Date of Award:

2016

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Master of Arts (MA)

Department:

History

Advisor/Chair:

Tammy Proctor

Abstract

Nationalism has appropriately been a much studied, as well disparaged, phenomenon. However, little work has been done on the specific ways in which nationalists thought about the nature of history and the effect of economics in the formation of nationalist identity. In the case of Central Europe and the lands that now comprise the Czech Republic and Slovakia, Czech and German nationalists had very specific notions of the history of the area and how that history bolstered their claims to be the sole true inhabitants. These claims were created in part due to the effect of economic modernization and job competition. As nationalist notions took hold of the population, ethnic conflict grew between Czechs and Germans in the Habsburg empire. This ethnic conflict helped to fragment the empire and hasten its collapse after World War One. The course of World War Two and the Nazi occupation and breakup of Czechoslovakia was influenced by these nationalist notions. With the progression of World War Two and the Nazi occupation, Czechoslovaks came to believe that they had an affinity with Russia and that the cause of communism was linked with an explicitly “Slavic” identity. After the war approximately three million Germans were expelled from Czechoslovakia, a major act of ethnic cleansing and seen by the Czechoslovaks as the culmination of their perceived age long conflict with the Germans. Communism became hugely popular, seen as the victorious ideology proving Slavic superiority over the Germans. Communist sympathy and party participation grew to enormous levels. When Communist politicians used a political disagreement in February 1948 to call for a mobilization of the population to institute communist rule, the population responded enthusiastically and ushered in a communist majority government.

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3420a5cf96fef8d6b949dfad8b1d6b38

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History Commons

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