National Histories, Imperial Memories: Representing the Past in Interwar Central Europe

In the successor states of the Habsburg Empire, official narratives of history tended to downplay the imperial context and highlight the continuous, distinct history of the nation. Nevertheless, while 1918 was undoubtedly a watershed moment, it did not suddenly obliterate the shared past. The built and artistic heritage of the Empire was still present and had to be dealt with, whether through appropriation, destruction, or reinterpretation. The nationalities of the former Empire were in constant interaction with each other, whether politically allied or opposed, and they still lived together in multiethnic territories such as Slovakia or Transylvania. Commemorations and representations of the national past were conceived with an eye on the ‘others’. Remembrance was polyphonic, with different groups forming their own narratives, even if these were not always officially recognised.

The seminar series National Histories, Imperial Memories will examine how visual culture in interwar central Europe engaged with the shared imperial past. It will feature papers on topics ranging from the postwar fate of pre-1918 public monuments and built heritage to  representations of the past in film, and from commemorations of war to idealised depictions of rural life.

The events will take place on Zoom, every fortnight starting on 21 September 2021 and concluding on 14 December 2021. The sessions will begin at 18.00 CET.

The seminars are free to attend, but you need to register. Click here for the registration form.

Registered participants will receive a Zoom link before each event. If you are having problems with the registration or the link, please email Jana Hájková at

The individual sessions will be announced separately via Facebook/Twitter and our website. The papers will be recorded and uploaded to our YouTube channel a few days after each event.

Download schedule as pdf 



21 September 2021 – Remembering the Empire

Robert Dassanowsky (University of Colorado)

A Persistence of Vision: Re-Presenting Vienna’s Imperial Forum after 1917

Béla Rásky (Wiesenthal Institute, Vienna)

Remembering and Forgetting the Habsburg Empire in Austria and Hungary, 1918–2000: A Comparison

Moderator: Nóra Veszprémi (Masaryk University, Brno – CRAACE)



5 October 2021 – Keynote Lecture

Nancy Wingfield (Northern Illinois University)

Remembering the World War: The Battle of Zborov, the Czechs, and their Two-Tailed Lion



19 October 2021 – The Heritage of Austria-Hungary in Interwar Romania

Cosmin Minea (ETH Zurich)

Restorations and Revival of Historical Monuments in Interwar Romania

Gábor Egry (Institute of Political History, Budapest)

Mysteries from the Firefighter Storeroom: Public Art, Nationalizing State(s) and Local Identities in Post-WWI Transylvania

Moderator: Marta Filipová (Masaryk University, Brno – CRAACE)



2 November 2021 – Commemorations of War

Michal Cáp (Charles University, Prague) and Vojtěch Kessler (Institute of History of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague)

The Austro-Prussian War between Czech Historiography, Historical Consciousness and Local Commemorations

Kamil Ruszała (Jagiellonian University, Kraków)

Imperial Monuments in Postimperial Space: WW1 Military Cemeteries in West Galicia

Karolina Ćwiek-Rogalska (Institute of Slavic Studies, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw) and Izabela Mrzygłód (University of Warsaw)

“The one who is a million…”: The Figure of the Unknown Soldier in Poland and Czechoslovakia during the Interwar Period

Moderator: Nancy Wingfield (Northern Illinois University)



16 November – Preserving and TRansforming the Past in Interwar Italy

CANCELLED – rescheduled to 25 January 2022


30 November – Memories of the Landscape and its People

Heidi Cook (Truman State University, Kirksville)

Maksimilijan Vanka’s So That Our Fields May Be Fertile from Habsburg Empire to Croatian Nation

Bohdan Shumylovych (Ukrainian Catholic University, Lviv and Center for Urban History, Lviv)

Three Films from the Three Hills: Interwar Polish and Soviet Cinematic Imagination about the Carpathian Mountains

Nóra Veszprémi (Masaryk University, Brno – CRAACE)

From Transylvania to London via the Great Plains: Nostalgia and Radicalism in György (George) Buday’s Images of Folk Traditions

Moderator: Julia Secklehner (Masaryk University, Brno – CRAACE)



14 December – Contemporary Artists and the Contested Past

Szabolcs KissPál (University of Fine Arts, Budapest)


Martin Piaček (Academy of Fine Arts and Design, Bratislava)

in conversation with

Edit András (Central European University, Vienna)



25 january 2022 – Preserving and TRansforming the Past in Interwar Italy

Klaus Tragbar (University of Innsbruck)

The Station and the Landscape: Two (Different) Buildings by Angiolo Mazzoni

Jelena Barić (Independent researcher, Opatija)

The Remains of the Imperial Past in Italian Territory in the Interwar Period: Opatija’s Tourist Infrastructure during Italian Governance

Moderator: Matthew Rampley (Masaryk University, Brno – CRAACE)



This series of events is organised as part of a project that has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No 786314).

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