Ethnic Cleansing and East European History
Fall Semester, 2003, Mondays, 3:30-5:20
WLH 107, Office Hours Tuesdays 9-11
The wars of the Yugoslav succession brought the term “ethnic cleansing” into popular use, as newspaper and television accounts of massacres suggested both unprecedented violence and timeless motives. Whereas “genocide” is a term of international law with entirely negative connotations, “ethnic cleansing” is used by cleansers themselves, and is sometimes taken to convey a positive outcome. The term “ethnic cleansing” dates back at least to the Second World War. The thing is at least as old as the First World War, and perhaps older. Perhaps the Yugoslavia of the 1990s was not so exceptional? Perhaps recent events suggest a deeper pattern?
This course treats ethnic cleansing as a central part of the history of twentieth-century Eastern Europe. To do so, it must treat a few events which are not conventionally seen as part of East European history. The course begins with the First World War, which brought the massacre of hundreds of thousands of Armenians in Turkey, and ended with forced population exchanges of Greeks and Turks. These events, important in and of themselves, also set precedents, which were recalled during and after the Second World War. The course will also introduce the Ukrainian famine and the Soviet deportations of the 1930s. These too, besides their intrinsic importance, were a link between the First and Second World Wars, and prefigured what would happen when Soviet power came west in 1939 and 1944.
Soviet policy appears to have been influenced by contact with Nazi Germany. This is one of many reasons a course on East European ethnic cleansing must consider the Final Solution. The Holocaust was far more than an ethnic cleansing, since it was designed to exterminate an entire people rather than remove a certain population from a certain territory. Nevertheless, it was preceded by other projects, which look far more like ethnic cleansing: the deportation of populations to make Lebensraum for Germans. The Final Solution itself was largely implemented in Eastern Europe, before the eyes (and sometimes with the help) of East Europeans. In certain cases, the Holocaust was integrally connected to ethnic cleansings during and after the war.
One of these episodes was the cleansing of Poles from Volhynia and Galicia (today western Ukraine) in 1943 and 1944. This was the purification of a large swath of territory by a partisan army backed by no state. The course treats those events, as well as the cleansing of Ukrainians within Poland that followed. These were organized by communist states. The course’s final wartime subject is the expulsion of millions of Germans from Czechoslovakia and Poland, which contributed to the creation of European national states familiar to us. This was a pan-European project endorsed by the Western Allies, the Soviet Union, and leading East European politicians. With all this in mind, we shall return to contemporary Yugoslavia in the final week of class.
Evaluation: Half of your grade will be class participation, which besides attendance and informed discussion involves two particular obligations. The first is to deliver one ten-minute oral presentation. The presentations should include a review of the events in question, a summary and critique of the secondary sources, and a series of questions raised but not answered by the sources. Many topics will have two presenters, who should coordinate their work. You may wish to prepare a written outline of your presentation for the rest of the class, although this is not required. The second part of the participation grade are spontaneous five-minute responses to the oral presentations. Every week two students will be selected at random, on the spot, to respond to the oral presentation. Their responses may take any form: addressing the questions raised by the presenters, defending the sources, adding further criticism, making connections to previous weeks. But the responses must reflect, and refer to, both the week's reading and the oral presentation. Hint: one can react to tasks such as this by having prepared points with prepared citations, which are spontaneously connected to what has gone before. Since the drawing is random, you may have to do this several times. Your name will not be removed from the drawing.
The other half of your grade will be a term paper of not more than 25 pages. The term paper grade also comprises three parts: preliminaries, the first draft, and the final draft. The research paper may, but need not, be a deeper investigation of one of the episodes of ethnic cleansing discussed in the course. It should not treat events of the 1990s, since we will not get to this period until late November, and in any event the purpose of the course is to understand ethnic cleansing as part of twentieth-century history broadly understood. We shall also be mindful of Sir Walter Raleigh's sound counsel: “that who-so-euer in writing a modern Historie, shall follow truth to neare the heeles, it may happily strike out his teeth.” The term paper is due on 10 December at 5:00pm in my box at HGS.
Ethnic cleansing seems to have a powerful connection to the written word: it seems at the time to be connected to propaganda and means of mass communication; it seems often to motivate patterned narratives by perpetrators and victims after the fact; and it creates the nationally homogenous spaces which official state curricula can take for granted. Precisely because of the intense suffering it involves, ethnic cleansing provides us with a sobering opportunity to investigate questions of perspective in historiography. In later weeks of the course, we will consider outstanding reflections upon the Holocaust and its historiography. These may provide some examples of critical investigation and of the use of primary and secondary sources as we research ethnic cleansing, and as you prepare the first draft of the term paper (due in class the final week).
You are encouraged to take advantage of office hours. Please make an appointment if the office hours do not suit you. The reading is divided between books, available at the Yale Book Store, and xeroxed materials, available in a packet at York Copy.
Week One (8 September): Nationality and Ethnicity
Ernest Renan, “What is a Nation?” , translated and reprinted in Geoff Eley and Ronald Grigor Suny, eds., Becoming National, New York: Oxford University Press, 1996, 41-55. PACKET
Max Weber, “The Origins of Ethnic Groups,” from Economy and Society , translated and reprinted in John Hutchinson and Anthony Smith, eds., Ethnicity, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996, 5-21. PACKET
Week Two (15 September): Introduction to Eastern Europe
Hugh Seton Watson, Eastern Europe Between the Wars 1918-1941, Hamden: Archon Books, 1962, 1-74. PACKET
Joseph Rothschild, East Central Europe Between the Two World Wars, Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1992, 1-25. PACKET
Assignment: 5 minute presentation on behalf of any nationality. It is autumn 1914, the Great War is underway, the armies of empire have mobilized and are on the march. You are a clever, ambitious, and sincere young national politician, and you foresee that war will bring an end to the European empires. Prepare your case for world public opinion, bearing in mind that your country may be little known. Why does your nation deserve statehood? Where should your borders be?
This week we will assign presenters for the remaining weeks of class.
Week Three (22 September): The Armenian Massacres (1915-1922)
Leslie A. Davis, The Slaughterhouse Province: An American Diplomat’s Report on the Armenian Genocide, 1915-1917, New Rochelle: Caratzas, 1989, 37-125. PACKET
Norman Naimark, Fires of Hatred: Ethnic Cleansing in the Twentieth Century, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2001, 17-42.
Ronald Suny, Looking Toward Ararat: Armenia in Modern History, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993, 94-115. PACKET
Bernard Lewis, The Emergence of Modern Turkey, London: Oxford University Press, 1968, 324-361. PACKET
Week Four (29 September): Bulgarian-Greco-Turkish “Exchanges” (1919-1922)
Naimark, Fires of Hatred, 42-56.
Stephen Ladas, The Exchange of Minorities: Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey, New York, Macmillan , 1932, 1-23, 27-48, 335-352, 720-736. PACKET
Week Five (6 October): Famine in Soviet Ukraine (1932-1933)
Robert Conquest, Harvest of Sorrow: Collectivization and the Terror Famine in Soviet Ukraine, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987.
Week Six (13 October): Soviet National Purges (1936-1944)
Terry Martin, “The Origins of Soviet Ethnic Cleansing,” Journal of Modern History, 70, 4, (1998), 813-862. PACKET
Naimark, Fires of Hatred, 85-107.
Week Seven (20 October): Nazi Ethnic Cleansing (1933-1941)
Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, New York: Penguin, 1992 , 56-111. PACKET
Christopher Browning, Nazi Policy, Jewish Workers, German Killers, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000, 1-57. PACKET
Naimark, Fires of Hatred, 57-84.
Week Eight (27 October): The Final Solution (1941-1945)
Christopher Browning, Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland, New York: HarperCollins, 1998, 1-190.
Week Nine (3 November): Library Session and Film
Library Session: 3:30, Slavonic Reading Room, Sterling Library, led by Tatiana Lorkovic. Meet at the library, not in the classroom.
Film: 8:00, Tuesday 4 November, Yale Film Study Center, “The Pianist”
No reading assignment. Use this week to consider paper topics, begin research, and prepare your outline.
Week Ten (10 November): Poles and Ukrainians (1939-1947)
Timothy Snyder, The Reconstruction of Nations, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003, chapters 1-10, present chapters 6-10.
Due: Outline of term paper.
Week Eleven (17 November): The Expulsion of the Germans (1944-1946)
Naimark, Fires of Hatred, 42-56.
Jeremy King, “Loyalty and Polity, Nation and State: A Town in Habsburg Central Europe, 1848-1948,” doctoral dissertation, Columbia University, 1998, 153-173. PACKET
Benjamin Frommer, “Expulsion or Integration: Unmixing Interethnic Marriage in Postwar Czechoslovakia,” East European Politics and Societies, 14, 2 (2000), 381-410. PACKET
Outlines returned. Discussion of outlines.
Week Twelve (3 December): Yugoslavia Reconsidered (1989-present)
Naimark, Fires of Hatred, 140-199.
Ivo Banac, “The Fearful Asymmetry of War: The Causes and Consequences of Yugoslavia's Demise,” Daedalus, 121 (1992), 141-170. PACKET
Due: First draft of term paper.
Informal course evaluations.
10 December: Term paper due, 5:00pm. my mailbox, history lounge, HGS.