An international conference of the Institute for German Culture and History of Southeast Europe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich (IKGS) and the National Yuriy Fedkovych University Chernivtsi/Czernivtsi, Ukraine.
The conference and its scholarly objective have acquired a topicality that was barely anticiapted at the time of its conception. Against the background of the events in Ukraine in recent months and the related processes, the course or even end of which is not yet foreseeable today, the need for exchange on the history of war and conflict and its consequences in the Central and Eastern European border region seems more urgent than ever. The academic view of the First World War inevitably leads—especially at a conference in Ukraine—to the question of what connections exist between the impulses that triggered the war historically, and the current military and propaganda conflicts. With this event, the organizers would like to send a signal that cooperation and willingness to engage in dialogue in the humanities always have value and contribute to understanding. The international discussion about national historiographies is a basic prerequisite for understanding others. Cultural and historical studies shape the cultural memory of a nation - through cultures of commemoration and subsequently through curricula used in schools and universities, which make an impression on the population at an early stage. This influence on identity formation is significant, but can also—if it is largely unreflective and without contextualization—contribute to the consolidation of stereotypes. The conference will therefore also deliberately put confrontational historiographies up for discussion. Conference Objectives: The conference aims to examine the dilemmas between national, state and cultural orientation in the population groups of the regions of Bukovina, Galicia and Bessarabia that arose as a consequence of the First World War. An interdisciplinary set of tools (cultural studies, historical research, literary studies, philology, geography, political science) will take into account the complex situation in the Carpathian region, which is characterized by multi-ethnicity as well as denominaltional and linguistic diversity. The focus on the population of these three historically and closely connected regions will allow for an in-depth presentation of the effects of the war and their representations in journalism and historiography. Both Russian and Austro-Hungarian perspectives on the situation and development of the German, Jewish, Polish, Romanian, Ukrainian, Moldovan, and Gagauz populations during World War I are represented in the conference program. As many perspectives as possible on the regions covered and their populations will be comparatively juxtaposed and considered from the perspective of the history of interdependence. The conference also aims, in particular, to link scholars located in the area of study more closely with academic institutions and actors from countries of the European Union and in this way to bring together different discourse traditions and bring the scholarly dialogue up to date. Conceptual Considerations: Research on World War I has received an enormous boost from the 100th anniversary of the onset of the war: In addition to expanding the scope to include pan-European and global access, which is shaped by the history of entanglements or memorial cultures, it is becoming apparent, especially in the relevant syntheses, that the situation on the "Eastern Front" or in the East-Central and Southeast European "hinterland" is significantly underrepresented (e.g. Münkler 2013; Piper 2013; March 2014). The focus of events and publications that dealt with the war in the East was primarily on northeastern Europe or the Balkans. The "in-between space" of the historical regions of Bukovina, Galicia, and Bessarabia—the southern flank of the "Bloodlands" (Snyder 2010), as it were—which was massively affected by the war and its aftermath has been addressed only in passing (e.g. Dornik, Walleczek-Fritz, Wedrac 2014; Osteuropa 2-4, 2014; Eisfeld, Maier 2014). The "Divided Loyalties" conference is a contribution towards filling this research gap. Contrary to common perception, the location between the great empires—Austria-Hungary, Russia or the Soviet Union, the German Empire and the Ottoman Empire—allowed this space to become an epicenter of the war and its long-term effects: During and after World War I, the regions under discussion underwent radical political-administrative restructuring and a related cultural reorientation. The lack of consideration about the complex situation—regarding the population in the course of the reorganization of East Central and Southeastern Europe during and after World War I—led to an unfortunate outcome in the newly established states, which in the long run resulted in a series of frozen conflicts and further wars. With the outbreak of the First World War and the declarations of war, as well as peace agreements made in due course, many population groups in Bukovina, Galicia and Bessarabia found themselves on the "wrong" side of the front or were forced to choose between "father state" and "mother nation". Romanians, Ukrainians, Germans, Jews and Poles often faced their "co-nationals" on the other side of the front. National affinities had to subordinate themselves to state loyalties, which the historical effect of the war demanded of them. Assignment to one group was not always clear-cut—the wartime situation triggered a political dynamic that forced individuals to choose a single affiliation. Jews of the region found themselves in an even more problematic position, often denied loyalty to the states for which they fought. The feeling that they were not allowed to be part of the wartime society of solidarity can be interpreted as a significant catalyst for the Zionist idea. For the political actors and cultural representatives of the various groups, a disintegration of the empires dominating the space was beyond the realm of the imaginable and the sayable, so that the actual consequences of the war—the partition of Austria-Hungary, the rapidly failed attempts at state-building in Bessarabia and in areas inhabited by Ukrainians (Ukrainian People's Republic, West Ukrainian People's Republic) as well as the expansion of Romania (Bukovina, Bessarabia) or the establishment of the Second Polish Republic (Galicia)—hardly represented a realistic political option in public discourses before 1917-18. Accordingly, opportunities to establish or expand nation-states were seized spontaneously and without preparation. In addition to these divergent, parallel, partly competing, partly compatible patterns of orientation between nation and state, questions of denominational and regional affiliation also played a significant role. The war, the suffering and death associated with it, but also the discourses and conflicts of loyalty already mentioned, also affected ways of thinking and behavior patterns among the population, as well as everyday life dominated by the war. The space formed by the historical regions of Bukovina, Galicia and Bessarabia represents an excellent case study for an in-depth analysis of this complex situation, which was undergoing accelerated change in the years between 1914 and 1918. The "Divided Loyalties" conference sets for itself this task. The conference venue, Czernowitz, Ukraine, is particularly well suited to the conference's objectives. In the historical and cultural center of Bukovina, traces of its multi-ethnic, multi-denominational and multicultural character can still be found today, so that the direct and indirect effects on both majority and minority groups in this area can be traced particularly well. Moreover, Bukovina, which bordered on the Russian Empire, was, as a theater of war, a focal point of the Eastern Front in World War I—the provincial capital of Czernowitz was occupied three times between 1914 and 1917 by Russian units or recaptured by troops of the Central Powers. The fact that Ukrainian, Moldovan, Russian, Polish, Romanian, Croatian, Austrian and German scholars are coming together here, of all places, and under the circumstances prevailing today, in order to exchange views on the past—which is not so distant in the historical consciousness—and to discuss it constructively, promotes the realization of the conference objectives mentioned at the beginning. The First World War was a turning point in history and a political, social and cultural caesura, which led to drastic changes as a result of the reorganization that took place in 1918, especially in the former eastern crown lands of the Habsburg Monarchy. The organizers have been able to attract both proven international experts and young scholars to this topic, who are devoting themselves to this field of research. The complexity of the various historical images of the First World War is also the focus of the introductory panels. In six contributions, the national perspectives on the war in the region will be discussed critically, the psychological mood in Austria-Hungary and Russia at the time will be examined, and the experiences of Germans, Jews, Russians, Ukrainians, Romanians and Moldovans will be discussed. Another set of topics includes war experiences and memories in fictional and non-fictional literature. Eyewitness accounts and war diaries by soldiers, deportees, or authors, as well as representations of war and military paradigms in prose works by German-language, Yiddish, Polish, Romanian, and Ukrainian authors from Bukovina and Galicia demonstrate one thing: that the region was and is also a discursive space that generated narratives that continue to have an impact through their reception today as well as in the European context. Other contributions deal selectively with legal, religious and ethnic issues related to the course of the war. The supporting program is an integral part of the conference. It also focuses on the First World War. City and regional history will be conveyed as well as the perception and reception of the First World War from the point of view of national groups will be discussed in talks with representatives of the German, Jewish, Ukrainian, Romanian and Polish cultural venues (Volkshäuser) that still exist today. An excursion planned after the lectures will take the participants to war sites in the region and bring them into contact with different representations of commemorative culture. Cooperation and sustainability: In cooperation with the Yuri Fedkovych University of Czernowitz, the IKGS has already been able to realize various conferences and projects in Bukovina in recent years. Against the background of this successful cooperation and a cooperation agreement between the two organizers that has been in place since May 2014, the conference in May 2015 will consolidate already existing structures of academic exchange and open up new perspectives.