1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Körber, Ernst, Ritter von
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Körber, Ernst, Ritter von
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KÖRBER, ERNST, Ritter Von (1860-1919), Austrian statesman, was born at Trent on Nov. 6 1860, the son of an officer. He entered the State service in 1872, became Minister of Commerce (Nov. 30 1897-March 5 1898); Minister of the Interior (Oct. 2-Dec. 21 1899); Prime Minister (Jan. 18 1900-Dec. 31 1904 and Oct. 28-Dec. 20 1916); deputy curator of the Academy of Sciences (1904-19).
Körber represented the old Austrian tradition of faithful public service; his aim being to ward off by a comprehensive scheme of administrative reform the obvious crumbling of the old system of centralized Government. His Studies in administrative reform, published in 1904, involved an indictment of the administration unheard of hitherto in Austrian official circles; he wanted to do away with the “notorious double-tracking” of the parallel administration of the central State and its units, to make a sharp distinction between their respective competence, and to establish a sort of clearing-house of the mixed jurisdictions, leaving intact the whole of the rights of both the State and the unit. This great work remained unachieved, because none of the separate nationalities was prepared to make the necessary sacrifice, even in return for compensation. He tried, with “passionless perseverance,” to set Parliament functioning again, seeking to win support by granting large State credits for Alpine railways and Galician waterways; but his success was short-lived, and the delays in the execution of the canalization schemes, which were increasingly costly as time went on, even led to special obstruction on the part of the Poles. The concessions which he made to each national group led to corruption (the purchase of votes by concessions, parliamentary “milking”). After the murder of Stürgkh, Francis Joseph summoned him to the rescue of the State (Oct. 1916), but on the old Emperor's death the new monarch quickly got rid of his unaccommodating adviser. He died in Vienna, March 6 1919.