Verflochtene Geschichten: Ostmitteleuropa
Vol. 20 No. 1-2 (2010)
Herausgegeben von Frank Hadler und Matthias Middell
Die wirtschaftliche Entwicklung und die Periodisierung der neueren Geschichte Ostmitteleuropas
Was 1918 a break in the modern history of East-Central-Europe? While a look at the change in political and legal institutions suggests that it was indeed, the economic development of the region shows a striking continuity between 1890 and 1938. Per capita income continued to follow its pre-war trend of a very slow increase, and the pattern of trade flows changed surprisingly little. This paper suggests that 1918 can be seen as a structural break in terms of a coordination problem. The political actors after 1918 faced (and shaped) an environment that tended to be more democratic, but significantly less stable than prior to the war. Among the common aims of policymakers was it to meet the increased demand for public goods in their constituencies, such as better access to education and new amenities such as electricity or improvements to infrastructure. This implied efforts to realise the vast economic potential of the region and foster large-scale industrialisation, which in turn required access to foreign markets. While the underlying problem is more general it can be illustrated for capital markets within the macroeconomic policy trilemma. Policymakers tried to re-introduce the Gold Standard after the war, hence keep markets open with fixed exchange rates in order to attract foreign capital. The latter was necessary given the massive capital-shortage of the region. But due to the institutional instability of the region, capital inflows were limited. Moreover, the Gold Standard strategy seriously limited the scope for domestic economic policies, such as short-run stabilisation in response to a crisis. With the great depression and the ensuing political radicalisation (not at least in Germany), the Gold Standard became untenable and was replaced by a system of trade and currency blocs. The economic expansion of the late 90s did not reflect any solution to the coordination problem, but was largely driven by rearmament policies that foreshadowed the Second World War. It was not before the division of Europe that this coordination problem was settled, under the hegemony of the USA in the West and the USSR in the East. After 1945 we observe a break not only in the political and legal institutions but also in terms of economic development.
Zwei ungarische Unternehmen in der Weltelektroindustrie nach dem Ersten Weltkrieg
Back to the world market – Two Hungarian companies in the electrical industry after the First World War
This paper describes how two Hungarian companies, leaders of the electrical industry in their home market, adjusted their strategies to the fundamental political and economic changes after the First World War. The transnational perspective sharpens attention to these small actors ability / efforts to balance between the transnational flows of capital, knowledge, people and states’ attempts to control them by extending their room to manoeuvre between economic policies in their home and host market, interest conflicts within the structure of multinational conglomerates so as international capital flows motivated by political as well as profit reasons. This study argues that international cartels could, under specific circumstances, offer a solution for the adjustment to the fundamental political and economic changes by extending their widely shrunken home market, especially circumventing economic nationalism, and by giving access to transnational knowledge circulation, too. Means of state industrial development in Hungary had to be adjusted to the new circumstances as well, like supporting the companies’ position for international cartel negotiations.
The years 1914/18 constitute a well-established caesura in European history. In a number of narratives 1918 marks either the end of empire or the beginning of a new era in Central and Eastern Europe defined by the establishment of nation-states. By analyzing the territorial changes and the redrawing of state-borders following the First World War in a transnational perspective, the notion of 98 as a rupture is questioned. The transnational perspective seeks to write the history of spaces and spatial transformations other than the nation-state. In consequence it has to ask for alternative periodisations. Through the lens of “jeux d’échelle” (J. Revel) and the change of scale between the national, the local and the global, it is argued that 1918 must not exclusively be interpreted as a rupture. Instead the territorial changes in East Central Europe post-1918 can be seen as a consequence of a long-term global transformation of territorial regimes between c. 1860 and 1950.
Civilizing missions à la polonaise: Poland, Europe and the East With the fall of the Berlin Wall and the onset of the Eastern enlargement of the EU the political geography of Europe has become fluid and contested. The article investigates how Polish political actors in this context redefined Poland’s place in Europe both in relation to “the West” and with regard to their Eastern neighbors. Already before 1989 these blueprints involved transnational spaces legitimated by an interpretation of Poland’s past in the East, but also by its “Western” tradition. These spatial semantics can be interpreted as a peculiar civilizing mission. After elaborating this concept the article briefly introduces the historical narratives which were integrated into the Polish vision of EU-rope. The Eastern axis of Polish concepts of European space has remained unchallenged while discourses on modernization as a mode of ascribing spatial hierarchies were used as tools of getting access to a new “civilizational space”. As the EU was struggling with internal reforms itself the Polish position in the Union – based on a leading role in Eastern and Central Europe – strengthened.
Tschechische Positionierungsstrategien vor und nach 1918
Representations of the Self and the Other in travel writing. Czech reflections on their global standing around 1918
In historical research, the relationship between Europe and the non-European world around 1918 has so far been looked at mainly as that of colonizers and colonized. This paper, however, focuses on a region usually left out of this picture: As an East Central European case study, the focus lies on the contacts and relations of the Czech society with the non-European world roughly between 1890 and 1938, concentrating mainly on aspects of national representations in Czech travelogues on non-European regions. Beginning in the last decade of the 9th century, and continuing throughout the Interwar years, the dealings with non-European regions grew rapidly in the Czech society, involving the economic sphere, tourism, diplomacy, as well as information available on far-away regions, including a growing number of travelogues. Various themes in these travelogues discuss the global presence of the Czech nation: The discussion of the Czech economic export reveals the desire to be globally more present; the recurring description of Czech expatriates suggests a global presence of the nation; while, on the other hand, the disinterested reactions toward the Czech nation in Africa or Asia call in question the self-proclaimed global activity especially in the Interwar years.
Migration as Transnational History. East Central Europe around World War I. Transnational History addresses the dialectics of entanglement on the one hand and of formations of socio-political containers on the other. Migration is an obvious illustration of such processes. From this perspective, the article sketches the integration of East Central Europe into regional, continental and global migratory regimes since ca. the 1830s, and the consequences of this development for sending as well as for receiving societies, highlighting Poland and the US. In a second step, it discusses the implications of an accordingly conceived history of migration for established historiographical assumptions at hand of the caesura that World War I supposedly meant for the region. Finally, it suggests a micro-historical approach of “translocation” to supplement and potentially revise the presented findings.
Migration, Diaspora und ethnische Imaginationen 1870–1930
“Poles in America” to “Americans of Polish descent”. Migration, Diaspora, and Ethnic Imagination, 1870–1930 19th century Polish mass emigration became an issue of political and ideological struggles early on, leading to intense reciprocal effects between societies of origin and destinations. While emigrants to the USA first tended to hang on to imaginations of local “smaller homelands”, nationalizing actors and agencies ultimately succeeded in transforming them into a nationally conscious diaspora (Polonia), rallied around the cause of Polish independence. Nationalpatriotic engagement reached a peak during and immediately after World War I, with the diaspora actively supporting Polish war efforts and diplomacy. In the early 1920s, though, a rapid alienation set in, due to ideological cleavages between political elites in Poland and abroad, to frustrating personal experience, last not least to US politics of identity. Over the following decade, the “myth of home” collapsed, as Polonia institutions and its constituencies increasingly re-identified as “Americans of Polish descent” rather than as “Poles abroad”.
die Beteiligung polnischer, tschechoslowakischer und ungarischer Historiker an der UNESCO-Scientific and Cultural History of Mankind (1952–1969)
This article reconstructs the participation of historians from Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary in international projects and transnational networks of world history writings in the 1950s and 1960s. It focuses on the International Commission for a Scientific and Cultural History of Mankind (SCHM), which compiled a six-volume world history in collaboration of over 300 scholars, educators and politicians under the auspices and based upon the membership of the UNESCO. The institutional setting and the thematic orientation of SCHM are presented and the contributions of East Central European scholars are traced. From there on it follows other international contexts where Polish, Czechoslovak and Hungarian scholars sought to promote global interpretations of the past, which included their region. In sum one specific facet of the transnational entanglements of East Central European societies during the time of the Cold War is illustrated and retrieved from being buried by both, a solely national history of these societies and a world history discussion centred largely on North American and Western European traditions.