In this book, Tomas Balkelis explores how the Lithuanian state was created and shaped by the Great War from its onset in 1914 to the last waves of violence in 1923. As the very notion of independent Lithuania was constructed during the war, violence is seen as an essential part of the formation of Lithuanian state, nation, and identity. War was much more than simply the historical context in which the tectonic shift from empire to nation-state took place. It transformed people, policies, institutions, and modes of thought in ways that would continue to shape the nation for decades after the conflict subsided.
In telling the story of the post-WWI conflict in Lithuania, War, Revolution, and Nation-Making in Lithuania, 1914-1923 focuses on the soldiers and civilians involved in the conflict, rather than the strategies and acts of politicians, generals, or diplomats. The volume's two main themes are the impact of military, social, and cultural mobilizations on the local population, and different types of violence that were so characteristic of the region throughout the period. The actors in this story are people displaced by war and mobilized for war: refugees, veterans, volunteers, peasant conscripts, POWs, paramilitary fighters, and others who took to guns, not diplomacy, to assert their power. This is the story of how their lives were changed by war and how they shaped the society that emerged after war.
About the Author
Tomas Balkelis received his PhD in History at the University of Toronto in 2004. After graduation he worked at the Universities of Manchester and Nottingham. During 2009-2013, he was a European Research Council Postdoctoral Research Fellow at University College Dublin, and in 2015 and 2016 he was a visiting scholar at Stanford. He is the author of The Making of Modern Lithuania (2009) and a co-editor of Population Displacement in Lithuania in the 20th century: Experiences, Identities, and Legacies (2016).
Table of Contents
Introduction: Violence, Revolution, and Nation-Making
1. State Failure, Social Disaster, and Refugee Politics during the Great War
2. Breaking from Isolation: War and Nation-Building
3. New War, New Mobilizations
4. Two Visions of Lithuania: Revolution and the Advance of the Red Army
5. Multi-Directional War and Paramilitarism
7. The Polish-Lithuanian Conflict: 'a Dirty War'
Epilogue: Peace or a Long-Term Crisis?