Eastern Europe, 1914
German chancellor Bismarck was aware that the Congress of Berlin had intensified Habsburg-Russian animosities to the point of potential conflict. His first response, in 1879, was to forge an alliance between Germany and Austria-Hungary. He then attempted to shape a more general alliance of the three emperors of Germany, Russia, and Austria-Hungary (1881), who found common ground in their shared possession of Polish lands. Yet tensions continued. Both Germany and Russia treated their Polish populations badly, while the Habsburgs, forced to make concessions to liberalism and nationalism by the Hungarians, took the opposite approach and thus increased their frictions with Russia, since Habsburg Galicia became a “home away from home” for Polish and Ukrainian nationalists intent on throwing off Russian domination. The growing liberalism of Austria-Hungary led to the downfall of the Three Emperors’ League. Bismarck had realized its fragility from the start — in 1882 he concluded the Central Alliance linking Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy.