University of Minnesota
Center for Austrian Studies

Austrian Studies' home page.

National History Day in Minnesota

Spring 2015: Leadership and Legacy

Website Resources to help get started

The Center will offer two $100 prizes. They can be awarded to entries in either the Junior or Senior Divisions (or one in each). For further information contact us at We're here to help with your project, and welcome your questions! Prizes will be awarded on the basis of:

  1. Relevance to Central Europe
  2. Quality and depth of the research
  3. Clarity of the presentation and/or writing
  4. Ability of the student(s) to explain their project

So, what can I write about?

There are many possible History Day topics related to the History of Austria and East Central Europe. The countries of central Europe--Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Croatia, Serbia, and Bosnia/Herzegovina--are rich sources for the study of leadership and legacy. The Roman Empire, the Ottoman Empire, the Habsburg Empire, and the Russian Empire have ruled, or desired to rule, parts of these territories. After WWI the Habsburg Empire dissoved, giving rise to a number of independent countries. After WWII Austria and the former Habsburg territories found themselves on the frontier of the Cold War. Issues surrounding leadership and legacy also manifest themselves locally, as the region has a long history of stubborn independence at the regional, and even civic, level. Language, religion, and culture have long been, and remain, areas of friction in this region, and many leaders, among them ordinary men and women, have played their part in preserving and promoting cultural and political autonomy. There is much to write about--feel free to ask us for help!

Here are a few general topics to think about:

  • The Habsburg Dynasty (especially at the end of WWI, about which much has recently been published)
  • Vienna. The city's leading role in the Austro-Hungarian Europe and in the present. Also its leadership in the arts and sciences, especially in the early part of the twentieth century.
  • Migration and immigration. This is a hot topic in Austria, especially concerning the Muslim community there.
  • Geography and borders. A presentation on how the borders of this region changed in the twentieth century would make a fascinating presentatoin.
  • The Nazi era. This region was caught up in the turmoil of the Nazi onslaught, and leadership was hotly contested between collaborators and resisters. The legacy of this period remains vital, and contested, to this day.
  • The Anschluss. Austria was annexed by Nazi Germany, something to which most Austrians approved. After the war, Austrians portrayed themselves as victims.
  • The Balkans. Many topics here, as these peoples have defined, and redefined, themselves many times over the centuries. Leadership here takes many forms, from artists to assassins, from Kings to schoolteachers.

Why do we enjoy participating in History Day? Because of letters like this from 2014 Junior Division winner Elizabeth Booms (sic):

University of Minnesota Center for Austrian Studies,

I want to thank you for rewarding me with the topical prize of Rights and Responsibilities in the History of Austria and Central Europe for my History day project, Kristallnacht. Kristallnacht was a very educational and interesting topic to learn about and even more so to share the information I learned to others. I was glad to even be participating in the U of M state History Day, but thanks to your donation I enjoyed it even more. I'll be honest, $100 is an awesome award, so I can't thank you enough for it. I hope you continue to offer this prize and enjoy how happy it makes kids like me.


Elizabeth Booms

2014 CAS History Day Award Winners

  • Anita Goharfar and Kaitlyn Frutiger, Loyola Catholic School - Fitzgerald Campus, for “In the Enemy’s Hands: The Geneva Convention of 1949"
  • Elizabeth Booms, Parkview Center School, for “Kristallnacht"