Historical Social Research

Guido Tiemann: “Kärnten” = Austria, “Koroška” = Yugoslavia? A Novel Perspective on the 1920 Carinthian Plebiscite. [Abstract]

In 1920, the Carinthian plebiscite was organized to decide whether an ethnically and/or linguistically heterogeneous part of South-East Carinthia was to be part of the newly established German-Austrian rump state or of the newly established Kingdom of Slovenes, Croats, and Serbs (SHS). Although ethnic or linguistic “Slovenes” constituted a majority of almost 70 percent within the referendum zone, more than 59 percent of the voters opted to integrate into Austria. The allegedly victorious German side quickly turned the choice for Austria into a nationalist narrative fueled by claims of cultural superiority, fostered by the invention of an integrated, publicly funded memorial culture, and vigorously defended against any objections or revisionism from “the outside.” In this paper, however, we utilize an ecological inference model to show that nationalist authors on both sides severely overrated the causal impact and empirical significance of the alleged ethnic cleavage, underestimated the share of “Slovenian” voters, and overestimated the share of “German” voters that selected to join the Austrian state. Instead of the reported 10,000, more than 13,000 Slovenes, roughly 60 percent, had voted for Austria, while only 9,000 German-speaking voters, roughly 75 percent, supported Austria.

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