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Central European Crossroads

Central European Crossroads: Social Democracy and National Revolution in Bratislava (Pressburg), 1867-1921

Pieter C. van Duin
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 546
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  • Book Info
    Central European Crossroads
    Book Description:

    During the four decades of the communist regime in Czechoslovakia a vast literature on working-class movements has been produced but it has hardly any value for today's scholarship. This remarkable study reopens the field. Based on Czech, Slovak, German and other sources, it focuses on the history of the multi-ethnic social democratic labor movement in Slovakia's capital Bratislava during the period 1867-1921, and on the process of national revolution during the years 1918-19 in particular. The study places the historic change of the former Pressburg into the modern Bratislava in the broader context of the development of multinational pre-1918 Hungary, the evolution of social, ethnic, and political relations in multi-ethnic Pressburg (a 'tri-national' city of Germans, Magyars, and Slovaks), and the development of the multinational labor movement in Hungary and the Habsburg Empire as a whole.

    eISBN: 978-1-84545-918-5
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Part I: Contexts, 1867–1918

    • Chapter 1 Defining the issue
      (pp. 3-24)

      If the First World War was an unprecedented Armageddon in European history, the inauspicious beginning of the bloody twentieth century, the war’s political consequences were as least as cataclysmic, especially in Russia and Central Europe. While Russia had to experience the coming to power of the Bolshevists in 1917, Central Europe entered a period of national revolution and state-political fragmentation following the collapse of the Habsburg Empire in October–November 1918, which led to the formation of a number of national or quasi-national successor states including Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and the territorially much reduced republics of Austria and Hungary. The process...

    • Chapter 2 In ‘darkest Hungary’
      (pp. 25-68)

      In 1944 an intriguing little book entitledIn Darkest Hungarywas published in the series Left Book Club Editions in London. Its author was the little-known G. Pálóczy-Horváth, but the introduction was written by none other than Michael (Mihály) Károlyi, the exiled former president of the short-lived democratic republic of Hungary that existed from November 1918 to March 1919. Károlyi explains that the book was written by Pálóczy-Horváth in collaboration with a Hungarian peasant and that the author ‘unfolds before us the history of the disinherited Hungarian peasantry, thus shedding light upon a sombre landscape. Indeed, in this book the...

    • Chapter 3 Pressburg: A MULTI-ETHNIC CROSSROADS
      (pp. 69-112)

      In multinational pre-1918 Hungary, the city and county of Pressburg had a special position. Until the revolution of 1848 Pressburg was the place where the Hungarian Diet, the country’s historical estates-parliament, used to meet, and, although the political importance of the city declined thereafter, it remained in many ways Hungary’s most sophisticated city after Budapest. Pressburg’s prestige was based on its historical importance, on the fact that, along with Szeged, Temesvár, and a few other places, it was one of the larger provincial cities in Hungary, and on the cultural level of its predominantly German-speaking population. Pressburg, with its large...

    • Chapter 4 Social democracy and the national question
      (pp. 113-159)

      It is impossible to grasp the consequences of the ‘national question’ for the social democratic movement in the Dual Monarchy without understanding its meaning for the multinational state as a whole. The national question in the Habsburg Empire was, if not entirely unique, at least much more crucial than in the rest of Europe because of its implications for the continued existence of the state itself, because the process of economic, cultural, and political modernisation did not lead to a greater cohesion of the state and a strengthening of common loyalties, but to a centrifugal process of national emancipation, nation...

  6. Part II: Events, 1918–1919

    • Chapter 5 Revolution and reorientation: October–December 1918
      (pp. 163-205)

      In the course of October 1918 it became increasingly clear that the Habsburg Empire and multinational Hungary had entered a crisis of historic proportions. The non-German and non-Magyar nations were breaking away from the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, as were the Magyars themselves in an attempt to renew the Hungarian state as a democratic entity independent of Austria – but one that should maintain its territorial integrity and close links with the non-Magyar minorities. However, the latter – the Slovaks, Ruthenians, Romanians, Serbs, Croats, and ethnic Germans of ‘Historical Hungary’ – were determined not to accept the continuation of the old ethnic power structure. On...

    • Chapter 6 From Hungary to Czechoslovakia: January 1919
      (pp. 207-243)

      By the second half of December 1918 the predominantly German parts of Bohemia and Moravia – those areas whose German population became known as the ‘Sudeten Germans’ – had all been occupied by Czech military forces, and a beginning had been made with instituting the new Czechoslovak administration.¹ The occupation of Slovakia proved a more formidable task because of the serious Hungarian military resistance encountered by Czechoslovak troops between the middle of November and the beginning of December. Nevertheless, by the end of December most of Slovakia proper, i.e. the predominantly ethnic-Slovak region of the former Upper Hungary, had been occupied by...

    • Chapter 7 Hope and hatred: February 1919
      (pp. 245-293)

      By the end of January, beginning of February 1919, the initial atmosphere of hope that the transition to another national-political regime in Pressburg could occur without dramatic political conflicts had disappeared, and had turned into hatred and antagonism. The growing tension between the Czechoslovak authorities and a major part of the Pressburg population reached a climax during the first half of February. The official festivities on the occasion of the transfer of the ‘Slovak government’ from Žilina to Pressburg on 4 February were seen by the Czechs and Slovaks as a historic event, but were boycotted by the German and...

    • Chapter 8 Protest and pragmatism after the February crisis
      (pp. 295-337)

      The February strikes ended in a defeat of the German and Magyar social democratic movement and the striking workers of Pressburg and other parts of Slovakia. In south-west Slovakia, groups of railway workers and other government and municipal employees, predominantly Magyars, continued to strike for another week. But by 20 February the Czechoslovak government seemed to have the situation more or less under control, that is, until the moment when another wave of unrest among government employees erupted in March. On 18 February Vavro Šrobár, Minister Plenipotentiary for the Administration of Slovakia, issued an ultimatum ordering the last strikers to...

  7. Part III: Results, 1919–1921

    • Chapter 9 Social democracy triumphant and fragmented
      (pp. 341-393)

      Part I of this study presented a historical context to the 1918–1919 national revolution spanning the half century 1867–1918; Part II analysed in detail the six months of revolutionary and immediate post-revolutionary events between October 1918 and March 1919. Part III will look at the two to three years during which the new political constellation resulting from the national revolution in Bratislava was consolidated. This process of consolidation already began after the unsuccessful February strikes but was intensified after the proclamation of the Hungarian Soviet Republic at the end of March 1919, which caused the Czechoslovak government to...

    • Chapter 10 Conclusions and perspectives
      (pp. 395-416)

      This study has investigated the development of sociopolitical relations between different ethnonational groups in Bratislava (Pressburg, Pozsony) by focusing on the world of organised workers and the local multi-ethnic social democratic movement. The central question directing our research was how far different groups of workers were able or willing to cooperate within a joint labour movement; and why ethnic antagonism caused by political tensions and national inequality ultimately shaped the fate and character of Pressburg’s – and indeed of Hungary’s – social democratic movement. It can be argued that national inequality and assimilatory ‘Magyarising’ tendencies (including within the Hungarian working-class movement itself)...

  8. Glossary of foriegn and selected geographic, historical, political, and theoretical terms
    (pp. 417-420)
  9. Bibliography
    (pp. 421-446)
  10. Index
    (pp. 447-466)