Medium 9780253006318

Shatterzone of Empires: Coexistence and Violence in the German, Habsburg, Russian, and Ottoman Borderlands

Views: 856
Ratings: (0)

Shatterzone of Empires is a comprehensive analysis of interethnic relations, coexistence, and violence in Europe's eastern borderlands over the past two centuries. In this vast territory, extending from the Baltic to the Black Sea, four major empires with ethnically and religiously diverse populations encountered each other along often changing and contested borders. Examining this geographically widespread, multicultural region at several levels—local, national, transnational, and empire—and through multiple approaches—social, cultural, political, and economic—this volume offers informed and dispassionate analyses of how the many populations of these borderlands managed to coexist in a previous era and how and why the areas eventually descended into violence. An understanding of this specific region will help readers grasp the preconditions of interethnic coexistence and the causes of ethnic violence and war in many of the world's other borderlands both past and present.

List price: $31.99

Your Price: $25.59

You Save: 20%

Remix
Remove
 

26 Chapters

Format Buy Remix

1 The Traveler’s View of Central Europe: Gradual Transitions and Degrees of Difference in European Borderlands

ePub

LARRY WOLFF

In 1925 the American writer Anita Loos published a celebrated comic novel under a title that was to become one of the most famous mottoes of American popular culture: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. The novel followed the fictional European travels of the irresistibly preferable blonde heroine, Lorelei Lee, a spectacularly uneducated and uncultivated young American woman from Arkansas. Lorelei Lee appeared as the comic caricature of the American gold-digger as she sought to exercise her blonde American charms upon men with money in the great metropolises of Europe. She dismissed England with the chapter title “London is Really Nothing,” and celebrated France illiterately with the title “Paris is Devine,” but when she turned eastward toward Germany, the native land of the mythological Lorelei, the American heroine summed up her experiences under the chapter title, “The Central of Europe.” With this goofy malapropism, Anita Loos seemed to suggest that her heroine was quite unable to understand the meaning of “Central Europe,” an epithet that was already broadly current in the 1920s. The German politician Friedrich Naumann had published his landmark book Mitteleuropa in Berlin in 1915, and it was translated into English as Central Europe and published in London in 1916 and New York in 1917.

 

2 Megalomania and Angst: The Nineteenth-Century Mythicization of Germany’s Eastern Borderlands

ePub

GREGOR THUM

The last German Emperor, Wilhelm II, was notorious for his offensive speeches. On 5 June 1902, Wilhelm delivered an address in the Marienburg Castle, the former seat of the Teutonic Order in the German-Polish borderlands of the Prussian east. In front of dignitaries of the Prussian-German state, the Austrian-based Teutonic Order, and the Order of St. John seated in Berlin, who had all convened to celebrate the historical reconstruction of the Marienburg, the German monarch declared:

In this castle, at this very place, I once took the opportunity to highlight how the old Marienburg, this former bulwark in the east, the starting point for the culture of the countries east of the river Vistula, should forever remain a symbol of the German tasks. Now it is time again. Polish presumption wants to challenge Germandom, and I am obliged to call on My people to preserve its national goods.

Wilhelm II closed his address with an appeal to Pan-German cooperation in order “to protect all that is German here and beyond the border.”1 According to the Imperial Chancellor Bernhard von Bülow, who claimed to have toned down the speech prior to its publication, the emperor’s actual address was far more aggressive. Wilhelm summoned the convened knights “to charge the Sarmatians with the Teutonic Order’s sword in the strong fist, to punish their impudence, to exterminate them.”2

 

3 Between Empire and Nation State: Outline for a European Contemporary History of the Jews, 1750–1950

ePub

DAN DINER

This chapter explores the epistemic and conceptual advantages of integrating the transnational or diasporic Jewish experience into European History in order to overcome the nation state paradigm that is so inherent to continental historical thought. The experience of the Jews as a physically dispersed population united nevertheless by religion and liturgy, as well as by semi-religious memorial and ethnic bonds, makes for a unique store of preconceptual knowledge that can be cognitively transformed into actual notions of historical understanding. This understanding focuses first and foremost on the institutional, political, and cultural fabric of substantial changes in the age of transition from premodern patterns of life and modes of social intercourse into modernity.

Seen through this lens, the Jewish experience serves as a seismograph of knowledge and understanding in an age of profound changes—not least the conflict-ridden transformation that accompanied the shift from the variety of imperial integration into the homogeneity of emergent nation states—that extends well into the web of the first half of the twentieth century, but removing the Holocaust from the core to the margin. Removing the core event of the century from the center to the margin seems to become justified by methodological and ethical reasons that need not be elaborated here. Just one reason should be mentioned: by avoiding the Holocaust, the narration of modern Jewish history proposed in this chapter permits a closer look at the events up to the Holocaust. Such an approach highlights the role and nature of contingency in historical understanding, the recognition of which is urgently needed in the case of the Holocaust, especially in view of narratives that tend to assert alleged and/or largely overstated modes of a supposed continuity. This approach allows the actual contemporary human experience a more appropriate share in the reconstruction of the past, and avoids—to the extent that it is possible—being overwhelmed by the impact of teleology. This methodological preference is valid despite our awareness of the evident and unavoidable truth that catastrophic intrusions draw events that occurred before and after them into their vortex.

 

4 Jews and Others in Vilna-Wilno-Vilnius: Invisible Neighbors, 1831–1948

ePub

THEODORE R. WEEKS

The modern world loves precise, fixed borders. We consider it normal that where one country ends, another one starts. Conversely it would be peculiar, even outrageous for us to be simultaneously in two countries. But such a situation is both recent and rare. Even now borders retain a certain amount of fluidity, more so in the case of EU member states, far less so when one passes, say, from Israel to Egypt (or attempts to pass from Israel to Lebanon). But before World War II in East-Central Europe, borderlands were far more mixed and fluid than after the mid-twentieth century. The “unmixing of populations” that has taken place since 1914 and especially brutally in the 1940s, through assimilation, migration, forced exile, and mass murder, has radically changed the ethnic/national landscape of Europe east of the Oder River. However, living in close physical proximity in the past did not necessarily denote cultural mixing or even active toleration. Rather, I will argue, far more typical was simply a mutual ignoring of neighbors who followed a different pattern of everyday life, religion, and language.

 

5 Our Laws, Our Taxes, and Our Administration: Citizenship in Imperial Austria

ePub

GARY B. COHEN

Writing on the history of the Habsburg monarchy during its last century long focused on the ideological and political development of the national movements, their conflicts, and the seemingly ineluctable decline of a state unable to satisfy nationalist aspirations. If one focuses too narrowly, however, on the ethnic and national conflicts of the late nineteenth century and the dissolution of the monarchy, it is easy to ignore the changing relations between society and the state and the actual character of loyalties to the state. The powerful influence of nationalist narratives in Central and East-Central Europe on much of the historical scholarship has left readers to think that identification with one’s nationality, whether defined primarily by language, religion, territory, or some combination of these, generally captured the popular political consciousness during the half-century before World War I and left little space for anything more than minimal loyalties to the Habsburg state and a formal respect for the long-ruling emperor, Franz Joseph.

 

6 Marking National Space on the Habsburg Austrian Borderlands, 1880–1918

ePub

PIETER M. JUDSON

Early in Fritz Mauthner’s 1913 novel, Der letzte Deutsche von Blatna, the hero, Anton Gegenbauer, remarks on a minor renovation to an arcade in the main square of his fictional small town, Blatna. For Mauthner and his protagonist, these external cosmetic changes reflect some much deeper transformations that have gradually overtaken the fictional Bohemian community.

The words “Stephan Silber’s Gasthaus”—“zum römischen Kaiser”—had decorated the middle arcade for 20 years. [As a child] Anton had first practiced his knowledge of spelling by reading those freshly gilded letters. Now the text had been whitewashed and the bright red letters that decorated the white background spelled out: “Stjepan Zilbr hostinec.” The given name Stephan had been Czechified, the name “Silber” had simply been written using Czech orthography; “hostinec” basically meant the same thing as “pub,” but sounded more patriotic than “Gasthaus.” This painting over, along with the changes inside that they reflected, symbolized the process by which the German town had slowly but surely been transformed into a Czech one.1

 

7 Travel, Railroads, and Identity Formation in the Russian Empire

ePub

FRITHJOF BENJAMIN SCHENK

Historians often perceive railroads primarily as an infrastructure helping a state to consolidate its territory and to integrate distant regions into one economic and political space. This is also true for most of the literature on the history of railroads in nineteenth century Russia. Undoubtedly the steam engine was an important tool in the Tsarist Empire to link various geographical parts of the large country one with another and thereby to enhance the exchange of commodities and the mobility of the population. In the second half of the nineteenth century both the government and private investors helped to create an iron network, which was envisioned already by contemporary cartographers as a skeleton strengthening the cohesive forces within the huge polyethnic empire. But by increasing the mobility of a significant number of Russian subjects, railroads also opened new opportunities for people to experience ethnic and religious diversity. Contemporary travel accounts bear witness that travelers on Russian railroads perceived the empire less as a homogeneous space of communication than a fragmented territory inhabited by a great and sometimes uncomfortable variety of ethnic and religious groups. Moreover, the railroad proved to be an effective tool in the hands of those political actors who were trying to undermine political stability. In particular, in the western borderlands railroads repeatedly became a target of politically motivated violence and were used by militant groups to spread the seeds of ethnic hatred. The Russian example bears witness that the railroad, envisioned by its proponents as a golden path to social and spatial integration, in the immediate term enabled violence and contributed to developing social disintegration.

 

8 Germany and the Ottoman Borderlands: The Entwining of Imperial Aspirations, Revolution, and Ethnic Violence

ePub

ERIC D. WEITZ

The borderlands of Eastern Europe into the eastern Mediterranean, from the Baltic to the Black Sea, constituted the prime area of German imperial ambitions. The interlocking German elite of bureaucrats and businessmen, officers and diplomats, intellectuals and pastors, kaisers and chancellors, had their gaze fixed tightly on Eastern Europe and the Ottoman Empire. Through all the political upheavals of modern German history, the German elite thought of Eastern Europe as the place for German territorial expansion and population settlement and the Ottoman Empire as the prime site of German imperial influence abroad. The widely strewn territory of the Empire, including its European, Anatolian, and Middle Eastern lands, would provide investment opportunities and markets for the German economy and, no less important, a place for Germany to assert its Great Power stature and contest British, French, and Russian power.

 

9 The Central State in the Borderlands: Ottoman Eastern Anatolia in the Late Nineteenth Century

ePub

ELKE HARTMANN

The borderlands paradigm offers a way of understanding the mass violence that characterized especially the borderlands or shatterzones of the German, Russian, Habsburg, and Ottoman Empires from roughly the mid-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century, when these multiethnic, multiconfessional, and multilingual empires underwent massive modernizing and homogenizing transformation processes. The borderlands paradigm perceives the violence in these regions as concomitant to, and a consequence of, this fundamental political, social, and cultural change which accompanied modernization.1 The borderlands paradigm further assumes that “ethnic violence in the modern period has become so much more frequent, systematic, and deadly precisely because of its dual character, that is, fomented by states and enacted by significant segments of the population at large.”2 This points to the problem of central state control, which was fundamental for the eastern borderlands of the Ottoman Empire, i.e. the Kurdish and Armenian provinces in the eastern parts of Asia Minor.

 

10 Borderland Encounters in the Carpathian Mountains and Their Impact on Identity Formation

ePub

PATRICE M. DABROWSKI

The Carpathian Mountains historically have been a genuine—perhaps even the quintessential—borderland, this despite the fact that they rather neatly bisect what was once called Eastern Europe. Besides being a part of this multiethnic and multidenominational region, the mountain range has comprised the border of numerous states, in both their historic and present-day incarnations. Whereas today one finds the arc of the mountains running along or through countries such as Slovakia, Poland, Ukraine, and Romania, in the deeper past it demarcated—at least, for a significant stretch—the border between the lands of the multi-ethnic Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Hungary. As of the last third of the nineteenth century, this same stretch of the Carpathians came to mark the internal Habsburg frontier: it separated “Austria” (more exactly, the Austrian province of Galicia) to the north from Hungary to the south.1 While this beautiful and diverse mountain range has been the most prominent physical feature of this part of Europe, it thus has also been oddly peripheral.

 

11 Mapping the Hungarian Borderlands

ePub

ROBERT NEMES

Austria-Hungary typically merits one or perhaps two maps in most modern European history textbooks. Almost invariably, one of them shows a multicolored Austria-Hungary fractured into a dozen small regions, each occupied by a discrete nationality.1 That no other European states have comparable maps is unsurprising, since maps of the modern world usually represent states as “more integrated, distinct, and centralized than was and in fact is the case.”2 Austria-Hungary stands as a distinct exception to this cartographic rule, and it requires no great imagination to see in these maps not only the diversity and decentralization of Austria-Hungary, but even foreshadowing of the assassination at Sarajevo, the disappearance of the empire, and the century of ethnic tensions and national conflict that followed. Such maps draw upon models created in the last decades of Austria-Hungary, and they have been a feature of scholarship on the region ever since. The spread and survival of these nationalities maps thus raise historical and historiographical questions. What explains their creation and dissemination around 1900? Why do historians continue to reproduce them?

 

12 A Strange Case of Antisemitism: Ivan Franko and the Jewish Issue

ePub

YAROSLAV HRYTSAK

In the Ukrainian intellectual tradition, there is no other author who has written as extensively on the Jewish issue as Ivan Franko (1856–1916). He turned to this issue in various ways: in his poetry and prose, as a political leader and a journalist, and through his research in the Biblical tradition. The volume and richness of Franko’s production stands in stark contrast to the rather modest amount of research devoted to it by scholars.1 This paucity may be partly explained by the Soviet tradition of eliminating Jewish topics from public and academic discourse. In Soviet Ukraine, this tendency seemed to take a more extreme form than in any other Soviet republic.2 In the case of Franko, it led to the passing over in silence of his writings on the Jewish issue, some of which were considered covert propaganda for Zionism.3

There is yet another difficulty in studying Franko’s attitudes toward Jews, and that is the ambivalent and sometimes controversial character of his statements. Indeed, Franko’s writings may be read sometimes as philosemitic, sometimes as antisemitic. There has been a telling discrepancy between Ukrainian and non-Ukrainian authors: while the former explored Franko’s positive statements on Jews,4 the latter often speak of him as another Ukrainian antisemite.5 The following paper seeks to analyze these two controversial facets of his lore as an expression of an essential controversy within his ideology. In a broader comparative context, the paper addresses the issue of antisemitism and its various historical expressions, using case of Franko as an interesting case study for late nineteenth century Central and Eastern Europe.

 

13 Nation State, Ethnic Conflict, and Refugees in Lithuania, 1939–1940

ePub

TOMAS BALKELIS

Hitler’s attack on Poland in September 1939 following the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact destroyed the last illusions of peace and stability in Europe. The rapid two-pronged destruction of the Polish state by the Nazi and Soviet armies precipitated a humanitarian crisis which spilled over into neighboring East European states. Hundreds of thousands of Polish civilians, government officials, and military fled the path of the invading armies into neighboring Slovakia, Romania, Hungary, and Lithuania in the hope of finding a safe haven. The first weeks of the war thereby rendered them homeless refugees.

This chapter explores the refugee crisis in eastern Lithuania, where around 27,000 refugees from Poland sought sanctuary.1 For the small and truncated Lithuanian state—in March 1939 Germany had annexed the region of Klaipėda (Memel)—the influx of so many refugees presented a considerable challenge.2 The government in Kaunas faced a humanitarian crisis because these refugees had to be fed and accommodated. It had to deal simultaneously with international pressure from the Polish government-in-exile and its Western allies, and from Germany. While the allies demanded full protection for the refugees, Germany wanted to curb all anti-German political and military activities among the Polish population in Lithuania.3

 

14 The Young Turks and the Plans for the Ethnic Homogenization of Anatolia

ePub

TANER AKÇAM

The French historian F. Braudel notices: “first one encounters the question of borders . . . everything else is derived from this. In order to draw a border, it is necessary to define it, to understand it, and reconstruct what that border means; beyond that it means to claim for itself a certain historical aspect.”

—Hagen Schulze

Turkey’s borders have changed dramatically over the last two centuries—swelling and shrinking as the Ottoman Empire rose and then declined, and as different national states emerged in the empire’s regions. This change in geographical borders necessitated a shift in thinking in Turkey. The logic of nation states is in total contradiction to the idea of empire. For a nation state you need, ideally, a homogeneous population, and a defined territory. This can be created only with a clear knowledge of what this homogeneity consists and who belongs to it. As a natural consequence of the logic, what follows is the “purification” of those who do not belong to that collective in the defined region.

 

15 Paving the Way for Ethnic Cleansing: Eastern Thrace during the Balkan Wars (1912–1913) and Their Aftermath

ePub

EYAL GINIO

On 13 March 1913 the newly established Special Office (Kalem-i Mahsus) in the Ottoman Ministry of Internal Affairs issued a ciphered telegram to the governor of Karesi (present-day Balıkesir, Turkey) in northwestern Anatolia. The official, who signed the telegram in the name of his Minister, appealed to the local authorities to prevent any obstacle to the emigration of Bulgarians who were gathering in Istanbul (Karesi province included the harbor of Bandırma, from which vessels could transport the emigrants to Bulgaria). The official informed the governor that he had recently learned that the Bulgarians’ emigration was being hampered by demands for the remittance of various debts and that the Bulgarians were prevented from selling their belongings. He emphasized that everything should be done in order to assist the Bulgarians with their swift emigration.1 Similar telegrams were sporadically dispatched during the months of March and April 1914 to various provinces in eastern Thrace and northwestern Anatolia. They were all in the same vein: local officials should assist the fleeing Bulgarians (and, sometimes, also the Greeks) to emigrate from the country.

 

16 “Wiping out the Bulgar Race”: Hatred, Duty, and National Self-Fashioning in the Second Balkan War

ePub

KEITH BROWN

This paper attempts an anthropologically informed reading of Greek military conduct toward Bulgarian civilians during the Second Balkan War of 1912–13. It draws on a set of accounts of atrocities allegedly authored by their Greek perpetrators, captured by Bulgarian forces, and reproduced and analyzed in the Carnegie Inquiry set up to investigate the causes and conduct of the Balkan Wars.1 Greek and pro-Greek scholars at the time strenuously denied the authenticity of the sources, in addition to accusing Bulgarian regular and irregular forces of worse atrocities over a longer period; outside observers found the soldiers’ narratives persuasive evidence of the region’s primitive passions.2

The incidence of contested narratives is, of course, hardly rare, in the Balkans or elsewhere. Nonetheless, this case—which, in the words of one recent commentator, “still awaits its modern scholarly researcher”—invites a treatment that draws on, and hopefully advances, ongoing and vibrant debates at the intersection of anthropology and history which stress the importance of critical and reflective attitudes toward both the particular facticity of documentary sources and the explicatory power of theoretical categories of ostensible sociocultural regularities.3

 

17 Failed Identity and the Assyrian Genocide

ePub

DAVID GAUNT

The suffering of the Assyrian, Chaldean, and Syrian Christians in the Ottoman Empire during World War I is one of the least known genocides of modern times. If it is known at all it usually goes under the collective name of Assyrian genocide, which will be used here. A major reason for this obscurity is the failure of these religiously heterogeneous ethnic groups to agree on a common cultural and national identity. This resulted in a multiplicity of local experiences and selective memories. The story of the Assyrian genocide dissolves into a number of specific minor narratives framed by local contexts, most of which pale in comparison with the grand drama of the Armenian genocide, but were no less deadly for the populations involved. The declining Ottoman Empire found Oriental Christians that for centuries were split into antagonistic churches which had been locked into denigrating one another. Each cult had a strong exclusive in-group identity that militated against the very idea of a multilayered pan-Assyrian identity. Many outside observers considered these Christians curious, insignificant cultural relics, whereas the fate of the vigorous Armenian community loomed as a great concern in international diplomacy. One aspect of this invisibility is that the narratives of the Assyrian genocide build on testimonies of survivors whose perception was limited to local issues such as the struggle with nomadic tribes for agricultural land and the religious fanaticism of local Muslim sects. In the final analysis the Assyrians had no clear idea why they were being annihilated. In particular, they recognized only the local dimensions of their suffering and had no understanding of the overall policies and interests of the Young Turk government.

 

18 Forms of Violence during the Russian Occupation of Ottoman Territory and in Northern Persia (Urmia and Astrabad), October 1914–December 1917

ePub

PETER HOLQUIST

The area of the Caucasus and northern Anatolia was one of the areas of most intense and extended violence in the First World War. Factors both longstanding and contingent sparked this violence. But undoubtedly one key factor was that this was a borderland region, one of the shatterzones where empires crashed together like tectonic plates. In the early twentieth century the discipline of political geography developed models for these regions that are so particularly prone to instability and unrest. The Russian Empire was prominent as a foil in these theories. During the latter stages of the Great Game, Lord George Nathaniel Curzon thought up and even tried to implement a “buffer zone” between Russian and British interests in Persia and India. Of course, he would also pursue a related program in 1919 when he sought to impose the “Curzon Line” in Eastern Europe. In 1915, James Fairgrieve sketched out a model of a “crush zone” of small states existing between the German and Russian Empires.1 In the aftermath of the Second World War and as the Cold War developed, other scholars elaborated this model. The Anglophone scholars who developed this concept of the “ ‘shatter zone’ in Europe” often employed quotation marks around the term, having adopted it from interwar German literature.2 Not coincidentally, all these concepts emerged out of one or another iteration of the contest between the Atlantic West and Russia (be it the British Empire versus the Russian Empire in the nineteenth-century Great Game, or the United States versus the Soviet Union in the Cold War). In short, there is a history to the idea of “buffer zones,” “crush zones,” “shatter zones,” and “shatter belts,” the historicity of which determined which areas came to be identified as such “zones.”3 As critics of this literature have noted, it tends to reify historical conditions as near-permanent, quasi-geological features. One result is that such treatments tend to subordinate or overlook complex dynamics in favor of one-dimensional explanations—“the clash of civilizations,” for instance. In this chapter I describe independent dynamics—military violence and the breakdown of order in revolution—that played out within a borderland region.

 

Load more


Details

Print Book
E-Books
Chapters

Format name
ePub
Encrypted
No
Sku
B000000031558
Isbn
9780253006394
File size
2.63 MB
Printing
Allowed
Copying
Allowed
Read aloud
Allowed
Format name
ePub
Encrypted
No
Printing
Allowed
Copying
Allowed
Read aloud
Allowed
Sku
In metadata
Isbn
In metadata
File size
In metadata