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Subaltern Diplomats

Benjamin Auberer

Diplomatic history almost exclusively concentrates on the hierarchies of governmental representation. Starting with the neglected personnel files of people working within the League of Nations this project investigates the careers of employers working for the first comprehensive political international organisation at the lower side of the job ladder. How did these people come to work in international contexts? Was there a global policy from below, or was diplomacy always reserved to a small elite (even after the First World War, when a new understanding of public diplomacy started)? What happened to these League employees after the war? Did they switch from the League to the United Nations? Or did they transfer their experiences in global politics into the staff of newly founded states? 

"Contested Internationalism". The Boy Scouts International Bureau and the Resurgence of Nationalism, 1930–1942

Timo Holste

My Dissertation project entangles the history of liberal internationalism and its “dark side”, the transnational dimension of Fascism. It is concerned with the question how discourses on internationalism within the Boy Scouts International Bureau (BSIB) changed during the 1930s and how the transnational committee leading the World Scout Movement dealt with the nationalist tendencies within the youth movement and the attacks from the fascist counter model which both challenged its international outlook. The World Scout Movement and its international organization, the BSIB, emerged as one of the paragons of liberal internationalism of the interwar-years. My dissertation-project focuses on the period of the 1930s and 1940s which was marked by a resurgence of (ultra-)nationalism. While the 1920s proved to be a phase of prosperity for the BSIB in the two following decades the organisation was faced with challenges both from within and from outside the youth movement. In the course of the 1930s the national Scout Organisations of Romania and Estonia were merged into compulsory national youth organisations and the Scout movement was suppressed in Spain, Portugal and Germany. The discussion on the continuing membership of the compulsory state youth organisation Straja Țării in Romania and Young Eagles in Estonia hit the organization to the core as it concerned not only its self-conception as a voluntary and democratic but also its claims of global representation. This process was accompanied by propaganda campaigns of the Hitler-Jugend contesting the pre-eminence of Internationalism as a means of organizing youth across national borders. After attempts to participate in the global networks of the Boy Scouts International Bureau proved futile, leading HJ-functionaries as Baldur von Schirach promoted bilateral contacts between state youth organisations as the modern alternative. These campaigns culminated in foundation of the “Europäischer Jugend Verband” in 1942, an international organization which was designed to guarantee the ‘end of the World Scout Organisation’ in continental Europe.

Representing Modernity on the Global Stage: "New Turkey" in the International Order, 1919-30s

Carolin Liebisch

The global political reordering following the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 brought about a new international order based upon the League of Nations. At the same moment it determined the dismantling of the pre-war Middle Eastern order and the Ottoman Empire. Both processes of reordering were closely linked with each other. European Powers enforced their interest in previously Ottoman territories, their imperial agitations being legitimized by the League of Nations and the international system from which the Ottoman elites found themselves excluded. From the viewpoint of the Turkish National Movement and the later Kemalists elites, the League of Nations therefore remained an ambivalent matter: It was deplored as an instrument of great power imperialism on the one hand but, as this dissertation reveals, on the other hand it also figured as an important reference point for their own nationbuilding and modernization project. Turkish modernizing elites considered the alignment of ‘New Turkey’ with ‘Western civilization’ an essential condition for independence and sovereignty and internationalism a chance for Turkey to materialize this desired alignment. The dissertation project is concerned with this complex relation between the Turkish modernizing project and internationalism in the ambivalent context of global Western hegemony. Instead of analyzing this relation in a discursive manner only, it focuses on Turkish diplomats, experts, and activists in and around the League of Nations (1919-46). Based on a global history approach, the project pursues a new perspective on a national history in the context of International Organization.