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Shatterzone of Empires

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

Edited by Omer Bartov and Eric D. Weitz

Publication Year: 2013

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.

Published by: Indiana University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. 6-7

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pp. vii-xiv

The present volume is the result of a multiyear project that involved workshops, conferences, symposia, and lecture series at Brown University, the University of Minnesota, and the Herder Institute in...

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

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pp. 1-20

Borderlands are places of interaction. They are regions intersected by frontiers that separate states, where crossing from one side to the other means switching the sovereign political authority under which one lives. But borderlands are frontiers in another sense as well. They are spaces-in-between, where...

PART ONE: Imagining the Borderlands

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

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pp. 23-41

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...

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

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pp. 42-60

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...

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

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pp. 61-80

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...

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

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pp. 81-100

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...

PART TWO: Imperial Borderlands

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

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pp. 103-121

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...

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

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pp. 122-135

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...

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

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pp. 136-151

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...

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

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pp. 152-171

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...

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

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pp. 172-190

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...

PART THREE: Nationalizing the Borderlands

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

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pp. 193-208

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...

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11. Mapping the Hungarian Borderlands

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pp. 209-227

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...

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

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pp. 228-242

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...

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

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pp. 243-257

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...

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

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pp. 258-280

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...

PART FOUR: Violence on the Borderlands

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

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pp. 283-297

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 (presentday Balıkesir, Turkey) in northwestern...

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

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pp. 298-316

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...

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17. Failed Identity and the Assyrian Genocide

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pp. 317-333

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...

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

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pp. 334-361

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...

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19. A “Zone of Violence”: The Anti-Jewish Pogroms in Eastern Galicia in 1914–1915 and 1941

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pp. 362-377

Although in the first half of the twentieth-century hardship was no novelty to Eastern Europe, the land-belt that in 1914 constituted the borderlands between the German, Austro- Hungarian, and Russian...

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20. Ethnicity and the Reporting of Mass Murder: Krakivs'ki visti, the NKVD Murders of 1941, and the Vinnytsia Exhumation

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pp. 378-398

Violent discourse and discourse supportive of violence accompanied the conflicts that raged in the borderlands in the twentieth century. Here we look at an example of this that is particularly interesting because...

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21. Communal Genocide: Personal Accounts of the Destruction of Buczacz, Eastern Galicia, 1941–1944

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pp. 399-420

The borderlands of Eastern Europe were sites of interaction between a multiplicity of ethnic and religious groups. For city- and town-dwellers, as much as for villagers, living side-byside with people who...

PART FIVE: Ritual, Symbolism, and Identity

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22. Liquid Borderland, Inelastic Sea? Mapping the Eastern Adriatic

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pp. 423-437

Writing of the Mediterranean, Predrag Matvejević has argued, “Its boundaries are drawn in neither space nor time. There is in fact no way of drawing them: they are neither ethnic nor historical, state nor national...

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23. National Modernism in Post-Revolutionary Society: The Ukrainian Renaissance and Jewish Revival, 1917–1930

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pp. 438-448

In the early twentieth century two stateless peoples, Ukrainians and Jews, struggled to establish their cultural and political identities. Both were heavily concentrated in two mutually bordering empires...

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24. Carpathian Rus': Interethnic Coexistence without Violence

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pp. 449-462

The phenomenon of borderlands together with the somewhat related concept of marginality are topics that in recent years have become quite popular as subjects of research among humanists and social scientists...

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25. Tremors in the Shatterzone of Empires: Eastern Galicia in Summer 1941

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pp. 463-484

During the first days and weeks after the German attack on the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941 a wave of violence against Jews swept those territories that had been occupied by the Soviet Union since September...

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26. Caught in Between: Border Regions in Modern Europe

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pp. 485-502

The metaphorical term “lands in between” alludes to the fact that many border regions in modern Europe, and in particular in Central Europe, were shaped by a distinct mixture of cultures and languages...

List of Contributors

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pp. 503-506


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pp. 507-528

E-ISBN-13: 9780253006394
E-ISBN-10: 0253006392
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253006318

Page Count: 544
Illustrations: 2 b&w illus., 7 maps
Publication Year: 2013

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Ethnic conflict -- Europe, Eastern -- History -- 20th century.
  • Ethnic conflict -- Europe, Eastern -- History -- 19th century.
  • Europe, Eastern -- Ethnic relations -- History -- 19th century.
  • Borderlands -- Europe, Eastern.
  • Europe, Eastern -- Ethnic relations -- History -- 20th century.
  • Europe, Eastern -- Boundaries
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