Archive for the ‘Kateryna’ Category

The People’s Republic of Albania by Nicholas C. Pano

Tuesday, October 30th, 2007

This book demonstrates the rise to power of the Communist Party in the country of Albania. It starts with the background of the country and moves on to the years of World War Two, when the communists came to power in the country. There were two kinds of communists in the country, those who associated themselves with Yugoslavia and those who followed the path of the Soviet Union. The relationships between the two are the subjects of this book. Albania is a very poor country and the leaders of it had to associate themselves with one of the regimes in order for the country to survive. At first the regime was loyal to Yugoslavia then to Soviet Union and in the end of 1950’s and 1960’s Albanians found China as their protector following many disagreement that occurred between Albania and Soviet Union. The problem with the book is that it was written in 1967, so the reader is left with many questions unanswered, what happened after 1967? For the reader today, additional research is needed in order to further follow the developments in this country.
The author goes in a lot of detail in order to show the development of the relationship between Albania and Soviet Union. His task is to show why Albania moved away from Moscow and found a new protector in China. The main reason why the shift between the two occurred is because Soviet Union developed friendly relations with Tito, and as we see from the history of Albania there is a strong ‘dislike’ of the Yugoslavian leader and the country by many Albanian Communists. This attitude towards Yugoslavia is founded by the fact that it wanted to make Albania part of Yugoslavia following the war, moreover, Albania had claims over the territory of Kosovo, because of the large Albanian populations living in the territories. However, this territory went to Yugoslavia and Albanians were very bitter about this development.
Yugoslavia was a threat to Albania, Soviet Union on the other hand, was far away from Albania, so there was no threat of physical absorption on its part. Moreover, Moscow had greater resources, so it was more capable of helping Albania in its economic development, as well as military protection. Albania made many improvements it the country due to the monetary support by the Soviet Union. However, Soviets wanted it to develop its agriculture, and not heavy industry. Albanians viewed it as a way of controlling the county, and continued to develop its industry instead of agriculture. However, the main reason for the worsening of the relations between the two was Yugoslavia, which Albanians claimed was not truly communist and they called on all communist republic to return to true Marxist-Leninist roots. As the relationship with Moscow worsened, and money stopped coming in, Albania stood by its principles and did not give in to Moscow, instead it found new source of support in Beijing. At the same time Soviet-Chinese relations worsen and it became Albania and China against the rest of the communist world. Albania was not very important to Soviet Union and the only reason it was given so much importance is because of China. Soviet Union used Albania as its proxy through which it carried out their struggles against China (Pano, p.141). The book ends with Albania still the only communist country in Europe with no friend on its continent, having the only friend in Asia.

Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland by

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2007

Kateryna Duncan
This is a very controversial book because it shows extermination of Jews during the Second World War not by Germans, but by Polish nationals. Many believed and still believe that genocide was executed by Nazi Germany and would never even think that regular citizens of Eastern European countries participated in these atrocities. This book shows Pogroms planed and carried out only by Polish residents of the town of Jedwabne, the only role Germans played in it is that they allowed the Pogrom to take place as well as took some pictures of it. The point here is that citizens of this town wanted to cleanse their town from Jews and killing all, including women and children, was the only way. Brutality with which the executions of 1600 Jews were carried out is horrifying. At times, reading the memories of the witness, it feels like they were not human, they had so much hatred for the Jewish population, the question here is why? Why people became animal like and brutally killed their neighbors?
Jan T. Gross proposes several answers to this question. The nature of the Totalitarian regimes is in part responsible for these atrocities, because they institutionalized resentment among people. “People subject to Stalin’s or Hitler’s rule were reputedly set against each other and encourage to act on the basest instincts of mutual dislike”(Gross, xv). And Poland was occupied in different times during the war by both Germany and Soviet Union. Moreover, Jews were seen a supporters of the Bolsheviks, and most Poles were against it. The author shows that there is no proof to this, however, people believed this strongly. Moreover, Poland is a catholic country, and its citizens believed in the facts that Jews killed Jesus Christ, so the killing of the Jews might have been justified in their eyes as a revenge of what they did to Jesus. On the other hand, Jews were believed to be a wealthy ‘minority’ and peasants were unhappy with their economic state. All in all there are many possible explanations for the killing of 1600 Jews, but no one of them is good enough to justify the crimes. And it is impossible to justify the reasons and it is not what the author is trying to do in the book, he is simply points out the state of mind of the people during the time of the killings.
The important fact about the book is that it changed the way we think about genocide and the reason for writing this work is to show the truth about what happened in this small town and encourage further research on the subject.

Before the “Final Solution”: Toward a Comparative Analysis of Political Anti-Semitism in Interwar Germany and Poland by William W. Hagen

Wednesday, October 10th, 2007

Kateryna Duncan
Both articles discuss Minority Groups in Poland between the two wars; specifically they deal with the influence of Politics on the issue of minorities. Poland is an interesting case because after the Great War it finally became an independent state and a nation-state, where Polish nationals occupied a leading position and others were to become Polish or to move outside the state. William Hagen argues in his article that Poland was not much different from Germany in its treatment of Jews. He argues that anti-Semitism was an economic question and it also was ‘inherent’. In the opening pages author describes the visit of a British national traveling on behave of the United States in mid-1930’s to understand anti-Semitism in Europe. His findings are as follows. “Of anti-Semitism Laski concluded that it was ‘inherent and indigenous, ineradicable and not likely to moderate until the economic conditions improve, the pressure of Jews in the professions lessens and the Hitler regime disappears”(Hagen, p.357).
Articles argue that people’s hatred of Jews reflected Government policies. In Poland anti-Semitic government started with Roman Dmowski and Continued by Jozef Pilsudski. At the beginning boycotts of Jewish goods was promoted as well as Jews were excluded from works in public sectors. Members of the parliament openly agitated anti-Semitism and built their campaigns on these bases. However, there were some politicians in Poland, who at least until the mid-1930’s stood up in some form for minorities. “Though not free of anti-Jewish tendencies, both the Peasant and the Socialist parties rejected political anti-Semitism as right-wing propaganda obfuscating the villagers and workers interests”(Hagen, p. 373). However, by 1939 it was clear that anti-Semitism was an imperative to the political life in the country. Hagen argues in the article that if it was not for the invasion of Nazi Germany, Poland itself would have became a fascist state.
Polish government was very unstable in its first years, majority changed often; however, one thing did not change, is that Poland should be ruled by Poles, not any other ethnic minorities. Many Ukrainian were a part of the parliament, but they were discriminated by their polish colleagues, their voices were not heard. Slowly they were pushed out of public life, “it seemed to the representatives of these minorities that they had no friends left in Polish public life, not even among the most radical and progressive parties”(Groth, p.573). Ukrainians were trying to establish their autonomy within a Polish state, but their efforts were met with extreme violence and mass terror. What both authors are trying to show in their articles is that Polish state was based on democratic principle and guarantied minority rights only in theory. In reality, minorities were not tolerated, ‘Poland is for Polish nationals’ and treatment of minority groups reflects this principle.

Patriotic Celebrations in Late-Nineteenth-and Early-Twentieth-Century Tirol by Laurence Cole And The Cult of March 15: Sustaining the Hungarian Myth of Revolution, 1849-1999 by Alice Freifeld

Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

Kateryna Duncan
Both of the authors, Laurence Cole and Alice Freifeld, discuss the use of celebrations, in the first case, it was suppose to show hegemony of the Catholic-German speaking population in the region; in the second case, march 15, became a national holiday used at different times by different regimes in order to promote different goals, but at the end what was unifying is the fact that the holiday was celebrated and is still celebrated today.
What is clear from both articles is that people came together on theses occasions. In the Tirol region, both Germans and Italians, peasants and city residents, came to the city of Innsbruck to take part in the celebration. “On this day, the day that commemorated the old unity displayed in the year nine [1809], the unity of Tirol saw the light of day once again”(p.104). At first the author shows how the region was divided, both along the religious lines and the political lines, but towards the end Laurence Cole shows that despite their differences, what the celebration of 1909 came to symbolize is the ability of these different groups to cooperate. It does not matter, in the long run, why they came to Innsbruck, what matters is that they came.
Alice Freifeld shows that no matter by whom, and why the day of the Revolution was celebrated for over one hundred and fifty years, what is important is that, it was a day of national birth and it was not forgotten. The revolution was defeated, but it was the fact of defeat that made this day so powerful. Depending on popular resonance March 15 became a holiday when the failed revolution was exploited for political gain. “The tactic of turning failed revolutions to the national advantage as a means to achieve political concessions became the backbone of Hungarian political ideology” (p.260).
In the end, both articles represent the importance of collective memory in building of nationalism. In celebrating certain historical figures, or events a group of people is united and this unity of one and separation from the other is the important aspect of building national consciousness.

Rogers Brubaker, Nationalism Reframed: Nationhood and the national question in the New Empire.

Thursday, September 6th, 2007

Kateryna Duncan

In this book, Rogers Brubaker deals with the question of nationalism in Central and Eastern Europe after the collapse of the Soviet Union. He compares the newly created states to those that were created after the Great War and concludes that nationalism remains a central issue. The author divides his book into two parts, first deals with theoretical aspect and the second develops historical and comparative aspects. Brubaker focuses his study around a “triadic model”, which distincs three forms of nationalism: nationalizing nationalism, transborder nationalisms, and the one caught in between the two are the national minorities. In general, the book is very confusing at times, it is difficult to follow his thought especially in the first half of the book. The sentences are too long and the language is hard to understand.
He argues that Soviet Union institutionalized multinationality, by creating fifteen republics inside the union based on nationality. Moreover, the fact that, for example, Ukrainians lived in the Ukrainian Republic, distinguished them from other nationalities living in the Soviet Union, that, in the long run contributed to the Union’s demise. “Institutionalized definitions of nationhood, …, not only played a major role in the disintegration of the Soviet state, but also continued to shape and structure the national question in the incipient successor states” (p.23). This point is not very convincing, he does not disregard other contributing factors to the demise of the USSR, but he does not give them great importance either. (more…)