  • permission from the Emperor and
  • permission of the government of the foriegner's citizenship
  • with a minimal age of 20

base on the §§1,3,6 and 16 of the conscription law of 1868.

Since the United Kingdom declared war on the Austrian empire on the 14th of August 1914, it is unlikely that they would grant one of their citizens permission to join the Austrian army.

Even had they done so, it is unlikely that the emperor would have granted permission to a minor enemy foreigner to join the army.

To my knowledge, only the United States conscripts residents who are foreigners.

Since the first step of conscription was the checking for eligibility in the registry (where age and citizenship would be noted), it would be more likely that a UK citizen would be sent to Internierungslager Grossau, which is where English and French citizens were interned until 1917.

After the English and French who had, up to then been quartered there, were moved from Grossau on April 29, 1917, the camp was temporarily vacated on May 1, 1917. Among the internees was James Joyce's brother, Stanislaus Joyce, who had been transferred from the Kirchberg an der Wild internment camp.

Arrested as a subversive on December 28, 1914, at the beginning of World War I, he [Stanislaus Joyce] was interned by the Austrians at Katzenau, near Linz.


  • Wehrgesetz vom 5. Dezember 1868
    • Pages 438, 439 and 441
  • Landsturmgesetz vom 6. Juni 1886
    • Page 325
  • Internierungslager Grossau - Wikipedia (German only)
  • Conscription in the United States, Non-citizens

British nationality could be transmitted through descent in the male line. It would be lost through naturalization elsewhere.

Austro-Hungarian citizenship was granted, among other things, through descent, but I'm not sure if it is only through the male line.

An out-of-wedlock birth to an English father, later recognized, with muddled papers?

I've heard oral history from WWII of ethnic Germans living in Poland who got their citizenship and a draft notice after the German invasion. They self-identified as German, not Polish, so it is not quite the same.

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