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STEVEN

BLA

VRDY

ETHNIC CLEANSING IN HISTORY 1

As pointed out by Jos Ortega y Gasset (1883-1955) in his


e p o c h - m a k i n g w o r k The Revolt of the Masses (1929) 2 , d u r i n g the
nineteenth and twentieth centuries the Western World had witnessed
the emergence of the c o m m o n p o p u l a c e to a position of economic
and political i n f l u e n c e in h u m a n society. Being essentially of
r e p u b l i c a n s y m p a t h i e s , a n d s y m p a t h i z i n g w i t h the e x p l o i t e d
underclasses of Western Civilization, Ortega readily recognized
the positive implications of this mass p h e n o m e n o n for the p e o p l e
in general. At the same time, however, he feared that this ascendance
of the u n c o u t h , boorish, and u n w a s h e d masses m i g h t lead to
civilization's relapse into a n e w f o r m of b a r b a r i s m .
The spread of the primitive mass culture associated with the
"rise of the masses" was a direct byproduct of the growing acceptance
of this mass culture in the n a m e of " h u m a n equality." In other
w o r d s , it w a s the result of the belief that "all m e n [ h u m a n s ] are
created equal," even t h o u g h w e all know, or s h o u l d k n o w
that this belief is based on an o u t r i g h t f a l s e h o o d . As a m a t t e r of
fact, every h u m a n being is in possession of specific, u n i q u e , a n d
distinct physical and mental characteristics and capabilities, which
manifest themselves in m a n y different w a y s and on various levels
of competence. This realization a p p e a r s to u n d e r c u t the concept
of "equality" embodied in the American and the French Revolutions.

This p a p e r is b a s e d p a r t i a l l y on the first half of the " I n t r o d u c t i o n " in Ethnic


Cleansing in Twentieth-Century
Europe, eds. S T E V E N B L A V R D Y , T . H U N T T O O L E Y ,
and A G N E S H U S Z R VRDY (New York: East European Monographs, Columbia University
Press, 2003).

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Of course, the situation becomes quite different if we take into


c o n s i d e r a t i o n the self-evident t r u t h generally d e n i e d by the
extreme liberals and radicals of today that the notion of "equality"
w i t h i n the American C o n s t i t u t i o n is not the "forced equality" of
t o d a y ' s r a d i c a l s , b u t r a t h e r the belief in the i d e a of " e q u a l
opportunities."
Ortega w a s convinced of the "essential inequality of h u m a n
beings," and c o n s e q u e n t l y he believed in the u n i q u e role of the
"intellectual elites" in the s h a p i n g of history. 3 This f u n d a m e n t a l
t r u t h w a s also k n o w n to the f o u n d i n g f a t h e r s of the American
Republic. After all, they themselves were members of this intellectual
elite. A n d it w a s a l w a y s the high culture of this intellectual elite
that h a d s h a p e d the d e v e l o p m e n t of h u m a n civilization. It w a s
this sophisticated a n d r e f i n e d high c u l t u r e that is n o w b e i n g
e n d a n g e r e d by the rise of the masses a n d the s p r e a d of their
boorish culture a n d u n c o u t h w a y of life.
Ortega also emphasized the notion that the concepts of "liberty"
and " e q u a l i t y " are really m u t u a l l y exclusive ideas. This notion,
by the way, h a d a l r e a d y been b e l a b o r e d earlier by the H u n g a r i a n
s t a t e s m a n and political p h i l o s o p h e r Baron Jzsef Etvs (18131871) i n h i s m o n u m e n t a l w o r k , t h e Dominant

Century,

2
3

Nineteenth

in w h i c h he asserted that liberty a n d equality do not

La rebellion de las masas, 1929; E n g l i s h t r a n s l a t i o n : The Revolt of the Masses,

Academic American Encyclopedia


1980), vol. 14, p. 449.

Ideas of the

1932.

( P r i n c e t o n , NJ: A r e t e P u b l i s h i n g C o m p a n y , Inc.,

Baron J Z S E F E T V S , A XIX. szzad uralkod eszminek befolysa az lladalomra, 2.


vols. (Pest & Vienna, 1851-1854); English version: The Dominant Ideas of the Nineteenth
Century and Their Impact on the State, t r a n s l a t e d , e d i t e d , a n n o t a t e d a n d i n d e x e d
b y D. M E R V Y N J O N E S , 2. vols. ( N e w York: Social Science M o n o g r a p h s , C o l u m b i a
U n i v e r s i t y Press, 1996-1997). See also the r e l e v a n t w o r k s by the a u t h o r of this
study, STEVEN BLA V R D Y : Baron Joseph Etvs: The Political Profile of a Liberal Hungarian
Thinker and Statesman (Bloomington: I n d i a n a University, 1967); Baron Joseph Etvs:
A Literary Biography ( N e w York: Social Science M o n o g r a p h s , C o l u m b i a U n i v e r s i t y
Press, 1987); " B a r o n J o s e p h E t v s on L i b e r a l i s m a n d N a t i o n a l i s m , " in Studies for
a New Central Europe, Ser. 2, no. 1 (1967-1968), p p . 65-73; " B a r o n J o s e p h Etvs:
S t a t e s m a n , T h i n k e r , R e f o r m e r , " in Duquesne Review, vol. 13, no. 2 (Fall 1968), p p .
107-119; " T h e O r i g i n s of J e w i s h E m a n c i p a t i o n in H u n g a r y : The Role of Baron
Joseph Etvs," in Ungarn Jahrbuch, vol. 7 (1976), p p . 137-166, r e p r i n t e d as Duquesne
University Studies in History, no. 6 (1979); a n d "Baron J o s e p h E t v s ' s Political
Essays in the C a u s e of R e f o r m d u r i n g the 1840s," in Triumph in Adversity:
Studies
in Hungarian Civilization in Honor of Professor Ferenc Somogyi on the Occasion of His

Ethnic

Cleansing

in

History

23 7

really m a s h with each other. In light of the distinct and diverse


capabilities of every individual, total equality can never be achieved
u n d e r any circumstances. Moreover, even a m o d e r a t e f o r m of
equality could only be achieved by containing the capable and
p u s h i n g them d o w n to the level of the mediocre. But constraining
the abilities of the intellectual elite would undercut the achievements
of h u m a n civilization, and w o u l d p u s h it back to the low level
from which it evolved t h r o u g h the actions of the gifted m e m b e r s
of society.
As a disciple of the Geistesgeschichte view of h u m a n development,
Ortega w a s convinced of the p r i m a c y of spiritual a n d intellectual
factors over economic and material forces in the s h a p i n g of history.
Given these convictions, he feared that the emergence of a m a s s
society d o m i n a t e d by economic and material considerations,
and by the cultural preferences of the masses w o u l d result in
the reemergence of b a r b a r i s m on a mass scale.
That Ortega's fears were partially justified can hardly be doubted
in light of the mass exterminations witnessed by several twentiethcentury generations of h u m a n beings. As we all know, in the
second q u a r t e r of the past century six million Jews and m a n y
t h o u s a n d s of non-Jewish people were e x t e r m i n a t e d at the o r d e r s
of a lowborn corporal turned into the unquestioned leader [Fhrer]
of Germany (Hitler). At the same time, about fifty million innocent
h u m a n beings fell victim to the twisted m i n d of a Caucasian
brigand t u r n e d into the "infallible" leader of the h o m e l a n d of
socialism (Stalin). Moreover, since the end of World War II, the
w o r l d has also stood witness to mass killings, expulsions, a n d
genocides in such widely scattered regions of the world as Cambodia
in Southeast Asia, R w a n d a in Central Africa, Bosnia a n d Kosovo
in former Yugoslavia, and S a d d a m H u s s e i n ' s Iraq.
In looking at these terror actions against ethnic groups, religious
denominations, or nationalities be these mass expulsions, partial
exterminations, or genocides we are often c o n f u s e d h o w to
categorize them. For example, scholars and publicists are particularly
c o n f o u n d e d at the distinctions or alleged distinctions b e t w e e n
Eightieth Birthday, ed. S T E V E N B L A V R D Y a n d G N E S H U S Z R V R D Y ( N e w York:
East E u r o p e a n M o n o g r a p h s , C o l u m b i a U n i v e r s i t y Press, 1988), p p . 179-193.

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" g e n o c i d e " a n d "ethnic cleansing." The first of these terms came


into c o m m o n use in conjunction w i t h the Jewish H o l o c a u s t of the
World War II period, while the second term gained currency in
the inter-ethnic struggles of Bosnia d u r i n g the 1990s.
This obfuscation and b e w i l d e r m e n t became even more
p r o n o u n c e d recently, p a r t i c u l a r l y in c o n s e q u e n c e of the belated
application of one or a n o t h e r of these terms to such earlier events
as the so-called " A r m e n i a n Holocaust" of 1915,5 the Greek-Turkish
War and forced p o p u l a t i o n exchange of 1921-1923, and the various
p o p u l a t i o n e x p u l s i o n s that took place in c o n s e q u e n c e of the
r e d r a w i n g of political b o r d e r s in w a k e of the two w o r l d w a r s .
We k n o w that most ethnic cleansings involve some physical abuse,
as well as a n u m b e r of i n t e n d e d or u n i n t e n d e d d e a t h s . We also
know that none of the so-called "genocides" were able to exterminate
all m e m b e r s of a particular group. (This applies even to the Jewish
Holocaust, w h e r e the goal w a s the total e x t e r m i n a t i o n of all Jews
within the reach of Hitler's power.) Consequently, in actual practice,
the m e a n i n g of these two t e r m s often tend to merge. At times it
is really difficult to differentiate b e t w e e n " g e n o c i d e " a n d "ethnic
cleansing," p a r t i c u l a r l y in light of the fact that the application of
violence in some ethnic cleansings often reaches the point of mass
killings, t h u s t u r n i n g those events into potential genocides.
5

T h e ex p o s t facto a p p l i c a t i o n of the t e r m " H o l o c a u s t " or " g e n o c i d e " to the


f o r c e d t r a n s f e r of m a n y of O t t o m a n T u r k e y ' s A r m e n i a n p o p u l a t i o n f r o m Turkish
A r m e n i a in the n o r t h to Cilicia or Lesser A r m e n i a in the s o u t h is a h o t l y d e b a t e d
issue. M a n y s c h o l a r s v i e w it as a p o p u l a t i o n t r a n s f e r that s h o u l d be called " e t h n i c
c l e a n s i n g . " O t h e r s on the o t h e r h a n d , p a r t i c u l a r l y the s u r v i v e d t r a n s f e r e e s a n d
their d e s c e n d a n t s prefer to classify it as the " A r m e n i a n Holocaust." For the A r m e n i a n
side of t h e s t o r y see R O B E R T M E L S O N . Revolution and Genocide: On the Origins of the
Armenian
Genocide and Holocaust ( C h i c a g o - L o n d o n : T h e U n i v e r s i t y of C h i c a g o
Press, 1 9 9 2 ) ; V A H A K N N. D A D R I A N . The History of the Armenian Genocide: Ethnic
Conflict from the Balkans to Anatolia to the Caucasus ( P r o v i d e n c e - O x f o r d : B e r g h a h n
Books, 1 9 9 5 ) ; a n d V A H A K N N . D A D R I A N . " T h e Role of T u r k i s h P h y s i c i a n s in the
W o r l d War I G e n o c i d e of O t t o m a n A r m e n i a n s , " in Holocaust and Genocide
Studies,
vol. 1 , no. 2 ( A u t u m n 1 9 8 6 ) , p p . 1 6 9 - 1 9 2 . For the T u r k i s h side of that s t o r y see
M I M K E M A L K E . The Armenian
Question, 1914-1923. (Oxford: K . R u s t e m & Brothers,
1 9 8 8 ) . T h e A m e r i c a n v i e w is r e p r e s e n t e d b y S T A N F O R D J . S H A W a n d E Z E L K U R A L
S H A W . History
of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey ( C a m b r i d g e : C a m b r i d g e
U n i v e r s i t y Press, 1 9 7 6 - 1 9 7 7 ) , vol. 2 , p p . 3 1 4 - 3 1 7 . See also R O N A L D SUNY. " R e t h i n k i n g
the U n t h i n k a b l e : Toward an U n d e r s t a n d i n g of the A r m e n i a n G e n o c i d e , " in R O N A L D
G R I G O R S U N Y , Looking
Toward Ararat: Armenia in Modern History
(Bloomington:
I n d i a n a U n i v e r s i t y Press, 1 9 9 3 ) , p p . 9 4 - 1 1 5 .

Ethnic Cleansing

in

History

23 7

While we recognized the difficulty of d i s t i n g u i s h i n g b e t w e e n


"genocide" and "ethnic cleansing," in the conference we organized
in the Fall of 2000 at D u q u e s n e University, we tried to limit our
attention to events that could clearly be classified as ethnic
cleansing" in the sense of p o p u l a t i o n d i s p l a c e m e n t s . We w e r e
able to do this, because we e q u a t e d the Jewish H o l o c a u s t with
"genocide," that is with "the p l a n n e d , directed, and systematic
extermination of a national or ethnic group;" and "ethnic cleansing"
with the forced d i s p l a c e m e n t or expulsion of certain national,
ethnic, or religious g r o u p s . Naturally, we recognize the fact that
the Jewish Holocaust w a s also, at the same time, a kind of ethnic
cleansing, but its n a t u r e a n d scale w e r e of such m a g n i t u d e that
it w a s more than ethnic cleansing in the c o n v e n t i o n a l sense of
that term.
Our working definition of "ethnic cleansing" at this conference,
therefore, involved not so m u c h the destruction, b u t rather the
forced removal of a region's p o p u l a t i o n f r o m their native territory.
We differentiated b e t w e e n these two concepts not only because
they were and are qualitatively different, but also because h a d
we i n c l u d e d "genocide" as a topic of our conference, most of the
participants' attention w o u l d have been taken u p by the Jewish
Holocaust. There is, of course, hardly a more significant twentiethcentury topic than H i t l e r ' s efforts to exterminate the Jews. But
precisely for that reason, d u r i n g the past half a century, it has
been the focus of hundreds of scholars, who have produced thousands
of v o l u m e s on this topic. Not so the topic of "ethnic cleansing"
in the sense of "population transfer," which has largely been ignored
until the Bosnian crisis of the 1990s. 6 In any case, most of the

On e t h n i c c l e a n s i n g in general, see A N D R E W B E L L - F I A L K O F F . " A Brief H i s t o r y of


Ethnic C l e a n s i n g , " in Foreign Affairs, vol. 7 2 , no. 3 ( S u m m e r 1 9 9 3 ) , p p . 110-120;
A N D R E W B E L L - F I A L K O F F . Ethnic Cleansing. ( N e w York, 1 9 9 6 ) ; D R A Z E N P E T R O V I C , "Ethnic
C l e a n s i n g . An A t t e m p t at M e t h o d o l o g y , " in European Journal of International
Law,
vol. 5 , no. 3 ( 1 9 9 4 ) , p p . 3 4 2 - 3 5 9 ; R O B E R T M . H A Y D E N . " S c h i n d l e r s Fate: G e n o c i d e ,
Ethnic C l e a n s i n g , a n d P o p u l a t i o n T r a n s f e r " , in Slavic Review, vol. 55, no. 4 (Winter
1 9 9 6 ) , p p . 7 2 7 - 7 4 8 ; J E N N I F E R J A C K S O N P R E E C E . " E t h n i c C l e a n s i n g as an I n s t r u m e n t of
N a t i o n - S t a t e C r e a t i o n : C h a n g i n g State Practices a n d E v o l v i n g Legal N o r m s , " in
Human Rights Quarterly, vol. 2 0 ( 1 9 9 8 ) , p p . 8 1 7 - 8 4 2 ; N O R M A N M . N A I M A R K , Ethnic
Cleansing in Twentieth Century Europe [The D o n a l d W. T r e a d g o l d P a p e r s , no. 19].

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Vrdy

p a p e r s at t h e c o n f e r e n c e d e a l t w i t h a s p e c t s of p o p u l a t i o n
displacements, while at the same time trying to define the m e a n i n g
of ethnic cleansing. The results of o u r deliberations a p p e a r e d in
p r i n t in the f o r m of the a b o v e - m e n t i o n e d major v o l u m e entitled
Ethnic

Cleansing

in

Tiventieth-Century

Europe.7

Ethnic Cleansing in History


A l t h o u g h the t e r m " e t h n i c c l e a n s i n g " has come into c o m m o n
u s a g e only since the Bosnian conflict, the practice itself is almost
as old as h u m a n i t y itself. It r e a c h e s b a c k to a n c i e n t times. An
early e x a m p l e of such an e t h n i c c l e a n s i n g w a s the " B a b y l o n i a n
C a p t i v i t y " of the Jews in the sixth c e n t u r y B.C. ( f r o m 586 to
538 B.C.). A f t e r c a p t u r i n g J e r u s a l e m in 586 B.C., K i n g
N e b u c h a d n e z z a r II (r. 605-561 B.C.), ruler of Babylonia, p r o c e e d e d
to d e p o r t the J u d e a n s f r o m their h o m e l a n d to his o w n k i n g d o m .
In this w a y he " c l e a n s e d " the f u t u r e H o l y L a n d of m o s t of its
native inhabitants.
The J u d e a n s w e r e p e r m i t t e d to r e t u r n h o m e after nearly fifty
years (586-538 B.C.), only to be expelled again six c e n t u r i e s later,
this time by the R o m a n s . This second ethnic cleansing of the
Jews i n v o l v e d b o t h Jewish k i n g d o m s Israel a n d J u d e a , a n d
it took place in 70 A.D. This came in w a k e of the Jewish revolt
(66-70/75) against the Romans, chronicled by the historian Flavius
J o s e p h u s (37-93+ A.D.). Put d o w n by E m p e r o r Vespasian's (6979 A.D.) R o m a n legions, the s u p p r e s s i o n of this Jewish revolt
r e s u l t e d in the e x p u l s i o n of all Jews f r o m Palestine, a n d their
b e i n g scattered all over the R o m a n Empire. Not u n t i l the birth
of the Zionist M o v e m e n t in the late 19th c e n t u r y e i g h t e e n
centuries after the Jewish diaspora did the Jews begin to trickle
back to their ancient h o m e l a n d . But even in 1918, at the end of
World War I, they n u m b e r e d only 60,000, and thus they constituted
less t h a n 10% of the r e g i o n ' s p o p u l a t i o n (60,000 out of 660,000).
Moreover, all b u t a f e w t h o u s a n d of these Jews were n e w arrivals
(Seattle: J a c k s o n School of I n t e r n a t i o n a l S t u d i e s , U n i v e r s i t y of W a s h i n g t o n , 2000);
a n d N O R M A N M . N A I M A R K , Fires of Hatred. Ethnic Cleansing in Twentieth
Century
Europe. ( C a m b r i d g e : H a r v a r d U n i v e r s i t y Press, 2001).
7

See n o t e #1, a b o v e .

23 7
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to the region, w h o h a d entered Palestine in the p e r i o d since the


1880s. 8
The R o m a n s resorted to this practice of ethnic cleansing a
n u m b e r of times in the course of their imperial history. As an
example they i m p l e m e n t e d this policy in the province of Dacia
(former eastern H u n g a r y and Transylvania, since 1920 a part of
Romania) two centuries after the dispersal of the Jews. They did
so, because Dacia's frontiers had become increasingly indefensible
against the o n s l a u g h t of the Vandals a n d other G e r m a n tribes.
Thus, in the year 271 A.D., E m p e r o r Aurelian (r. 270-275) o r d e r e d
the removal and transfer of all of Dacia's partially R o m a n i z e d
p o p u l a t i o n to the south of the D a n u b e River to the province of
Moesia ( m o d e r n Serbia and N o r t h e r n Bulgaria).
Similar ethnic cleansings took place, but on a m u c h g r a n d e r
scale, in the period of the so-called " b a r b a r i a n i n v a s i o n s " in the
fourth through the sixth centuries. During that period large nationlike tribes including Germans, Slavs, and various Turkic peoples
m o v e d back and forth b e t w e e n Western and Eastern Europe,
and even Central Asia. They forcibly displaced one another, a n d
in this w a y r e s h a p e d the ethnic m a p of the E u r o p e a n continent.
This so-called Vlkerwanderung ( " w a n d e r i n g of nations") which
in some instances stretched into the late M i d d l e Ages b r o u g h t
such peoples as the H u n s , Avars, Bulgars, Magyars, Pechenegs,
and C u m a n s into the very heart of Europe. Its aftereffects w e r e
felt as late as the thirteenth century, w h e n the M o n g o l s or Tatars
i n v a d e d Europe, c o n q u e r e d the eastern half of the continent, and
then settled d o w n on the lower Volga to rule over the Eastern
Slavs (mostly Russians and some Ukrainians) for several centuries.
There were also periodic ethnic cleansings a n d p o p u l a t i o n
relocations also in the course of s u b s e q u e n t centuries, in m a n y
parts of the world. Thus, w h e n the Jews were expelled f r o m Spain
by F e r d i n a n d a n d Isabella in 1492, w h e n the H u g u e n o t s w e r e
exiled from France in 1685 following the revocation of the Edict
of Nantes, or w h e n the decimated and dislocated p o p u l a t i o n of
8

Academic American Encyclopedia, vol. 15, p. 44. See also The Encyclopaedia
Britannica,
11th ed., 29 vols. ( N e w York: The E n c y c l o p a e d i a Britannica C o m p a n y , 1910-1911),
vol. 20, p p . 60-626, esp. p. 604.

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the Americas w a s partially replaced by Spaniards, P o r t u g u e s e ,


Englishmen, Frenchmen, and Africans. Such ethnic cleansings and
p o p u l a t i o n c h a n g e s also took place d u r i n g the Thirty Years' War
(1618-1648), w h e n large sections of the Holy Roman Empire became
d e p o p u l a t e d a n d s u b s e q u e n t l y resettled with n e w c o m e r s , as well
as d u r i n g the H a b s b u r g - T u r k i s h w a r s of the 16th t h r o u g h the
18th centuries, w h e n Southern H u n g a r y was d e n u d e d of it original
M a g y a r i n h a b i t a n t s , only to be resettled by Serbians, V l a c h s /
Romanians, Germans, and even Frenchmen from the Rhine region. 9
Ethnic Cleansing as an Official Policy
Although forcible relocations have been practiced for millennia,
"ethnic cleansing" as an official policy did not come into b e i n g
until the 19th century, especially in the U n i t e d States. Large-scale
forcible relocation of v a r i o u s " n a t i v e p e o p l e s " or I n d i a n s w a s
i n t r o d u c e d in e a r l y - n i n e t e e n t h - c e n t u r y America, a n d it w a s d o n e
as the official policy of the United State g o v e r n m e n t . Scores of
I n d i a n tribes w e r e forced to " m i g r a t e " f r o m their native h u n t i n g
g r o u n d s to b e y o n d the Mississippi. At times they left v o l u n t a r i l y
to escape violence by the European settlers; at times they d e p a r t e d
to search for food a n d other f o r m s of sustenance; a n d at times
they w e r e b e i n g p u s h e d West by other native tribes, w h o reacted
to direct p r e s s u r e s f r o m w h i t e settlers f r o m the East.
The process of I n d i a n r e m o v a l b e c a m e s t a n d a r d i z e d f e d e r a l
policy in 1830, w h e n the U.S. Congress passed the "Indian Removal
Act." Some of the saddest manifestations of this policy, implemented
during Andrew Jackson's presidency (1829-1837), was the decimation
a n d e x p u l s i o n of the affiliated Sauk a n d the Fox tribes f r o m the
U p p e r Mississippi region to f u t u r e Iowa and Kansas (Black H a w k
War of 1832), the forcible relocation of the Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw,
a n d Cherokee n a t i o n s f r o m the Old S o u t h w e s t to the so-called
Indian Territory that became O k l a h o m a (Trail of Tears, 1838-1839),
and the expulsion of the Seminole I n d i a n s f r o m Florida to the
same general area (Second Seminole War, 1835-1843). This process
9

For a quick reference concerning these events see W I L L I A M L . L A N G E R , An Encyclopedia


of World History
(Boston: H o u g h t o n M i f f l i n C o m p a n y , 1940), as well as its r e v i s e d
e d i t i o n s in 1948, 1952, 1968, a n d 1972.

Ethnic Cleansing

in

History

23 7

of forcible removals to reservations w a s r e p e a t e d countless times


from the 1830s through the 1880s, right u p to the Battle of Wounded
Knee in 1890, w h e r e about t h r e e - h u n d r e d h u n g r y a n d r a g g e d
Sioux Indians were massacred by U.S. Federal troops. 1 0
In Europe this p h e n o m e n o n took a slightly different form,
but in the end it w a s equally destructive. This w a s connected
with the birth and spread of an increasingly emotional and intolerant
"ethnic nationalism," which by the m i d d l e of the 19th c e n t u r y
began to e q u a t e the " n a t i o n " with the "state." This i d e o l o g y
d e m a n d e d the destruction of large m u l t i n a t i o n a l e m p i r e s that
were the p r o d u c t s of a long process of historical evolution, which
offered a degree of order and p e r m a n e n c e to the E u r o p e a n state
system. It also m a n d a t e d the r e d r a w i n g of political frontiers along
ethnic-linguistic lines. But in light of E u r o p e ' s mixed p o p u l a t i o n ,
clearly definable ethnic b o u n d a r i e s did not really exist a n y w h e r e .
The p l a n n i n g and establishment of such new, allegedly "nation
states," therefore, necessarily involved the need for p o p u l a t i o n
transfers. And when such allegedly "nation states" were established,
many of the projected population transfers were in fact implemented,
at times u n d e r the most g r u e s o m e circumstances. Other related
policies of these newly established "nation states" included forced
assimilation, expropriation of property, the use of violence, a n d
in several cases, even mass killings. 11
Following World War I, the destruction or m u t i l a t i o n of such
l o n g - s t a n d i n g E u r o p e a n states as A u s t r i a - H u n g a r y ( H a b s b u r g
Empire), G e r m a n y (much of the f o r m e r H o l y R o m a n Empire),
the Russian Empire, and the Ottoman Empire, and the simultaneous
creation of nearly a dozen allegedly national, b u t in fact mostly
small multinational states, resulted in the introduction of the practice

10

See F R A N C I S P A U L P R U C H A , The Sword of the Republic: The United States Army on the
Frontier, 1783-1846 (Lincoln: U n i v e r s i t y of N e b r a s k a Press, 1 9 8 7 ) ; B L A C K H A W K , An
Autobiography
( 1 8 3 3 ed.), ed. D O N A L D J A C K S O N (Urbana: U n i v e r s i t y of Illinois Press,
1 9 9 0 ) ; R O N A L D N. SATZ, American Indian Policy in the Jacksonian Era (Lincoln: University
of N e b r a s k a Press, 1 9 7 5 ) ; a n d G R A N T F O R E M A N , Indian Removal: The Emigration of
the Five Civilized Tribes of Indians ( N o r m a n : U n i v e r s i t y of O k l a h o m a Press, 1 9 8 6 ) .
11

On the rise of this e m p h a t i c e t h n i c n a t i o n a l i s m in the n i n e t e e n t h c e n t u r y , see


the excellent r e a d e r by J O H N H U T C H I N S O N a n d A N T H O N Y S M I T H , eds.,
Nationalism
(Oxford: O x f o r d U n i v e r s i t y Press, 1 9 9 4 ) , especially p p . 1 6 0 - 1 9 5 .

236

Steven Bla V r d y

of "ethnic cleansing" in m o d e r n Europe. It became a regular policy


of the n e w states, h a v i n g been more or less " l e g i t i m i z e d " by the
victorious great p o w e r s and peace m a k e r s at Versailles. The newly
created, reestablished, or radically enlarged "successor states"
particularly Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and Romania in the center;
Bulgaria, Greece, a n d Turkey in the south; and to a lesser degree
Poland and Lithuania in the north expelled hundreds of thousands
of minority i n h a b i t a n t s f r o m their n e w l y acquired or reassembled
territories. 1 2 M a n y of these e x p u l s i o n s also i n v o l v e d m i l i t a r y
e n c o u n t e r s a m o n g several of these nations a n d n e w l y created
states. The most violent of these c o n f r o n t a t i o n s w a s the GreekTurkish War of 1921-1923, w h i c h resulted in a forced p o p u l a t i o n
exchange that compelled 1.3 million Greeks to leave Anatolia (Asia
Minor), a n d 350,000 Turks to e v a c u a t e Greek-controlled Thrace. 1 3
The climax of this policy of ethnic cleansing came in the w a k e
of World War II, w h e n based on the e r r o n e o u s principles of
collective guilt and collective p u n i s h m e n t over sixteen million
G e r m a n s were c o m p e l l e d to leave their ancient h o m e l a n d s in
East-Central a n d S o u t h e a s t e r n Europe. At the Yalta a n d P o t s d a m
Conferences, the leaders of the victorious great p o w e r s agreed to
truncate G e r m a n y a n d transfer Eastern G e r m a n y ' s ethnic G e r m a n
p o p u l a t i o n to the remaining portions of the country. They likewise
agreed to expel the 3.5 million G e r m a n s f r o m the S u d e t e n l a n d
a n d f r o m such i m p o r t a n t u r b a n centers of Bohemia a n d Moravia
(the Czech state) as Brnn and P r a g u e even t h o u g h these l a n d s

12

For the H u n g a r i a n case a n d the i m p a c t of the Treaty of Trianon, see the classic
w o r k b y C. A. M A C A R T N E Y , Hungary and Her Successors: The Treaty of Trianon and
its Consequences, 1919-1937. (Oxford: O x f o r d U n i v e r s i t y Press, 1937, n e w ed. 1968);
I S T V N I . M C S Y , The Effects of World War I. The Uprooted: Hungarian
Refugees and
their Impact on Hungarian Domestic Politics, 1918-1921
( N e w York: Social Science
M o n o g r a p h s , C o l u m b i a U n i v e r s i t y Press, 1983). O n e of the m o s t c o m p r e h e n s i v e
of the r e l e v a n t s c h o l a r l y v o l u m e s , w h i c h i n c l u d e s s t u d i e s by o v e r t h i r t y scholars,
is B. K . K I R L Y , P . P A S T O R , a n d I . S A N D E R S , eds., War and Society in East Central
Europe. Essays on World War I. A Case Study of Trianon ( N e w York: East E u r o p e a n
M o n o g r a p h s , C o l u m b i a U n i v e r s i t y Press, 1982).
13

See A R N O L D J . T O Y N B E E , The Western Question in Greece and Turkey: A Study in the


Contact of Civilizations,
2 n d ed. ( L o n d o n - B o m b a y : C o n s t a b l e a n d C o m p a n y , Ltd.,
1923); S T E P H E N L A D A S , The Exchange of Minorities: Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey ( N e w
York: M a c m i l l a n Co., 1932); D I M I T R I P E N T Z O P O U L O S , The Balkan Exchange of Minorities
and its Impact upon Greece (Paris & the H a g u e : M o u t o n & Co., 1962).

Ethnic Cleansing

in

History

23 7

and cities have been inhabited by Germans for over seven centuries.
A similar policy of expulsion w a s also a p p l i e d , a l t h o u g h less
stringently, to the smaller German ethnic communities of Hungary,
Romania, and Yugoslavia. All in all, 16.5 million G e r m a n s m a y
have fallen victim to this officially s p o n s o r e d policy of ethnic
cleansing. 1 4
A l t h o u g h the G e r m a n s were the p r i m a r y victims of this n e w
policy, the H u n g a r i a n s were also been subjected to it, especially
in E d u a r d Benes's reconstituted Czechoslovakia. In the course
of 1945-1946, over 200,000 t h o u s a n d of t h e m were driven across
the Danube, most of them in the m i d d l e of the w i n t e r and w i t h o u t
proper clothing and provisions. This so-called "Kosicky P r o g r a m "
which became the Czechoslovak g o v e r n m e n t ' s official policy
vis-a-vis the Hungarians 1 5 w a s a smaller version of the "ethnic
cleansing" that had been embodied in the so-called Benes Decrees, 16
and had "cleansed" the artificially constructed Czechoslovak State
of all of its G e r m a n citizens. It is to the credit of Vclav Havel,
the President of the Czech Republic, that in his f o r m e r capacity
as the last President of Czechoslovakia he a c k n o w l e d g e d the
14

On the p o s t - W o r l d War II e x p u l s i o n of the G e r m a n s , see


Nemesis at Potsdam: The Angol-Americans
and
Germans ( L o n d o n : R o u t l e d g e & K e g a n Paul, Ltd., 1977; 2 n d
U n i v e r s i t y of N e b r a s k a , L i n c o l n , 1989). See also G E R H A R D
Exodus:Vertreibung und Eingliederung von 15 Millionen Ostdeutschen.
Verlag, 1973); Die Vertreibung der deutschen Bevlkerung aus der
vols. (Munich: Deutschen Taschenbuch Verlag, 1984); and Heinz
Verbrechen an Deutschen
( M u n i c h : Ullstein Verlag, 1987).

M A U R I C E DE Z A Y A S ,

especially ALFRED
the Expulsion of the
ed., 1979; 3rd ed.,
ZIEMER,
Deutscher
(Stuttgart: Seewald
Tschechoslowakei, 2
Nawratil,Vertreibungs-

15

C o n c e r n i n g H u n g a r i a n e x p u l s i o n s a n d the fate of H u n g a r i a n m i n o r i t i e s in the


s u r r o u n d i n g " s u c c e s s o r s t a t e s " see E L E M R ILLYS, National Minorities in Romania:
Change in Transylvania ( N e w York: East E u r o p e a n M o n o g r a p h s , C o l u m b i a University
Press, 1 9 8 2 ) ; J O H N C A D Z O W , A N D R E W L U D N Y I , a n d Louis J . L T E T , eds., Transylvania:
The Roots of Ethnic Conflict (Kent, Ohio: Kent State U n i v e r s i t y Press, 1 9 8 3 ) ; S T E P H E N
B O R S O D Y , ed., The Hungarians:
A Divided Nation ( N e w H a v e n : Yale C e n t e r for
I n t e r n a t i o n a l a n d Area S t u d i e s , 1 9 8 8 ) ; a n d R A P H A E L V G , The Grand Children of
Trianon: Hungary and the Hungarian Minority in the Communist States ( N e w York:
East E u r o p e a n M o n o g r a p h s , C o l u m b i a U n i v e r s i t y Press, 1 9 8 9 ) .
16

See the collection of these "Benes D e c r e e s " c o m p i l e d by P r o f e s s o r C h a r l e s


U d v a r d y [Wojatsek] of B i s h o p ' s University, C a n a d a . For a list of these d e c r e e s ,
see V R D Y - T O O L E Y - V R D Y , Ethnic Cleansing in Twentieth-Century
Europe, p p . 823834. The list is also available on the I n t e r n e t , a l o n g w i t h the article: " E t h n i c
C l e a n s i n g in post World War II Czechoslovakia: the p r e s i d e n t i a l decrees of E d w a r d
Benes, 1945-1948." See h t t p : / / w w w . H u n g a r y . c o m / c o r v i n u s Section: History,
C z e c h o / S l o v a k - H u n g a r i a n affairs.

238

Steven Bla V r d y

i m m o r a l i t y of the policy. Sadly, however, this a c k n o w l e d g e m e n t


w a s not f o l l o w e d by any effort at c o m p e n s a t i o n or restitution.
The most recent m a n i f e s t a t i o n s of ethnic cleansing at least
as far as Central a n d S o u t h e a s t e r n E u r o p e are concerned were
those in the f o r m e r Yugoslav provinces of Bosnia a n d Kosovo. 1 7
These w e r e the actions that p o p u l a r i z e d the expression "ethnic
cleansing" a n d gave it a definition as distinct f r o m the term
"genocide." The latter term, as w e h a v e seen above, implies not
only the d i s p l a c e m e n t , b u t also the m a s s e x t e r m i n a t i o n of the
targeted ethnic m i n o r i t y g r o u p .
Scholarship on Ethnic Cleansing
While the term "ethnic cleansing" is relatively new, scholars
h a v e w r i t t e n a b o u t this p h e n o m e n o n ever since World War I. But
they did so largely f r o m the point of v i e w of their o w n nation,
or rather from the v a n t a g e point of the real or perceived injustices
that their nation h a d s u f f e r e d in c o n s e q u e n c e of the war. Thus,
G e r m a n s w r o t e a b o u t the u n f a i r n e s s of the Treaty of Versailles
(June 28, 1919), the H u n g a r i a n s a b o u t the injustices of the Treaty
of Trianon (June 4, 1920), the Bulgarians a b o u t the inequities of
the Treaty of Neuilly (Nov. 27, 1919), the Turks about the prejudices
of the Treaty of Svres (Aug. 10, 1920), the Greeks a b o u t the
p u n i t i v e n a t u r e of the Treaty of L a u s a n n e (July 24, 1923), a n d the
Armenians about the atrocities, exterminations, and forced population
t r a n s f e r s they h a d been subjected to in 1915 a n d after the w a r
(1923). Western scholars b e g a n to deal w i t h this question only
belatedly. Allegedly they r e p r e s e n t e d scholarly objectivity, b u t
most of them presented the views of one or another of the "victorious"
nationalities, i.e., those w h o w e r e classified as f r i e n d l y to the
Allied cause d u r i n g the war. From H u n g a r y ' s point of view these
so-called "victors" included the Czechs, Slovaks, Romanians, Serbs,
Croats, U k r a i n i a n s , a n d in a certain sense even the generally pro-

N O R M A N C I G A R , Genocide in Bosnia: The Policy of "Ethnic


Cleansing"
(College
Station: Texas A. & M. U n i v e r s i t y Press, 1995); a n d C H R I S T O P H E R B E N N E T , " E t h n i c
Cleansing in Former Yugoslavia," in The Ethnicity Reader: Nationalism,
Multiculturalism
and Migration, eds. M O N S E R R A T G U I B E R N A U a n d J O H N R E X ( C a m b r i d g e : C a m b r i d g e
U n i v e r s i t y Press, 1997), p p . 122-135.
17

Ethnic Cleansing

in

History

23 7

H u n g a r i a n Poles, as well as the otherwise "looser" Austrians.


A l t h o u g h they had their o w n differences, but w h e n it came to
the H u n g a r i a n question, they f o r m e d a solid a n d u n i f i e d bloc,
which bloc w a s u n i f o r m l y a n t i - H u n g a r i a n . They were able to pass
on their a n t i - H u n g a r i a n views to v a r i o u s Western statesmen a n d
scholars, w h o dealt with these issues.
Only one among the well-known Western scholars had Hungarian
s y m p a t h i e s . He w a s Professor C. A. M a c a r t n e y (1895-1978), an
objective British scholar, w h o wrote a n u m b e r of significant w o r k s
about H u n g a r y and the D a n u b e region, w h e r e he w a s willing to
point out the unfair treatment that the Western powers have imposed
upon Hungary.18 His works, however, were more than
counterbalanced by the writings and activities of the very influential
R. W. Seton-Watson [Scotus Viator] and his e n t o u r a g e , w h o w e n t
so far as to a t t e m p t to t h w a r t even M a c a r t n e y ' s career.
The p r i m a r y victims of post-World War II "ethnic cleansing"
were the Germans, for over sixteen million of t h e m were expelled
from their centuries old h o m e l a n d s . A l t h o u g h m u c h has been
written about this post-World War II G e r m a n expulsion, most of
these w o r k s were written by G e r m a n s for G e r m a n audiences,
and they had very little impact u p o n the w o r l d in general. The
reason for this is obvious: After Hitler and the Jewish H o l o c a u s t
the G e r m a n s had enjoyed no s y m p a t h y in the West, a n d certainly
none in the East. In point of fact, the generally accepted v i e w
w a s that they really d e s e r v e d w h a t they got. This w a s the result
of the application of the principle of collective guilt and collective
p u n i s h m e n t u p o n the G e r m a n nation as a whole; a v i e w that
a p p e a r s to be p o p u l a r even today, although p e r h a p s not as widely
as in the p o s t w a r years.
G e r m a n y ' s , or rather r e m a i n i n g G e r m a n y ' s p o s t w a r division
into East and West, did not help matters either. East G e r m a n y
[DDR] became a Soviet p u p p e t state that did w h a t the Soviets
w a n t e d it to do, while West G e r m a n y [BRD] suffered for d e c a d e s
from guilt complex and self-flagellation, and did very little to
18

On this great British scholar see BLA V R D Y , " M e g h a l t C . A . Macartney, a m a g y a r


m l t n a g y t u d s a " [C. A. M a c a r t n e y , the Great Scholar of the H u n g a r i a n Past is
D e a d ] , in Itt-Ott,
vol. 11, no. 2 (1978), p p . 7-9.

240

Steven Bla V r d y

point out the basic injustices of these m a s s expulsions. Only the


victims of this u n p r e c e d e n t e d "ethnic cleansing" b e m o a n e d their
fate, b u t they f o u n d f e w s y m p a t h e t i c ears.
Naturally, there were a n u m b e r of Western scholars w h o began
to deal with this question. But most of them wrote scholarly books
that remained hidden in university libraries, without any meaningful
i m p a c t u p o n Western thinking. The only exception m a y be Alfred
M a u r i c e de Zayas, a n d his b o o k s a b o u t the G e r m a n c a t a s t r o p h e
that h a v e a p p e a r e d in reasonably great n u m b e r s , a n d h a v e also
been r e p u b l i s h e d several times. The two most significant of these
w o r k s a r e h i s Nemesis

at Potsdam:19,

a n d h i s A Terrible

Revenge.20

They are both classic w o r k s on G e r m a n ethnic cleansing, w h i c h


d e m o n s t r a t e conclusively the v e n g e f u l n e s s of the victors t o w a r d
the d e f e a t e d , as well as their disregard for even the most basic
h u m a n rights of innocent millions just because they were Germans.
The p r o b l e m is that n o t w i t h s t a n d i n g their scholarly quality
neither of these b o o k s h a v e received the kind of m a s s publicity
they deserved. Thus, the German expulsions although numerically
exceeding all other e x p u l s i o n s failed to register in the public
m i n d in a w a y c o m p a r a b l e to the m o r e recent ethnic cleansings
in Bosnia a n d Kosovo, or the Jewish H o l o c a u s t sixty years earlier.
The latter two events are generally k n o w n to everyone t h r o u g h o u t
the w o r l d .
There a p p e a r s to be some c h a n g e n o w a d a y s , which m a y the
the result of the highly publicized cases of ethnic cleansings in
f o r m e r Yugoslavia. In the course of the last f e w years several
b o o k s h a v e a p p e a r e d on ethnic cleansing. The best k n o w n a n d
most recent among these are Andrew Bell-Fialkoff's Ethnic Cleansing,21
and N o r m a n M. N a i m a r k ' s Fires of Hatred.22 Particularly i m p o r t a n t
is N a i m a r k ' s Fires of Hatred. The latter deals w i t h five s e p a r a t e
t w e n t i e t h - c e n t u r y m a n i f e s t a t i o n s of ethnic cleansing: (1) the fate
of the A r m e n i a n s a n d the Greeks of Anatolia in 1915 and after
19

For de Z a y a s ' s w o r k see n o t #14, a b o v e .

20

ALFRED

European

MAURICE

Germans,

DE Z A Y A S ,

1944-1950

A Terrible Revenge: The Ethnic Cleansing of the East


( N e w York: St. M a r t i n ' s Press, 1993)."

Ethnic

Cleansing

( N e w York: St. M a r t i n ' s Press, 1996).

21

ANDREW

22

For N a i m a r k ' s w o r k s see n o t e #6, a b o v e .

BELL-FIALKOFF,

Ethnic Cleansing

in

23 7

History

World War I (1923); (2) the Jewish Holocaust d u r i n g World War


II, which w a s m u c h more than simple "ethnic cleansing"; (3) the
Soviet d e p o r t a t i o n of the Chechens, I n g u s h and the C r i m e a n
Tatars in 1944; (4) the expulsion of the G e r m a n s f r o m Poland and
Czechoslovakia after the war; and finally (5) the ethnic cleansings
in Bosnia and Kosovo in f o r m e r Yugoslavia d u r i n g the 1990s.
N a i m a r k ' s description of the German expulsions is scholarly,
detached, and honest: As he writes: "The ethnic cleansing of Germans...
calls forth scenes of horror that beggar description. It is hard to
k n o w h o w m a n y Germans died in the process of deportations....
So m a n y died and committed suicide d u r i n g the last phase of the
war... that out of 11.5 million Germans w h o were expelled..., 2.5
million died, m a n y from h u n g e r and disease." 2 3 It is p r e s u m e d
that the remaining 4.5 to 5 million fled their h o m e l a n d d u r i n g the
last phase of the war. This mass exodus constituted the largest
single forced migration in k n o w n history, exceeded only by the
largely voluntary, economically motivated "migration" from Europe
to North America in the three decades prior to World War I that
landed about 25 million Europeans on the American shores.
Ethnic Cleansing Conference at D u q u e s n e University
The p a p e r s presented at the "Conference on Ethnic Cleansing"
at D u q u e s n e University ( N o v e m b e r 16-18, 2000) s u r v e y m u c h of
the process of forced p o p u l a t i o n exchanges in t w e n t i e t h - c e n t u r y
Europe. Organized by the a u t h o r of the current s t u d y w h o
w a s aided by Professors T. H u n t Tooley of Austin College and
Agnes Huszr Vrdy of Robert Morris University the participants
included sixty scholars and and a n u m b e r of s u r v i v o r s f r o m eight
distinct countries. In addition to the United States, these i n c l u d e d
C a n a d a , Britain, G e r m a n y , P o l a n d , H u n g a r y , S l o v a k i a , a n d
Switzerland. Most of the papers presented at this conference appeared
i n t h e v o l u m e Ethnic

Cleansing

in Tioentieth-Century

Europe

(2003),

which is the first major scholarly w o r k that combines most of the


information about various t w e n t i e t h - c e n t u r y ethnic cleansings on
the E u r o p e a n continent.

23

NAIMARK,

Ethnic

Cleansing

in Twentieth

Century

Europe

(2000),

p.

20.

242

S t e v e n Bla

Vrdy

It seems a s t r a n g e twist of fate that this first-ever conference


on ethnic cleansing in the United States has taken place at an
institution, w h i c h itself came into being in c o n s e q u e n c e of a k i n d
of minor "ethnic cleansing" ("religious cleansing"). The latter w a s
Otto von Bismarck's anti-Catholic crusade k n o w n as the Kulturkampf
(1872-1878), w h i c h d r o v e the Religious O r d e r of the H o l y Ghost
out of Germany. They m i g r a t e d in 1878 to Western P e n n s y l v a n i a ,
w h e r e they settled on a hill in the city of P i t t s b u r g h . There they
f o u n d e d an institution of h i g h e r learning, k n o w n as D u q u e s n e
University, w h i c h t o d a y is one of the major Catholic universities
in the United States, with over 10,000 s t u d e n t s , w h o come f r o m
over forty states and 115 distinct countries. 2 4
In a d d i t i o n to d e a l i n g w i t h the p o l i t i c a l , s o c i o l o g i c a l ,
methodological, legal, and philosophical aspects of ethnic cleansing
in general, our conference participants and contributors investigated
d o z e n s of cases of ethnic cleansings, b o t h d u r i n g a n d after World
War I and World War II. These include, a m o n g others, the expulsion
of the G e r m a n s by Poles, Czechs, Yugoslavs, and R o m a n i a n s , the
ejection of H u n g a r i a n s by Slovaks, R o m a n i a n s , a n d Serbians, the
ouster of Poles by U k r a i n i a n s , the p u r g i n g of the C r i m e a n Tatars
by the Russians, the p e r s e c u t i o n of the A r m e n i a n s a n d the Greeks
by the Turks, the expulsion of the Turks by the Greeks, the ejection
of the Bosnian M u s l i m s , Croats, and the Kosovo A l b a n i a n s by
the Serbians, the ouster of the M u s l i m P o m a k s by the Bulgarians,
a n d even the ethnic cleansing practiced by the French a n d British
colonizers in N o r t h America. T h u s the nationalities and e t h n i c /
religious groups treated at this conference included the Hungarians,
Poles, Czechs, U k r a i n i a n s , Rusins, R o m a n i a n s , Serbs, Croats,
Bosnians, Armenians, Bulgarians, Pomaks, Greeks, Turks, Russians,
Crimean Tatars, Chechens, Ingush, as well as such German-speakers
as the Danubian Swabians, Sudeten Germans, Silesians, Pomeranians,
Prussians, a n d Baltic G e r m a n s .
As of all the nationalities w h o s u f f e r e d ethnic cleansings in
E u r o p e the G e r m a n s w e r e the the most n u m e r o u s , the D u q u e s n e

24

See J O S E P H F . R I S H E L . The Spirit that Gives Light. The History of Duquesne


1878-1996 ( P i t t s b u r g h : D u q u e s n e U n i v e r s i t y Press, 1997).

University,

Ethnic Cleansing

in

History

23 7

University Conference on Ethnic Cleansing also d e v o t e d a m a j o r


portion of its attention to the G e r m a n p r o b l e m . A b o u t t w o - t h i r d s
of the p a p e r s p r e s e n t e d at the conference dealt with the postWorld War II expulsion of Germans; which also holds true for
the published volume. This e m p h a s i s on the G e r m a n s is the direct
result of the fact that of all of the people w h o were expelled f r o m
their European native lands in the course of the twentieth century,
over half were G e r m a n s . These i n c l u d e d the G e r m a n s of f o r m e r
Eastern Germany, as well as the G e r m a n s p e a k i n g i n h a b i t a n t s of
such East Central E u r o p e a n states as Poland, Lithuania, Latvia,
Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, and former Yugoslavia. 25 (Here
we are n o w disregarding the Jewish Holocaust with its six-million
victims, as well as most of the fifty-million victims of Stalinist
terror and slave labor camps, for neither of them fit the definition
of "ethnic cleansing" as u s e d at this conference.) 2 6
The conference also dealt with the history of post-Cold War
ethnic cleansing in the Balkans. In a d d i t i o n to p a y i n g attention
to the process and p a t t e r n of "ethnic cleansing," some of the
invited scholars also dealt with the m e a n i n g of that term, w h i c h
originated in Bosnia d u r i n g the dissolution of Yugoslavia. It is
generally accepted that the word is derived from the Serbo-Croatian
etnicko ciscenje, w h i c h is t h e s a m e as t h e R u s s i a n etnicheskoe
t h e G e r m a n etnische

Suberung,

o r t h e H u n g a r i a n etnikai

chishchenie,
tisztogats,

27

etc.)
The studies of ethnic cleansing presented at the above-mentioned
conference, which then were i n c o r p o r a t e d into a book on Ethnic
25

Of the 45 p a p e r s 21 deal w i t h the G e r m a n s , e i g h t w i t h the Balkans, five w i t h


w i t h the H u n g a r i a n s , five w i t h e t h n i c c l e a n s i n g in g e n e r a l , t w o w i t h the G r e e k Turkish rivalry, a n d one each w i t h the A r m e n i a n s , Poles, Tatars, a n d the C a n a d i a n
Indians.

26

The six-million victims of the J e w i s h H o l o c a u s t a n d the f i f t y - m i l l i o n v i c t i m s of


Stalinist terror each h a v e a h u g e scholarly literature. For an i n t e n s i v e i n t r o d u c t i o n
to the h i s t o r i o g r a p h y of the H o l o c a u s t , see M I C H A E L R. M A R R U S , The Holocaust in
History. ( N e w York, 1987). For a s w e e p i n g v i e w of the i m p a c t of Stalinist terror,
see the Black Book of Communism (2000), w h i c h a p p e a r e d in n u m e r o u s l a n g u a g e s
a n d takes into c o n s i d e r a t i o n c o m m u n i s t - i n s p i r e d t e r r o r t h r o u g h o u t the w o r l d .

27

See N A I M A R K , Fires of Hatred, p p . 2 - 3 ; N A I M A R K , Ethnic Cleansing in Twentieth


Century Europe, p p 7 - 8 ; a n d J N O S M A Z S U , " T h e S h i f t i n g I n t e r p r e t a t i o n of the Term
'Ethnic C l e a n s i n g ' in C e n t r a l a n d Eastern E u r o p e , " in V R D Y - T O O L E Y - V R D Y , Ethnic
Cleansing in Twentieth-Century
Europe, p p . 7 4 3 - 7 5 5 .

244

Cleansing

Steven Bla V r d y

in Twentieth-Century

Europe, r e p r e s e n t a n e a r n e s t a t t e m p t

to m a k e some sense out of a terrible aspect of t w e n t i e t h - c e n t u r y


history. It w a s a c e n t u r y that p r o d u c e d such unheard-of scientific
a c h i e v e m e n t s , as the radio, television, airplane, atomic power,
space travel, c o m p u t e r , Internet, antibiotics, t r a n s p l a n t a t i o n of
h u m a n organs, the use of artificial h u m a n organs, and so on,
while at the same time its barbarity s u r p a s s e d even the pessimistic
vision of Ortega y Gasset.
Thus, this same c e n t u r y w i t n e s s e d the erosion of i n d i v i d u a l
a u t o n o m y a n d h u m a n dignity, the g r o w i n g d i s r e g a r d for the rule
of law, the slighting of the ideals of justice, a n d the collapse of
the s o p h i s t i c a t e d c u l t u r a l a n d i n t e l l e c t u a l w o r l d t h a t h a d
characterized the immediately preceding period. The genteel culture
a n d r e s e r v e d m o d e s of b e h a v i o r of the n i n e t e e n t h c e n t u r y h a d
been replaced by the uncivilized, r u d e , a n d boorish p r o l e t a r i a n
"culture" of the twentieth century characterized, a m o n g others,
by the substitution of rock and rap music for the music of Mozart,
J o h a n n Strauss, a n d Puccini.
This uncivilized and uncouth behavior also came to be reflected
in the relationship a m o n g h u m a n beings, and in the lack of respect
for their h u m a n i t y . N e v e r since the M i d d l e Ages have h u m a n
beings been subjected to the k i n d of b a r b a r o u s d e h u m a n i z a t i o n
that they were subjected to on such a grand scale as in the twentieth
century. There is no d o u b t that the sorriest e x a m p l e s of this
d e h u m a n i z a t i o n i n c l u d e d the Jewish H o l o c a u s t with its d e a t h
c a m p s , the Stalinist terror system w i t h its slave labor camps, 2 8

28

O n Soviet slave labor c a m p s , k n o w collectively as the G U L A G , see the f o l l o w i n g


w o r k s : A L E X A N D E R S O L Z H E N I T S Y N , The Gulag Archipelago, 3 vols. ( N e w York: H a r p e r
C o l l i n s P u b l i s h e r s , Inc., 1 9 9 2 ) ; N A N C I A D L E R , The Gulag Survivor ( N e w B r u n s w i c k ,
NJ: T r a n s a c t i o n P u b l i s h e r s , 2 0 0 2 ) ; a n d A N N E A P P L E B A U M , Gulag: A History
(New
York: D o u b l e d a y P u b l i s h e r s , 2 0 0 3 ) . For the H u n g a r i a n v e r s i o n of this e x p e r i e n c e
see the f o l l o w i n g w o r k s : J N O S R Z S S , Gulag Lexikon ( B u d a p e s t : P s k i K i a d ,
2 0 0 0 ) ; J N O S R Z S S , Keser ifjsg - ltet remnysg: Szovjet fogsgom naplja [Bitter
Youth - V i v i f y i n g H o p e . D i a r y of m y S o v i e t - C a p t i v i t y ] ( B u d a p e s t : P s k i K i a d ,
1 9 9 9 ) ; a n d I L O N A S Z E B E N I , Merre van magyar hazm? Knyszermunkii
a Szovjetuniban,
1944-1949 [ W h e r e is M y C o u n t r y H u n g a r y ? On Slave L a b o r in t h e Soviet U n i o n ,
1 9 4 4 - 9 4 9 ] , O n f e m a l e i n m a t e s of t h e s e p r i s o n c a m p s , see the f o l l o w i n g s t u d i e s b y
A G N E S H U S Z R V R D Y , " F o r g o t t e n Victims of World War II: H u n g a r i a n W o m e n in
Soviet Forced Labor C a m p s , " in V R D Y - T O O L E Y - V R D Y , Ethnic Cleansing in Twentieth-

Ethnic Cleansing

in

History

23 7

and the mass expulsions of millions E u r o p e a n s (most of t h e m


Germans) f r o m their ancient h o m e l a n d s after World War II.
It is to the credit of the United States a n d to a n u m b e r of
Western countries that "ethnic cleansing" has n o w been recognized
as a crime against humanity. This was the reason b e h i n d American
and UN intervention in Kosovo in 1999, and it was this consideration
that m o t i v a t e d President Bush while r u n n i n g for the A m e r i c a n
presidency to issue a declaration, which states: "Ethnic cleansing
is a crime against humanity, regardless of w h o does it to w h o m . "
In light of the above, we can at least h o p e that mass e x p u l s i o n s
and other m a n i f e s t a t i o n s of ethnic cleansing will cease in the
f u t u r e at least in the Western World. G e r m a n s , H u n g a r i a n s ,
Armenians, Greeks, South Slavs, and others w h o h a v e s u f f e r e d
forced expulsions in the past, fervently h o p e that they will never
be subjected again to such m a n i f e s t a t i o n s of i n h u m a n i t y a n d
dehumanization.

Century Europe, pp. 503-516; "Elhurcolt magyar nk k n y s z e r m u n k n a Szovjetuniban,


1944-1949 [Captive H u n g a r i a n W o m e n on Forced Labor in the Soviet U n i o n ,
1944-1949], in XLII. Magyar Tallkoz krnikja [ P r o c e e d i n g s of the F o r t y - S e c o n d
H u n g a r i a n Congress], ed. L L F. S O M O G Y I (Cleveland, OH: r p d k n y v k i a d Vllalat,
2003), p p . 161-171; a n d " R a b s z o l g k az U r l n l : M a g y a r n d k ' m a l e n k i j r o b o t ' - o n "
[Slaves at the Urals: H u n g a r i a n W o m e n on " m a l e n k i y r o b o t ' ] , in j Horizont
[ N e w H o r i z o n ] , vol. 31, no. 6 ( N o v e m b e r - D e c e m b e r , 2003), p p . 92-98.