Fires of Hatred: Ethnic Cleansing in Twentieth-Century Europe

Fires of Hatred: Ethnic Cleansing in Twentieth-Century Europe

Fires of Hatred: Ethnic Cleansing in Twentieth-Century Europe

Fires of Hatred: Ethnic Cleansing in Twentieth-Century Europe


Of all the horrors of the last century--perhaps the bloodiest century of the past millennium--ethnic cleansing ranks among the worst. The term burst forth in public discourse in the spring of 1992 as a way to describe Serbian attacks on the Muslims of Bosnia-Herzegovina, but as this landmark book attests, ethnic cleansing is neither new nor likely to cease in our time.

Norman Naimark, distinguished historian of Europe and Russia, provides an insightful history of ethnic cleansing and its relationship to genocide and population transfer. Focusing on five specific cases, he exposes the myths about ethnic cleansing, in particular the commonly held belief that the practice stems from ancient hatreds. Naimark shows that this face of genocide had its roots in the European nationalism of the late nineteenth century but found its most virulent expression in the twentieth century as modern states and societies began to organize themselves by ethnic criteria. The most obvious example, and one of Naimark's cases, is the Nazi attack on the Jews that culminated in the Holocaust. Naimark also discusses the Armenian genocide of 1915 and the expulsion of Greeks from Anatolia during the Greco-Turkish War of 1921-22; the Soviet forced deportation of the Chechens-Ingush and the Crimean Tatars in 1944; the Polish and Czechoslovak expulsion of the Germans in 1944-47; and Bosnia and Kosovo.

In this harrowing history, Naimark reveals how over and over, as racism and religious hatreds picked up an ethnic name tag, war provided a cover for violence and mayhem, an evil tapestry behind which nations acted with impunity.


The history of Europe in the twentieth century ended badly. in the southeastern quadrant of the continent, former Yugoslavia has been overwhelmed, by war, ethnic cleansing, and civil strife. the worst fighting in Europe since World War II has displaced millions of people and produced hundreds of thousands of casualties. Where Serbs, Croats, Bosnians, and Kosovar Albanians lived in relative peace and prosperity, there is now hatred, devastation, and fearsome poverty. the tenuous multinational culture of Yugoslavia has been obliterated. Anger and resentment divide ethnic communities and imperil attempts by nato and the European Union to rebuild multinational institutions and societies. Civil and ethnic strife threaten Montenegro, Macedonia, and Albania. As a result; the stability of the European continent remains a source of great concern to the world community.

In Eastern Europe as a whole, the great hopes of 1989 have not materialized, in part because the optimism was unwarranted in the first place and in part because the transition from communism to democracy and from centrally run economies to market-style capitalism has been fraught with structural impediments, some anticipated, some not. For forty-five years, Germans longed for an end to the division of their country, but unification proved much more problematic than expected. a few success stories can be found in former communist Europe— Poland most notably—but the much longer line of failures, not the least of which is Russia itself, causes serious uneasiness about the new century. Yet nowhere has the descent into a dark cloud of pessimism been as steep as in former Yugoslavia. No country in formerly communist . . .

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