Law and Order” or “Revolution”? Local Councils as an Instrument of the Post-1918 Transition in Upper Silesia, Cieszyn and the Orava County.
The paper focuses on the immediate post-war period from October 1918 until spring 1919 and the emergence of hundreds of councils as instruments to organize the political transition. According to the focus of my ongoing project at the Hannah Arendt Institute for Totalitarianism Studies in Dresden the spatial framework is a comparison of local and regional councils in the contested border areas of Upper Silesia, Teschen / Těšínsko / Cieszyn and the Árva / Orava region. The first argument of the paper is, that on one hand these councils were intended to maintain “law and order”, while on the other hand they acted as instruments of democratization and nationalization. In these multinational, multilingual and multiconfessional borderlands the main principles of nation statehood and democracy caused conflicts between Czech, Slovak, Polish, German and Hungarian concepts for the post-war order in Central Europe. The second argument is, that it is necessary to highlight conflicting agencies between the national, regional and local level, where conflict lines need to be drawn not only between national movements, but also between social and confessional groups.