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Tag: 1918

The decline of the West and the joy in the East

Interview with Andrzej Chwalba, Polish historian and professor of history at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Poland. Interviewer: Andrzej Zaręba

ANDRZEJ ZARĘBA: The title of your book about the First World War is (Samobójstwo Europy) (The Suicide of Europe). Suicide suggests a certain will and a lack of determinism. Hence my first question: What would have happened on June 28th 1914 had Archduke Franz Ferdinand not been assassinated? Would war not have broken out?

ANDRZEJ CHWALBA: There were many assassination attempts on many important people at that time. There was no month without at least one assassination attempt. In the months before 1914 there were at least a dozen successful attempts, including the killing of the king of Serbia, the king of Italy, the Russian tsar, two US presidents as well as many prime ministers. Based on data from Austrian intelligence, there were eleven attempts to assassinate Franz Joseph – the goodhearted and beloved leader. There were attempts on Franz Ferdinand’s life as well – the June 1914 assassination, as we know, was the successful one.

November 5, 2018 - Andrzej Chwalba Andrzej Zaręba

More than independence. Poland and 1918

After the First World War Poland regained its independence. At the same time, it failed to recreate its former state, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and reconstruct a map of western Eurasia.

In 1918 a newly independent Poland appeared on Europe’s stage with a complex and ambitious vision to rebuild the western parts of the former Russian Empire. The new opportunities that Poland saw were a result of Germany and Russia’s defeat in the First World War. Poland, seeing a geopolitical vacuum in the East, came up with three visions.

November 5, 2018 - Adam Balcer

1918 – A geopolitical catastrophe for Ukraine

There is merit in perusing counterfactual history – which is not about what happened, but what could have happened. It allows us to reconsider simple questions and search for more precise answers. Why the Ukrainian revolution lost in 1918 is one such question.

When we recall 1918, within the context of Polish-Ukrainian relations, the first thing that springs to mind is the Polish-Ukrainian war for Lviv and Galicia. And this is only natural. This war has deeply influenced relations between the two societies for the decades that followed. As Christoph Mick described it in Lemberg, Lwów, L'viv, 1914-1947: Violence and Ethnicity in a Contested City, interactions between Poles, Ukrainians and Jews – until the horrors of the Second World War – developed under the influence of the memory of November 1918. Poles celebrated the victory and Ukrainians prepared for revenge, while Jews contemplated memories of the pogrom staged by the Polish army when it marched into Lviv and hence feared Polish antisemitism more than Ukrainian antisemitism.

November 5, 2018 - Yaroslav Hrytsak

Identity building after the rupture. Post-war memorials in Central and Eastern Europe

Following the First World War, a significant number of conspicuous monuments and memorials were put up in Central and Eastern Europe. More than just an attempt to come to terms with the trauma of the war, they were also a method of nation- and state-building. Consequently, it was associated with the revival or invention of traditions in order to stabilise the societies in the newly founded, re-founded or reshaped states.

The First World War was followed by the construction of mass number of monuments and memorials. In Central and Eastern Europe, however, the erection of new monuments was first preceded by the destruction of existing ones. In countries which had gained or regained their independence, symbols of the former regimes were removed from public view as they were associated with foreign rule and oppression.

November 5, 2018 - Arnold Bartetzky

The failure of mapmaking and territorialisation of statehood in Polesia and Belarus in 1918

For various reasons, the Brest-Litovsk Peace Treaty, signed on March 3rd 1918 between the Central Powers and Soviet Russia, was published without the agreed upon map. This insufficiency may have had dire consequences on the success of an independent Belarusian People’s Republic, which was later overtaken by the establishment of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Belarus in 1919.

Why was the map of the Brest-Litovsk Peace Treaty neither published nor handed down? It was an integral part of the binding international treaty that was adopted on March 3rd 1918. Instead of a written definition of the border demarcation, Article III of the treaty contained a fleeting reference to a map in the annex. The border was drawn according to a map kept in the Political Archive of the Foreign Office in Berlin since June 1918 at the latest. The original map is very large, on a scale of 1:800,000, and allowed the territorial assignment of places that are only ten kilometres apart. However, this graphic representation was never used.

November 5, 2018 - Diana Siebert

Azerbaijan Democratic Republic: The first democratic, parliamentary and secular republic in the Islamic East

Closing in on the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, what did it mean for Azerbaijani statehood at the time? What does it mean for the Azerbaijan of today?

June 1, 2018 - Elmira Hasanova Rusif Huseynov

Memory of independence. A gap-filling exercise

2018 is the year Poland celebrates its 100 years since regaining independence. However, not all of today’s Polish territory was a part of Poland a century ago. This creates a dilemma for these regions and highlights, once again, issues of memory, identity and belonging.

In 2018, Poland becomes “infinitely independent”. At least that is the message on the official logo of the 100 years of Polish independence, which is composed of the infinity symbol coloured in white and red. Independence is to remain in Poland once and for all. But this total, somehow all-encompassing message transpiring from the logo may also be seen through different lenses – those of geography. In other words, as infinity has no borders in time, it should have no borders in space either. It is therefore possible to draw an assumption that the century of Poland as an independent state ought to be celebrated equally in all parts of the country, from its western extremes to eastern borders and from the northern seaside to the mountains in the south.

April 26, 2018 - Mateusz Mazzini

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