Alternate History

Sopron Frontier Territory (1983: Doomsday)

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Sopron Frontier Territory
Határ menti Sopron területén/Sopron-Ödenburg Grenzgebiet
— Subdivision of Alpine Confederation
Timeline: 1983: Doomsday

OTL equivalent: Sopron, Austro-Hungarian border
2000px-HUN Sopron Flag.svg 2000px-Coa Hungary Town Sopron.svg
Flag Coat of Arms
Capital Sopron
Largest city Sopron
Other cities Kőszeg, Fertőszentmiklós
Language Hungarian, German (official)
Ethnic group Hungarian, Austrian German
Legislature Frontier Authority
Commissioner-General Josef Steiner
Chairman István Hiller
Area approx. 350 km²
Population approx. 240,000 
Established 11 February 1984
Admission 1987 (Austrian protectorate)

1997 (First Alpine Plebiscite)

Currency Alpine Franc
Time zone Central European Time

The Sopron Frontier Territory is a small eastern border region that is part of the Alpine Confederation. Largely surrounded by the neighboring State of Burgenland and under the jurisdiction of Austria, it is based from the intact city and vicinity of Sopron (German: Ödenburg), with nominal jurisdiction over the areas along the Austro-Hungarian border currently under Alpine control. Due to its proximity to the Hungarian wastes, however, it has also been for the longest time a militarized frontier zone due to the significant presence and influence of the Alpine Militia.

Post-Doomsday History

Despite the town's long-standing existence, Sopron's origins going as far back as Roman times, Doomsday ironically proved to be the turning point for its true rise to prominence. Although the "ever loyal town," as it's known since the breakup of Austria-Hungary in 1918, was not targeted when the bombs fell, the effects were felt almost immediately. Local Communist Party members and their Soviet minders attempted to establish a forward base as part of a campaign to invade Austria, though it became apparent that there was no real power base to work on. This proved to be a breaking point as both local citizens and soldiers rose up in a successful coup against their unpopular masters. The move was supported by Austrian garrisons along with a handful of Swiss reinforcements moving across the border following the failed Soviet invasion launched during Doomsday. Yet Sopron's problems had only begun.

A Provisional Authority, predecessor to the current Frontier Authority was proclaimed on February 1984, officially bringing an end to Communist rule in their corner of Hungary. One of its first acts was to declare an indefinite martial law, though even the most fervent patriots at the time were uncertain as to whether there was still a "Hungary" to speak off. With rogue Soviet soldiers rampaging through the countryside beyond the immediate vicinity of the town and the collapse of a functioning communications structure, contact with Budapest or any other section of the country had effectively been cut off. It wasn't long, however, before stories came of mass upheaval, death and utter devastation from those swarming into the region or at least those fortunate enough to have escaped the roving bands. As fallout spread from areas targeted during Doomsday, cases of radiation sickness rose tremendously over time. Eventually, it became increasingly apparent that despite their hopes, the people of Sopron were on their own. Nonetheless, It quickly gained a reputation among refugees as a "beacon of light" in the wastes.

By 1987, soldiers from the then Austro-Swiss Union increasingly became a common sight around Sopron, with the locals welcoming them; their presence prior to that point had been among the reasons why the region had not fallen to the same chaotic breakdown that occurred across the former country. Over time, the Frontier (as it has already begun to call itself) had managed to secure additional territory, miniscule it may have been until a stable border was established. Trade and communication had also solidified with neighboring Burgenland as more German speakers flocked to the region seeking both charity work and new opportunities. By the early 1990s, Austrian charity groups and companies had begun to establish themselves within the city proper.

But it was not until later that the Frontier came to the attention of the Linz authorities and to a degree the rest of what was to become the Alpine Confederation. While most Austrians were already in favor of the region as it was under de facto Austrian protection, the Swiss and Liechtensteiners generally saw it at first as little more than a "glorified refugee camp." While for a time a contentious topic, this quickly died down towards the end of the 1990s. Referenda were held several times from 1997 onward; all including the most recent one have generally been in favor of staying in the newly forged Confederation.

Since 1997, the Frontier's formal borders have expanded sporadically; other priorities such as the situation with Sicily had generally slowed down the Alpine Confederation's efforts to restore order in what had been Western Hungary. The establishment of diplomatic and trading ties with Partium in more recent years, meanwhile, has helped benefit the local economy while assuring locals that there were still Hungarians living across the irradiated wastes.

Language and Culture

Due to its historic background and connections, Sopron has historically been both Hungary's most Austrian town and Austria's most Hungarian. It was, and still is in many ways symbolic of the long-defunct Habsburg Austro-Hungarian Empire; the Dual Monarchy may be long gone, but that legacy lives on among the present inhabitants. In such an environment the territory has developed and maintains its own identity through blending both elements, giving a distinct character from the rest of the Alpine Confederation. To this day, however, social life still retains a "stronghold" mentality, due in part to the many military installations lining the official border.

The majority are of either Austrian or Hungarian descent, a significant proportion of the latter coming from refugees fleeing the chaos before and after the infamous border closures that followed Doomsday. Due to Sopron's proximity and historic value, Austro-Swiss officers considered the lands that would more or less one day comprise the present region both a viable base of operations and a relatively suitable place from which to process and settle down these refugees until more proper places could be found; given its at-the-time grey area status, the border closures were not as enforced within the region's vicinity. While there were those who eventually moved on to live in other parts of what became the Confederation, many of whom would settle in Burgenland and other parts of Austria, the majority still chose to stay, serving only to bolster the city's reputation as a beacon of safety. To this day, the Frontier remains a major haven for Hungarian refugees and their descendants within Alpine territory or at least those who had long settled down there.

It comes as little surprise therefore that German and Magyar are the two main languages in use, of which locals are increasingly bilingual of. Many signs and local publications are made in either or both tongues, a policy which continues to be supported by the Frontier Authority and more recently the Confederate Council. Some believe that this is reminiscent if not proof of an old line bearing fruit: Indivisibiliter ac Inseparabiliter.

Politics, Military and Government

Formally run by the joint civilian-military Frontier Authority, Sopron is directly answerable to the Austrian government in Linz and ultimately the Alpine Government in Vaduz. Local laws and customs are derived from Alpine standards as well as elements from the pre-Doomsday Hungarian constitution. 

The region benefits considerably from de facto Alpine citizenship, including aid, defense and other services. But due to the relatively small size of its territory, nominally encompassing Hungarian border regions under Alpine control and influence, it is strongly reliant on their Austrian connections and the Confederate Council. 

Militarily speaking the Frontier's borders as well as its wholesale defenses are under the jurisdiction of the Alpine Militia, with provisions for local police and militia. Although it remains primarily manned by Austrians from nearby garrisons, other units from across the Confederation, including elements of the Air Corps have increasingly been stationed here. Their presence is most visible along the formal border as well as the routine patrols and surveys in the immediate vicinity beyond it.

To this day the Alpine Militia remains a significant influence in local affairs, the local Frontier Headquarters wielding power all but supplanting those of the nominally civil authorities. This is due in part, alongside the region around Bratislava/Pressburg, to Sopron's strategic importance as the Alpines' main base of operations in its corner of Western Hungary; at present, the borders formally remain closed to civilians and under tight security. There are plans in the future however, for an eventual and wholesale transition to civilian rule once order in Western Hungary has been "sufficiently restored."

It has also been the primary base from which sanctioned relief efforts and government-sponsored expeditions have been launched into the lands beyond the officially recognized borders. However, sporadic and (such as during the escalation against Sicily) with limited resources on hand. These survey missions, which had been ongoing since at least the 1990s and observed by the WCRB in more recent times, had verified the devastation left behind in the aftermath of Doomsday as well as the existence of scant communities and left over war bands still holding out in what some have since called the "Hungarian wastes." The 2009 Alpine Expeditionary Report released by Alpine officials confirmed among other things the stretch of decaying ruins and "sea of glass" that had once been Budapest.

Future of the Frontier Territory

At present, the Frontier is expected to remain within the Confederation for the immediate future. Concerns have emerged in recent times regarding the continued military presence in local affairs. The small but noticeable presence of neo-Hungarian nationalist circles from across the political spectrum, as well as contact with Partium have opened intriguing questions about its future; the more radical independence groups, however, as well as hardliners who have more controversially suggested "reintegrating" parts of the old Austrian state of Burgenland to Sopron for "historic reasons" dating back to the Treaty of Trianon continue to lack any popular support. Much more contested however are popular sentiments of being a legitimate successor to the former Republic of Hungary by virtue of its cultural and national heritage. In light of Partium in the eastern half of the old country internationally recognized as such, Sopron's status is not officially endorsed by either Alpine authorities, the WCRB or League of Nations; public, informal acknowledgement especially in Austria tends to be at least tolerated.

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