The Threat from Within across Empires: Strikes, Labor Migration, and Violence in Central Europe, 1900–1914
Central European History
AbstractThe decade before the First World War saw a heightened level of social and political conflicts throughout Germany and Austria-Hungary. Strikes in pre-1914 central Europe have largely been examined as part of the development of the workers' movement, but much less often from the perspective of the employers and government elites. Their strategies to counteract "strike terrorism" included hiring replacement workers through private strikebreaking agents, who provided a variety of services
... uch as recruitment, transportation, housing, and providing "willing workers" with weapons for their self-defense. The discourses around "strike terrorism," and the repressive strategies to counter it, are a lens through which we can look afresh at some of the most crucial issues in the history of central European empires in the prewar years, namely the structure of violence embedded in social conflicts, migration, growing political antagonism, and fears surrounding social democracy. This article analyzes the public debate around the protection of "willing workers" as well as concrete episodes of antilabor violence in a transnational framework. It offers a reassessment of social conflicts in the period following the 1905 social mobilizations in central Europe, and it explores the circulation of antilabor measures between Germany and Austria-Hungary, their radicalizing impact, and their connections with labor migration patterns.