From Empire to Umpire? Rebranding, Reshaping, and Repurposing the State in post-Habsburg (German-)Austrian Tyrol
As across East-Central Europe, the official end of the First World War in November 1918 brought little relief from the local effects of wartime policies itself in Northern Tyrol. In the months (and in some cases, years) following the cessation of hostilities, food, housing, and fuel shortages persisted, masses of retreating soldiers and former POWs threatened physical violence and brought logistical nightmares, and the resultant frustration and despair of local civilians often turned to social unrest. The civil administration of the truncated former crown land of Tyrol—whose southern portions were occupied by and soon annexed to Italy—thus faced considerable challenges in the immediate post-war (or “Greater War”) period, compounded by the fact that officials themselves were often seen to share responsibility for the war’s hardships. Nevertheless, if the imperial bureaucracy had traditionally styled itself as the apolitical mediator between different social and political forces, the post-imperial Tyrolean provincial administration took on an even greater intermediary role as an “umpire” between increasingly embittered interests, which included urban and rural residents, producers and consumers, and factory owners and workers, among others. At the same time, this enhanced position as a supposedly neutral arbiter developed just as this body was undergoing its own internal alteration process in the course of joining republican “German-Austria.” In this paper, I draw on provincial administration records to evaluate the shifts in the internal makeup of the provincial administration, its relationship with society at large, and its control of violence in the years of post-war transition. I ultimately argue that the degree of change—in terms of post-imperial continuity or rupture—from one manifestation of the state to the other was indeed stark, and that these differences served to set the tone for state developments across the interwar period in general.