Russia

A Biography of No Place: From Ethnic Borderland to Soviet by Kate Brown

By Kate Brown

It is a biography of a borderland among Russia and Poland, a zone the place, in 1925, humans pointed out as Poles, Germans, Jews, Ukrainians, and Russians lived facet by means of part. Over the subsequent 3 a long time, this mosaic of cultures used to be modernized and homogenized out of lifestyles via the ruling may perhaps of the Soviet Union, then Nazi Germany, and eventually, Polish and Ukrainian nationalism. through the Fifties, this "no position" emerged as a Ukrainian heartland, and the fertile mixture of peoples that outlined the sector was once destroyed. Brown's learn is grounded within the lifetime of the village and shtetl, within the personalities and small histories of daily life during this quarter. In amazing aspect, she records how those regimes, bureaucratically after which violently, separated, named, and regimented this difficult neighborhood into targeted ethnic teams. Drawing on lately opened files, ethnography, and oral interviews that have been unavailable a decade in the past, A Biography of No position unearths Stalinist and Nazi historical past from the viewpoint of the distant borderlands, hence bringing the outer edge to the guts of heritage. we're given, in brief, 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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A Biography of No Place: From Ethnic Borderland to Soviet Heartland

This can be a biography of a borderland among Russia and Poland, a sector the place, in 1925, humans pointed out as Poles, Germans, Jews, Ukrainians, and Russians lived part via aspect. Over the subsequent 3 many years, this mosaic of cultures was once modernized and homogenized out of lifestyles via the ruling could of the Soviet Union, then Nazi Germany, and eventually, Polish and Ukrainian nationalism.

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Why not one of these small cities? In early 1925, Jan Saulevich negotiated with the Central Executive Committee in Moscow over the size and location of the proposed Polish region. Saulevich suggested a large area encompassing most of the northern territory bordering Poland. But other parties, especially representatives from other ethnic minority bureaus, objected to a Polish region that would swallow up substantial populations of Ukrainians, Germans, and Jews. 21 They chose Marchlevsk as the capital because it had a clear majority (70 percent) of Poles.

The wagon rolled slowly in the bleached light of midday as if outside all time and destination. We glided along a forest of thin birches and through fields of waist-high green rye, emerging in a place which the driver said was a Czech village. He dropped me in the next village, a Ukrainian village called Ukrainka, which looked no different from the Czech village: more whitewashed cottages, neatly swept courtyards, fences of woven branches, every potato mound perfectly spaced. I walked on, but didn’t make it to my destination that day.

A man pulled up and asked whether I wanted a ride. I took the ride, sitting on a plank behind his plank as he purred directions to his horse. The wagon rolled slowly in the bleached light of midday as if outside all time and destination. We glided along a forest of thin birches and through fields of waist-high green rye, emerging in a place which the driver said was a Czech village. He dropped me in the next village, a Ukrainian village called Ukrainka, which looked no different from the Czech village: more whitewashed cottages, neatly swept courtyards, fences of woven branches, every potato mound perfectly spaced.

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