Apr 1, 2010

Alexander Onufrak - The consequences of the Paris Peace Conference: The case of Czieszyn/Cesky Tesin.

It is generally known, that the European continent was an unstable for ages and the international borders between former empires moved all this time. The instability in Europe was a result not only by the military impacts from outside (from the others empires or states), but quite often by the ethnic disturbance inside local society. Even though, the process of self-determination of several European nations, especially at Central and South – Eastern Europe, generally began at the middle of the 19th Century, the most significant territorial changes occurred at the beginning of the 20th Century – shortly after World War I. The collapse of the Central powers brought not only ending of battles on the fronts, liberty and peace, but also a new configuration of Europe and the new independent national states.
The collapse of Austro – Hungarian Kingdom and the following formation of the new states like Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary, Austria, Romania or Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes often brought a large scale of the ethnic tension on the both side of the new international borders. Although, the international borders emerged from the series of post-war summits also known as the Paris Peace Conference and by the international treaties signed by the European and also by non-European politicians, between common people the process of demarcation was quite frequently criticized and considered as unfairness. Although, the creation of the Central European region had been realized nearly 90 years ago, the local ethnic tensions are still actual and alive. In this sense, it is so important to realize, that many present ethnic tensions have their roots somewhere at the beginning of the 20th Century. At that time several historical regions had been divided between two or more neighbour states including their autochthonous inhabitants. The former state of Czechoslovakia was a typical representative of it. Its international borders with the neighbours generally depend on the international treaties from 1920s. For the new established state of Czechoslovakia, the most significant treaties were this:
1.The Treaty of Versailles, which confirmed Czechoslovak border with Germany (Part III. Section VII. Article 81 – 86).
2.The Treaty of Saint Germain which recognized international border between Czechoslovakia and the new state of Austria.
3.The Treaty of Trianon. By this treaty Hungary lost over 70 % of its former territory and almost 65 % of all inhabitants, including 3 millions of ethnic Hungarians who became the citizens of the neighbouring states. The international border between the Slovak part of Czechoslovakia and new Hungarian state was (and still is) the most complicated of all. The border of Hungary had been fixed by the Article 27. of the Treaty of Trianon.
4.The Treaty of Sevres had just marginal importance for the Czechoslovaks officials, since it concerned only few villages in Subcarpathian Rus (Carpathian Ruthenia) near the Romanian and Polish borders.
5.The Spa Conference was not a direct element of the Paris Peace Conference. It was just based on it. Its main duty was to adjust relations between Czechoslovakia and Poland and also drafted a common border line between both states in the region of Czeszyn/Tesin Silesia. On the base of the Spa Conference, historical region of Czeszyn/Tesin Silesia had been divided between to neighbour states – Czechoslovakia and Poland. The Goral villages in the regions of Northern Orava and Spisz were affected by the similar fate.
In my research I would like to focus to geopolitical and territorial changes at the region of the Central Europe and their impacts to the economic, social and cultural live to ethnic communities especially to this who lived at the border zones. In this research I will try to explain how important is to permanently remind historical development of the present Central European states and nations and also their international relations between them. On the case of divided Czieszyn/Tesin Silesia, I will try to explain some historical facts which happened almost one century ago, but their consequences people have felt during all this time. The ethnic prejudices and stereotypes to those which live on the other side of the border are still actual and alive. The stereotypes like resistance, aversion, antipathy, repulsion and disgust to other ethnic group are still to strong in the region of Central Europe. This problem is much more evident between those individuals and their relatives that lost their properties on the other side of the border where they live now. This situation is quite dangerous and it helps to encourage to a new and a new ethnic strain between different ethnic groups. This status is much more visible at the time of crisis. The region of Czeszyn/Tesin Silesia was a great example of it, considering that three big ethnic groups lived there all together. There were Czechs, Poles and Germans.
On this case, it is very clear to see, how the influence of the concrete ethic group was increasing and decreasing depend on, if the ethnic group was at the ruling position or not. Initially, Poland annexed the Czechoslovak part of Czeszyn/Tesin Silesia that leaded to displacement and persecuting of Czechs. After few months of the polish governing supremacy, the border area of Czeszyn/Tesin Silesia became once again a part of the territory of the Bohemian lands under Nazi control and this status to survive until the end of the World War II. The German ethnic group hold a complete control over public administration until 1945, when the new Czechoslovak states took a power on this area back. This period of the Czechoslovak history is an inglorious known as a wild displacement especially of Germans, but also of Poles in Bohemia and Hungarians in Slovakia. On the other hand, it is important to say, that this practise happened not only at the former Czechoslovakia, but also at the neighbouring states.
At the summary, I would like to say, that it is so important to point out of some historical facts and analyze them, because it is only one way, how is possibly preceded to any ethnic collisions at to the future. Even if, my research is exactly aiming to region of Czeszyn/Tesin Silesia and on the Czech – Polish relations since 1920s to now, the core itself of this issue it could by used anywhere. Since, in the Central European region there is still a high level of the probability, that one day some radical groups could use negative power of stereotypes and try to establish a new order, which could be a similar to that of the interwar period.

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