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

Overview

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 ...

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

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Overview

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.

Indiana University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Norman M. Naimark

"Cutting-edge scholarship on important issues of borderlands and violence that many people—and the educated public as a whole—think about.... A compendium of first-rate research and scholarship... truly impressive." —Norman M. Naimark, author of Fires of Hatred: Ethnic Cleansing in 20th-Century Europe

Alison Frank

"It is hard to imagine that anyone in the field of central/eastern Europe will not buy this book. It will also be interesting to anyone working on the First or Second World War, or the history of violence, genocide, Judeocide. It's a big book... that will have a big impact." —Alison Frank, author of Oil Empire: Visions of Prosperity in Austrian Galicia

The Jewish Eye

"[A]ll the essays in this collection meet the highest academic standards and levels of scholarship. Each essay includes detailed notes, and each was written by leading scholars in the area being examined..... In total, Shatterzone of Empires, provides readers, of every ilk, with a deep understanding of the region and the underlaying conflicts that help mold the various empires throughout the 19th and 20th centuries." —The Jewish Eye

HSozKult

"All in all, the volume testifies to the important advances that have been made over the past decade in the inter-related fields of ethnic group identification, evolving intergroup relations, and the origins of ethnic violence. By including examples of peaceful inter-ethnic coexistence before and between the two world wars, the volume offers a more nuanced picture of the European borderlands than is all too often the case." —HSozKult

From the Publisher
"It is hard to imagine that anyone in the field of central/eastern Europe will not buy this book. It will also be interesting to anyone working on the First or Second World War, or the history of violence, genocide, Judeocide. It's a big book... that will have a big impact." —Alison Frank, author of Oil Empire: Visions of Prosperity in Austrian Galicia

"All in all, the volume testifies to the important advances that have been made over the past decade in the inter-related fields of ethnic group identification, evolving intergroup relations, and the origins of ethnic violence. By including examples of peaceful inter-ethnic coexistence before and between the two world wars, the volume offers a more nuanced picture of the European borderlands than is all too often the case." —HSozuKult

"[A]ll the essays in this collection meet the highest academic standards and levels of scholarship. Each essay includes detailed notes, and each was written by leading scholars in the area being examined..... In total, Shatterzone of Empires, provides readers, of every ilk, with a deep understanding of the region and the underlaying conflicts that help mold the various empires throughout the 19th and 20th centuries." —The Jewish Eye

Choice

"A valuable resource for scholars of central and eastern Europe and of the historical depth and character of nationalism.... Highly recommended." —Choice

Choice

"A valuable resource for scholars of central and eastern Europe and of the historical depth and character of nationalism.... Highly recommended." —Choice

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780253006356
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press
  • Publication date: 1/10/2013
  • Pages: 544
  • Sales rank: 498,249
  • Product dimensions: 6.60 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Omer Bartov is the John P. Birkelund Distinguished Professor of European History at Brown University. His books include Erased: Vanishing Traces of Jewish Galicia in Present-Day Ukraine and Mirrors of Destruction: War, Genocide, and Modern Identity.

Eric D. Weitz is Dean of Humanities and the Arts and Professor of History at City College, City University of New York. His books include A Century of Genocide: Utopias of Race and Nation and Weimar Germany: Promise and Tragedy.

Indiana University Press

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Shatterzone of Empires

Coexistence and Violence in the German, Habsburg, Russian, and Ottoman Borderlands


By Omer Bartov, Eric D. Weitz

Indiana University Press

Copyright © 2013 Indiana University Press
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-253-00639-4



CHAPTER 1

The Traveler's View of Central Europe

Gradual Transitions and Degrees of Difference in European Borderlands

Larry Wolff


Introduction: "Traveling in the Central of Europe to Get Educated"

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.

The idea of Central Europe was pervasive in the 1920s and 1930s, as prominent as it would ever be until, perhaps, its rediscovery in the 1980s and 1990s. Yet, then as now, "Central Europe" could be a frustratingly vague and elusive notion, and this was perhaps part of what Loos meant to suggest when she permitted her completely unintellectual heroine to become cheerfully confused about its meaning. Indeed there was room, then as now, for legitimate uncertainty about whether Central Europe represented a concretely specifiable geographical region, or whether it was actually more of a slippery cultural concept. Accordingly, Lorelei Lee, traveling around Europe, jumped to the preposterous conclusion that Central Europe was some sort of telephone exchange, or perhaps a train station, the Grand Central of Europe. While Anita Loos was certainly ridiculing her heroine, the author was perhaps also satirizing the puzzlingly problematic concept of Central Europe.

"So now we have a telegram," remarks Lorelei Lee, "and Mr. Eisman says in the telegram for Dorothy and I to take an oriental express because we really ought to see the central of Europe because we American girls have quite a lot to learn in the central of Europe." Central Europe, after all, must be "central," poised between east and west, and so the traveler can only arrive in Central Europe by following either an easterly or westerly vector, like an "oriental express," that is, the Orient Express. What could American girls "learn" in the Central of Europe, especially American girls who had already mastered the universally valid lessons of sex and money?

And I really think it is quite unusual for two American girls like I and Dorothy to take an oriental express all alone, because it seems that in the Central of Europe they talk some other kinds of landguages [sic] which we do not understand besides French. But I always think that there is nearly always some gentleman who will protect two American girls like I and Dorothy who are all alone and who are traveling in the Central of Europe to get educated.


In her ungrammatical and illiterate musings Lorelei Lee unerringly identified a characteristic experience of the western traveler making an oriental voyage into Central Europe: hearing "some other kinds of landguages which we do not understand besides French." Linguistic commingling and complication has always been fundamental to the traveler's experience of Central Europe. Lorelei Lee surely had no intention of actually learning any of the languages of Central Europe, or even French, but the discovery of the diversity and heterogeneity of languages was in itself an educational experience. If it provoked any anxiety, or even foreboding of danger, the certainty of finding some gentleman to provide protection, or perhaps translation, was sufficient reassurance.

The experience of travel may permit the observation of difference among the regions of Europe, but at the same time, more subtly, the traveler may actually produce that difference as a consequence of subjective impressions on the road or in the train. In the eighteenth century, the subjective experience of travelers helped to produce the most important modern orientation and division of Europe, that is, the conviction that Europe was fundamentally divided between east and west, Eastern Europe and Western Europe. In the 1780s the Count Louis- Philippe de Ségur traveled from Paris to St. Petersburg, to take up his position as French minister to the court of Catherine the Great. On the way, as he traveled from Berlin to Warsaw, he crossed from Prussia into Poland, and he experienced that crossing as the boundary between realms of tremendous difference.

When one enters Poland, one believes one has left Europe entirely, and the gaze is struck by a new spectacle: an immense country almost totally covered with fir trees always green, but always sad, interrupted at long intervals by some cultivated plains, like islands scattered on the ocean; a poor population, enslaved; dirty villages; cottages little different from savage huts; everything makes one think one has been moved back ten centuries, and that one finds oneself amid hordes of Huns, Scythians, Veneti, Slavs, and Sarmatians.


This powerful subjective sense of difference between Poland and the lands further west marked the boundary between the modern domains of Eastern Europe and Western Europe. The traveler believed that he was leaving Europe entirely, despite remaining unequivocally in Europe according to every atlas. The notion of traveling backward in time through ten centuries was even more extravagantly subjective.

The conception of Europe as divided so abruptly between Western Europe and Eastern Europe almost ruled out the possibility of Central Europe, since there seemed to be no geographical space in between the sharply separated spheres of east and west. In fact, the idea of Central Europe was never discussed in the eighteenth century; it began to emerge in nineteenth-century discussions concerning the integration of the multinational and multilinguistic Habsburg Empire. Yet, the travel accounts of the eighteenth century offer intimations of the idea of Central Europe, discernible in a kind of traveler's experience that stood in clear contrast to Ségur's sense of radical continental demarcation. If the idea of Eastern Europe depended upon the subjective experience of abrupt discontinuity, the idea of Central Europe emerged from a different subjective experience of gradual transition, moving from west to east or from east to west. The idea of Central Europe, to the extent that it was implicitly present in eighteenth-century travel accounts, was dependent upon the distinction between east and west, and especially the philosophical emphasis on the supposed "civilization" of Western Europe in contrast to the alleged backwardness of Eastern Europe. However, instead of affirming an absolute contrast and dichotomy between west and east, the idea of Central Europe suggested gradual transition in a domain of variation and heterogeneity. In this regard, the idea of Central Europe was also important for representing the character of European borderlands.

The eighteenth-century diary of the philosopher Johann Gottlieb Fichte, who traveled as a young man in 1791 from Saxony through Silesia into Poland, offers an instance of such a gradualist experience of travel from west to east; it was very different from Ségur's sense of a sudden continental divide, but conditioned by the same philosophical principles of the Enlightenment. The roughly contemporary travels of the Polish writer Julian Niemcewicz indicate how such a voyage into Central Europe might have seemed from the other direction, from east to west. Finally, several twentieth-century travel narratives, including those of Alfred Döblin, Rebecca West, Czeslaw Milosz, and Patrick Leigh Fermor, suggest how the subjective experience of travel was relevant to the idea of Central Europe after its explicit formulation.

Above all, it must be emphasized that the traveler's experience of Central Europe was not so much determined by the particular terrain of travel, but rather by the mode of perceiving and reporting. Indeed, it was not only the terrain that produced the idea of Central Europe in the traveler, but also the traveler who imposed the idea of Central Europe on the terrain. This perspective may offer some insight into the political plasticity of the idea of Central Europe in the twentieth century, successively invoked to serve a variety of political purposes, from Naumann's concern with German economic regional power during World War I, to Milan Kundera's affirmation of anticommunist regional solidarity in the 1980s.


Fichte: "The Virtues of the Saxon and the Pole"

Fichte, traveling in 1791, was not yet 30. Far from being the famous philosopher he would one day become, he was actually traveling to Warsaw to take up a rather humble position working as a private tutor for a noble Polish family. He set out from his native Saxony, fromDresden, traveled through Silesia in Prussia, and then into Poland. Especially in his passage through Silesia he was extremely sensitive to transitions between the German world and the domain of Eastern Europe, and since he actually walked for much of the journey he was able to make observations of the most gradual nature. "I went a large part of the way on foot," he noted, and it took him a full month, from 8 May until 7 June, to travel from Dresden to Warsaw. This left him all the more capable of observing and registering in his diary from day to day the subtle and gradual transitions, continuities, and differences along the itinerary from west to east. Fichte would not have characterized the territory as Central Europe, for no such notion explicitly existed yet in the eighteenth century. However, the province of Silesia would belong to almost anyone's modern conception of Central Europe, and Fichte's sensibilities and observations were notably modern in their recognition of some of the categories and considerations that would eventually lead to the construction of Central Europe.

A native subject of the elector of Saxony, Fichte would have been well aware of the political relation between Saxony and Poland, inasmuch as they had been ruled jointly by the Wettin dynasty through the first six decades of the eighteenth century; Augustus II and Augustus III, kings of Poland, were also electors of Saxony. The latter Augustus died in 1763, the year after Fichte's birth in 1762. The Wettins, however, were declared the hereditary dynasty of Poland according to the constitution of 3 May 1791, adopted in Warsaw only days before Fichte set out from Dresden. In the context of these political connections between Saxony and Poland, Fichte was sensitive to distinctions of civilization and backwardness according to the eighteenth-century philosophical sorting of west and east. At the same time, the future philosopher of German nationalism was already in 1791 attentive to ethnographic differences as he traveled from Germany to Poland.

The entrance into Silesia was also the political boundary between Saxony and Prussia, and up until that point Fichte observed the landscape with distinctly western resemblances in mind. He noted, for instance, in the mountains along the Saxon–Bohemian border "an exceptionally pretty village, that lies in bushes, boulders, and waters, whose mountains are like Switzerland (ganz Schweitzerisch)." Yet everything began to seem a little less Swiss when Fichte crossed the Saxon border into Prussian Silesia, arriving in the town of Naumburg on 17 May. There he admired a monastery tower, "altogether Catholic," and an urban landscape notable for "the baroque aspect (der baroke Anblick)." Prussian Silesia had been Habsburg Silesia up until Frederick the Great seized the province from Maria Theresa in the 1740s. Fichte's usage of the term "baroque" must be understood as a negative comment implying irregularity and roughness. Yet, any modern attempt to recognize Central Europe in terms of architectural impressions would inevitably consider the presence of baroque architecture as one of the stylistic hallmarks of the region, the style that was sponsored by the Habsburgs in the age of the Counter-Reformation. In fact, as the historian R. J. W. Evans has noted, under Habsburg rule baroque style influenced the joint artistic development of both Catholic and Protestant culture in Silesia, while the art historian Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann has further emphasized the importance of baroque style for the art and culture of Central Europe.

Though Fichte initially commented on "the good Silesian honesty" (die gute Schlesische Ehrlichkeit), he noted increasingly mixed impressions of Silesia as he traveled further, passing material judgment on the Silesian economy and moral judgment on the Silesian character.

Through woods for the most part, and worse villages than the Saxon ones, villages that already appear very Polish [schon sehr polnisch aussehen ], to Bunzlau.... A pretty female, in the becoming Silesian costume.... The town itself is built quite regularly. The houses maybe less solid than in the beautiful Saxon towns, but a more beautiful appearance.... The daughter of the innkeeper—very pretty, good-hearted, though not notably polite, less delicatesse, the whole Silesian character, as I see it. But she was embarrassed, because there were sour pickles that they didn't want to give me. The lack of foodstuffs, business, trade, and so on. The Jews—especially one whom I took for a good man. The dispositions of the housemaid against the Jews, against me.... Everything not as it would have been in Saxony. [Alles nicht, wie es in Sachsen gewesen sein würde.] The bill cheap. Here Silesian accounting begins.


The passage from Saxony through Silesia into Poland constituted the intermediary or central leg of a journey from west to east, and the centrality of Silesia was defined by Polishness and Saxonism as eastern and western points of reference. Villages began to appear "very Polish" in Silesia, on the way to becoming completely Polish in Poland itself, though Fichte never defined what it meant for a village to be "very Polish." Presumably this was related to the scale of greater and lesser solidity that he applied to the comparison of Saxon and Silesian towns.

The Silesian character, as Fichte saw it, was a matter of good-heartedness and the relative absence of politeness; he thus measured civilization according to the refinement of manners, matching the historical model that has been proposed by Norbert Elias in The History of Manners. At the same time, the lack of politeness corresponded to the lack of foodstuffs and business, so that economic indicators were correlated with the evidence of civility. The same criteria of backwardness and civilization that defined the difference between Eastern Europe and Western Europe in the age of Enlightenment became the polar coordinates of a perceptibly gradual transition in Central Europe.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Shatterzone of Empires by Omer Bartov, Eric D. Weitz. Copyright © 2013 Indiana University Press. Excerpted by permission of Indiana University Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements

Introduction: Coexistence and Violence in the German, Habsburg, Russian, and Ottoman Borderlands \ Omer Bartov and Eric D. Weitz

Part 1. Imagining the Borderlands
1. The Traveler's View of Central Europe: Gradual Transitions and Degrees of Difference in European Borderlands \ Larry Wolff
2. Megalomania and Angst: The Nineteenth-Century Mythicization of Germany's Eastern Borderlands \ Gregor Thum
3. Between Empire and Nation State: An Outline for a European Contemporary History of the Jews, 1750–1950 \ Dan Diner
4. Jews and Others in Vilna-Wino-Vilnius: Invisible Neighbors, 1831–1948 \ Theodore R. Weeks

Part 2. Imperial Borderlands
5. Our Laws, Our Taxes, and Our Administration: Citizenship in Imperial Austria \ Gary B. Cohen
6. Marking National Space on the Habsburg Austrian Borderlands, 1880–1918 \ Pieter M. Judson
7. Travel, Railroads, and Identity Formation in the Russian Empire \ Frithjof Benjamin Schenk
8. Germany and the Ottoman Borderlands: The Entwining of Imperial Aspirations, Revolution, and Ethnic Violence \ Eric D. Weitz
9. The Central State in the Borderlands: Ottoman Eastern Anatolia in the Late Nineteenth Century \ Elke Hartmann

Part 3. Nationalizing the Borderlands
10. Borderland Encounters in the Carpathian Mountains and Their Impact on Identity Formation \ Patrice M. Dabrowski
11. Mapping the Hungarian Borderlands \ Robert Nemes
12. A Strange Case of Antisemitism: Ivan Franko and the Jewish Issue \ Yaroslav Hrytsak
13. Nation State, Ethnic Conflict, and Refugees in Lithuania, 1939–1940 \ Tomas Balkelis
14. The Young Turks and the Plans for the Ethnic Homogenization of Anatolia \ Taner Akçam

Part 4. Violence on the Borderlands
15. Paving the Way for Ethnic Cleansing: Eastern Thrace during the Balkan Wars (1912–1913) and Their Aftermath \ Eyal Ginio
16. "Wiping out the Bulgar Race": Hatred, Duty, and National Self-Fashioning in the Second Balkan War \ Keith Brown
17. Failed Identity and the Assyrian Genocide \ David Gaunt
18. Forms of Violence during the Russian Occupation of Ottoman Territory and in Northern Persia (Urmia and Astrabad), October 1914–December 1917 \ Peter Holquist
19. A "Zone of Violence": The Anti-Jewish Pogroms in Eastern Galicia in 1914–1915 and 1941 \ Alexander V. Prusin
20. Ethnicity and the Reporting of Mass Murder: Krakivs'ki visti, the NKVD Murders of 1941, and the Vinnytsia Exhumation \ John-Paul Himka
21. Communal Genocide: Personal Accounts of the Destruction of Buczacz, Eastern Galicia, 1941–1944 \ Omer Bartov

Part 5. Ritual, Symbolism, and Identity
22. Liquid Borderland, Inelastic Sea? Mapping the Eastern Adriatic \ Pamela Ballinger
23. National Modernism in Post-Revolutionary Society: The Ukrainian Renaissance and Jewish Revival, 1917–1930 \ Myroslav Shkandrij
24. Carpathian Rus': Interethnic Coexistence without Violence \ Paul Robert Magocsi
25. Tremors in the Shatterzone of Empires: Eastern Galicia in Summer 1941 \ Kai Struve
26. Caught in Between: Border Regions in Modern Europe \ Philipp Ther

List of Contributors
Index

Indiana University Press

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