244. The Social Roots of Ethnic Conflict in East Central Europe: A Comparative Study of the German Diaspora in Hungary, Romania and SlovakiaJul 07, 2011
November 2001- In the twentieth century, one of the most explosive issues of European history was the ethnic-national question in East Central Europe. From the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand and the struggle of minorities for nationhood leading up to World War I, to the rise of National Socialism and the horrors of the Holocaust, to the recent bloodshed in the former Yugoslavia, the ethnic-national question in East Central Europe significantly altered the course of European as well as world civilization. Arguably the most controversial ethnic-minorities of East Central Europe were the Germans. Sometimes referred to as the 'fifth column' or as 'Himmler's auxiliaries' in popular and academic minds, the German Diaspora in Eastern Europe is often viewed as having been Hitler's willing accomplices in his eastward expansion.
June 2004 - Despite Slovakia's remarkable progress in political and economic reforms since 1998, considerable alarm was raised last April when, just weeks before the country's accession to the European Union (EU), it appeared that the very man who was blamed for Slovakia's international isolation in the mid-1990s could win the presidency. While serving as prime minister, Vladimir Meciar's controversial political and economic policies prevented Slovakia from joining the first wave of countries to accede to NATO and from starting accession negotiations with the EU. Meciar ultimately failed in the second round of the presidential elections, but the high level of popular support he continues to enjoy remains a subject of concern. Still, as those elections demonstrated, the prospect of Meciar's return to high politics appears unlikely, given the polarizing effect he has on the Slovak population and the reluctance of other politicians to cooperate with him. In addition, signs of "Meciarism," characterized by the use of populism, nationalism and clientelism as ways of winning and maintaining political support, appear to be diminishing on the political scene. The future of Meciar and Meciarism clearly depends not so much on Meciar himself but on his competitors and their ability to move society forward.
March 1998 - With the end of the Cold War, we have been given the opportunity not only to research in archives hitherto inaccessible but also to rethink aspects of East European history freed from the ideological preconceptions carried in that struggle. In this regard, and particularly in light of Eastern Europe's search for a usable past, the question of the postwar slide into communist dictatorship seems ripe for rethinking. The fact is that there were significant elements in each society of the region that were in favor of the communist "solution" to the problems of postwar reorganization and reconstruction, and many more amenable to that solution.
October 2002- In parliamentary elections held on September 20-21, 2002, Slovak voters showed a clear preference for pro-Western and reform-oriented parties, while turning away from populists aimed at protecting "national" interests and potentially returning the country to international isolation. The elections produced the most homogenous government in Slovakia's short history, and the country's future – at least for the next four years – now appears rather predictable, even boring. Following an awkward introduction to the world, the elections signify that Slovakia may finally be growing up.
June 2006 - History never quite repeats itself, but some echoes sound too familiar to ignore. The government assembled by Robert Fico after Slovakia's June 2006 elections bears notable similarities to the governing coalition led by Vladimír Meciar between 1994 and 1998. Since that earlier government gave Slovakia a reputation as a pariah state—"a hole in the map of Europe"—it is understandable that any prospect of its return should produce consternation and prompt the question "Could it happen again?" Though the short answer to this question is probably "No," there is considerable value in asking "Why not?" and in exploring the factors that made Slovakia's mid-1990's government such an unfortunate precedent.
October 1998 - Although opposition political parties won a decisive victory in September's parliamentary elections in Slovakia, their triumph was made possible by the country's non-political civil society. No group did more to overturn the authoritarian rule of Vladimir Meciar than the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) of Slovakia's third sector. In fact, public opinion polling and surveys had indicated for more than a year that the opposition would win--if Slovakia's citizens understood what was at stake and turned out to vote.
March 2003 - The collapse of the Communist regime in Czechoslovakia had many wonderful consequences. For historians it has meant that so many archives that were once closed to us have been open for more than a decade. As a result, those who write about Czech and Czechoslovak history now have unprecedented access to sources and have had ten-plus years to poke around and to consider what we have found very carefully. At the same time, a new generation of historians interested in Czech, Slovak and Czechoslovak history has appeared, both in Europe and in North America. In North America alone, there are now quite literally dozens of historians who have taken up Czech, Slovak and Czechoslovak history since the mid-1980s and this generation has benefited tremendously from the opening of the archives. The intersection of these two events has meant that much that was once unavailable as a subject of historical study is now at the center of the research programs of many talented historians.
This paper examines the conditions under which the so-called Soviet model of industrialization was introduced into East Central Europe. While it is difficult to define direct Soviet economic policy, one can discern the Soviet interest and its direct economic impact by analyzing Czechoslovakia and Romania in terms of both their internal development and their relations with the Soviet Union. No doubt, the primacy of politics is the main component of the Soviet relationship to East Central Europe; this paper, however, will focus on the economic side of that relationship.
CWIHP Working Paper No. 24
CWIHP Working Paper No. 50