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Additional resources for The Politics of Ethnicity in Central Europe

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Actions on both sides in the conflict clearly illustrate how minority nationalism in the empire came to be associated with blood and land. The Magyar reaction against Austro-German dominance and their own repressive treatment of their minorities inevitably divided groups along ethnic lines. This policy was further exacerbated by the imperial policy of pitting differing national groups against one another in order to restore imperial control. After the Magyars had been subjugated the recourse to territorial re-division emphasized the importance of 16 The Politics of Ethnicity in Central Europe territory as a resource, and inflamed the minority’s sense of injustice and determination to win it back.

The communist party rushed to fill the vacuum and a proletarian republic under Bela Kun was proclaimed (Bideleux and Jeffries, 1998: 423). The collapse of the new republic in the face of internal resistance and external threat meant that the left had forfeited its legitimacy to govern in interwar Hungary. The swing to the right under Admiral Horthy would lead inexorably to alliance with Nazi Germany. To the north, the new Polish state was proclaimed on Armistice Day 1918. The incoming authorities had to somehow rationalize and unify six separate currencies, five distinct regional administrations, the four languages of command used in the army, three legal codes and two incompatible rail gauges.

It is not designed to serve as a historical narrative. Rather it seeks to explain why in Central Europe ideas of nation and routes to national self-determination have been different from those traditionally employed in Western Europe. Although reference to past events is unavoidable just as it is necessary, it is more important that we understand the intellectual and other forces which influenced the growth of the national idea. As a result a straightforward narrational style has deliberately been avoided.

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