Thinking Europe in the 20th century: Transformations of Borders. Historia Europeana, 10.04.2013-11.04.2013.
Reviewed by Petr Svoboda
Published on H-Soz-u-Kult (May, 2013)
Thinking Europe in the 20th century: Transformations of Borders
The conference was organized by the association Historia Europeana, which was founded by doctoral students of the History Department of the Masaryk University, Brno. It was a follow-up of a conference on “Rethinking Europe in the 20th century: Europe divided / integrated” that took place in April 2012. While the first focused on conflict and cooperation, the second dealt with transformations, changes and shifts of borders in the geopolitical but also in the social, cultural and economical sense. The aim was to follow the formation and demise, move and overcrossing of borders, in East Central Europe in an international context. It was sought to grasp the changeability of borders and how the changes had been perceived by the concerned societies.
In the opening JIŘÍ MALÍŘ (Brno) and VLADIMIR GONĚC (Brno) emphasized the importance of the topic by giving examples of fruitful approaches and by providing a broad historical background.
The first panel under the heading "The formation of Borders in Central and Eastern Europe" started with a paper on the Ukrainian case by ŠTEFÁNIA KOVÁČOVÁ (Prešov). She discussed ideas of Ukrainian politicians about the creation of an integrated independent Ukraine and traced how the political unification became a priority in the Ukrainian national movement in the years 1917-1921. TOMÁŠ ŘEPA (Brno) continued the topic with a presentation on "The Transfers of Nations of Eastern Europe after the Second World War and their Impact on the Movement of Banderovci”, being mainly concerned with the ethnic situation. DENIS ŽERNOV (Prague) returned to the Ukraine speaking about the historical reasons for the differences between the West and the East parts of the country, and highlightening the cultural and mental borders which shape contemporary Ukrainian identities.
The second panel was devoted to Poland. AGATA MATYSIOK (Opole) looked at the "The Polish – Slovak Border in Polish Historiography" being particularly interested in how conflicts settled in the first half of the 20th century were interpreted. PAWEL MARKIEWICZ (Krakow) introduced reactions of Polish-Americans to the handling of the Polish Question 1939-1945, specifically to Franklin D. Roosevelt´s statements on the territorial integrity and geography of Poland during WW II. Markiewicz recognized three different lobby groups, amongst them pro-leftist Poles who were quickly regarded as most closely representing the interests of all Polish-Americans. That is insofar interesting as they claimed that the post-war Polish state had no authority over territory in the East – a position similar to Stalin´s view on the issue. JAROSLAV KADLEC (Brno) offered another case study, namely on Roman Stanisław Dmowski and his view on the future Polish frontiers that was guided by the conception of so-called 'Great Poland' which included parts of the Principality of Teschen, at that time claimed by Czechoslovakia. Dmowski was a Polish politician, statesman, and chief ideologue and co-founder of the right-wing National Democracy (Endecja) movement in interwar Poland. He played a major role in World War I as a spokesman for Poland, through his Polish National Committee (KNP) to the Allies in Paris. Though a controversial personality throughout his life, Dmowski was instrumental in restoring Poland's independence. The last paper "Hlučín, Hlubčice and Ratiboř Regions in Czechoslovak-Polish Relations 1945-1947" by ALEŠ BINAR (Brno) discussed the role of Upper Silesia employing a concept that stresses the linkage between regionalization and diplomacy.
Panel 3 "At the Periphery. Where are Borders of Europe?" contained presentations on borders on the move. JANA MUSILOVÁ (Brno) spoke on "The Emergence of the Republic of Turkey: the Transformation, Secularization, Modernization and the Influence of the West" and showed in how many dimensions – political, legal, economic and even cultural - the border of the new state shifted. MUSILOVÁ was one of the few to take a comparative perspective by contextualizing her case with the Swiss way (Civil Code 1926), the Italian one (Criminal Code) and the German (Commercial Code). BENJAMIN TALLIS (Prague) drawing on Sarah Green´s (2009) border concept presented the finding of his ethnographic fieldwork that aims to identify "The Moveable East: Lines, Traces and Tidemarks in the Borderscapes of the Enlarged EU and the Eastern Neighbourhood". The last two papers dealt with Norway. JIŘÍ POKORNÝ (Brno) argued that whether a country could be considered to be part of a larger geopolitical entity has not only to due with its geographical location, but also with the public support of such an affiliation. JITKA JINDŘÍŠKOVÁ’s (Brno) paper "The Vietnam War in the Norwegian Culture – A Cross-border Issue" highlighted the role of the youth protest movement in how the War was perceived.
TIBOR DOHNANEC (Prešov) opened the panel on borders that divide and unite with a talk on "The Town divided by borderline. The Life of Komarno from the end of WWI to the 1st July 1919". Since the Danube was considered to be a natural border between Czechoslovakia and Hungary, the town of Komarno should have been split. This solution was confirmed by the Trianon Treaty which confirmed the division of the city by state border. The unsuccessful attempt of the Slovakian Germans who tried to create an independence state on territory of the Spiš district in 1918 was by presented by TOMÁŠ BANDŽUCH (Prague). He evaluated the effects of this attempt on the new Czechoslovakia state and the German irredentist movement. MICHAL ŠKERLE (Brno) spoke on "The Transformation of Borders in Czechoslovak Legislation after February 1948" thus bringing the legal dimension in, including the consequences for the permeability of the border. The perception of the newly created territory was discussed by ONDŘEJ HAVÁČ (Brno) in his paper “Home Abroad: Czechs in Vienna – in the front of the Iron Curtain”. Emphasis was put on how people, who were forced (or decided) to leave their homeland after the Soviet invasion in 1968 appropriated their new home. MARTIN HROMEK (Brno) offered the reversed perspective in his paper on "Frenchmen in Czechoslovakia in 1963 and the Symbolism of Visits of Personalities in International Relations". He was concerned mainly with the influence of visits of French intellectuals (J. P. Sartre, R. Geraudy) and others like Maurice Bokanowski on the foreign cultural policy of Czechoslovakia.
"Real and Fictive Borders of Southeastern Europe" were discussed in the next panel. PETAR BAGARIĆ (Zagreb) contributed with a piece on "Competing for Control over the City of Pula 1945-1947: The Struggle between Italy, Yugoslavia and Allied Military Government”. Bagarić followed the shifting belongings of the city during the first Yugoslav occupation, the Allied military occupation and its final allocation to Yugoslavia in regard to the economic and political developments in the Pula. MILAN BALABAN (Banja Luka) engaged with "Changes of Borders after WWI and its Influence on Economic Exchange among newly Emerged Countries of Former Austro-Hungary". At the center was the Czech industry previously integrated in an empire of 50 millions inhabitants, but since the foundation of Czechoslovakia struggling with the fact that it had been cut it off from goods and raw materials. UROŠ LAZAREVIĆ provided insights into Yugoslavian imaginations of state borders describing expressions of the hope for the unity of the South Slavs from 1918 until the dissolution of the Yugoslav state. ANAMARIJA LUKIĆ (Osijek) ended the panel with talk on "Catholic Parishes of northern Slavonia and southern Baranja between two Dioceses" tracing how these parishes were incorporated at the formation of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenians and developed in the context of the change of the state border until de iure incorporation to the dioceses of Dakovo or Bosnia and Srijem in 1972.
The last panel saw HANA HLAVÁČOVÁ (Prague) and VLADIMÍR NAXERA (Pilsen) who presented the various positions of Slovenia in Central Europe being first part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, then belonging to the kingdom of Yugoslavia which was later transformed into a socialistic Republic, and finally becoming a sovereign state and member of the EU. JANA HRABCOVÁ (Brno) illuminated border disputes between Italy and Yugoslavia as one of the problems of European international politics during the Interwar Period. She mapped the development of border dispute to show how it was influenced by the Great Powers and the Allies and analyzed its impact on international politics in Europe. Finally MARTIN MEJSTŘÍK (Prague) talked about the "Free Territory of Trieste and its Strategic Role at the Beginning of the Cold War", pointing at the creation of the zones A and B under the administration of the UN Security Council.
Overall the conference dealt with core streams of contemporary history: international and political questions, economic history and cultural history, while also being devoted to ideas, struggles for power and situations of crisis, again issues that are of today’s concern. More particularly the causes, impacts and influences of border changes over the course of the 20th century were discussed, and it was hoped that with the gained insights a more comprehensive image of modern European history can be achieved.
Štefánia Kováčová (University of Presov): The Formation of Ukrainian Border between 1917–1921 in Interaction with Political Development
Tomáš Řepa (Masaryk University Brno): The Transfers of Nations of Eastern Europe after the Second World War and their Impact on the Movement of 'Banderovci'
Denis Žernov (Charles University in Prague): The Ukraine – Rethinking Borders
Agata Matysiok (Opole University): The Polish – Slovak Border in Polish Historiography
Pawel Markiewicz (Jagiellonian Univeristy Krakow): The Reaction of US Polonia to the Handling of the “Polish Question,” 1939–1945
Jaroslav Kadlec (Masaryk University Brno): The Dmowski’s Line and the Teschen Question
Aleš Binar (University of Defence Brno): Hlučín, Hlubčice and Ratiboř Regions in Czechoslovak-Polish Relations 1945–1947
Jana Musilová (Masaryk University Brno): The Emerge of the Republic of Turkey: the Transformation, Secularization, Modernization and the Influence of the West
Benjamin Tallis (Anglo American University Prague): The Moveable East: Lines, Traces and Tidemarks in the Borderscapes of the Enlarged EU & the ‘Eastern Neighbourhood’
Jiří Pokorný (Masaryk University Brno): The Limits of the European Identity and Norway
Jitka Jindřišková (Masaryk University Brno): The Vietnam War in the Norwegian Culture – A Cross-border Issue
Tibor Dohnanec (University of Presov) : The Town divided by borderline. The Life of town of Komarno from the end of WWI to the 1st of July 1919
Tomáš Bandžuch (Charles University in Prague): The Independent Republic of Spiš – an Idea of the Switzerland in the Heart of the Slovakia
Michal Škerle (Masaryk University Brno): The Transformation of Borders in Czechoslovak Legislation after February 1948
Ondřej Haváč (Masaryk University Brno): Home Abroad: Czechs in Vienna – in the front of the Iron Curtain
Martin Hromek (Masaryk University Brno): Frenchmen in Czechoslovakia in 1963. The Symbolism of Visits of Personalities in International Relations
Petar Bagarić (University of Zagreb): Competing for Control over the City of Pula 1945–1947 – the Struggle between Italy, Yugoslavia and Allied Military Government
Milan Balaban (Masaryk University Brno) and (University of Banjaluka): Changes of Borders after WWI and its Influence on Economic Exchange among newly Emerged Countries of Former Austro-Hungary
Uroš Lazarević (Charles University in Prague): Yugoslavia: After the Dream. Imaginary Borders and Future Wars
Anamarija Lukić (Ivo Pilar Osijek): Catholic Parishes of northern Slavonia and southern Baranja between two Dioceses After the liberation from the Turks the catholic parishes in northern Slavonia
Hana Hlaváčová (Metropolitan University Prague) / Vladimír Naxera (University of West Bohemia Pilsen): Slovenia and Central Europe
Jana Hrabcová (Masaryk University Brno) : Border Disputes between Italy and Yugoslavia as one of the Problems of European International Politics during the Interwar Period
Martin Mejstřík (Charles University in Prague): Free Territory of Trieste and its Strategic Role at the Beginning of the Cold War
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