Central Europe

Myth or (also) Reality?

  • Peter Vodopivec Inštitut za novejšo zgodovino, Kongresni trg 1, SI-1000 Ljubljana
Keywords: Mitteleuropa, Central Europe, multiculturality, multiethnicity, Germany, federalism, bourgeoisie


In the paper, which presents the historical circumstances under which Central European area was formed, the author expresses his conviction that Central Europe was never merely an idea, but, at least from the eighteenth century onwards, a particular area between the European east and west. By comparing the views by Edvard Kocbek, the Slovene poet and politician, and Istvan Bibo, the Hungarian publicist, the author concludes that, in the period between the beginning of the nineteenth century and the Second World War, there were two tendencies in the development of the Central European idea: the first one sought the way out of Central European fragmentation and backwardness in a federal association of the Central European countries, whereas the second defended the view that Central Europe was an integral part of the German cultural and economic area. Since with Nazism the German idea of Mitteleuropa won, it seemed, after the Second World War, that the idea was compromised. Although the idea was shortly revived in the 1980's, especially by the Polish, Czech and Hungarian political dissidents, it lost its relevance after the fall of the Berlin Wall.