War and nationality conflict in Eastern Galicia, 1914-1920 : the evolution of modern anti-semitism / by Alexander Victor Prusin.
World War I and its immediate aftermath in Eastern Galicia witnessed the most brutal persecution of Jews. In 1914–1915 the Russian army brutalized, uprooted, and forcibly displaced thousands of Jewish civilians for their alleged collaboration with the Central Powers. Between 1918 and 1920, the formation of the new Polish state was accompanied by numerous anti-Jewish riots and pogroms by mobs and undisciplined soldiers. Such a treatment of a minority group in wartime poses two crucial questions—how do we explain the mechanisms of intolerance and persecution? and why would a state or a dominant society feel threatened by a numerically smaller group? The present study addresses itself to these questions. There have been numerous attempts to explain the causes of ethnic conflicts and, especially, the antecedents of anti-Semitism. Some sources have focused on traditional, “ancient” resentments towards Jews as driving forces of ethnic violence; others have suggested that power holders skillfully redirected their subjects' economic and social frustrations on a disliked minority. While such arguments offer a valid insight on the issue, it is my contention that ethnic persecution involves more crucial issues than age-old hatreds and cynical manipulation of power. I argue that the following factors—social or political crisis, collective fears of an allegedly dangerous minority, security concerns of a militant leadership, exclusionary nationalism, and attempts of a minority group to mitigate persecution by active political participation—render ethnic conflict particularly acute. Focusing on these factors, I attempt to provide a broad framework for understanding how various causes of ethnic conflict fit together and interact.
Record last modified: 2018-05-25 09:44:00
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