National school associations in Czechoslovakia in the aftermath of WW1
The existence of national defense associations in the field of schooling is in particular bound to the Austrian constitution and the school laws of the liberal Cisleithanian era. In 1880 central school associations were created to establish and support national minority schools in language mixed regions of Cisleithania: German Deutscher Schulverein in Vienna and Czech Ústřední matice školská in Prague which soon became the biggest representatives within the nationalizing civil society before WW1. Using their networks and contacts as well as media and democratic institutions they sought to connect the very local level with the central politics and to influence the public sector to fullfill the nationalist demands concerning schooling.
By establishing Czechoslovakia in 1918 as a nation state it seemed that there is no more legitimation for national associations in a nation state, especially as the Czechoslovak state put the agenda of national minority schools under the Ministry of Education in 1919 („Lex Metelka“). National school associations which were almost suspended from their very purpose of their existence, nevertheless, quickly transformed and consolidated, their membership grew exponentially and they remained important actors of nation-building processes.
The paper wants to introduce and compare the specific situations of both Czech and German school associations after 1918, their transition process, the postimperial (dis)continuity of their contacts or financial links as well as the changes in the scope of their activities and possibilities in the new state. Main subject of the research are the transition processes of Deutscher Kulturverband (former Deutscher Schulverein), Ústřední matice školská and their partner associations in ČSR and abroad. By means of a discursive analysis of their perception of state, nation and democracy in the aftermath of WW1 it is possible to analyse the difference in dynamics and the adaptability to the new conditions.