Anno 1922: Central Europe Between Old and New Order

Anno 1922: Central Europe Between Old and New Order

Jacob Robinson Institute for the History of Individual and Collective Rights, Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Center for Austrian and German Studies, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
Beer-Sheva / Jerusalem
Fand statt
Vom - Bis
12.12.2022 - 14.12.2022
Anat Varon, Department of General History and Center for Austrian and German Studies (CAGS), Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Co-organized by the Jacob Robinson Institute for the History of Individual and Collective Rights at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Center for Austrian and German Studies at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, "Anno 1922: Central Europe Between Old and New Order" brought together thirty researchers specializing in Central European history for a three-day conference that took place in Beer-Sheva and Jerusalem. Using the year 1922 as a springboard to study the transition between old and new order in post-Habsburg Central Europe, participants specifically reflected on whether 1922 brought sudden changes and, with them, stability. The conference closed in Jerusalem with a keynote lecture by Pieter M. Judson, titled "Imposing the New, Safeguarding the Old: Habsburg Central Europe’s Post-Imperial Order".

The first day in Beer-Sheva began with a panel on economics. BENJAMIN VOGT (Oxford) compared the reconstruction plans of Austria and Germany, which brought an immediate end to these countries’ hyperinflation in 1922 and 1923, respectively. Vogt stressed the innovative nature of markets’ response to economic crisis in 1922, but pointed out that the new economic order that resulted was messy. JOHANNES GLEIXNER (Munich) highlighted Czechoslovakia’s successful path to monetary stability. Czechoslovakia avoided inflation by introducing a new currency along with deflationary policy. JERZY LAZOR (Warsaw) discussed French "economic expansion" in Central and Eastern Europe. Lazor analyzed the asymmetric relationships between France and Poland and argued that, ultimately, Poland successfully resisted French policy and put an end to its expansionism. Finally, CRISTIANO LA LUMIA (Naples) argued that the Geneva Convention brought a new economic and political order to Upper Silesia, while German diplomacy utilized the League of Nations’ minority rights system to limit Polish aspirations in Upper Silesia and beyond.

CHRISTOPHER WENDT (Florence) opened the day’s second panel, dedicated to Austria. Focusing on Tyrol, Wendt traced how rural, Catholic Austria adapted to the Republic’s new order. Because change in Tyrol took longer, Austrian Catholics were better able to preserve and reestablish their political power in the province. NIALL BUCKLEY (Dublin) analyzed the political strategies of Austrian Prelate and two-time Chancellor Ignaz Seipel. Buckley demonstrated how Seipel managed to present himself to Austria’s bourgeois electorates as the only option, uniquely synthesising the pre-war Monarchist status quo with contemporary revolutionary Republicanism. CHRISTIAN FLECK (Vienna) discussed Friedrich Adler’s failed attempts to prevent a break between Communists and Social Democrats and to keep Austrian labor united. Adler failed because, at the Conference of Three Internationals in Berlin in April 1922, the Communists participated for tactical reasons only, and crucial disagreements about war propaganda and the Bolshevik Revolution could not be bridged. DAGMAR WERNITZING (Ljubljana) discussed American-born activist Sarah Wambaugh, who, in the summer of 1922, travelled to Austria, documenting in her travel log the post-war realities of its borderlands and "shatter zones". Wambaugh's impressions of the former Habsburg territories influenced League policies and agendas on settling conflicts in Central Europe. They also served as blueprints for her future studies on interwar referenda and transnational peacebuilding. Finally, WILFRIED GÖTTLICHER (Brno) looked at Austrian pedagogue August Bäunard’s 1923 book on rural school reform. Bäunard, a nationalist pan-German, supported Otto Glöckel's socialist school reforms in Red Vienna, which helps reveal the ambiguities underlying Austria’s new order.

ANAT VARON (Beer-Sheva) opened the conference’s second day in Jerusalem in a panel on minorities. Varon contextualized the visit to Palestine of Austrian author Franz Werfel. Werfel was searching for a “new religious idea” on the cultural transformations from old to new order. Despite the Mandatory order established in Palestine in 1922, the Zionist paradigm of an “Altneuland” continued to serve as a model for Jewish writers struggling with Austria’s post-war crises. ROTEM GILADI (Jerusalem/London) stressed the contribution of the Jewish-Lithuanian law professor Nathan Feinberg to the protection of Jewish minority rights. Feinberg’s 1922 book, The Problem of National Minorities, “should be seen as a ‘transfer of knowledge’ about minority rights and autonomy from Eastern Europe to transnational advocacy networks”. MARINA GERMANE (Vienna) discussed the parliamentary elections in Poland, Latvia, and Lithuania in 1922. In each, the question of minorities stood at the center of electoral campaigns and propaganda. Analyzing majority-minority relations within the country and the influence from outside of the League of Nations' minority acts, Germane showed the challenges faced by newly founded states. Minority relations, as Germane concluded, deteriorated throughout the interwar period. Finally, both DORA PATARICZA (Turku/Szeged) and ANDRAS JOO (Budapest) focused on the Jewish minority of Hungary. Pataricza discussed the arrest and imprisonment of Szeged's Rabbi Immanuel Löw, who had criticized Miklós Horthy's "White Terror". This case, Pataricza argued, led to the first anti-Jewish law of the twentieth century, in Hungary’s institutions of higher education. Joo discussed the efforts of Lucien Wolf, a British Jew who petitioned the League against the Hungarian Numerus Clausus, and whose endeavors on behalf of Hungarian Jews resulted in some success when the Hungarian government modified its anti-Jewish law.

DAVID J. ROSNER (New York) opened the day’s second panel, entitled Zeitgeist, with a discussion of contemporary reactions to Oswald Spengler's The Decline of the West. Intellectuals such as Robert Musil and Marc Bloch contested Spengler's anti-modern vision of interwar Europe. Rosner argued for the relevance of Spengler's work today in light of the rise of conservative and anti-liberal political movements and debates about the disintegration of western culture. PETER TECHET (Zurich/Freiburg) contested a clear break between "old" and "new" order in legal theory and thinking. Techet considered Hans Kelsen's "Theory of Pure Law", a legal theory used in the successor states. He argued that this theory brought the legal thinking and laws of imperial times into the post-war period and that it also served as a post-Habsburg example of knowledge transfer. Finally, ANNE HULTSCH (Vienna) contrasted the pessimistic atmosphere prevailing in 1922 Berlin and Vienna in regard to German culture with the more optimistic outlook for Czech cultural renewal in Prague against the backdrop of the demise of German culture.

KATHERINA FRIEGE (Oxford) opened the third and last panel of the day, which centered on violence. Analyzing the life and work of German writer Ilse Langner, Friege argued that Langner ought to be considered a "flawed Neue Frau", since she did not always stick to her convictions. Thus Langner’s life and work might exemplify the complexity of individual experiences shaped by the transformation from old to new orders. ODED HEILBRUNNER (Ramat Gan) reviewed a forgotten clash between Nazis and Communists in the Bavarian town of Coburg during the Deutsche Tag (German Day) celebrations of October 1922, which signaled the town’s shift from left to Nazi right. This was Hitler's first success as NSDAP party leader. Coburg remained important for the party, and in 1929 was the first town in Germany to vote a Nazi mayor into office. PATRYK PLESHKOT (Rzeszów/Warsaw) argued that the assassination of Poland’s first elected president, Gabriel Narutowicz, by the ultra-nationalist Eligiusz Niewiadomski on 16 December 1922 belied the alleged stability of Poland’s new order and heralded further struggles over Polish independence and the nature of the state. Finally, CHARLES SABATOS (Istanbul) compared Jaroslav Hašek's The Good Soldier Švejk with Liviu Rebreanu's Forest of the Hanged, two novels that appeared in 1922. Sabatos discussed them as manifestations of anti-war and anti-Habsburg ideologies and argued that they reveal the ethnic tensions between Czechs, Germans, and Romanians.

The conference’s last day began with a panel on borders. ANGELA ILLIC (Munich) took a closer look at Lower Styria and at Istria. Dominated by Italy, Istrian Slovenes were excluded from the newly established Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, and, following Mussolini’s March on Rome in 1922, anti-Slavic sentiment in the region increased. The German minority in Lower Styria, integrated into the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, fought for its minority rights. Both regions gained notoriety for strife between majority and minority populations under the contested new order in post-Habsburg territories. ROBERT L. NELSON (Windsor) analyzed the end of German imperialism in Germany’s borderlands, as German-speaking minorities moved away from spearheading the empire’s cause, adopting instead the nationalist fight against the new order of Versailles. Analyzing the work of the Inter-Allied Commission in drawing the boundary between Austria and Hungary in 1922, MICHAEL BURRI (Bryn Mawr) argued that it embodied the post-war treaties and reflected the new international order. The commission's focus on the local population’s needs and desires and on economic factors reflected the early hope for a new and better order – though the League of Nations Council ultimately rejected the commission’s recommendations. Finally, PETER POLAK-SPRINGER (Berlin) discussed various measures taken with respect to Upper Silesia's partition, and reactions to it, based on contemporary sources. Polak-Springer argued that, although initially the Polish and German governments and the Silesians all opposed dividing the area, they all came to terms with it in their own way, making Upper Silesia a microcosm for the post-war "shatter zone" region.

RUTH NATTERMANN (Rome/Munich) opened the second panel, dedicated to ideologies, with an analysis of female contributions to the establishment of a new order. Discussing Italy’s Fascist, anti-Fascist, and Zionist organizations, Nattermann showed that Italian women and their counterparts in Central Europe cooperated widely. OSKAR MULEJ (Vienna) looked at liberal ideologies in Yugoslav, Austrian, and Czechoslovak political discourse. Based on comparative semantics of liberalism, Mulej argued that liberalism found a newer and more positive re-evaluation, despite having been used between political rivals and among non-partisan intellectuals in the past. ALEXANDRA PREITSCHOPF (Klagenfurt) contextualized the influence of Russian anti-Communist émigrés in Germany and Austria against the backdrop of newly established relations between these countries and Soviet Russia starting in1922.

The conference’s last panel looked at transnational cultural connections beyond Central Europe. ANASTASSIYA SCHACHT (Vienna) argued that the contradictions of dealing with the new Communist regime surfaced in cultural diplomacy and intellectual cooperation. Discussing the League’s International Committee for Intellectual Cooperation, established in 1922, Schacht argued that its relations with the USSR and its support for Russian academics revealed the Realpolitik behind the new international order. It also exemplified how Realpolitik influenced the transformation of culture and scholarship in the USSR. FRIEDEMANN PESTEL (Freiburg/Berkley) linked Austria’s economic crises with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra’s concert tour during the winter of 1922-1923. Pestel argued that the novelty lay not only in this being the first European orchestra to cross the South Atlantic, but also in the strategy of becoming global in order to survive hyperinflation at home.

The conference closed with Pieter M. Judson’s (Florence) keynote lecture, Imposing the New, Safeguarding the Old: Habsburg Central Europe’s Post-Imperial Order. Judson questioned whether 1922 was crucial for the new order in the former Habsburg lands, and suggested that old and new order are a matter of contemporaries' imaginations and perceptions (as well as ours): “By their very nature, revolutionary ideas and practices streamed from imaginations that are anchored in the past. While there were extreme and revolutionary elements to the new order that had crystallized by 1922, such as the new economy, Mussolini's fascist coup as a form of new politics, or the ‘new man’ and ‘new woman’, recognizable elements of each of them had already been introduced by the old order as a consequence of the horrible demands of fighting the long war.” Judson argued that the post-1918 period was not a post-imperial moment, and that the war itself is what was new—and what we think of as the new after 1918. In light of a revival of “methodological nationalism” by various governments, which propagate false and revisionist depictions of their imperial pasts, Judson criticized the Stunde Null (zero hour) syndrome, which sees 1918 as the birth year of Habsburg’s national successor states in Central Europe. Judson concluded that it is necessary to focus on 1918 in order to refute the binary of 1922 as a new order replacing the old, and instead to recognize that the old was an integral part of the new. A discussion followed Judson’s lecture.

Conference overview:

Greetings and Opening Remarks

Nathan Marcus (Beer-Sheva) / Iris Nachum (Jerusalem) / David Wettstein (Beer-Sheva)

Session I: Economy
Chair: Karine Van Der Beek (Beer-Sheva)

Benjamin Vogt (Oxford): Transnational Finance of Reconstruction: From the League Loans to the Dawes Plan

Johannes Gleixner (Munich): “Currency Experiments” and “Schildbürgerstreiche”: Monetary Disentanglement and Re-Entanglement

Jerzy Łazor (Warsaw): “L’Impérialisme du pauvre”: France and its Eastern European Clients

Cristiano La Lumia (Naples): Stabilizing Post-Imperial Spaces: The German-Polish Convention on Upper Silesia

Session II: Austria
Chair: Mark Gelber (Beer-Sheva)

Christopher Wendt (Florence): Post-Imperial Austrian Tyrol: On Faith, Nation, and Religion

Niall Buckley (Dublin): Reforming Reform: Ignaz Seipel’s Austrian Counter-Revolution

Christian Fleck (Vienna): Divided: The Austrian Labor Movement

Dagmar Wernitznig (Ljubljana): Gender and Order: The Travel Log of Sarah Wambaugh

Wilfried Göttlicher (Brno): The “Future of the Nation”: School Reform between Old and New Order

Session III: Minorities
Chair: Iris Nachum (Jerusalem)

Anat Varon (Beer-Sheva): Home and Away: Jewish-Austrian Authors Travelling Mandatory Palestine

Rotem Giladi (Jerusalem/London): A Liminal Year: Nathan Feinberg's “The Problem of National Minorities”

Marina Germane (Vienna): Minorities in Parliament: Elections of 1922 in Poland, Latvia and Lithuania

Dóra Pataricza (Turku/Szeged): The Imprisoned Rabbi: Numerus Clausus in Hungary

András Joó (Budapest): Challenging Discrimination: Lucien Wolf and Hungary’s Numerus Clausus Law

Session IV: Zeitgeist
Chair: Yehudit Dori Deston (Jerusalem)

David J. Rosner (New York): “Decline of the West”: Oswald Spengler’s Dystopia

Péter Techet (Zurich/Freiburg): “Pure Theory of Law”: Habsburg Legacy in Post-Habsburg Order

Anne Hultsch (Vienna): Losing a Language: Prague’s German Treasure

Session V: Violence
Chair: Ofer Ashkenazi (Jerusalem)

Katharina Friege (Oxford): “Frau Emma kämpft im Hinterland”: The Dramatic Oeuvre of Ilse Langner

Oded Heilbronner (Ramat-Gan): A Small Town in Germany 1922: Nazi Provocations and Mass Violence in Coburg

Patryk Pleskot (Rzeszów/Warsaw): Embattled: Poland’s Violent 20s

Charles Sabatos (Istanbul): Anti-War Fictions: Satires from the Post-Habsburg Margins

Session VI: Borders
Chair: Oded Steinberg (Jerusalem)

Angela Ilić (Munich): Contested Territories, Disputed Identities: Lower Styria and Istria between Old and New Orders

Robert L. Nelson (Windsor): German Speakers in Borderlands: From Stabilization to Rescue

Michael Burri (Bryn Mawr): Delimiting Former Twins: The Interallied Commission and the Austria-Hungarian Boundary

Peter Polak-Springer (Berlin): National Bordering: Upper Silesia’s between Germany and Poland

Session VII: Ideologies
Chair: Rebekka Grossmann (Jerusalem)

Ruth Nattermann (Rome/Munich): Early Resistance: Italian Fascism and its Female Opponents

Oskar Mulej (Vienna): Politics of Language: “Liberalism” in the Slovene, Austrian, and Czech Cases

Alexandra Preitschopf (Klagenfurt): Anti-Bolshevism: Russian Émigrés between Old and New Order

Session VIII: Central Europe and Beyond
Chair: Eran Shlomi (Jerusalem)

Anastassiya Schacht (Vienna): Culture and Diplomacy: The League of Nations’ Early Ties with the Soviet Regime

Friedemann Pestel (Fribourg/Berkeley): Musical Mobility: Between Post-Imperial Crisis and Transatlantic Migration

Keynote Lecture
Chair: Nathan Marcus (Beer-Sheva)

Pieter M. Judson (Florence): “Imposing the New, Safeguarding the Old: Habsburg Central Europe’s Post-War Imperial Order”

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