Building the State
Because most central and eastern European states are small in size and population and unprotected by high mountains or difficult seas, the fate of their people has always been determined by the good, indifferent or ill will of bigger and more powerful neighbours on either side.
One possible explanation for the way in which the identity of the region has been formed puts central and eastern Europe as a transitional area between East and West. In certain respects the validity of this observation seems obvious enough. With the exception of Hungary and Romania, all of the peoples of the area speak closely related Slavic languages while most use alphabetic forms recognisable in the countries of the West. Folk music and other national traditions draw from both sides of the continent. Their very centrality made the cities of the region into natural meeting points for merchants of East and West.
Less easily appreciable is the way in which geography may have influenced political consciousness in terms of the relationship between the individual and the state. Lying between the traditions of liberalism in the west and absolutism in the Czarist east and Ottoman south, it seems plausible to suggest, though impossible to prove, that central and eastern European nations fell prey to both influences, leaving a question open as to which way the cards would fall. 1
But the clearest and most uncompromising consequence of being a small country in the middle of Europe was of course the reality of imperial domination and war.
Czechoslovakia emerged as a new state on the map of Europe in the aftermath of the First World War. What became known as the First