Conference: Local Administration during the First and Second World Wars

Datum konání: 
8. 9. 2021, 13:00 to 10. 9. 2021, 14:30

Venue: Vila Lanna, V sadech 1, Prague

Organization: Dr. phil. Jan Vondráček | Masaryk Institute and Archives of the Czech Academy of Sciences (


The type of rational, legal administrative staff is capable of application in all kinds of situations and contexts. It is the most important mechanism for the administration of everyday affairs. For in that sphere, the exercise of authority consists precisely in administration.

Max Weber


local-administration_r.jpg?itok=xDngS9FJ Local administration has always played a key role in securing, implementing and stabilizing the authority of the modern state. After the outbreak of the First World War, the warring countries were confronted with a difficult supply situation, including famine, disease, refugees and labor shortages. The clerks of the local administration were responsible for implementing new policies and solving problems. They were the ones in direct contact with local populations which were often multi-ethnic and presented a broad variety of needs.

In many cases, local administrations were reorganized to deal with vast and unprecedented tasks and problems. In other cases, the German Empire and Austria-Hungary established military occupation administrations which depended on existing local administration, for example in Belgium, Serbia and Ukraine.

Not only military defeat but also the failure of overtaxed local administrations to solve substantial problems such as obtaining sufficient food supplies for the population led to revolts in the German Empire and the Habsburg Monarchy.


This drastic experience prompted Nazi Germany in particular to undertake a reorganization of local administration shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War. Even after large parts of Europe were under German occupation, local administrations remained largely responsible for the daily life needs of local populations, such as organizing production, distribution and rationing of food and other basic goods, such as heating fuel and clothing. Since state food allotments were often insufficient to meet basic needs, local populations reacted with the development of a variety of illegal practices. Farmers evaded compulsory levies of food and sold undocumented, illegally butchered meat. Hidden stores of products, food and ration stamps were traded for other goods as part of a comprehensive black market. Although nominally supervised by German occupiers, the actual prosecution of these new economic crimes generally fell in the responsibility of local administrations and courts. Local courts continued to hear non-political cases and disputes within local populations as well.

Recent research in Holocaust Studies have showed that local administrations not only played an important role in making the mass murder of the European Jews possible, but that it was often local administrations that took the initiative.


This conference aims to bring together scholars who work on specific aspects of local administration in the First World War and the Second World War and analyze and compare a diversity of methodologies, findings and approaches.




Wednesday, September 8, 2021

13:00 - 19:00 CET

13:00 Welcome (Rudolf Kučera and Jan Vondráček)

13:30-14:00 Break

14:00-15:30 Panel 1: World War I Western Europe

  • Solène Amice (Paris), ONLINE: French Local Administrations and Cultural Heritage Preservation Policy in First World War
  • Elisabeth Wingerter (Luxembourg): National Justice vs. Occupiers’ Justice? A conflict of competence in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg during World War I
  • Jan Naert (Gent), ONLINE: The role of the Belgian and French Mayoralty in occupied Belgium and Northern France during the First World War

Commentator: Ota Konrád (Prague)

15:30-16:00 Break

16:00-17:30 Panel 2: World War I Central and Eastern Europe

  • Serhiy Choliy (Kyiv), ONLINE: The Habsburg administration of Galicia under the Russian occupation 1914-1917
  • Petra Svoljšak (Ljubljana), ONLINE: The Italian occupation of the Slovenian territory during the First World War
  • Kathryn E. Densford (Elizabethtown), ONLINE: Provisioning and Requisition in the Provinces of Lower Austria and Moravia during the First World War

Commentator: Rudolf Kučera (Prague)

17:30-18:00 Break

18:00 Keynote by Jonathan Gumz (Birmingham)

19:00 Dinner


Thursday, September 9, 2021

09:00 - 19:00 CET

09:00-10:30 Panel 3: Between Two World Wars

  • Jelena Kasap and Višnja Lachner (Osijek): Legal and social position of the city of Osijek at the time of 6th January Dictatorship (1929-1931)
  • Alena Mikulášová and Miroslav Palárik (Nitra), ONLINE: Liquidation of Political Plurality and Democratic Elements in the Administration during the period of Slovak Autonomy (October 6, 1938 - March 13, 1939): example of town Nitra

Commentator: Felix Steffan (Munich), ONLINE

10:30-11:00 Break

World War II

11:00-12:30 Panel 4 The Greater German Reich

  • Ernst Langthaler (Linz): Ordering Chaos: Village Authorities between State Control, Food Market and Rural Community in Nazi Germany, 1939–1945
  • Felix Steffan (Munich), ONLINE: Stabilization through aesthetic conformity? The reorganization of local administrations in the Third Reich and its impact on cultural matters
  • Bernhard Gotto (Munich), ONLINE: Properly managed to the downfall? The Augsburg City Administration during the First and Second World Wars

Commentator: Therese Garstenauer

12:30-14:00 Lunch

14:00-15:30 Panel 5 Occupation of Poland I: The City of Warsaw

  • Judith Vöcker (Leicester): German courts and the German jurisdiction in Nazi occupied Warsaw (1939-1945)
  • Michał Palacz, (Oxford), ONLINE: Local public health administration during the typhus epidemic in German-occupied Warsaw, 1939-1940

Commentator: Frank Grelka (Frankfurt Oder)

15:30-16:00 Break

16:00-17:30 Panel 6 The Western Soviet Union and Transcarpathia

  • Leonid Rein (Jerusalem), ONLINE: In the Eye of the Hurricane: Local Administration amid Partisan Warfare in Nazi-occupied Belarus
  • Liviu Carare (Washington DC), ONLINE: Regional and Local Dynamics of Administration and Power in Bukovina, 1941-1942
  • Aleksandra Pomiecko (Washington DC), ONLINE: Administrators, Agents, and Enablers: Belarusian-Polish Relations in Belarus, 1941 – 1944
  • Pavlo Khudish (Uzhhorod): Local Administration and the Jews in the Aftermath of the Holocaust in Transcarpathia

Commentator: Ville Kivimäki (Tampere), ONLINE

17:30-18:00 Break

18:00 Keynote Dieter Pohl (Klagenfurt)

19:00 Dinner


Friday, September 10, 2021

09:00 - 14:30 CET

09:00-10:30 Panel 7 Occupation of Poland II: General Government

  • Frank Grelka (Frankfurt Oder): Jewish administration of Useless Work in the General Government, 1939-1941
  • Hubert Mielnik (Lublin), ONLINE: The Polish (non-German) judiciary in the General Government during the Second World War

Commentator: Judith Vöcker (Leicester)

10:30-11:00 Break

11:00-12:30 Panel 8 Occupied Netherlands, Austria and Finland

  • Peter Romijn (Amsterdam), ONLINE: Local administration as an arena for the politics of occupation: the Dutch case (1940-1945) as an example
  • Jan Julia Zurné (Nijmegen), ONLINE: Local courts and bicycle theft in the Netherlands 1940-1944
  • Therese Garstenauer (Vienna): Austrian local administration after the “Anschluss“ and into the war years
  • Ville Kivimäki (Tampere), ONLINE: Local Authorities and the Implementation of Social Policies in Wartime Finland. The Case of Southern Karelia, 1939–45 and after.

Commentator: Ernst Langthaler (Linz)

12:00-13:30 Lunch

13:30-14:30 Final Discussion


Programme (PDF)

Call for Papers (PDF)