Eastern Europe in the Post-War World

By Hubert Ripka | Go to book overview

CHAPTER I
THE Heterogeneous Character of East Central Europe

WHAT IS EAST CENTRAL EUROPE?

East Central Europe, the European Middle Zone, is sometimes called 'The Eastern Marchlands of Europe'. The variety of names applied to Central and Eastern Europe indicates that we are concerned with an area that is not geopolitically homogeneous. It has really only one common characteristic: from the north to the south, from the Baltic Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, it is occupied by small states of which only one -- the Polish -- his more than 20 million inhabitants. Poland has 27 million inhabitants; Yugoslavia, 17; Rumania, 16; Czechoslovakia, 13; Hungary, 10; Austria, 7; Bulgaria, 7; Finland, 4; Lithuania, 3; Latvia, 2; Estonia, over 1 million; Albania, over 1 million. We can include Greece with 8 million and Turkey with 21 million, but these two states are not as a rule included in East Europe; they belong to the Mediterranean area. At the same time, this oblong zone is encompassed by three far stronger states: Russia, Germany, and Italy. The U.S.S.R. has zoo million, Germany (West and East), 70 million, and Italy, 48 million. In this sense it is a mid-zone that is very sensitive to the influence of much more powerful neighbours, yet, at the same time, defends itself against complete domination by them.

When the First World War started, some of these mid- European peoples were not sovereign states. The Finns, Estonians, Latvians, Lithuanians and Poles (of whom some were subjects of Germany and others of Austria) were under Russian domination; the Czechs and Slovaks, and some Poles,

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