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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/33809

Title: Staging the Nation, Staging Democracy: The Politics of Commemoration in Germany and Austria, 1918-1933/34
Authors: Hochman, Erin
Advisor: Jenkins, Jennifer M.
Department: History
Keywords: Weimar Republic
First Austrian Republic
Nationalism
Issue Date: 5-Dec-2012
Abstract: Between 1914 and 1919, Germans and Austrians experienced previously unimaginable sociopolitical transformations: four years of war, military defeat, the collapse of the Hohenzollern and Habsburg monarchies, the creation of democratic republics, and the redrawing of the map of Central Europe. Through an analysis of new state symbols and the staging of political and cultural celebrations, this dissertation explores the multiple and conflicting ways in which Germans and Austrians sought to reconceptualize the relationships between nation, state and politics in the wake of the First World War. Whereas the political right argued that democracy was a foreign imposition, supporters of democracy in both countries went to great lengths to refute these claims. In particular, German and Austrian republicans endeavored to link their fledgling democracies to the established tradition of großdeutsch nationalism – the idea that a German nation-state should include Austria – in an attempt to legitimize their embattled republics. By using nineteenth-century großdeutsch symbols and showing continued support for an Anschluss (political union) even after the Entente forbade it, republicans hoped to create a transborder German national community that would be compatible with a democratic body politic. As a project that investigates the entangled and comparative histories of Germany and Austria, this dissertation makes three contributions to the study of German nationalism and modern Central European history. First, in revealing the pervasiveness of großdeutsch ideas and symbols at this time, I point to the necessity of looking at both Germany and Austria when considering topics such as the redefinition of national identity and the creation of democracy in post-World War I Central Europe. Second, it highlights the need to move beyond the binary categorizations of civic and ethnic nationalisms, which place German nationalism in the latter category. As the republicans’ use of großdeutsch nationalism demonstrates, the creation of a transborder German community was not simply the work of the extreme political right. Third, it contributes to recent scholarship which seeks to move past the entrenched question of why interwar German and Austrian democracies failed. Instead of simply viewing the two republics as failures, it investigates the ways in which citizens engaged with the new form of government, as well as the prospects for the success of democracy in the wake of military defeat. In drawing attention to the differences between the German and Austrian experiments with democracy, this dissertation points to the relative strengths of the Weimar Republic when compared to the First Austrian Republic.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/33809
Appears in Collections:Doctoral

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