By Kate Brown
It is a biography of a borderland among Russia and Poland, a quarter the place, in 1925, humans pointed out as Poles, Germans, Jews, Ukrainians, and Russians lived facet by means of aspect. Over the subsequent 3 many years, this mosaic of cultures was once modernized and homogenized out of lifestyles by way of the ruling may possibly of the Soviet Union, then Nazi Germany, and at last, Polish and Ukrainian nationalism. by way of the Nineteen Fifties, this "no position" emerged as a Ukrainian heartland, and the fertile mixture of peoples that outlined the quarter was once destroyed. Brown's examine is grounded within the lifetime of the village and shtetl, within the personalities and small histories of lifestyle during this region. In outstanding aspect, she files how those regimes, bureaucratically after which violently, separated, named, and regimented this problematic group into particular ethnic teams. Drawing on lately opened documents, ethnography, and oral interviews that have been unavailable a decade in the past, A Biography of No position finds Stalinist and Nazi background from the viewpoint of the distant borderlands, therefore bringing the outer edge to the heart of background. we're given, briefly, an intimate portrait of the ethnic purification that has marked all of Europe, in addition to a glimpse on the margins of twentieth-century "progress."
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Extra resources for A Biography of No Place: From Ethnic Borderland to Soviet Heartland
And when they had finished counting, generating great charts decorated lavishly with percentages, they started all over again numbering people anew, this time by nationality. Jews were relatively easy to count. They were marked distinctly by religion and tsarist laws which had governed their movement and professions, restricting them to towns within the Pale of Settlement and barring them from government service. Germans too were distinguished by religion and tradition. They often lived in compact hamlets, organized around religious sects (Lutheran, Mennonite, Baptist, less frequently Catholic), and until the 1880s they had been granted special conditions (tax breaks and exemption from army service) that made them autonomous—independent of the landowning nobility and distinct from the peasant classes.
All this signifies that by the time Saulevich arrived to order the borderlands by nationality, it had become very difficult, without the markings of class and religion, to tell the difference between a Pole and a Ukrainian. 41 In the works of these Romantic writers, it was easy to distinguish a noble Pole from a peasant Ukrainian. The writers penned poetic sentences full of longing for a lost idyll of simplicity, of Polish aristocratic honor unyielding to tsarist repression, and of swampy, superstitious mystery.
A Biography of No Place: From Ethnic Borderland to Soviet Heartland by Kate Brown