Workshop: Provisioning Crisis and Transformation of East-Central Europe, 1918–1923

Datum konání: 
15. 9. 2022, 0:00 - 16. 9. 2022, 0:00

Venue: Villa Lanna, V sadech 1, Prague


provisioning-crisis_1.jpg?itok=IF5vyA5O From various perspectives and using different methodologies, recent historiography has shown that food ‘decided’ the First World War. Above all, it was the failure of the food provisioning system towards the end of the war that accelerated the disintegration of societies and the internal breakdown of states such as Austria-Hungary. The growing imbalance between appeals to selfsacrifice and the state’s worsening inability to satisfy the basic needs of its citizens became a symptom of the collapse. While there were differences in this respect between the various regions and states of East-Central Europe, most of them were confronted with the basic problems of malnourished and frustrated populations, depleted agriculture and interrupted international trade routes.

For East-Central Europe, the end of war in the autumn of 1918 also heralded the end of the centuries-old empires of the Habsburgs, Romanovs, and Hohenzollerns. The redrawing of political boundaries brought about competing national projects and provoked border disputes and wars. Radical politics and new ideologies offered promises of a better social order and a way out of the chaos. The primary issue for the new governments was how to feed their exhausted populations as a means of demonstrating better governance than the monarchies, averting the threat of uncontrolled social revolution and securing civic loyalty in a situation of shattered state authority. The issue of food and other basic needs was thus connected to the ability of these new polities to overcome the post-war crisis by providing for the well-being of their citizens. Food, clothes, fuel and shelter were not only everyday necessities, but also a measure of the ability of the new states to provide their citizens with what the former states had failed to provide.

This workshop aims to scrutinize the character and impact of the wartime and post-war provisioning crisis on the transformation of states and their populations in the years that followed the armistice of the First World War. The following questions will be addressed:

How was food produced, distributed and consumed in the period immediately after the First World War? How did the state, provincial and local organs of power regulate food supply and how much continuity was there with the period before 1918? What role did food play as a political tool in securing and reinforcing the legitimacy of the new state and its organs of power at all levels? How was the provisioning crisis perceived and interpreted by various actors – from consumers and producers at the local level, through the media, to political elites and experts? What was the role of international actors and humanitarian aid in attempts to manage the crisis? What new popular reactions and public policies emerged and what kind of legacy for the future did this unprecedented crisis leave?


The organizers of the workshop are Václav Šmidrkal (Masaryk Institute and Archives of the Czech Academy of Sciences) and Rok Stergar (University of Ljubljana).




Thursday, 15 September

09.00 Welcome by the Organisers (Václav Šmidrkal, Masaryk Institute and Archives of the CAS, Prague, Czechia – Rok Stergar, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia)

09.05–11.00 Panel 1: State Breakdowns and Economic Failures

Chair: Rok Stergar, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia

  • Marko Vukičević Stipica Grgić (Croatian Institute of History, Zagreb, Croatia), Zagreb Between the Black Market and Rationalization 1918–1921
  • Ivan Smiljanić (Institute of Contemporary History, Ljubljana, Slovenia), Liquidation of the Nonessential: Bankruptcy Proceedings in Slovenia after the First World War
  • Friederike Kind-Kovács (Hannah Arendt Institute for Totalitarianism Studies, Dresden, Germany), Urban Gardening, Black Marketeering, and Bartering: Strategies of Survival in post-WWI Central Europe
  • Daša Ličen (ZRC SAZU, Ljubljana, Slovenia) – Jernej Kosi (University of Ljubljana, Slovenia), The Granary of Slovenia: Postimperial Prekmurje through the Lens of Nationalism and the Civilising Mission

11.00–11.30 Coffee Break

11.30–13.00 Keynote Lecture

  • Mary E. Cox (Central European University, Vienna, Austria)

13.00–14.00 Lunch

14.00–15.30 Panel 2: Food Shortage between Science and Administration

Chair: Maja Godina Golija (ZRC SAZU, Ljubljana – University of Maribor, Slovenia)

  • Vojtěch Pojar (Central European University, Vienna, Austria), Hunger Crisis and the Discourses of Eugenics in Imperial Austria, 1916–1918
  • Carolyn Taratko (University of Erfurt, Germany), Paths Out of Crisis: Managing the Food Supply in the Early Weimar Republic
  • J. Alexander Killion (Georgetown University, USA), The Right Man in the Right Place? Hans Loewenfeld-Russ and the Austrian Nutrition Office, 1914–1920

15.30–16.00 Coffee Break

16.00–17.30 Panel 3: Food and Fuel in Diplomacy and International Politics

Chair: Daša Ličen (ZRC SAZU, Ljubljana, Slovenia)

  • Dagmar Hájková (Masaryk Institute and Archives of the CAS, Prague, Czechia), Promoting the State through Food Scarcity: Czechoslovakia and the U. S. after 1918
  • Balázs Juhász (Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary), Italy and the Provisioning Crisis in Central-Europe (1918–1920)
  • Aliaksandr Piahanau (KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden), War, Peace, Food and the European Coal Shortage in 1917–1921

18.00 Dinner


Friday, 16 September

09.30–11.30 Panel 4: Shortage, Revolution, and Violence

Chair: Ana Kladnik (Institute of Contemporary History, Ljubljana – University of Ljubljana, Slovenia)

  • Noel Carolan (Dublin City University, Ireland), Imperial Difficulties and Separatist Opportunities: Food Supply Struggles of Empire and Republic during the Irish Revolution, 1918–23
  • Ke-Chin Hsia (Indiana University Bloomington, USA), Food and Political Access in the Austrian Revolution, 1919
  • Dmitry Shlapentokh (Indiana University South Bend, USA), Food supply and the origins of the Bolshevik regime
  • Jan Kutílek (University of Pardubice, Czechia), Between Food and Religious Riot: Anti-Jewish Violence in Poland and Czechoslovakia, 1918–1919

11.30–12.00 Coffee Break

12.00–13.00 Concluding Remarks

  • Jiří Hutečka (University of Hradec Králové, Czechia)

13.00 Farewell


Programme (PDF)

Call for Papers (PDF)