Border-making and nation-building in interwar Europe

Marcel Garboś (Harvard University)

I. Marking national space: a perspective from interwar East-Central Europe

A tale of three bridges. Austrian Teschen’s main bridges, circled in red, can be found crossing the Olza River on the city map from 1909 (top-left), while a photograph from around 1905 shows the recently opened Kaiser Franz Josef-Brücke (top-right). Below, the city’s central bridge near the castle can be seen being patrolled by at least four Polish border guards in the 1930s. Mounted on the wooden structure to the left of the bridge is a placard declaring the space as a “border crossing.”

Before the First World War ended in 1918, the two banks of Teschen, a city in the Austrian-ruled Kingdom of Silesia, were linked by three main bridges spanning the Olza River. The oldest of them, which had evolved architecturally since the fifteenth century, ran through the heart of the idyllic old town, mostly carrying foot traffic and horse-drawn carts against the backdrop of the historic castle. To the north, closer to the edge of the municipal limits, lay the primary rail bridge linking Teschen with the other urban centers of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the nearby German and Russian frontiers. In the south, just beyond a gentle bend in the river, was Teschen’s newest infrastructural wonder, the so-called “Jubilee Bridge” opened in 1903 to commemorate the fifty-fifth anniversary of the coronation of Emperor Franz Josef I, for whom it was officially named. Wider and sturdier than its downtown counterpart, this structure could carry automobiles and accommodate heavier loads of industrial and commercial goods.1

Teschen’s bridges formed the sinews that held together a growing urban space, and their entangled stories offer valuable perspectives into the city’s economic development and political past under Habsburg rule. They also embody, in miniature, the fragmentation of much of East-Central Europe following the breakup of the region’s major multiethnic empires after 1918. In January of 1919, just three months after the collapse of Austria-Hungry, the embryonic nation-states of Poland and Czechoslovakia went to war over Teschen, which their leaders respectively claimed as Cieszyn and Těšín. While the clash lasted only a matter of days and was resolved in the summer at the Spa Conference, Habsburg Teschen was officially partitioned into Polish Cieszyn and Czechoslovak Těšín.2 For the first time in their modern history, the split city’s three bridges became sites of international customs and border control, and the formerly unified Austro-Hungarian railway network was divided between the two countries. Cieszyn/Těšín was only unified again in 1938, when Polish troops annexed the Czechoslovak side of the city.3

With the creation of the Polish-Czechoslovak boundary, Cieszyn/Těšín’s prewar integration was disrupted as the bridges on the Olza became straddled with infrastructures of frontier enforcement. Yet Cieszyn/Těšín was just one of many places in post-1918 East-Central Europe to be freshly divided between new nation-states, whose frontiers often cut across formerly unified imperial spaces.4 Ample comparisons can be drawn with cities in the old Kingdom of Hungary that suddenly found themselves perched on precarious borders by the early 1920s. Like Cieszyn/Těšín, these towns became focal points in the irredentist imaginations of Hungarian nationalists, who regarded the division of their prewar realm as a great injustice. Though often overshadowed by the Second World War, the history of making, controlling, and disputing borders was absolutely central to the emergence of Poland and Hungary as important East-Central European nation-states in the turbulent two decades of the interwar period (1918-1939). Both countries fought costly and bitter struggles against their neighbors between the end of 1918 and the early 1920s, clashed over the delimitation of their frontiers with the Western Allies, and ended up with borders that many of their self-anointed patriots considered to be less than ideal.5

Territorial transformations.
Above: Territorial losses of the Kingdom of Hungary under the 1920 Treaty of Trianon shaded in light gray, with the remaining interwar Hungarian lands in dark gray.
Left: Territories gained by the Second Polish Republic after 1918 from Russia (green), Germany (Blue), and Austria-Hungary (red).

Interwar Poland and Hungary took shape in the context of the broader geopolitical reconfiguration of the lands between the Baltic, Black, and Adriatic Seas that had belonged to multiethnic empires prior to 1918.6 These empires seldom smoothly dissolved into nation-states, and the business of redrawing international frontiers, managing newly divided infrastructural networks, and reorganizing the circulation of goods, people, and information across formerly integrated territories were complex and violent undertakings in practice. In some cases, namely in Germany and the Soviet Union, the prewar empires reemerged with a vengeance by the 1930s and remained committed to recovering as much of their lost territories as possible.

The cases of interwar Poland and Hungary are also different yet complementary in notable ways. Whereas Poland was stitched together from the peripheries of three multiethnic empires between 1918 and 1921, the Hungarian nation-state emerged as the territorially reduced and economically weakened remnant of the Kingdom of Hungary, one of the two main historical parts of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire. While roughly one-third of Poland’s twenty-six million residents belonged to national minorities in 1921, Hungary, which had become more homogeneous, lost over three million ethnic Hungarians to neighboring Romania, Yugoslavia, Austria, and Czechoslovakia under the terms of the Treaty of Trianon concluded in the summer of 1920.7

At Trianon, the Western Allies heavily punished Hungary for its cooperation with Germany in the First World War, most notably redistributing more than seventy percent of the territory of the prewar Kingdom of Hungary to neighboring countries. Thought ostensibly drawn up on the basis of the Wilsonian principle of “national self-determination,” the Trianon frontiers left many Hungarians outside of Hungary and have provided a powerful source of resentment in the Hungarian irredentist imagination to the present day. Throughout the interwar period, the former political and economic integration of the Kingdom of Hungary was disrupted by the creation of new borders and the establishment of a dizzying diversity of customs and migration regimes between Hungary and its neighbors.8

Meanwhile, the Polish acquisition of large, geopolitically sensitive, and ethnically mixed parts of the German, Austro-Hungarian, and Russian Empires stirred strong revanchist sentiments towards Warsaw that were justified by the alleged mistreatment of Poland’s German, Ukrainian, and Belarusian communities.9 Over the course of the interwar years, Polish governments struggled to integrate these non-Polish groups, especially in the poor and sparsely settled eastern borderlands. Here, the Soviet government sponsored cross-border Ukrainian and Belarusian separatist movements under the Leninist slogan of the “right of nations to self-determination to the point of secession.”10

At the same time, Poland’s new borders with Germany and the Soviet Union effectively partitioned former imperial territories that had been more or less integrated from an economic and political standpoint prior to the First World War. This was most visible in the case of the Polish-German border, where the rail, road, and telegraph networks were most extensively developed and the population most heavily urbanized.11 Here, Germany’s prewar infrastructure systems and industrial regions were newly split between two hostile nation-states. From the viewpoint of Warsaw, an important dimension of molding the interwar Polish-German borderlands was the question of how to reorient these extensive structures away from their former imperial purposes and towards the needs of a new nation-state assembled from many lands with different characteristics.12

In spite of their historically specific features, the Polish and Hungarian cases point to overarching conclusions about border-making in interwar East-Central Europe. For one, the formation of new nation-states entailed the construction of frontiers where they had not previously existed, creating rifts across the former territories of the multiethnic empires that had governed the region for centuries. Likewise, while the interwar reorganization of empires into nation-states was meant, at least in principle, to promote “national self-determination,” new borders often did even more to inflame existing ethnic grievances by leaving sizable cross-border minorities outside of their titular countries.

Yet perhaps most tangibly and, on the basis of photographs, visibly, national frontiers inscribed new regimes of regimenting and organizing time and space into the landscapes and built environments of interwar East-Central Europe’s borderlands. Bridges, roads, and rivers that had once been traversable by subjects of a common dynasty now became the sites of fortified checkpoints, customs posts, and territorial markers that formed the material infrastructure for signifying and enforcing borders. As sources from the time show, the emergence of these structures posed real implications for the mobility of people and goods between places that had previously been linked by common political systems and infrastructural networks. Cities, villages, and even individual farmsteads and streets became nationally marked and divided as the realities of borderland life came home to the citizens of newly created nation-states, shifting the rhythms of everyday life and shaping understandings of space and identity.

II. A rift in the network: Poland’s western frontier with Germany

The new “old” Polish-German frontier. The faint yellow line running between East Prussia and Silesia denotes Germany’s pre-1918 border. Note how the roads and railways (in red and black) connecting these territories are bisected by the new boundary approximating the Polish-Prussian border of 1772.

The Polish-German border of the interwar period was forged from three years of wars, uprisings, and plebiscites between 1918 and 1921, followed by a customs war in 1925.13 While Germans deeply resented the loss of a substantial part of their prewar empire, Poles saw the new frontier as a return to the border that had run between Prussia and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth before the latter was partitioned between 1772 and 1795.14 Since they believed that Prussia had acquired its Polish lands illegitimately, many of Poland’s leading politicians at the start of the twentieth century demanded a return to the old boundary, if not the acquisition of an even larger piece of German territory as compensation for Poland’s historical subjugation.15

Infrastructural nationalism. An interwar German propaganda image depicts the “Polish corridor” as a “destroyer of infrastructure” that has artificially disrupted the “East German infrastructure network.”

The problem, however, was that most of this historically Polish region had experienced significant economic development under Prussian and later German rule. As a consequence, the reinstated borders of 1772 were now traversed by railways, roads, and telegraph lines that had linked Germany’s major Silesian and Pomeranian cities with Berlin and Hamburg on an east-west axis. A particular point of frustration for German politicians, including Adolf Hitler, was the narrow Polish corridor to the Baltic Sea that drove a wedge in between Germany proper and its exclave of East Prussia.16 What had been a growingly integrated imperial infrastructural “network” up to 1918 – in the expression used so often at the time -- was now divided between competing nation-states whose authorities reorganized the courses of major rail lines to facilitate border enforcement and cater to their internal economic needs. Checkpoints cropped up along the new “historic” border, further altering the built environment, while new national customs regimes upended familiar timetables for travelers.

A fragmented borderland. The larger map shows the post-1921 Polish-German border in Upper Silesia (highlighted in the inset) as a thick red line. Note how the new boundary ran across roads and railways, divided villages, and partitioned the cluster of industrial cities on the right-hand side.

For Roman Dmowski, the ideological leader of the Polish nationalist right from the early twentieth century until his death in 1939, a return to the frontier of 1772 was not enough.17 The prime territories to be acquired lay elsewhere, namely in parts of East Prussia, along the Pomeranian coast, and, above all, in the industrial powerhouse of Upper Silesia. While the Polish-German border began to stabilize further north, clashes over Upper Silesia continued until the region was partitioned on the basis of a plebiscite in 1921. Both sides agitated vigorously for votes, coveting the iron and coal mines as well as the chain of industrial cities stretching from Katowice/Kattowitz to Gliwice/Gleiwitz.18

Industrial propaganda. Two competing posters from the time of the Polish-German plebiscite in Upper Silesia in 1921. The image on the right declares “The prayer of the homeland: May Upper Silesia stay German!” After intense campaigns of agitation among local voters, the plebiscite took place and resulted in Poland gaining the majority of the region’s industrial cities and coal and steel resources, while Germany retained the greater part of the territory and population. The loss of Upper Silesia to Poland remained a major focus of German revanchist nationalists throughout the interwar period.

The final border drawn in Upper Silesia left most of the territory and population in Germany’s hands but rewarded Poland with the better part of its economic resources. What is less well known is that the new frontier mandated by the League of Nations cut awkwardly across local streets, railway lines, and even individual dwellings, both in the countryside and in major cities such as Bytom. This is evidenced in a series of photographs from interwar Upper Silesia in which the German side of the border is marked with a “D” and the Polish side is designated with a “P.” Though seemingly elegant on paper, the new frontier produced striking irregularities on the ground by fragmenting the prewar landscape along jagged lines imposed from above. Actually enforcing these boundaries in practice, however, was another matter, as those whose existence was crossed by the border lived and worked around it. Still, these incisions into the territory of prewar Germany stoked the sense of resentment that the Nazi regime propagated and exploited to win popular support for the cause of eastward expansion and border revision, especially in the regions of Silesia, Pomerania, and East Prussia that voted heavily for Hitler in 1933.19

Landscapes of partition. These interwar photos highlight the course of the post-1921 Polish-German frontier in Upper Silesia, which divided roads, railways, and even individual properties that had been previously integrated. In practice, enforcing an irregular boundary drawn up on the basis of plebiscite results was a messy and imperfect affair. “P” denotes Polish territory, while “D” signifies German land.


Urban barriers. A street and rail tracks in interwar Beuthen (Bytom), a major industrial city of Upper Silesia whose eastern outskirts lay right near the border between Germany and Poland delimited in 1921. Beuthen, along with Katowice, Gliwice, Zabrze, and Sosnowiec, belonged to a major conurbation that formed the productive core of the powerful coal and steel industries in Upper Silesia. Most of these cities came under Polish control, but Beuthen remained part of Germany. After the Second World War, all of Upper Silesia was annexed to Poland as part of the border changes made by the Allies.

III. Reparations and revanchism: Hungary’s new borders

A palimpsest of revanchism. This image shows the dismemberment of the Kingdom of Hungary under the terms of the Treaty of Trianon concluded in June and July of 1920. This particular map continues to circulate on the Internet among contemporary Hungarian nationalists who still consider nearly all of Slovakia, Transylvania in Romania, Vojvodina in Serbia, the northern parts of Croatia, the Austrian state of Burgenland, and the Transcarpathian oblast’ of Ukraine to be part of Hungary’s territory.

If the Second Polish Republic became the recipient of expansive, ethnically mixed territories from the great prewar land empires by 1921, then the interwar Kingdom of Hungary played the opposite role of a major supplier of contested borderlands to many of the newly enlarged or freshly created nation-states of East-Central Europe. In 1920, following a war with Romania and a brief period of communist rule, the Kingdom of Hungary was stripped of over seventy percent of its prewar territory under the terms of the Treaty of Trianon. While the actual demarcation of the new borders was a lengthy and messy process, the once expansive Kingdom had been dramatically reduced from a leading partner in the Austro-Hungarian Empire into a relatively small, landlocked nation-state deprived of its political and economic power. Under pressure from the Western Allies and its neighbors, Hungary surrendered all of the Slovak lands of Czechoslovakia, the Romanian region of Transylvania, Vojvodina, Slavonia, and part of the Adriatic coast in northern Yugoslavia, and the eastern sliver of the Republic of Austria known as Burgenland.20

National spaces. A Hungarian postcard from 1936 shows a national monument in an unspecified location (left), the Transylvanian town of Várhegy (Chinari in Romanian) lost to Romania after 1920 (bottom-right), and the “Trianon frontier” in the village of Sátoraljaújhely on the Czechoslovak border (top-right).

In the course of the interwar years, the physical infrastructures of Hungary’s new borders grew from the simple stone markers set down by surveyors dispatched under the terms laid out at Trianon into more formal crossings and customs checkpoints. Yet while the arrangements made at Trianon were inscribed in the physical landscape, the mental geographies of many ethnic Hungarians living both within and outside of the shrunken Kingdom remained fixated on the lands lost at the start of the 1920s. Postcards from the interwar period still depicted iconic landmarks now officially located in Romania or Czechoslovakia as quintessentially Hungarian, and some even featured images of bridges recently made into border crossings as links in the hated “Trianon frontier.” What this latter term meant was that the border imposed at Trianon was a temporary internal boundary forced upon “Greater Hungary,” which still stretched from the Adriatic Sea to the highlands of Transylvania in the Hungarian nationalist imagination.

A lost kingdom reconquered. A postcard shows the castle at Fülek (Fil’akovo) bearing the Hungarian coat of arms, an outline of the prewar Kingdom of Hungary, and the slogan “Return Everything!” in reference to the lands lost under the terms of Trianon. Fülek, which had been Fil’akovo in Czechoslovakia after 1920, was annexed by Hungary in 1938.

Indeed, when Hungary annexed much of southern Slovakia in 1938, a celebratory postcard appeared depicting the freshly reclaimed ruins of the castle at Fülek (Fil’akovo), which had been elaborately decorated with the Hungarian coat of arms and large letters spelling out the aggressive demand “Return Everything!” The quest to regain “Everything” continued into the wartime years, with Hungary, as an ally of Germany, gaining lost lands from Yugoslavia and Romania in the early 1940s.21 The eventual collapse of the Eastern Front and the arrival of a pro-Soviet government brought dreams of a restored Kingdom of Hungary to a momentary end, with the Trianon frontiers returning under the aegis of Moscow. Nevertheless, it is hard to find a street in contemporary Hungary where the outline of the pre-1920 Kingdom is not displayed in an apartment window or on the bumper of a car.

IV. Split cities: Cieszyn/Těšín and Komárom/Komárno

Some of the most striking images of the disruptions caused by newly established borders in interwar Poland and Hungary come from previously united cities that were divided between neighboring countries after 1918.22 Densely populated and often home to industry, modern urban spaces are held together by intensive networks of social, intellectual, and economic sinews that link their constituent districts and outlying suburbs. Cities situated on prominent geographical features, including rivers, rely on infrastructural bonds such as bridges, ferries, and tunnels to maintain flows of people and capital that are in turn embedded in wider national and transnational currents.

Habsburg towns into frontier cities. An illustration of the relative locations of Cieszyn/Těšín and Komárom/Komárno within the ethnolinguistic patchwork of the pre-1918 Austro-Hungarian Empire. After 1918, both of these previously integrated cities were divided between new nation-states along the rivers on which they lay.

At the same time, such cities have often found themselves partitioned with changes in international borders, especially in the wake of the collapse of multiethnic polities. Two notable cases are those of Cieszyn/Těšín on the interwar Polish-Czechoslovak frontier and Komárom/Komárno on the post-Trianon Hungarian-Czechoslovak boundary. Both cities were formally united under Habsburg rule and happened to be perched on rivers that came to form the borders between the warring successor nations of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Cieszyn, on the Olza River near the German border, had been a chief town in the Kingdom of Silesia, one of the smaller units in the patchwork of territories under the rule of Vienna. Komárom, meanwhile, straddled the Danube west of Budapest and lay in the geographical heart of the Kingdom of Hungary, far away from any international frontier.

Bridge into border crossing. Polish customs posts stand on one side of the bridge over the Olza River that connects the city of Cieszyn to Těšín in Czechoslovakia (today in the Czech Republic). The crossing was not heavily fortified, though at least two uniformed border guards can be seen standing to the left of the carriage.

After 1918, both of these cities became objects of struggles between the new nation-states of East-Central Europe, and both ended up divided into two parts. With the end of regional wars and the signing of treaties came the deployment of physical mechanisms to enforce these divisions. Cieszyn’s main bridge near the town’s castle, an idyllic avenue connecting the two banks of the Olza, became policed by the authorities of Poland and Czechoslovakia. The partition of Cieszyn continued until 1938, when Poland annexed the city’s western half amid the German-Hungarian dismemberment of Czechoslovakia.

The rhythms of governance. A one-minute Hungarian silent film from 1925 shows border guards policing the bridge linking Komárom in Hungary with Komárno in Czechoslovakia (today in Slovakia). People on foot as well as farmers riding on horse-drawn carts pass between the two countries through gates made of wood and barbed wire.

Even more striking is a Hungarian silent film from 1925 depicting the new rhythms of mobility struck by the creation of an international border in Komárom on the Danube. The bridge spanning the river, we are shown, has been segmented by wooden gates covered in barbed wire that are carefully opened and resealed by border guards as people and animals slowly pass between Hungary and Czechoslovakia. Though brief, the film provides a glance into the spatial and temporal reordering that went into the production of a formal, fortified border where one had not previously existed. Once again, this system of barriers bears the distinction of being part of the infamous “Trianon frontier,” emphasizing the absence of Hungarian recognition for this border and stressing the continuing unity of the old Kingdom. Indeed, in 1938, it was this segment of the “Trianon frontier” that was among the first to fall to the fascist Hungary of Miklós Horthy, who rode on horseback across the bridge to symbolically bring both banks of the mighty Danube under Hungarian control.23

The last frontier. A Polish border guard (left) meets his Hungarian colleague in March of 1939.

The Hungarian annexation of Slovakia also resulted in the creation of a new international frontier. On 18 March 1939, hardly six months before the outbreak of the Second World War, a group of Polish and Hungarian soldiers gathered along the snowy Uzhok Pass in the Carpathian Mountains to celebrate the creation of a new border between their countries.24 Though held in a spirit of “fraternity,” as one postcard put it, this was a meeting of armed, uniformed men devoted to securing the frontier and controlling the people and goods that crossed it. It was also the culmination of a series of acts of international aggression that had transpired over the past year. Under the rule of a fascist government, Hungary had annexed the greater part of southern and eastern Slovakia, mirroring the concurrent German dismemberment of the Sudetenland, Bohemia, and Moravia. Poland, too, had taken its small share of Czechoslovak territory, occupying the western half of the divided city of Cieszyn/Těšín and its hinterlands on the Olza River in October of 1938. For a brief moment, all three of these countries appeared to have satisfied their irredentist ambitions by redrawing some of the post-1920 political boundaries that their leaders, and at least part of their populations, considered to be unjust and artificial. The freshly minted Polish-Hungarian frontier, however, was not to last. German and Soviet armies invaded Poland in September of 1939, dividing the country into two occupation zones by late October.25

V. What lies ahead?

Today, Cieszyn/Těšín and Komárom/Komárno are once again divided, now between Poland and the Czech Republic and between Hungary and Slovakia, respectively. However, there are no formal border barriers between them, as both cities lie within the territory governed by the Schengen Agreement. While the annexations of 1938 were reversed after 1945, the opening of borders within these historic cities is a relatively recent development that came following the accession of all four nation-states to the European Union in 2004.26 It is now possible for the first time since the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918 to travel without a passport within these international cities, as Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia have all moved towards greater political cooperation and economic integration within the European Union and the Visegrád Group, or “V4,” since the collapse of the Warsaw Pact in 1991.27

Yet the reduction of border controls within the Visegrád countries between the 1990s and the first decade of the twenty-first century has been increasingly overshadowed by the rise of national-conservative governments and widespread right-wing populist sentiments in all four nations. Fears about the loss of sovereignty to transnational institutions in Brussels and anxieties over demographic change and immigration from poorer countries have all combined to produce a blinkered siege mentality in the Visegrád space that threatens a return to closed borders and ethnocentric policies. This is not to say that the project of European integration is without faults or structural defects, nor is it to claim that the economically weaker states of East-Central Europe should obsequiously assimilate models of development emanating from the west. Rather, the present moment of crisis should occasion an honest and critical conversation about the future of the European project, and the Visegrád nations, as of 2018, are only shirking this necessity by emphasizing visions of national isolationism and ethnoreligious purity.

Such visions have already yielded a bitter harvest of mangled landscapes and demographic devastation on more than one occasion in the twentieth century.28 They cannot be an alternative to the challenging but necessary pursuit of a framework of European cooperation that fosters peace on the continent while fielding viable responses to a changing and increasingly uncertain world. A brief look into the interwar Europe of “strong borders” and the violence that it begot, and from which it was born, can serve as a starting point for gauging the dangers posed by contemporary nationalist approaches to international problems.

Image credit (in order of appearance)

Map of the City of Teschen (1909)

The Kaiser Franz Josef Brücke in Teschen (c.1905),foto.html

The Polish border checkpoint in Cieszyn/Těšín (mid-1930s),foto.html

The territorial composition of interwar Poland (1918-1939)

The partition of the Kingdom of Hungary (1920)

The Polish Corridor (color map)

“The Corridor as a Destroyer of Infrastructure” (interwar period)

The Polish-German frontier (map inset)

“The Polish Border in Upper Silesia: by Order of the High Council” (1921)

“Poland / Upper Silesia” (1921)

“The prayer of the homeland: May Upper Silesia stay German!” (1921)

Photographs of the Polish-German frontier in Upper Silesia (from Biblioteka Śląska)

The border barrier in Beuthen (Bytom) (summer of 1939),Bytom_-_niemiecko-polskie_przejscie_graniczne_na_ul_Witczaka.html?f=803382-foto

Map of Hungary’s partition at Trianon

Hungarian postcard depicting the “Trianon frontier” (1936)

Hungarian postcard of the Fülek/Fil’akovo castle (1938)

Ethnographic map of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (c.1914)

Cieszyn’s central bridge (1925)

“The Trianon frontier on the Komárom Bridge” (1925)

Border guards on the Polish-Hungarian frontier at the Uzhok Pass (1939),polak-wegier-dwa-bratanki-zawsze-moglismy-na-sobie-polegac-oto-przyklady


Notes and further reading

1. See Mariusz Makowski, Cieszyn - mały Wiedeń (Cieszyn: Biuro Promocji i Informacji Urząd Miejski, 2003).

2. R.F. Leslie, et al., “The Settlement of the Frontiers,” in The Cambridge History of Poland since 1863, ed. Leslie (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1980); 135.

3. Martin Jemelka, “The Ostrava Industrial Agglomeration in the First Half of the Twentieth Century: Where the Urban Countryside met the Rural Town,” in Mastery and Lost Illusions: Space and Time in the Modernization of Eastern and Central Europe, ed. Włodzimierz Borodziej, Stanislav Holubec, and Joachim Puttkamer (München: Oldenbourg Verlag, 2014); 78.

4. See Europe’s Infrastructure Transition: Economy, War, Nature, ed. Arne Kaijser, Erik van der Vleuten, and Per Högselius (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015).

5. See Frank N. Schubert, Hungarian Borderlands: From the Habsburg Empire to the Axis Alliance, the Warsaw Pact and the European Union (London: Continuum, 2011) and Peter Polak-Springer, Recovered Territory: A German-Polish Conflict over Land and Culture, 1919-1989 (New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2015).

6. See Shatterzone of Empires: Coexistence and Violence in the German, Habsburg, Russian, and Ottoman Borderlands, ed. Eric D. Weitz and Omer Bartov (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2013).

7. Leon Wasilewski, Polska dla Polaków czy Polska dla wszystkich obywateli polskich? (Sprawa mniejszości narodowych w Polsce) (Warszawa: Księgarnia Robotnicza, 1924); 4-7. Raymond Pearson, “Hungary: A state truncated, a nation dismembered,” in Europe and Ethnicity: The First World War and Contemporary Ethnic Conflict, ed. Seamus Dunn and T.G. Fraser (New York and London: Routledge, 1996); 95.

8. Schubert, “The Aftermath of Defeat,” in Hungarian Borderlands, 8-25.

9. Terry Martin, “The Soviet Affirmative Action Empire,” in The Affirmative Action Empire: Nations and Nationalism in the Soviet Union, 1923-1939 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2001); 8-9. Winston Chu, “Revenge of the Periphery: German Empowerment in Central Poland (1933-1939),” in The German Minority in Interwar Poland (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2012); 201-249.

10. See Janusz Radziejowski, “The Formation of the Communist Movement in Western Ukraine, 1918-1923,” in The Communist Party of Western Ukraine, 1919-1929, trans. Alan Rutkowski (Edmonton: Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies Press, 1983); 17-20. Serhii Plokhii, “The Call of Blood: Government propaganda and public response to the Soviet entry into World War II,” Cahiers du Monde russe 52.2/3 (April-September 2011); 293-319. doi:

11. “Manipulating Space & Time,” in Europe’s Infrastructure, 21-64.

12. Uwe Müller and Helga Schultz, National borders and economic disintegration in modern East Central Europe (Berlin: Verlag A. Schultz, 2002); 16.

13. Jochen Böhler, “The Central European Civil War,” in Civil War in Central Europe, 1918-1921: The Reconstruction of Poland (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018); 59-146.

14. Alexander C. Diener and Joshua Hagen, “Russia’s Kaliningrad Exclave: Discontinuity as a Threat to Sovereignty,” in Borderlines and Borderlands: Political Oddities at the Edge of the Nation-State, ed. Diener (Lanham, M.D.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2010); 123-128. See Jerzy Łukowski, The Partitions of Poland 1772, 1793, 1795 (New York and London: Routledge, 2014 [1999]).

15. Piotr S. Wandycz, “The Polish Question,” in The Treaty of Versailles: A Reassessment After 75 Years, ed. Manfred F. Boemeke, Gerald D. Feldman, and Elisabeth Glaser (Washington, D.C.: The German Historical Institute, 1998); 325.

16. Diener and Hagen, “Russia’s Kaliningrad Exclave,” 126-128.

17. Wandycz, “The Polish Question,” 325.

18. Brendan Karch, “Breakdown: World War I and the Upper Silesian Plebiscite, 1914-1921,” in Nation and Loyalty in a German-Polish Borderland: Upper Silesia, 1848–1960 (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2018); 96-147.

19. Ibid., 181.

20. “XXI. Wahlen und Abstimmungen,” in Statistisches Jahrbuch für das Deutsche Reich (Berlin: Verlag von Reimar Hobbing, 1933); 540.

21. Schubert, “Expansion and Contraction,” in Hungarian Borderlands, 26-42.

22. For a theoretical perspective grounded in case studies, see Jon Calame, Esther Charlesworth, Divided Cities: Belfast, Beirut, Jerusalem, Mostar, and Nicosia (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011).

23. Schubert, “Expansion and Contraction,” 28.

24. See Marcel Jesenský, The Slovak–Polish Border, 1918-1947 (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014).

25. Timothy Snyder, “Molotov-Ribbentrop Europe,” in Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin (New York: Basic Books, 2012); 119-154.

26. Tony Judt, “The Old Europe-and the New,” in Postwar: A History of Europe since 1945 (New York: Penguin, 2006); 701-748.

27. For a current perspective, see Central and Eastern Europe in the EU: Challenges and Perspectives Under Crisis Conditions, ed. Christian Schweiger and Anna Visvizi (New York and London: Routledge, 2018).

28. See Mark Mazower, Dark Continent: Europe’s Twentieth Century (New York: Vintage, 2000 [1998]).