THE NOTION AND IDENTITY OF EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE IN HISTORIOGRAPHY OF THE MACRO REGION AND IN THE OPINIONS OF WESTERN ELITES (Pojecie i tozsamosc Europy Srodkowo-Wschodniej w historiografii makroregionu i opinii elit Zachodu)
'East-Central Europe' is a political term coined after World War I in response to the need to name the territory between Germany and Russia, the Baltic, the Adriatic and the Black seas, on which, after the fall of the Habsburg, the Hohenzoller and the Romanov Empires, new countries emerged. There is lack of uniformity among historians exploring the history of the macro region with regard to the establishment of the borders of this territory, due to their frequent changes that occurred after critical historical events. The macro region of East-Central Europe possesses specific attributes which determine its identity. These, such as geographical position, ethnic composition, religious aspect etc., are noticeable almost at first glance. However, the region also displays qualities which are perceptible only after careful historical analysis. For instance, the specific character of East-Central Europe stems from its so-called civilizational youngness, which results from a few centuries delay, in comparison with Western Europe, in adopting Christianity. What dominates here is underdeveloped agriculture and belated technology, the consequence of, among others, the refeudalization from the 16th Century. In addition, East-Central Europe is an area, in which there was a temporary loss of statehood by its nations, and, after the regain of the statehood, conflicts undermining the countries- sovereignty and safety appeared. During World War II, most of East-Central European countries lost their sovereignty (the incorporation of Baltic countries by the Soviet Union; occupation of Poland, Czech, Yugoslavia and Albania), and the remaining countries (Hungary, Slovakia, Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria) became the satellites of the Third Reich. When, finally, peace was established, the East-Central European macro region experienced communist enslavement. Yet, the rule of repressive ideological system stimulated, by means of creating underground organizational structures as well as multiple and consistent armed uprisings engulfing more and more social classes, the birth and development of liberation struggle. Furthermore, against the background of considerations on the notion and identity of East-Central Europe, the article attempts to reveal the roots and the mechanisms of the formation of pejorative schemata about the macro region generated by political and scientific elites on the West.
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