After Vienna. Post-Imperial Salzburg as Austria’s Future Kulturstadt 1919-1938

deadline for submissions: 
January 31, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Robert Dassanowsky / Michael Burri
contact email: 


Confronted with Habsburg institutions imploded, economic and cultural distribution networks shattered, and infrastructure destroyed, leaders of the First Republic found themselves forced to rebuild the Austrian state. But as Anton Pelinka has recently observed, Austria did inherit from its Habsburg predecessor, the ability to imagine itself as a cultural superpower. Most notably, the Salzburg Festspiele emerged in the 1920s and 30s as the premier international Austrian cultural event, a reputation that continues today. We are calling for papers to contribute to a volume of essays that consider the many efforts to reshape post-imperial Salzburg as a future Kulturstadt, a second center of gravity, after Vienna, poised to capitalize on the new cultural, economic, and political realities after 1918.


Little research has been done to examine this development. For if Vienna was the “loser” within the borders of the new First Republic, Salzburg was the winner.  Indeed, between 1910 and 1939 Vienna lost 15 % of its population, while Salzburg grew by 37.5%, the greatest increase of any Austrian city during that time frame. On the new banknotes issued by the First Republic, Salzburg was the only city to be featured as a motif besides Vienna.  No longer on the margins of the Habsburg lands, Salzburg stood at one end of an East-West axis that traversed Austria. What was the Salzburg alternative, a harkening back to former glory or did propose something new? Was it reactionary or modern?


By some measures, to be sure, Salzburg was an unusual choice to project the new place for Austria in the world. Regional capitals, Graz and Klagenfurt, were larger and had participated more fully in modernization, while Graz and Innsbruck could offer universities with several faculties. But like the Habsburg state before it, the First Austrian Republic sought to project its power in ways that combined culture and geopolitics. Indeed, Salzburg presented a weak situation for upgrading but a much more symbolically important one for national identity. For if the Socialists ruled Vienna, a coalition of Black Christian Socials and other conservatives controlled the federal government -- a control that from 1920 to 1934 they never relinquished.  For the Christian Socials, Salzburg would represent their vision of Austria. Situated along an ascendant European North-South axis, it would be an urban setting inflected by folk and Catholic culture, a political and cultural counterweight to Red Vienna.


Salzburg itself internalized stereotypes about itself and sought to present these back to tourists and others, while also cultivating a local self-image greatly shaped by its opposition to the Viennese. This dynamic served both as an engine of innovation and encouraged German National and anti-Semitic ideologies. With a municipal government precariously balanced throughout the 1920s, Salzburg struggled to reconcile a retooled Austrian cosmopolitan identity and German National sympathies. In the 1930s, the former was increasingly sacrificed to the latter, as pan-German and National Socialist cadres utilized Salzburg’s vicinity to the German border.  To what extent, was the Salzburg “high culture” project of the First Republic part of the problem?


Scholarship has traditionally seen the First Republic as the state that “no one wanted,” a place where thinking about the future converged only on competing visions of the apocalypse.  This volume considers Salzburg as an Austrian project oriented towards the future, and its chapters seek to provide a reevaluation of the First Republic by exploring forms of symbolic thinking, plans and initiatives around the rising Austrian Kulturstadt of Salzburg.



  • Geopolitics -- New regional, cultural and political connections with Munich Italy, and others. Physical reconfigurations that express new vision of Salzburg: architecture, planning, transportation infrastructure.
  • Salzburg Festival -- Experiments in post-imperial identity; festival as supranational cultural mission; high culture as instrument of political diplomacy, national self-assertion, and propaganda.
  • Film and Film Industry -- Global self-positioning; Austrian generic hybrids;  Salzburg-Hollywood-Salzburg; cinema networks; individuals.
  • Jewish Identity in Salzburg after 1918 -- Between religious tradition, high culture, and folkloric fashionings; cultural and political anti-semitism; Sommerfrische and science.
  • Modern Music -- International Society for Contemporary Music; International Performances of Chamber Music (1922) [Internationale Kammermusik-Aufführungen], counter-initiatives to Salzburg Festival and Salzburg as new music city; post-1933 rivalries between twelve-tone and pro-National Socialist composers;  neo-Romanticism. 
  • Mozarteum -- Cultural icon, symbol of elite culture ambitions, and great hope of forces opposed to Vienna; university substitute and anti-university; high-art flag bearer for Christian Socialists, German Nationals, and "German-genius" school of Nazis on both sides of border.
  • Cultural and Political Associations (Verbände); individual and institutional power-brokers and intermediaries, including transnational pan-German and later National Socialist organizations that built networks Salzburg, Munich, and Vienna.
  • Salzburg and First Republic State Branding -- sports, skiing, Alpine Republic, tourism.
  • Tracht, Volkstümlichkeit and Its Mobilization in Popular and Political Culture -- habitus, Salzburg flair, self-styling, and folk costume retailored as both national/regional uniform and high-civic and evening attire.



Robert Dassanowsky, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs

Michael Burri, Temple University



★        Abstract of proposed chapter (300 words): 31 January 2018

★        Response to authors: 15 March 2018

★        Completed chapters due: 15 August 2018

Authors should submit their 300-word proposal and three-sentence biography statement to the editors (rvondass at, michael.burri at Proposal and statement may be in English or German. Expected article length 6,000-8,000 words, including notes and bibliography. Final paper submissions must be in English.