Chair of East European History, LMU Munich
Loyalties taken locally. New perspectives on post-imperial statehood
After 1918, Eastern European peoples were to turn into democratic nations of a „New Europe”. One important means of the reconfiguration of ethnicity in that unique process were local referenda. However, their results were more diverse than expected. The paper sheds light on negotiating ethnicities against the backdrop of a complex history of multi-layered loyalties in the Habsburg empire. Finally, it discusses the question of whether ethnic diversity has been harmful to the evolving democracies.
Jana Osterkamp (*1977) is a historian and legal scholar. Currently she represents the Chair of East European History at the LMU Munich. Her newest book is a study on the history of federalism in the Habsburg Empire in the “long” 19th century. Between 2012–2020 she was director of the „Emmy Noether“ junior research group „Ordering Diversity. Concepts of Federalism in the Austro-Hungarian Empire and its Successor States,“ funded by the German Research Fund (DFG). Since 2018 and together with Peter Becker (U Vienna), she has been the Principal investigator of the D-A-CH – research group (DFG/FWF Austrian Research fund) “The emperor’s desk: a site of policy making in the Habsburg Empire? Francis Joseph I and his Cabinet Office”.
Institute of Political History / Principal Investigator (ERC NEPOSTRANS
Self-Fashionable lives? Strategies of national adaptation in a Romanianized education system
Since the dawn of nationalism, education was assumed to be the main channel of national socialization. Successor states of Austria-Hungary shared this view and, soon after the takeover of sovereignty, moved to reconfigure instruction. In Romania, it meant a two-step procedure of the Romanianization of the language and content of instruction, and the creation of a new, unified legal framework that heavily preferred state schools over private ones. As a consequence, non-Romanian-language education was rolled back in terms of the number of schools, pupils, and teachers’ positions.
While institutional nationalization was quick, human resources were scarce and the resolution of the resulting problems slow. Therefore, the transition period opened possibilities for non-Romanians and Romanians to start negotiating their position within the system individually and institutionally too. In this process, non-Romanian teachers, Romanian teachers moving to Romania, and those migrating within the country, faced not only the expectations of the state in terms of nationalization, but the realities of an educational system with meager resources and the local worlds that often differed significantly from the imagined Romanian national cultural space.
In my paper, I will analyse the process of negotiation from the perspective of individuals who pursued their professional, political, and personal goals within the education system. The focus is on their attempts to adapt to these new realities, but also how they leveraged the weaknesses of the system. As a nationalizing structure, education made them reconsider ethnicity individually, institutionally, and collectively, and how it was to be related to the state. Contrary to what happened within the administrative system, the result of this process was not a fragile, but lasting balance, only overturned in the 1930s, rather a continuous decline in the number of non-Romanian teachers and education.
Gábor Egry is a historian, Doctor of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and director-general of the Institute of Political History, Budapest. His research interests are nationalism, everyday ethnicity, the politics of identity, and the politics of memory in modern East Central Europe. He is the author of five volumes in Hungarian and several articles in the European Review of History, Slavic Review, and Hungarian Historical Review. His last monograph, Etnicitás, identitás, politika. Magyar kisebbségek nacionalizmus és regionalizmus között Romániában és Csehszlovákiában 1918-1944 [Ethnicity, identity, politics. Hungarian Minorities between nationalism and regionalism in Romania and Czechoslovakia 1918-1944] (Napvilág, Budapest, 2015) was shortlisted for the Felczak Wereszycki Prize of the Polish Historical Association. He was Fulbright Visiting Research Scholar at Stanford University, recipient of fellowships from, among others, the Imre Kertész Kolleg, Jena, New Europe College, Bucharest, and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Since 2018 he is the Principal Investigator of the ERC Consolidator project NEPOSTRANS – Negotiating post-imperial transitions: from remobilization to nation-state consolidation. A comparative study of local and regional transitions in post-Habsburg East and Central Europe.
European University Institute (Florence, Italy)
Transitioning to a ‘National’ World? Popular Engagement with Nationalism in Lower Styria and Bačka/Bácska/Batschka in the First Decade of Yugoslav Rule (1918/9-1929)
After 1918, a sizable part of the Habsburg Empire ended up within the borders of the newly founded Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. Framed as a nation-state for the “triune Yugoslav nation,” ethnolinguistic nationalism played an important role in the young polity’s legitimizing discourse. Particularly in its former Habsburg territories, many South Slav nationalists understood the state’s establishment as the dawning of a new “national” age in which their hitherto oppressed co-nationals, accustomed to living under a “foreign” imperial regime, would finally enjoy free national development. And while such a narrative has also largely defined traditional historiography, comparatively little attention has been devoted to how this transition to a “national” world was experienced and perceived by the general population. With two formerly Austrian and Hungarian regions as its case study areas, the present paper offers some illustrative examples of how popular engagement with nationalism manifested itself during the first decade of Yugoslav rule. Touching upon spheres such as business, education, and the civil service, as well as everyday life, its aim is to offer insight into how ordinary people not only accommodated themselves to the new “national” age, but also struggled, failed, and outright refused to meet its demands. In doing so, they often demonstrated an acute awareness of top-down nationalist discourse, but also articulated identity in ways that noticeably diverged from contemporary elite formulations of nationality.
Oliver Pejić is a doctoral researcher in History at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy, as well as an external affiliate of the NEPOSTRANS research project. As a researcher he is primarily interested in the cultural and political history of Central and Southeastern Europe in the long nineteenth century and interwar periods, with a particular emphasis on the history of nationalism. His doctoral dissertation project comparatively examines popular engagement with nationalism in Bačka and Lower Styria during late Habsburg and early Yugoslav rule.
Institute for Social Studies, University of Warsaw
Figurations of ethnicity and working class politics in the ethnic borderlands of the late Russian Empire
The aim of the presentation is to deliver a semi-systematic overview of figurations of ethnicity and working class mobilization within various ethnically diversified political sub-spaces of the late Russian Empire. I will review four cases with multiple, situated working class mobilizations with various relationships to ethnicity: “Poland”, “Finland”, “Georgia” and “Latvia.” (I use here ahistorical names of later states to refer to the ethnicity-cum-region nexus).
In order to do this, I use three theoretical resources. (1)The concept of configuration (roughly taken from Norbert Elias) refers to process, dynamics, and interdependence of mutually referred actions, in this case between various forms of identification, mobilization, and the imperial management of diversity and containment of centrifugal forces. (2) the historical sociology of autocratic capitalism, working class mobilization, and civil society offers structural explanations of their particular shape and interactions in imperial Russia (Bonell, McDaniel). These studies were tacitly aimed at describing the preconditions of revolution. The idea of Russian revolution has been recently largely decentered, though. As a result, this relational reasoning ought to be applied more specifically to the interaction of the state and working class politics in ethnically diversified regions, to explain their diversified trajectories. (3) To do so, I will use the perspective on imperial governance seen as applying multiple regimes of difference to highly heterogeneous populations, known from the so-called New Imperial History (Semyonov, Gerasimov, Mogilner). Thus, my foci are the relational interplay of actors, intersectional and multidirectional inequality, and the active role of imperial governance in producing various identities and mobilizations through alliances, concessions, and repression.
In all the investigated regions, local socialism played with ethnicity and forms of nationalism. They constructed an intersectional “pre-anticolonial” idea of oppression by the tsarist state and autocratic capitalism, producing various forms of “peripheral Menshevism”. In some cases, the leading socialist parties had distinct profiles (Poland, Finland) while others continued to cooperate with the Russian SD (Georgia, Latvia). Both ways might produce different results – opting for an inter-class nation-state or for revolutionary confrontation within, or apart from, the Russian Revolution (all in all, four distinct types of ethnic mobilization of socialist workers).
At the same time, nationalist formations competed for workers’ support with different success rates, too. While Polish nationalism was tolerated by the imperial administration and consequently able to stir mass support, it finally lost the grip over workers, too independent not only in their class aspirations but also in their nationalist, anti-Russian zeal. In Finland, the socialists enjoyed the role of a stabilizing factor in the eyes of imperial governance and were able to keep most of their working class constituencies. In Latvia, the neat correspondence between estate and ethnicity supported the ethnic undercurrent of socialist mobilization, but it sided with the Bolsheviks. However, ethnic solidarity was nonetheless retaken by forces aiming at a nation-state. In Georgia, the socialists opted for an inter-class state crafted with a broad alliance of social forces under the umbrella of the socialist state project. These bewildering choices and their results cannot be unanimously referred to on structural grounds. Historical particularities and exogenic factors created mere windows of opportunity rather than structural preconditions. Nevertheless, careful process tracing of these relational pathways may shed light on some explanatory arguments which I will try to encapsulate.
Wiktor Marzec is an Assistant Professor and project leader in The Robert Zajonc Institute for Social Studies, University of Warsaw, Poland. Wiktor holds a PhD in sociology and social anthropology from Central European University, Budapest. He is the author of Rising Subjects. The 1905 Revolution and the Origins of Modern Polish Politics (Pittsburgh UP 2020), co-author of From Cotton and Smoke. Łódź – Industrial City and Discourses of Asynchronous Modernity, 1897–1994 and several articles on Poland within the Russian Empire, focusing on labor history and the history of concepts. Currently he runs a comparative project on political trajectories of the late tsarist borderlands.
PhD Graduate, Doctoral School of Political Science, Central European University
A nation of bureaucrats or a nation of workers? Welfare benefits as nation-building modernization tools in interwar Romania
As one of the most potent hypotheses in political economy, the negative impact of ethnic diversity on the provision of public goods made the welfare state–nation state isomorphism seem like a one-way connection. Against the grain of existing studies, I argue that, through a case-study of interwar Romania, welfare states are constructed to proactively (re)build the nation, rather than retroactively emanate from it, once established. Rather than an ahistorical ethnolinguistic fractionalization, the article takes nationhood as historically fluid and contested because, through institutionalized action, elites can and do proactively revamp the political arena, redistributing coalitions of winners and losers based on exogenously given criteria. The article therefore shows that nation-forgers typically internalize the global social question through the topoi of local socioeconomic problems construed as a national question. Because elites can pick and choose who becomes part of the national compact, the politicization of the perception of incomplete nationhood provides a sufficient ideational thrust for welfare policymaking, irrespective of pre-existing national solidarities. Consequently, welfare policies are typically layered as remedial or compensatory policies designed to foster a specific social mobility, deemed in a top-down fashion to be completing the nation.
Sergiu Delcea received his PhD in Political Science from Central European University in 2021, with a dissertation exploring the link between modernization and welfare state creation in late industrializing Romania. His research focuses on the simultaneity of challenges inherent in competing with the “developed West”, which forced political elites in late industrializing countries to theorize, in a self-reflexive manner, solutions such as welfare institutions that cut across the processes of state-making, nation-building, and economic transformation. He has published particularly on the relationship between nation-building and welfare state development and is currently seeking to expand the research to include a transnational angle.
Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (ZRC SAZU)
Ethnicization and de-ethnicization of Gypsiness in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia
A conceptual history of Gypsiness in Habsburg and post-Habsburg East Central Europe reveals non-coeval, non-linear, and multiscalar processes of the concept’s ethnicization and de-ethnicization, by which I mean that it was sometimes considered administratively as an ethnic, and sometimes as a social category. On the level of the discourses of the state, governments in the region ethnicized the concept with differing temporalities due to their divergent legislative and administrative histories. The Kingdom of Yugoslavia as a case study demonstrates this claim. As the Yugoslav case reveals, the process of ethnicization was by no means unidirectional, because an ethnicized administrative notion of Gypsiness could easily be de-ethnicized under new circumstances, and vice versa. I will focus on the incommensurability of the nineteenth-century Ottoman and Habsburg notions of Gypsiness, which clashed and interacted with each other in the newly established Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. I will thus show that the post-1918 states in the region had to reconcile with a conceptual multiscalarity when consolidating sovereignty over territories with different imperial traditions.
Vita Zalar is an assistant at the Institute of Cultural History, Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (ZRC SAZU), and a doctoral candidate in history at the Postgraduate School ZRC SAZU. Source- and language-wise, she is most at home in Habsburg and post-Habsburg Central and Eastern Europe. In her dissertation, she is developing a conceptual history of Gypsiness in the Habsburg and post-Habsburg context in the period 1860–1940 under the supervision of Assoc. Prof. Ari Joskowicz (Vanderbilt University) and Prof. Oto Luthar (ZRC SAZU). She participates in the research projects “Dislocations and Resistances: Persecutions and Genocidal Violences of Roma, Sinti, and Travellers in Western Europe, 1939-1946,” led by Dr. Ilsen About, and “Schools and Imperial, National and Transnational Identifications: Habsburg Empire, Yugoslavia, and Slovenia,” led by Assoc. Prof. Rok Stergar.
Birkbeck Institute for the Study of Antisemitism, University of London
A nation among the nations: Zionism’s breakthrough in Eastern and Central Europe
One of the many political transformations in Europe during and in the aftermath of the First World War is Zionism’s breakthrough as a, if not the, leading Jewish political movement in Eastern and Central Europe. This phenomenon is commonly explained in line with the normative trajectories of other nationalisms in the region. Whereas Czechs, Poles, Lithuanians, etc. regained their long-awaited national freedom, so the argument goes, Jews rejoiced over the British Balfour-Declaration, which promised the establishment of a ‘Jewish national home in Palestine’ and naturally flocked to the ranks of the Zionist movement that would fulfil their ancient national dreams.
This paper aims to challenge this interpretation by looking at the work of Zionist activists in Eastern and Central Europe itself. It argues that rather than being concerned with a future homeland in the Middle East, Jews were attracted to the movement because Zionist activists played an important role in their day-to-day lives and in their struggle for individual and communal survival in Europe. By aiding the starving Jewish population, building relief- and childcare-institutions, and organizing armed self-defense against pogroms, Zionists tried to find a place for the Jews in a rapidly transforming European order. This nation-building project, far removed from the ideological principles of Zionism (at least geographically), aimed to establish the Jewish nation as one of many in the new multinational order of Eastern and Central Europe after the war.
Jan Rybak is an Early Career Fellow at the Birkbeck Institute for the Study of Antisemitism at the University of London. He holds a PhD in history from the European University Institute and has previously been a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of York and an external lecturer at the University of Salzburg. His first book, “Everyday Zionism in East-Central Europe: Nation-Building in War and Revolution, 1914–1920” was published by Oxford University Press in August 2021.
Research Fellow, Imre Kertész Kolleg, Jena
Popular Nationalism: A Meaningful Category?
On the margins of a new team project proposal, my talk will offer a few reflections on social discontent and popular adherence to minority nationalist politics in pre-WW1 Eastern Europe in general and the Kingdom of Hungary in particular. For the vast majority of people in these lands, the much-touted civilization that states supposedly delivered mainly took the form of tax burdens and excises—which grew many times in the span of a few decades—a bloated, parasitic bureaucracy, and countless prohibitions. It was only the icing on the cake for minoritized subjects when the state preemptively demeaned them and deprived literacy in their home language of its value. Did people aligning with minority politics wish to live under similar state structures but governed by their co-ethnics? Or did they expect national movements to shield them from state interference in a desire to continue with or return to a self-enclosed local existence? One way to interpret the relationship between elite and popular politics in this early stage is that they mutually manipulated each other, as John Breuilly expressed it. In other words, as far as the people were concerned, they did not need a nationalist framing to resent state policies but tried to couch it in a nationalist language when seeking the alliance of national movements. Another possibility is to postulate a popular version of nationalism distilled from imperfect learning of the elite code and combined with homespun, vernacular elements. On the one hand, peasant nationalism was something of a paradox; born out of nostalgia for closely-knit, face-to-face communities, nationalism had little to offer for people who inhabited such primary groups. On the other hand, it is tempting to see a continuity between early lower-class adoptions of a nationalist language and those populist, often sinister brands of nationalism that came to shape much of the twentieth century.
Ágoston Berecz is a historian whose work focuses on the relationship between language and politics and the social history of nineteenth-century Eastern Europe. His second book, Empty Signs, Historical Imaginaries (Berghahn Books, 2020), tells the history of nationalization processes in Transylvania-at-large from the perspective of proper names. He was acting editor of East Central Europe and research coordinator at Pasts, Inc., Budapest in 2020–21. He received fellowships from the Center for Advanced Studies, Sofia (2020–21), and the New Europe College, Bucharest (2015–16), was a Max Weber Fellow at the European University Institute, Florence (2018–19) and a visiting professor at Central European University and Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest (2017–18). He holds a PhD in Comparative History from Central European University (2017) and a prior degree in Hungarian Philology from Eötvös Loránd University (1999).
CODY JAMES INGLIS
Central European University (Budapest/Vienna) / ERC NEPOSTRANS
“Defection from the Nation? The Primacy of Regionalism among post-Habsburg Südmährer in Znojmo/Znaim, 1918–1925.”
In the presentation, I will examine the ways in which local and regional identification developed among German-speakers in Znojmo/Znaim in southern Moravia (so-called Südmährer) during the early interwar period, that is, the period of postimperial transition. I argue that the forms of sub-national identification that this group expressed did not sit neatly with predominant images of national ‘Germanness’ that had been proliferating from the late nineteenth century and well into the interwar period. Contemporary scholarship has made the strong claim that German nationalism—or any modern nationalism for that matter—was not a homogeneous ideological, social, political, and cultural phenomenon. Among nationally-conscious German-speakers in the Habsburg Empire in particular, the political vectors of German nationalism versus local and regional ties often diverged. This difference can be felt most predominantly at the level of the crownland, where regional differences were more pronounced not only in cultural but also in important legal, administrative, and constitutional terms. “Commonality” as a keystone of “nationhood”—in this case, German—often extended in concrete terms to imperial loyalty or some sort of linguistic affinity undergirded by a common grammar and vocabulary or degrees of mutual intelligibility. In short, national attachments appeared to be comparatively weaker than regional solidarities even during the period of nationalization and democratization that followed the collapse of the old imperial orders.
During this short period of collapse, the population of southern Moravia experienced a similarly quick series of political transitions at the local level. In November 1918, local German nationalists—headed by a former member of the Reichsrat, Oskar Teufel—declared the autonomy of a small band of territory running at the southernmost edge of the former Moravian crownland along the Thaya River, roughly between Znojmo/Znaim and Mikulov/Nikolsburg. Subsequently, military and civilian authorities who had pledged loyalty to the emergent Czechoslovak Republic drafted plans to occupy the area, using police, gendarmes, and the military. By January 1919, the area was fully controlled by the Czechoslovak state. Local elections were held the same year, which handed control of the Znojmo/Znaim municipal council and mayorship to the local Czech Social Democrats, with a former member of the German radicals (nationalists) acting as Deputy Mayor. Country-wide parliamentary elections were held the following year, in 1920, with local electoral districts again voting predominantly for the Social Democrats. While this was a defeat for German nationalists, it appears that German-speaking Southern Moravians in general did not perceive it as such. German-speaking administrative personnel from the imperial period retained many of their low- and mid-level positions in local and regional administrative bodies, local German-speakers declared their children as “Czechoslovak” by citizenship and “German” by language in school records, local historians wrote about regional history more or less as a story of co-existence, while the local Social Democrats, Socialists, and Communists were able to appeal to voters across national lines. Indeed, left-wing politics (broadly conceived) seems to have insulated the region from the pernicious effects of the resentment-based extreme nationalism of the Sudetendeutsche Partei, even among German-speaking voters until the late 1930s.
Against this backdrop of relatively rapid and dramatic administrative, political, and cultural changes, I will argue more precisely that it was regional and local identifications which kept extreme German nationalism at the margins of mainstream political life among Südmährer in Znojmo/Znaim during the early period of postimperial transition.
Cody James Inglis is a doctoral candidate in comparative history at the Central European University, Budapest and Vienna, and junior researcher on the ERC Consolidator Grant “Negotiating post-imperial transitions,” hosted by the Institute of Political History in Budapest. His research interests broadly encompass the conceptual, intellectual, legal, and social histories of the Habsburg Empire and its successor states from the mid-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries. Currently, he is researching and writing a dissertation on the history of republican political thought in interwar Yugoslavia.
ERC NEPOSTRANS, post-doc researcher
Ethnic division in local politics? State building and local self-government in an Eastern Galician city
Using the example of the multi-ethnic city of Kolomyja in southeastern Galicia, the paper examines the role of ethnicity in local politics. The focus is on reform debates of local self-government. World War I and the subsequent state-building processes questioned established political and social structures. Moreover, competing state-building attempts after the collapse of the Habsburg Monarchy, as well as violent conflicts over the region between Ukrainian and Polish forces, gave national issues a new dimension. Beside the dismantling of social privileges, the question of an appropriate representation of the different ethnic or national groups in the city played an essential role in local debates. This is particularly evident in the concept of national personal autonomy which was discussed for local self-government in Kolomyja and temporarily implemented during this transitional period. To what extent did these debates promote ethnic division in local politics? The paper examines different phases of this transitional period, including World War I, the short-lived West Ukrainian People’s Republic, and the region’s subsequent integration into the Polish Republic in 1919. How did the frameworks of the respective states affect debates on political representation and local politics? How were the respective groups represented in the city council defined? What was the role of Jews, the largest population group in the city of Kolomyja?
Elisabeth Haid is a postdoctoral researcher on the ERC project NEPOSTRANS at the Institute of Political History in Budapest. She studied History and Slavonic Studies in Vienna and was a fellow in the doctoral program “Austrian Galicia and its Multicultural Heritage.” Her dissertation on Galicia as a subject of Austrian and Russian propaganda in World War I was published in 2019.
University of Ljubljana & ERC NEPOSTRANS
Prekmurci or “People of Prekmurje”: Patterns of Classification, Identification and Adaptation in a “Redeemed” Yugoslav Region
In mid-August 1919, the Yugoslav army occupied the western areas of the two Hungarian counties, Zala and Vas, where, directly on the border with the former Austrian crownland of Styria, a dense population speaking various Slavic dialects lived. The occupied territory, referred to in Slovene as “Prekmurje” (literally: “on the other side of the Mura River”), was later annexed to the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes by the Treaty of Trianon in June 1920. The Yugoslav occupation of Prekmurje in August 1919 was celebrated by Slovene politicians, intellectuals, national activists, and journalists living in the former Cisleithanian areas of Yugoslavia as the liberation of their Slovene compatriots from 1000 years of Hungarian subjugation.
In my presentation, I focus on local reactions to the nationalizing politics of the Yugoslav state administration in Prekmurje in the years after its occupation and annexation. Firstly, I draw attention to the mechanisms of classification that the incoming Slovene officials employed while dealing with the domestic population. Inspired and guided by the post-Habsburg ideological triumph of Slovene ethnolinguistic nationalism, Slovene officials used the authority of Yugoslav state institutions to sort local mono-, bi-, and trilingual—and confessionally mixed—populations into separate national categories in a way previously not customary in the region. Secondly, by using historical material that reveals the preferences of the local population, I try to identify patterns of collective identification that survived the territorial change and the collapse of imperial order. Besides traditional forms of national indifference that apparently still existed among the predominantly rural population in Prekmurje, one can also recognize a strong attachment to the long-established regional ethnic category among local Slavophones—the notion of Wends or Sloveni as a separate Slav speaking community—that did not correspond with the assumptions of Slovene ethnolinguistic nationalism propagated by incoming Slovene officials. Finally, I will show how the local social elite endeavored to adapt to the changed political and cultural circumstances by adopting the notion of Prekmurci as a specific sub-group of the Slovene nation soon after the annexation. As I argue, after the Yugoslav annexation members of the local elite began to use the category of Prekmurci, invented by Slovene national activists outside the region before the outbreak of World War I, and hence successfully reframed the traditional notion of regional Slavophone ethnic separateness—all in order to reassert their social status and economic control under radically altered political conditions.
Jernej Kosi is an Assistant Professor at the University of Ljubljana and a postdoctoral researcher on the ERC research project NEPOSTRANS at the Institute of Political History in Budapest. He has done research on various dimensions of Slovenian history and published books and articles on nationalism, World War I, and post-imperial transition.
University of Rijeka & ERC NEPOSTRANS
From the Last Bastions of Italianity on the Easternmost Border of the Homeland: Divergences among Italian-speakers in Post-Imperial Fiume and Liburnia
Following the collapse of Austro-Hungarian imperial institutions in November 1918, the Italian army occupied the former Austrian Littoral. The mostly non-Italian population on the northeastern Istrian shores, a region known as Liburnia, was hardly supportive of the Kingdom of Italy’s territorial claims. Still, this diplomatic objective was ultimately achieved with the Treaty of Rapallo at the end of 1920. However, the experience of transition among the more Italian-enthusiastic population of Fiume—the former corpus separatum of the Kingdom of Hungary—was more intricate. After back-to-back occupations of the city by Interallied forces and D’Annunzio’s troops, and following its short-lived existence as a contested free-state, the Kingdom of Italy’s annexation of Fiume was accomplished only at the beginning of 1924.
Local political elites—and the Italian nation-state—presented, promoted, and cherished an image of these territories and its people as genuinely Italian. Yet, beneath the façade of a unified Italianity, disagreements and frictions were not uncommon among Italian-speakers from the former Austro-Hungarian Empire and Italians from the Kingdom of Italy. The aim of this presentation is to investigate ethnic dissonances and tensions among Italian-speakers in Fiume and Liburnia, unraveling the differences and similarities between former Austrian and Hungarian territories. In the first part, I plan to display how Fiume’s specific administrative position within the former Kingdom of Hungary—matched by a modern regional political-civic movement in the late Habsburg period—was exploited by immediate post-war political actors. Fiume’s Italian-speaking regionalism, catalyzed by international and local vicissitudes, and transformed through independentism, was a lively form of groupness that challenged Italian nationalism. My second focus will be Liburnia, an area lacking both a regionalist movement and Italian nationalists. In Liburnia, annexation to Italy was not contested by scattered Italian nationalists. Rather, animosities arose due to the modalities of policies perceived to be in favor of or against the local Italian and non-Italian populations. The northeastern Istrian case shows which elements of pre-war categories of identification persisted, which of them changed, and how ethnicity was interpreted, deployed, and advocated for achieving personal goals.
Ivan Jeličić (Rijeka, 1988) is a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of History, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Rijeka, and the Institute of Political History in Budapest on the ERC project NEPOSTRANS. He studied history at the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Trieste where he obtained a PhD in History with the dissertation “Nell’ombra dell’autonomismo. Il movimento socialista a Fiume, 1901–1921” (Università di Trieste, 2017). He is also part of an international interdisciplinary research project based at the University of British Columbia, Okanagan, entitled “Rijeka in Flux: Borders and Urban Change after World War Fiume in Flux.” His latest publications are “To Ensure Normal Administrative Order, and for the Population’s Greater Comfort? Aspects of Post-war Transition in the Political District of Volosca-Abbazia/Volosko-Opatija“, Südost-Forschungen, 2020, and “Prilog o višejezičnosti socijalista u kasno habsburškoj Rijeci: opaske o Samueleu Mayländeru“ [A Contribution to the Multilingualism of Socialists in Late Habsburg Rijeka/Fiume: Notes on Samuele Mayländer], Vjesnik Istarskog arhiva, 2021 (forthcoming).
European University Institute (Florence) & ERC NEPOSTRANS
“Tirolisch sein und bleiben!”: Reinforcing the Region in Post-WWI Austrian North Tyrol
As the curtains came down on the Habsburg Monarchy in November 1918, the Crownland of Tyrol and Vorarlberg was split as Italian troops occupied the southern parts of the province, including much of largely German-speaking South Tyrol. After these lands were formally annexed by Italy via the 1919 Treaty of St. Germain, the plight of “German South Tyrol” became a focal point for interwar German nationalist activists working across national borders. In Northern Tyrol, which became part of the Republic of (German-)Austria, the division of the province became a major point of mobilization, as mass demonstrations were called for maintaining the territorial integrity (Landeseinheit) of “German Tyrol.” However, these protests, which were presented as a matter of consensus against Italian aggrandizement, fail to reveal something that was also concerning to the conservative political elite of North Tyrol: challenges to Tyrolean regional unity originating from the province itself.
In this presentation, I examine the process through which a conservative sense of Tyrolean regionalism was questioned and ultimately bolstered in the wake of the war. While the notion of Tyrolean particularity had long served as a basis for collective identification before the war, at war’s end space temporarily opened for contesting the primacy and content of this regional identification. The resulting challenges to the existing Tyrolean regional ideology, I argue, offer evidence of alternative points of identification or alternate understandings of being Tyrolean at odds with the dominant Catholic-conservative vision. Next, I reconstruct the efforts of conservative social and political elites to reinvigorate and disseminate discourses on Tyrolean regionalism. By continually foregrounding the issue of Landeseinheit and staging provincial rituals that emphasized Tyrolean separateness, they continued to develop a persuasive Tyrolean regionalism through the early 1920s that built on the regional mythology developed under the Habsburg Monarchy. Finally, I look at how the post-war context affected the relationship between regional and national belonging. Although being “nationally” German did become more critical—and asserting one’s “Germanness” could be used for certain ends—I argue that for most, regional or more local points of identification continued to be more central.
Christopher Wendt is a junior researcher in the NEPOSTRANS project, focusing on the region of North Tyrol. After completing his Master’s in Comparative History at CEU, he is currently a PhD researcher at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy. His dissertation deals with how political Catholic movements in the former Habsburg lands navigated the post-imperial transition, with a regional emphasis on Austrian Tyrol.
University of Strasbourg, laboratory UR 3400 / ERC NEPOSTRANS
When did the national question begin in the Northeast Bohemian coal fields? The period after 1918 in a post-dependency perspective.
The Bohemian-Silesian coal deposit is about one-hundred kilometers long, extending from Wałbrzych (Waldenburg) in the north to the hills between Trutnov (Trautenau) and Náchod in the south. The part falling to Czechoslovakia after 1918 represented, with its 66 square kilometers, the fourth biggest national coal field. The nostrification measures gave an opportunity to local textile firms to take over in part a resource very much missed during the First World War.
Owners as well as workers were nationally mixed with local nuances, the north city of Žacléř/Schatzlar being mostly German and the southern Svatoňovice/Schwadronitz region speaking more Czech. Entangled interests of the coal and electricity companies, a social-democratic labour force in majority, with a strong communist wing after 1921, seemed to put the national affairs on the back burner, behind the question of gaining energetical independence. Nevertheless they came back with the 1925 election and the political rise of the mine director J. M. Vlček, a Czech nationalist who became mayor of Malé Svatoňovice in the 1930s. The presentation will show how national issues combined with post-dependency tendencies in the period after 1918.
Ségolène Plyer is a Senior Lecturer in Contemporary History at the University of Strasbourg, specializing in German and Central European History. After having worked on both post-World War periods in Germany, France (Alsace), and Czechoslovakia, she is currently studying the North-East Bohemian border as a multicultural region in the first period of globalization (1870-1930s). Plyer is Senior Researcher on the ERC project NEPOSTRANS.
Institute of Political History, ERC NEPOSTRANS
The Formation of the Romanian National Councils in Satu Mare County
In the early twentieth century, Satu Mare County was an ethnic borderland in the northeastern part of the Kingdom of Hungary. According to the census of 1910, the cities were inhabited mostly by Hungarians, while the villages around Baia Mare had a Romanian majority. After the First World War, the county was divided between Hungary and Romania, without changes to the multiethnic character of this region. The censuses between 1910 and 1930 show significant alterations in the ethnic composition of the population. This could be explained by multiple factors, including migration, changes in statistical categories, possible errors, or deliberate distortions. However, the most interesting phenomenon that could be examined in this region is the swaying of people with uncertain or multiple national identities. While the scientific literature on the autumn of 1918 in Satu Mare County emphasizes peaceful transition as a regional peculiarity, it is justifiable to presume that ethnic ambiguities were a significant factor. Remaining documents of the local Romanian National Councils reveal some interesting cases of everyday ethnicity regarding concerns about the loyalty of the Jewish population, or conflicts between the national councils and the local military forces of different ethnicities. In this presentation, I focus on the questions indicated in these documents about the usage of nationalist discourses in an exceptional state of affairs.
Anikó-Borbála Izsák studied history at the Babeş-Bolyai University (Cluj, Romania) and at the Eötvös Loránd University (Budapest, Hungary) between 2008 and 2016. In these two institutions she obtained a BA (History and Archival Studies) and two MA degrees (Cultural Heritage Studies, Economic and Social History). Since 2016 she has been a PhD student at Eötvös Loránd University (Economic and Social History Doctoral Programme). She is writing her dissertation on intellectual elites in Transylvania between the two world wars. She is interested in the social history of intellectuals, history of minorities, ethnicity, and nationalism in the interwar period in East-Central Europe, especially in Hungary and Romania.
Institute of Political History, ERC NEPOSTRANS
The “Jewish question” in the suburbs of Budapest?
In Hungary, anti-Semitism was already on the rise during the First World War, and after the defeat, the revolution, and the Hungarian Soviet Republic, the “Jewish question” became a central issue of national politics in the first years of the counter-revolutionary regime. Various right-wing and far-right organizations tried to build up strong local organisations capable of fighting against “Jewishness” in local public, economic, and social affairs. This was also the case in the large suburban settlements of Budapest. What were the specific characteristics of the anti-Semitic movement in this particular area? What impact did it have, and to what extent did it influence the life of local societies? The presentation explores these questions.
Károly Ignácz is a historian and researcher of elections. His main research field is the history of elections in Hungary, especially in Budapest. He is a research fellow of the Institute of Political History, and since 2018 a Senior Researcher of the ERC project NEPOSTRANS.