Paths out of the Apocalypse uses violence as a prism through which to investigate the profound social, cultural, and political changes experienced by (post-) Habsburg Central Europe during and immediately after the Great War. It compares attitudes toward, and experiences and practices of, physical violence in the mostly Czech-speaking territories of Bohemia and Moravia, the German-speaking territories that would constitute the Republic of Austria after 1918, and the mostly German-speaking region of South Tyrol. Based on research in national and local archives and copious secondary literature, the study argues that, in the context of total war, physical violence became a predominant means of conceptualizing and expressing social-political demands as well as a means of demarcating various notions of community and belonging. The authors apply an interdisciplinary understanding of violence informed by sociological and psychological theories as well as by rigorous empirical historiographical approach. First, they examine the most severe kind of physical violence - murder - against the backdrop of shifting scientific and media discourses during the war and its immediate aftermath. Second, the authors use numerous cases of collective violence, ranging from less serious everyday conflicts to massive hunger demonstrations and riots, to unravel its 'language', thus deciphering the attitudes and values shared among an ever-growing group of perpetrators. Paths out of the Apocalypse thus fundamentally rethinks some key topics currently debated in the scholarship on early twentieth-century Central Europe, the First World War, violence, nationalism, and modern European comparative social and cultural history.
Ota Konrád is an Associate Professor of Modern History and Director of Modern History PhD Program at Charles University in Prague. He has worked on topics dealing with the history of the humanities, history of the foreign policy, history of WWI in Central Europe, the cultural history of violence, and contemporary Austrian history. He is the author of Geisteswissenschaften im Umbruch: Die Fächer Geschichte, Germanistik und Slawistik an der Deutschen Universität in Prag 1918-1945 (2020). Currently, he is working on a project supported by the Humboldt foundation about collective violence as a tool for reshaping national identities at the end of WWII in Europe, mainly in Czechoslovakia.
Rudolf Kučera is Director of the Masaryk Institute and Archives of the Czech Academy of Sciences and Associate Professor of Modern History at the Faculty of Social Sciences of the Charles University in Prague. He was a visiting professor at the University of Vienna and is currently a permanent visiting professor at the University of Konstanz. He is the author of Rationed Life: Science, Everyday Life, and Working-Class Politics in the Bohemian Lands, 1914-1918 (2016).
Ota Kondrád – Rudolf Kučera
Oxford : Oxford University Press
978-0-19-289678-0 (Oxford University Press)