Cover Osteuropa 2-4/2014

In Osteuropa 2-4/2014

“In the Line of Fire, Everybody Has Equal Rights”
On the Loyalty of Nations in the First World War

Włodzimierz Borodziej, Maciej Górny

Deutsche Fassung


For a long time, it was accepted that, in the summer of 1914, the peoples of Europe responded to the outbreak of the First World War with patriotic fervour and euphoria. That is a myth. The predominant feeling in Europe during mobilization was not enthusiasm for the war, rather uncertainty and fear. In the multi-ethnic empires, the news of the war led to unrest, above all among those who did not belong to the titular nation of the empires. The war advanced the ethnicisation of nations. Although the civilian population’s loyalty to the imperial order was greater than expected, the imperial armies handled their own subjects with brutality and violence. They saw potential traitors in Ukrainians, Jews, Germans, and Poles. Entire groups within society were criminalized, harassed, deported. Such measures shook the loyalty of the empires’ population, encouraged centrifugal tendencies, and accelerated the break-up of the multi-ethnic empires.

(Osteuropa 2-4/2014, pp. 91–108)