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Ideologies and National Identities

John Lampe
Mark Mazower

Introduction. Reconnecting the Twentieth-century Histories of Southeastern Europe

John R. Lampe

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  • 1 Significant differences in natural resources and urban development remained to combine with warfar (...)

1“Only connect,” advised the English writer E. M. Forster in a famous phrase, leaving the reader to decide who or what should be connected. Readers seeing “Southeastern Europe” in our title may be tempted to expect that our cohort of younger authors, most of them from the region, will be connecting the burgeoning European and American study of social identity with the uniquely confrontational ethnic nationalism that is often assumed to set this region apart from Europe as “the Balkans.” Prior to the twentieth century, of course, there are other reasons to differentiate this region, isolated by its upland geography and distinguished by its Ottoman legacy of military domination, political corruption, and religious tolerance, from Northwestern Europe with its Atlantic connections, political advantages, and religious intolerance. The region took early modern shape as a collection of imperial borderlands, disconnected from each other and too far from the Ottoman or Habsburg cores for a single administrative regime on either side. This better defines the Balkan legacy than does a single Ottoman stereotype. And if the early modern histories of the English, French, and Dutch states are rightly seen as the exceptional cases, then the fragmented empires, fragile polities, and still weaker civil societies that were the rule across the rest of Europe into the nineteenth century do not set the Balkans so far apart.1

2Our region’s history as Southeastern Europe begins with the First World War. As a result of this conflict, five new or expanded states emerged to incorporate all of the Ottoman and Habsburg territories that had surrounded the small but independent Balkan states dating from the nineteenth century. Yugoslavia, or the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes as it was called until 1929, and Romania were the largest in size and population (12 and 15.6 million in 1920), followed by Greece and Bulgaria with five million each, and Albania with less than one million. All of them began with greater ethnic variety, real or perceived, within their new borders than had been the model for a nation-state in nineteenth-century Europe or the experience of the prewar Balkan states. The same overall demographic proportions, if not the same ethnic divisions, would endure within borders that remained largely unchanged during the interwar period and again from 1945 to the dissolution of Yugoslavia in 1991. Our volume explores how such neighboring states with a comparable earlier history contested or changed national identities in close connection with eminently European political or religious ideologies. These ideas and identities justify calling this set of states Southeastern Europe, without the customary apology for using a designation picked up and thereby brought into discredit by Nazi geopoliticians in the 1930s. Indeed, the struggle of those states to establish common national identities in the face of ethnic diversity invites comparison with the post-colonial case of Western Europe and its new multi-ethnic and multi-racial makeup during recent decades.

  • 2 Charles S. Maier, “Consigning the Twentieth Century to History: Alternative Narratives for the Mod (...)

3Let us acknowledge that the two world wars and parts played in them by the major combatants still appear to many in the region as its major connection to Europe, a dependent or subordinate position still justifying separate designation as the Balkans. And yet, during the bulk of the interwar period, say from 1923 to 1939, and again from the early 1950s forward, the region’s evolution owed more to internal dynamics than to foreign intervention. Those dynamics were nonetheless European in nature, beginning with a commitment to the creation of a nation-state. Like France, the state was to represent the native or assimilated ethnic nation. Charles Maier has identified this “ordered political space” and its prized identification of ethnicity with territory as the principal distinction of the modern European state, spreading from the northwest by the mid-nineteenth century to replace the confederal structures of the early modern empires.2 He ticks off four features that distinguish its “structural narrative”:

  • strong central government institutions, mainly ministries with growing administrative authority and larger staffs, all at the expense of regional or local authority and on the basis of a common language and loyalty;
  • a continually mobilized internal military and police as a “resource for governance” and as a complement to a military force to provide internal security;
  • co-option into the ruling establishment of leaders in finance, industry, and the professions, education in particular;
  • a growing industrial infrastructure based on coal and iron technology and a railway network, all on the assumption that efficiency was proportional to size and central control, with enterprise headquarters preferably in the capital city.

4All of our region’s interwar states pursued the first three, and all save non-Communist Greece the fourth, after the Second World War. We are not accustomed to think of these centralizing imperatives, for all their continuity between the interwar and post-1945 periods, as constituting a political ideology in themselves. But before the First World War, they already represented the nation-state’s main mechanisms for liberal modernization under the elected representatives that were to provide popular sovereignty. Majority rule was assumed, at first for voters enfranchised on a class basis and then for all citizens to vote in multi-party elections for a powerful legislature. At the same time, this liberal nationalism assumed a single language and a common national loyalty. Other national ideologies would emerge after the First and Second World Wars, other “moral narratives” in Maier’s phrase, to inform the rationale for a centralizing state structure. In Southeastern Europe, a range of recognizably European political and religious ideologies combined with a matrix of wartime memories to produce the narratives whose construction, contest, or representation are considered in the following chapters.


5Western and regional attention to ideology has flagged following the collapse of Communist regimes from Eastern Europe to the Soviet Union. In American as well as European scholarship, a precipitous fall in the study of Communism as a set of ideas stands out in the midst of a general decline in intellectual history (in favor of social and cultural history). Departments of political science and economics have also turned away from courses in comparative ideas or systems. Richard Pipes’s recent survey volume, Communism (New York: Modern Library, 2000), observes that the Harvard University library alone lists some 2,000 titles dealing with that subject, but his extensive bibliography reflects the dearth of new scholarship since 1991. While the Western inquiry into fascism’s variants, primarily in Germany and Italy, remains extensive, the scholarship from and about Southeastern Europe has paid little attention to the region’s ideologies of the right as well as the left in the twentieth century.

  • 3 Falk Pegel, ed., The European Home: Representatives of 20th-Century Europe in History Textbooks (C (...)

6Across the formerly Communist countries of the region, this has been an understandable reaction to the ideological constraints of the obligatory Marxist–Leninist approach to left and right before 1989. One result, according to an instructive survey of new textbooks, Clio in the Balkans: The Politics of History Education, edited by Christina Koulouri (Thessaloniki: Center for Democracy and Reconciliation in Southeastern Europe, 2002, pp. 39, 193), has been a retreat everywhere except in Macedonia from applying any sort of Marxist ideology to the political history of the twentieth century. Another variant, evident for instance in Bulgarian textbooks, is the absence of any ideological perspective but residual reliance on the factual positivism that was also part of the Marxist heritage. Events are recounted in the passive voice, with little attention to the actors or the ideas that lay behind them. The successor states to the former Yugoslavia, Slovenia and Macedonia excepted, have turned in a different direction. Some scholarly works and too many school textbooks readily use ideological labels for their recent adversaries (Serbian forces seen as fascist in Sarajevo and Bolshevik in Zagreb, Croatian forces as fascists and Bosnian Muslims as Islamic fundamentalists in Belgrade).3

  • 4 Ibid., 75.
  • 5 See Alexander Kitroeff, “Continuity and Change in Contemporary Greek Historiography,” European His (...)

7Also crowding out attention to local actors and ideas across the entire region is the continuing concentration on the role of the Great Powers during and after the two world wars. The two wars are assumed to be the major events influencing modern history, and equally important for the region, determining its fate not just during but also long after the wars. History textbooks in the successor states to the former Yugoslavia typically allocate a quarter to a third of their coverage of the twentieth century to the wars themselves.4 Published scholarship throughout the region and elsewhere continues to pay more attention to the world wars than to any other subject in modern history. The assumption remains widespread within Southeastern Europe that the primary consequence of the Second World War within their own countries was to allow the two superpowers to determine the shape of their domestic evolution long after peace had returned. Its scholarly presence has been strongest in Greece, free from the sort of long post-1945 restrictions in Communist regimes to the north whose scholarship minimized Soviet influence after the Second World War and concentrated instead on the bourgeois failings of their own interwar governments. Until 1974, the bulk of Greek publications presented the country’s postwar history as a justifiable defense against the Soviet-led threat from the north. From the demise of the colonels’ military regime that year through the PASOK regime of the 1980s, a revisionist majority focused critically and with considerable documentation on the Anglo-American intervention that helped to defeat the Communist-led resistance movement of the war in 1944 and again in 1946–49. The indictment often extended, less persuasively, to the subsequent exclusion of the left from Greek politics until the 1980s.5

  • 6 Stuart Hall, as cited by Katherine Verdery, National Ideology under Socialism: Identity and Cultur (...)
  • 7 Peter Sugar, Eastern European Nationalism in the 20th Century (Washington, D. C.: American Univers (...)

8The chapters that follow do not seek to add to the enormous literature linking the world wars and foreign intervention. Our focus is on another connection, between ideology and the national identity it sought to provide as the “cement” in the social formation of the modern state.6This was the focus of the volume that inspired the present one. Eastern European Nationalism in the 20th Century was a coordinated set of country chapters written by younger scholars, edited by a senior historian, Peter Sugar, and each accompanied by a set of primary sources, documents that would allow the reader to judge domestic views firsthand.7That volume addressed only nationalism, what Sugar called in his concluding chapter “the victorious ideology.” Our chapters are still confined within countries but look beyond nationalism alone to consider its connection to other European ideas— socialist, religious, or liberal more than narrowly Communist or fascist— that have contended across Southeastern Europe since the First World War.

  • 8 Even that leading constructionist Benedict Anderson argued for the primacy of “imagined communitie (...)

9We also look beyond the traditional disciplinary boundaries of history to anthropology, sociology, and literary criticism for approaches to the construction of national identity or the representation of ideology they have come to provide. Much scholarship has recently addressed social or cultural identity as a separate but interdisciplinary subject. The journal simply titled Identities is now in its eighth year of publication; book titles featuring the word are too numerous to mention. Their most common concern, and surely the one most relevant to our region, is the role of collective memory. Efforts by Communist regimes to replace memory entirely with ideology after the Second World War were quickly abandoned. The collapse of these regimes since 1989 has left such memories to return full force. They feed primarily off the violence and distress of the twentieth century. We join the majority of anthropologists and sociologists in accepting reliance on symbolic events passed on from distant centuries, such as the Serbian defeat at Kosovo Polje in 1389, as collective myths capable of constructing or sustaining an ethnic identity only when connected to living memory of real events.8

  • 9 See his introductory chapter with co-editor Immanuel Sivan to their War and Remembrance in the Twe (...)

10The two world wars, and for parts of our region attendant civil war, stretched over longer periods than for the rest of Europe. Their memories, real or mythical, personal or official, do indeed register in national identity. The wars of Yugoslavia’s dissolution served to revive the trauma of wartime memories across all of Southeastern Europe. Its postwar Communist regimes and Greece’s anti-Communist regime as well promoted a selective official memory from the top down but discouraged public or personal memory from the ground up. The latter is what Jay Winter has called “collective remembrance,” drawing more on individual and family memories than on any independent scholarly inquiry to accept, mix with, or reject the account presented in schools and through the media.9

11Winter acknowledges the difficulties of determining exactly how such social learning proceeds but rightly warns against any notion of hereditary memory, passing from one generation to another. What we might call “cultural eugenics” has no more scientific standing than the biological eugenics discredited after its racist and Nazi application from the 1930s into the Second World War. The notion would of course surface again, early in the wars and forced migrations of Yugoslavia’s dissolution, and not just with Serbian accusations against “genocidal Croats” or Croatian characterizations of “barbarian Serbs.” It appears as well in Western presumptions of “ancient ethnic hatreds” as the root cause of conflict.


12We set our chapters instead against the background of the twentieth century and the states that emerged after 1918. Their modern institutional frameworks were the arenas in which advocates of political or religious ideologies advanced or contested national identities with reduced or transplanted ethnic majorities and new minorities. Let us briefly review domestic origins, foreign influences, and structural evolution in these institutional arenas during the interwar period and still more briefly for the more familiar period of Communist, or, for Greece, anti-Communist regimes established after the Second World War.

13The new Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes was proclaimed in Belgrade on December 1, 1918, under the aegis of previously independent Serbia’s Regent Aleksandar. Whatever the popular support for the new state in the former Habsburg territory to the west or in formerly Ottoman Kosovo and Macedonia to the south, an issue still in dispute for the Croatian and Bosnian Muslim populations, only Serbia’s army and French diplomatic support could guarantee these broad borders against hostile neighbors. And that guarantee was in place. Serbia survived defeat in 1915 and made its troops the largest contingent in the French-led forces that broke through the Salonika front with decisive results in 1918.

  • 10 John R. Lampe, Yugoslavia as History: Twice There Was a Country, 2nd ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge Uni (...)

14In the newly constituted state, Serbs with Montenegrins accounted for only 39 percent of the population according to the 1921 census. Yet the Serbian-dominated ministries in Belgrade led the way in expanding the number of state employees, the army aside, to half again the per capita figure from prewar Serbia. Contesting their authority under the parliamentary regime of the 1920s was a united Croatian opposition and, weakening it, a divided Serb political spectrum. When King Aleksandar abolished the parliament and the parties as well in 1929, the power of the Interior Ministry in particular became greater. Throughout the interwar period, moreover, both Vardar Macedonia and Kosovo, with their respective ethnic Macedonian and Albanian majorities, remained under comprehensive ministerial administration from Belgrade. Comparable controls could not be extended to the former Habsburg lands to the west. Among the Croat and Slovene populations in particular, economic leverage was limited to disparate taxation and control of the central bank. In education, Belgrade tried to create a unified national system at the start of the 1920s and the 1930s but did not succeed.10

15Romania’s leaders abandoned neutrality in 1916 and entered the First World War on the side of the Entente powers, a decision which proved costly while the German army was still in the field but paid a handsome territorial dividend after the collapse of the Central Powers in 1918. Under the terms of peace settlements with Austria and then Hungary, the prewar king-dom expanded from Wallachia and Moldavia to include Bukovina and Transylvania. Nor could the new Bolshevik regime in Russia prevent the incorporation of Bessarabia. In each of the three additions, the ethnic Romanian share of the population was less than 60 percent, reducing the overall share to the same 70 percent for which Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes combined accounted in the new Yugoslav state. (Hungarians, Germans, and Jews were the largest minorities in Romania, while in the latter, Bosnian Muslims, Macedonians, and Germans accounted for the same combined 16 percent, with Albanians and Hungarians comprising another 8 percent.)

  • 11 See Irena Livizeanu, Cultural Politics in Greater Romania: Regionalism, Nation-Building, and Ethni (...)

16In Romania, the National Liberal Party of the old kingdom took full advantage of the rival Conservatives having backed the Central Powers in the First World War and thereby vanishing as a political force afterwards. A more comprehensive land reform and financial consolidation, the nationalization of German and Austrian oil assets included, than was possible for the Serbian ministries in Belgrade helped primarily Liberal regimes to preempt regional opposition until 1928. Then the Transylvanian-based National Party, unified with the Peasant Party in 1926, won election to attempt a series of decentralizing reforms. The Depression combined with the reassertion of royal authority under the wayward monarch Carol II in 1930 to sweep them aside. What followed for the rest of the decade was a more decisive expansion of ministerial authority and police powers outside any party framework. Through the entire interwar period, the Ministry of Education pressed ahead with a campaign to spread literacy in the Romanian language in a fashion that Yugoslavia’s initial minister of education, the unitarist Svetozar Pribićević, would have envied. The aim was to inculcate through primary schools and adult education a single Romanian cultural identity in the minorities as well as in the ethnic majority.11

  • 12 Anastasia Karakasidou, Fields of Wheat, Hills of Blood: Passages to Nationhood in Greek Macedonia, (...)

17The Kingdom of Greece had expelled Ottoman rule from Aegean Macedonia and Thrace in the First Balkan War of 1912, thereupon making them the northern third of its territory. In 1918 its nominally Liberal government was concerned with retaking from Bulgaria Thracian areas to the east. (Vardar Macedonia to the north was left for its Entente ally in Belgrade to reclaim from Bulgaria after first winning it in the same 1912 war against the Ottoman Empire). Then came the Greek army’s disastrous campaign, initially encouraged by the British prime minister, David Lloyd George, to move deep into Anatolia from the largely Greek port of Smyrna. It collapsed in 1922 under the Kemalist counteroffensive that created modern Turkey from the ruins of the Ottoman Empire. For Greece, the catastrophe forced the British-backed king from the throne but left a divide between royalists and republicans, and between the capital Athens and the north, that would not be resolved until the last quarter of the twentieth century. The flight from Anatolia also brought 1.5 million Anatolian refugees to Greece, mainly to the new northern lands where Macedonian Slav- and Turkish-speaking residents of long standing were now unwelcome unless assimilated. The Venezelist Republic of 1924–36 would pursue that assimilation through the educational system as assiduously as Romania’s interwar regime. The Metaxas dictatorship ruled under a restored monarchy until the Second World War. It would distinguish itself by mobilizing the internal military and police for political repression and also by banning the public use of any language other than Greek.12

  • 13 R. J. Crampton, A Short History of Modern Bulgaria (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), (...)

18The Bulgarian kingdom but not its king survived the ill-fated alliance with the losing Central Powers in the First World War. Tsar Ferdinand’s obsession with capturing Istanbul from the Ottoman Empire in the First Balkan War had contributed to the initial loss of Vardar Macedonia to Serbia, 1912–15. Now, after receiving it from Germany as a prize for joining the Central Powers, it was gone again, along with wartime gains in Thrace and a prewar part of Dobrudja in the northeast. Some 220,000 refugees crowded into the interwar state of five million. By 1923, the young Tsar Boris, members of the prewar elite, and Macedonian irredentists had joined forces to put down the two largest political parties, the larger Bulgarian Agrarian National Union (BZNS) of Aleksandar Stamboliiski and the smaller but Moscow-backed Bulgarian Communist Party (BKP). The assassination of Stamboliiski and the bloody suppression of a belated Communist coup a few months later left the smaller surviving parties, the tsar, and their internationally friendless regime to deal with economic recovery and Macedonian irredentism. The non-party regime that finally emerged under royal auspices would be common to all five of these interwar states during the 1930s, helping in four and almost in Greece as well to set the stage for one-party Communist governments after the Second World War. By 1935, Tsar Boris and his ministers in Sofia were strong enough to push aside the brief military regime that had already ended the virtual autonomy carved out by the Macedonian IMRO organization for itself in the southwestern corner of Bulgaria.13

  • 14 Bernd Fischer, King Zog and the Struggle for Stability in Albania (New York: Columbia University P (...)

19An uncertain Albanian state had first emerged in 1913 under hasty Austro-Hungarian auspices tendered to deny Adriatic access to victorious Serbia. There were no political parties in place even from the late Ottoman period of Young Turk reforms. The state struggled to reemerge after the First World War. Neither ally nor adversary of the victorious powers, Albania had seen a long list of foreign governments dispatch troops to occupy their strategic coastal location. France, Austria–Hungary, and Italy were joined by Greece and Serbia in controlling various parts at various times. The most able and ruthless of the local leaders seeking to consolidate national power, Ahmed Zogu, was able to do so by 1924, but only with initial assistance from Bel-grade, and then to hold onto it from 1926 to 1939 only by making first economic and then diplomatic concessions to Rome. He was, however, successful in making himself president of a belatedly constituted republic in 1925 and in crowning himself king of what now became a monarchy in 1928. In the process, he kept Italy, Greece and Yugoslavia from the internal political leverage they sought, at least until the Italian invasion of 1939 swept him and Albanian independence away.14 At the same time, Albania’s interwar pursuit of the centralizing imperatives that would provide the structural framework of a European nation-state was the least successful in Southeastern Europe. Zog’s effort in 1933–34 to “nationalize” primary education, for instance, closed Greek- and Italian-sponsored Catholic schools but failed to open many new state schools to take their place.

  • 15 The range of increasingly convergent regional and Western scholarship may be seen in John O. Iatri (...)

20The Second World War displaced or compromised the established political, ministerial, and military elites across Southeastern Europe. State linkages to economic elites and state systems of education were similarly disrupted. But the centralizing imperatives of the state framework grew under German if not Italian occupation or urging. Centralization only grew stronger in the postwar efforts for recovery. Communist-led resistance movements took power in Yugoslavia and Albania, and tried to do so in Greece. Romania’s small Communist Party and Bulgaria’s large one relied on Soviet support in inverse proportion to their size to take power as well. By the early 1950s, the Soviet effort to keep Tito’s Yugoslavia within its bloc of satellites had failed. Still, the effort helped to solidify a faithful regime in Bulgaria and to keep a weaker one in place in Romania, albeit at the cost of the minority representation for Hungarians and others that had helped to put the Romanian Communist Party in power in 1945–46. The Albanian regime had used the Tito–Stalin split of 1948 to start down the road to isolation by turning to the Soviet Union for support against Yugoslavia. First Soviet and then Chinese rapprochement with Yugoslavia would leave Albania no other large sponsor in the Communist world by the mid-1970s. In Greece, new anti-Communist and old anti-republican forces combined to restore the monarchy by 1946 and to win the civil war against the Communist-led northern core of the wartime resistance. First British and then American support was as decisive as was Soviet support for the Bulgarian Communists, if less so than in Romania.15


21The chapters that follow do not pursue Great Power influence beyond attraction to or rejection of the Soviet model of socialism in the Communist regimes of Bulgaria and Yugoslavia. We regret the absence of a chapter on Greece because it could have provided instructive comparison of anti-Communist with Communist representation. The omission may be justified in part because of the flowering of domestic and foreign scholarship during the past decade, a prospect hoped for but not yet realized in the former Communist states of the region. Our chapters concentrate on the domestic efforts in those states, before and after the Second World War, to foster a self-sustaining national identity by combining cultural memory and wartime experience with political or religious ideology.

  • 16 See the currently definitive survey of Stanley G. Payne, A History of Fascism, 1914–1945 (Madison: (...)

22For interwar Europe as a whole, the youth that survived the First World War or grew up in its aftermath were attracted to radical or religious movements and charismatic leadership that promised a more distinctive identity than that offered by their state’s typically aged leadership. And in Belgium and the Netherlands, as in the Croatian and Romanian cases, such movements could connect with fascism before or during the Second World War.16

23In Chapters 1 and 2, Constantin Iordachi and Mark Biondich take fresh looks at the region’s two ideologies most often associated with fascism— those of Romania’s interwar Legion of the Archangel Michael and of the Croat Ustasˇa movement that came to power in the Second World War. For the Legion, Iordachi explores the link between its “integral nationalism,” on the French pattern of Charles Maurras, to exclude all foreign influence in favor of the ethnic majority’s cultural hegemony, and its emphasis on the Romanian Orthodox religion. Long regarded as a unique feature across the fascist spectrum, the Legion’s religious center makes more sense when we consider, as Iordachi does, Orthodoxy’s loss of overwhelming predominance in the greatly expanded territory of interwar Romania.

24More familiar to interwar fascism was the reliance of both the Legion from the start and the Croatian Ustasˇa from the 1930s on individual charismatic leadership and its attraction to the youth of the post-1918 generation. Biondich shows how the Croatian movement sought Catholic support but did not proceed from the same religious grounds. Unlike the Legion’s Corneliu Codreanu with his personal sense of a mystical and purifying mission, Ante Pavelić took his charismatic authority from his devotion to the idea of an exclusively Croat state. He led his militarized movement into the exclusionary nationalism of ethnic cleansing during a wartime regime whose fascist identity is hard to deny. Its post-1945 survival outside of Communist Yugoslavia would rely on selective historical memory to justify the idea of an anti-Communist Croatian state on the basis of the dubious existence of the independent Croatia of the Second World War.

25In Chapters 3 and 4, Sandra Prlenda and James Frusetta treat two rival-ries for ethnic leadership. Prlenda shows us how radical Catholic Croat youth of the 1930s, in multi-confessional Bosnia in particular, were attracted not to Pavelić’s Ustasˇa but instead to the church’s own Crusaders organization. Its young leadership and the religion itself, rather than its clerical hierarchy, generated charismatic attraction. Many members were, however, pulled into the Ustasˇa ranks, or at least into its supposedly separate army, during the Second World War. Frusetta takes us away from religion and the right to show that charismatic leadership was not their sole province. The Communist left also wanted heroes to embody national identity and did not rely solely on the current party leader, as it sometimes appeared. The charisma of an early and dramatic death drew the ideological histories of both Bulgaria and Yugoslavia’s Macedonia to Gotse Delchev and several other past leaders of the pre-1914 Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization. Frusetta considers the course of conflicting claims to these same figures as representatives of Bulgarian or Macedonian identity.

26Our region’s postwar Communist regimes took positive steps, beyond their familiar political and religious restrictions, to create a national identity grounded in socialist ideology. Their efforts to train teenage youth, to appropriate classic national literature, to use popular culture, and to monitor everyday life are the respective subjects of the next four chapters. The subsequent collapse of all these Communist regimes has not left much of this socialist nation-building in the public mind. Instead, the contested memories not just of the Second World War but also of earlier nationalist movements such as the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization, as explored in Chapter 4, have come into open conflict.

27These Communist efforts sought to represent and widely disseminate a pan-ethnic identity. In Chapter 5, Andrew Baruch Wachtel traces the appropriation of the classic nineteenth-century poem, The Mountain Wreath, and its Montenegrin author Petar Petrović Njegoš, from interwar Yugoslavia into the postwar Communist period. The Tito regime tried to make its anti-Ottoman defiance stand for a common Yugoslav identity against separate Serbian or Montenegrin claims and Croatian or Bosnian Muslim protests. Both have returned to the fore, as he notes, since 1991. In Chapters 6 and 7, Ildiko Erdei and Maja Brkljacˇić bring us back to the socialist identity on which, as Dejan Jović argues in Chapter 11, Communist Yugoslavia would rely. Antropologist Erdei finds the ideology behind Serbia’s Pioneer youth organization flexible in the same fashion that we associate with the famous shift from Soviet-style central planning to workers’ self-management. By the early 1950s, the training for adult party tasks as well as membership that came from the Second World War and partisan necessity were replaced by an anti-Soviet emphasis on childhood fun. At the same time, the Pioneers would remain tightly tied to the reverent memory of partisan heroics. These efforts, however, did not implant the necessary mass consciousness to preserve “brotherhood and unity” after 1989. Brkljačić finds a stronger link to a deeper, historically familiar, myth-related identity in the regime’s initial rejection and eventual acceptance of folk songs composed as epic poems by common people outside the party framework. They glorified the partisan struggle and Tito’s subsequent defiance of Stalin, but only as a continuation of the heroic resistance to invaders or oppressors from Ottoman times. Their continued commercial success helped historical remembrance, as defined by Winter for popular rather than official culture, to link first the Communist regime with a deeper national identity, for Serbs in particular, and then to sustain post-1989 Serbia.

  • 17 This representation is well described in Maria Todorova’s chapter on Bulgaria in Sugar, ed., Easte (...)

28In Chapter 8, Rossitza Guencheva takes us into the new field of material culture to show how Bulgaria’s more doctrinaire Communist regime sought to advance a socialist identity on the Soviet model through its policy regarding public and private noise in an increasingly crowded urban environment. At first, the noise of machines turning, construction proceeding, and vehicles moving was celebrated as the sound of revolutionary change. But by the 1970s, the Bulgarian party leadership turned to the sort of campaigns already under way in the Soviet Union to deaden sound in apartment blocs, curtain off balconies, and hold private noise-making, including the playing of Western music, accountable. The primary concern was, however, to secure the identity of Bulgarians as efficient labor for socialist enterprise, keeping the campaign as separate from historical memory as the initial celebration of modern sound. This concern deserves as much attention as the regime’s representation of its Bulgarian national identity.17

29We end our volume with chapters on ideological efforts to establish the national identity of Southeast European states within the borders and governments as they existed. In Chapter 9, Robert Austin tackles the controversial question of Albania’s interest in and policy toward adding Kosovo to its territory. He does not hesitate to identify the weakness of Albania’s interwar state structure and its postwar Communist isolation as partly cause and partly result of a national identity too uncertain or contested to include Kosovo. Although the interwar autonomy of local clans would not survive the imposition of Communist rule, ethnic division between northern Gegs and southern Tosks discouraged inclusion of the Greater Albanian claim to largely Geg Kosovo so often presumed elsewhere in the region. In chapter 10, Marko Bulatović takes us through the interwar travails of Serb intellectual and political leaders as they sought to find enough ethnic convergence at least among the South Slav majority of the first Yugoslavia to promise a common national identity. By the 1930s, some would seemingly abandon this prospect and justify the state’s existence solely on the grounds of defending an existing structure vulnerable in the face of hostile neighbors and international uncertainty. But the temptation to turn back to the pre-1914 Serbian identity would leave them with a dilemma that they could not resolve before war came.

30In Chapter 11, Dejan Jović critiques the efforts of Tito’s Yugoslavia, and its leading ideologist Edvard Kardelj in particular, to overcome internal divisions in the fashion of Enver Hoxha’s Albanian regime by identifying the state as guardian against hostile external “others.” As for all the East European Communist parties, the “bourgeois regime” of interwar Yugoslavia was one such “other,” with class origins held responsible for Serbian centralism. But after the Tito–Stalin split of 1948, the Soviet Union quickly became the more prominent “other,” according to Jović. Kardelj legitimized the Communists’ continuing one-party regime as necessary in order to stay independent and pursue socialism at the same time. The demise of other Communist regimes and then the Soviet Union in 1991 removed this justification. Interwar dilemmas returned, and the uncertain national identity of Yugoslavia was left to stand or fall on its own.


1 Significant differences in natural resources and urban development remained to combine with warfare and forced migration. This combination accounted for the considerable economic gap between the Balkans and Central as well as Northwestern Europe by 1800. See John R. Lampe and Marvin R. Jackson, Balkan Economic History, 1550– 1950: From Imperial Borderlands to Developing Nations (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1982), 1–49. On Western presumptions of comprehensive, virtually civilizational differences in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the path-breaking, provocative study is Maria Todorova, Imagining the Balkans (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997). For an historical overview persuasively arguing the absence of such comprehensive differences before the nineteenth century, see Mark Mazower, The Balkans (New York: Modern Library, 2001), 1–76.

2 Charles S. Maier, “Consigning the Twentieth Century to History: Alternative Narratives for the Modern Era,” American Historical Review 195 (June 2000): 807–31

3 Falk Pegel, ed., The European Home: Representatives of 20th-Century Europe in History Textbooks (Council of Europe Publishers, 2000), 85–193.

4 Ibid., 75.

5 See Alexander Kitroeff, “Continuity and Change in Contemporary Greek Historiography,” European History Quarterly 19 (1989): 283–88. On the greater attention of Greek scholarship to domestic social history since then, see Mark Mazower’s introduction to his edited volume, After the War Was Over: Reconstructing the Family, Nation and State in Greece, 1943–1946 (Princeton, N. J.: Princeton University Press, 1999), 3–23.

6 Stuart Hall, as cited by Katherine Verdery, National Ideology under Socialism: Identity and Cultural Politics in Ceausescu’s Romania (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991), 10.

7 Peter Sugar, Eastern European Nationalism in the 20th Century (Washington, D. C.: American University Press, 1995).

8 Even that leading constructionist Benedict Anderson argued for the primacy of “imagined communities” beyond any face-to-face group but not “imaginary communities,” as co-editors Cora Govers and Hans Vermeulen remind us in their introductory chapter to The Politics of Ethnic Consciousness (New York: St. Martin’s, 1998), 21–22.

9 See his introductory chapter with co-editor Immanuel Sivan to their War and Remembrance in the Twentieth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 6–39. For a review of the extensive recent attention to memory, see Peter Fritzsche, “The Case of Modern Memory,” The Journal of Modern History 73 (March 2001), 87–117.

10 John R. Lampe, Yugoslavia as History: Twice There Was a Country, 2nd ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 101–62.

11 See Irena Livizeanu, Cultural Politics in Greater Romania: Regionalism, Nation-Building, and Ethnic Struggle, 1918–1930 (Ithaca, N. Y.: Cornell University Press, 1995).

12 Anastasia Karakasidou, Fields of Wheat, Hills of Blood: Passages to Nationhood in Greek Macedonia, 1870–1990 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997), 141–189. On the period of the republic, see George Mavrogordatos, Stillborn Republic: Social Coalitions and Party Strategies in Greece, 1922–1936 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983).

13 R. J. Crampton, A Short History of Modern Bulgaria (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), 82–144.

14 Bernd Fischer, King Zog and the Struggle for Stability in Albania (New York: Columbia University Press, East European Monographs, 1984).

15 The range of increasingly convergent regional and Western scholarship may be seen in John O. Iatrides and Linda Wrigley, eds., Greece at the Crossroads: The Civil War and Its Legacy (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1995), and in Norman Naimark and Leonid Gibianski, eds., The Establishment of Communist Regimes in Eastern Europe, 1944–1949 (Boulder, Col.: Westview Press, 1997)

16 See the currently definitive survey of Stanley G. Payne, A History of Fascism, 1914–1945 (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1995), 276–302, 391–411.

17 This representation is well described in Maria Todorova’s chapter on Bulgaria in Sugar, ed., Eastern European Nationalism, 55–102.


John R. Lampe is Professor of History at the University of Maryland, College Park, and past Director of East European Studies at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington.

© Central European University Press, 2006

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