Beyond Defeat and Victory: Physical Violence and the Reconstitution of East-Central Europe, 1914–1923

Austrian Cultural Forum, Jungmannovo nám. 18, Praha 1; Vila Lanna, V Sadech 1, Praha 6
Masaryk Institute and Archives of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague; Department of Austrian and German Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, Charles University in Prague; Imre Kertész Kolleg Jena
17.09.2015 - 19.09.2015
Václav Šmidrkal

Violence during and in the immediate aftermath of the First World War is a frequent research topic pursued in various contexts and within the framework of different methodological approaches. However, culturally inspired analyses as well as expansions of the horizon beyond the boundaries of a particular nation-state have been rare. Moreover, almost all the existing scholarship focuses on those states in East-Central Europe that emerged from the wartime collapse as defeated. The other side of the fall and reconstruction of East-Central Europe at the turn of 1910s and 1920s that did not originate from the “culture of defeat,” but rather from the opposite “culture of victory,” has been missed. The conference “Beyond Defeat and Victory: Physical Violence and the Reconstitution of East-Central Europe, 1914–1923” seeks to fill this gaps in international scholarship by exploring the possibilities in comparing the role of physical violence in the two distinct social environments formed by the “culture of victory” and “culture of defeat” in East-Central Europe during and after World War I.

Note: Robert Gerwarth’s keynote lecture “The Vanquished: Europe and the Violent Aftermath of the Great War” takes place at the Austrian Cultural Forum (Jungmannovo nám. 18) on Thursday, September 17 at 16.00. The next two days of the conference are hosted by the Vila Lanna (V Sadech 1).


Thursday, September 17

Venue: Austrian Cultural Forum, Jungmannovo nám. 18

16.00 Welcome
16.30 Keynote Lecture – Robert Gerwarth (University College Dublin): The Vanquished: Europe and the Violent Aftermath of the Great War

Friday, September 18

Venue: Vila Lanna, V Sadech 1

8.30–8.45 Organisational remarks

8.45–10.15 Panel 1: Violence and gender (chair: John Horne, Trinity College Dublin)

Nancy Wingfield (Northern Illinois University): Gendered Violence against Women in Postwar Habsburg Central Europe
Judith Szapor (McGill University): Violence, racial degeneration, and national regeneration in postwar Hungary – a gendered perspective
Emily Gioielli (Central European University): The Virgin Mary in Horthyland: Gender, Violence and Mass Incarceration in Counter-revolutionary Hungary
Bela Bodo (Missouri State University): Sexual Crimes and Militia Violence in Hungary, 1919–1921

10.15–10.45 Discussion

10.45–11.15 Coffee break

11.15–12.30 Panel 2: Popular violence (chair: Jochen Böhler, Imre Kertész Kolleg Jena)

Grzegorz Krzywiec (Institute of History, Polish Academy of Sciences): “Throw down a challenge to the international Jewry”: anti-Semitic riots of the December 1922 in Warsaw as a case study of the early post-war nationalist and juvenile violence
Miloslav Szabó (Institute of History, Slovak Academy of Sciences): Ethnic or Social Riots? Public Violence in Slovakia in the Aftermath of the WWI
Václav Šmidrkal (Masaryk Institute, Czech Academy of Sciences): “What a republic it was!” Collective violence and the regime change in the Czech lands after 1918

12.30–13.00 Discussion

13.00–15.00 Lunch break

15.00–16.30 Panel 3: Mastering Violence in the Cultures of Victory (chair: Milan Ristović, University of Belgrade)

Jakub Beneš (University of Birmingham): The Green Cadres 1917–1923: Rural Violence as a Factor in the Reconstitution of East Central Europe
Cătălin Parfene (University of Bucharest/EHESS Paris): When the Defeated Become Victorious. Blurring Violence through Football in post-1918 Romania
Ondřej Matějka (Charles University in Prague): “Guide through a tempestuous sea”? The North American YMCA as an actor of demobilization in Czechoslovakia 1919–1921
John Paul Newman (The National University of Ireland Maynooth): Cultures of Victory and Defeat in Interwar Yugoslavia

16.30–17.00 Discussion

Saturday, September 19

Venue: Vila Lanna, V Sadech 1

8.30–10.00 Panel 4: Militaries and Paramilitaries (chair: Robert Gerwarth, University College Dublin)

Mathias Voigtmann (Herder Institute Marburg): The “Baltikumer” – German Freikorps in Latvia in the year 1919 as a special school of violence
Christopher Gilley (University of Hamburg): Pogroms and Imposture: The Violent Self-Formation of Ukrainian Warlords, 1917–1922
Borut Klabjan (University of Primorska): Physical violence in the North-Eastern Adriatic, 1918–1920
Gergely Bödők (Esztherházy Károly College): The Elite of the Red Terror – Who were the Lenin Boys?

10.00–10.30 Discussion

10.30–10.45 Coffee break

10.45–12.15 Panel 5: Representations of Violence (chair: Joachim von Puttkamer, Imre Kertész Kolleg Jena)

Winson Chu (University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee): “A Little Murderous Party”: Poland and the Culture of Defeat in the Works of Joseph Roth
Paul Hanebrink (Rutgers University): Security, Anti-Jewish violence, and the Idea of Judeo-Bolshevism in East-Central Europe, 1914–1923
Maciej Górny (Institute of History, Polish Academy of Sciences): “Carrot and Stick”: Austro-Hungarian Psychiatrists’ Perspective of the Great War
Hannes Ledinger (University of Vienna): Suicide and suicide discourses: The Austrian example from the eve to the aftermath of the First World War

12.15–12.45 Discussion

12.45–13.15 Conclusion – John Horne (Trinity College Dublin)


Václav Šmidrkal
Masaryk Institute and Archives of the Czech Academy of Sciences
Na Florenci 3
Praha 1
Czech Republic

Beyond Defeat and Victory: Physical Violence and the Reconstitution of East-Central Europe, 1914–1923, 17.09.2015 – 19.09.2015 Prague, in: H-Soz-Kult, 28.08.2015, <>.
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