ABSTRACT

This chapter argues that rural self-government was perceived as a necessity in a democratic state, though democracy was not yet secured and remained a fluid and highly controversial concept. It is devoted to the challenges of local government in interwar Europe and the more specific contexts of legislative processes concerning local self-government in Prussia and Bavaria in the early 1920s. The village needed protection from the urban influences, and this could be managed only by de-politicization and a strictly local, parochial self-government. While a group of liberal and left-wing politicians hoped to mobilize the rural population in order to integrate it into the new democratic state, conservative actors wanted to preserve a(n imagined) de-politicized countryside. By a proper education through self-government, the difference between rural and urban citizens might be reduced or even eradicated. In rural communities, full civic rights were normally limited to those male inhabitants who were taxpayers and proprietors; these were mostly independent peasants.