Since the early modern age and increasingly since the 19th century, politicians, scientists, writers, and intellectuals have developed political concepts which are based on the idea of the cultural and linguistic unity of the Slavs. The aim has been to discuss the relationship of the Slavia to Western Europe, the role of Russia, and the relations of the Slavic nations among themselves and to formulate political concepts.1 Pan-Slavism, which was first mentioned as a term in 1826 by the Slovak philologist Ján Herkel (1786–1853) to establish the kinship of the Slavic languages, first appeared as a cultural movement of Czech and Slovak scholars. They were influenced by Romanticism in general and the writings of Johann Gottfried Herder (1744–1803) in particular. At the end of the 18th century, the latter had already formulated in his famous "Slavic chapter" an ideal picture of the Slavs as peaceful ambassadors of humanity, who would establish a new world culture in the future.2
His remarks resonated widely in the following decades. One need only recall the importance of the Slovak poet Ján Kollár (1793–1852)for the Slavic rebirth. Herder also influenced the Slovaks Pavel Josef Šafárik (1795–1861) and L'udovit Štúr (1815–1856) the Czechs Joseph Dobrovský (1753–1829) and Josef Jungmann (1773–1847) the Slovene Jernej Kopitar (1780–1844), and the Serb Vuk Karadžič (1787–1864) – all philologists and important reformers of their native tongues. The interest in the Slavic culture also included the divided Poland in the 18th centuryand the Polish intellectuals and politicians living in exile in Europe.
The idea of the cultural solidarity of the Slavs, from which also a political unity was to grow, inspired in the second quarter of the 19th century a literary Pan-Slavism. In search of a common Slavic language and literature, its protagonists drew on a critical historical-philological methodology. Although Herder saw the Slavs as a nation, it is an irony of history that many intellectuals in East Central Europe and the Balkans, who concluded that the Pan-Slavic idea was a harbinger of an "awakening of the peoples", actually only promoted their own national movement(s). The ideological homogeneity of the "Slavic idea", which encompassed such diverse phenomena as democratic Austro-Slavism, Russo-centric authoritarian Pan-Slavism, and federal Yugoslavism, was repeatedly overestimated.3 The application of the identification model of "Slavicity" is similarly diverse. As an "idea of an element connecting all Slavs or Slavic speakers in space and time"4 it functions as a political legitimation and mobilization instrument, defines the profile of numerous academic disciplines, and can be seen until the recent past as a productive myth in the art, literature, and film.
The long 19th century – the "Slavic idea" between autocracy and nation
One may only speak of a political movement of Pan-Slavism which aimed at the "liberation" of the Slavic peoples and their unification in a "Slavic state" from the middle of the 19th century. A rapid political mobilization took place especially in the Habsburg monarchy, in which Slavic activists saw the existence of their peoples threatened by the dominance of the Germans and Magyars. As an indirect consequence, the first Slav Congress was held from June 2–12, 1848 in Prague in the context of the European revolutionary movements of the Vormärz and the Revolution of 1848. The conference, which was chaired by František Palacký (1798–1876), involved famous Slawophiles like Pavel Jozef Šafárik and anarchists like Mikhail Bakunin (1814–1876). On the one hand, it can be regarded as an Eastern European counterpart to the contemporary Western European movements. On the other, however, it also played an important role in articulating "Slavic" claims against the respective foreign rulers.
Although the congress was dominated to a certain extent by its Austro-Slavist initiators, the demands and contrasts of the various Pan-Slavist groups were already evident: The Czechs demanded the establishment of an independent kingdom consisting of Bohemia, Moravia, and the Austrian Silesia. The protagonists of the South Slavic cultural and political movements, on the other hand, were barely represented. The Polish envoys, for their part, were committed to a Polish-national messianism, while the Russian Bakunin advocated the idea of an all-Slavic federation. Most other Russian representatives, however, declared Pan-Slavism to be All-Russian or Greater-Russian, and a Russian claim to leadership was also formulated in the cultural, political, and state programs of Pan-Slav movements.
Despite the participation of Russian delegates in the Prague Slav Congress, St. Petersburg clearly distanced itself from Pan-Slav ideas in the first half of the 19th century. Because Nicholas I (1796–1855) saw their ideas as a threat to the monarchy,5 the authoritarian Tsar branded the Pan-Slavists of his country as "rebels" and had them monitored by the secret police. In 1847, one year before the Slav Congress in Prague, he ordered the closure of the Brotherhood of Saints Cyril and Methodius, the center of the Pan-Slav movement in Kiev.6 In fact, many Pan-Slavists were critical of the government. Bakunin, in particular, who considered the ideals of the French Revolution to be fundamental characteristics of Slavicism, had called in 1846 for a Polish-Russian union in the name of liberating all Slavs from the Tsar's yoke.7 For the Russian Empire, such ideas were of course completely unacceptable. After all, it was a founding member of the "Holy Alliance",8 whose aim was to create revolutionary and nationalist movements on the European continent.9
Michail Pogodin (1800–1875), who in the first half of the 19th century was one of the leading Pan-Slavist ideologues of Russia, had access to the court and certainly could present his ideas to the Tsar in writing in the years 1838 and 1842. Nicholas I was by no means averse to the idea of creating a Slavic empire. St. Petersburg, however, avoided associating expansionist objectives with Pan-Slavist arguments at least until the defeat in the Crimean War (1853–1856). Instead, the common faith was invoked connecting the Christian Orthodox subjects of the Ottoman Sultan with the great "protector power" in the north during the Tsar's attempts to reinforce the Russian influence in the Balkans. Tsar Nicholas I stressed his opposition to any Pan-Slavic or nationalist movement that could call into question the continent's sovereigns, including the Ottoman dynasty. His interventions in the Balkans served only to prevent national revolutions that could spread to the Slavs under his own rule, especially the Poles.10
A political instrumentalization of Pan-Slavism on the part of the Tsarist Empire did not take place until after the Crimean War.11 It took the form of a Russian claim to hegemony in both domestic and foreign policy.12 Thus, the first (Pan-)Slavistic Committees arose during the 1860s and 1870s under the intellectual leadership of Michail Katkov (1818–1887) and Nikolaj Ignat'ev (1832–1908). They recommended that the Russian Empire renew its national identity by promoting nation-building among the Slavic and Orthodox peoples of Middle and Eastern Europe. In their name, moreover, St. Petersburg should launch a crusade against the Ottoman Empire and the Habsburg Empire.13
After the boundaries of the Congresswere revised, Russia was able to make up for its recent setbacks by deepening its relations with the other Slavic and Orthodox peoples of Europe and seeking a political alliance with them. The unofficial premise for this proposal was the assumption that if the non-Russian Slavs were to join the Tsarist Empire, they could ensure the Slavs numerical dominance. From the point of view of politically liberal actors in the Tsarist Empire, this would facilitate the introduction of a Slavic-dominated form of democracy, for example through a state assembly.14
One of the reasons for Pan-Slavism's appeal was that even before it was formulated as a doctrine of realpolitik it contained a message of salvation. The poem "Russian Geography" from Fedor Tjutčevs (1803–1873), written in 1849, is a good example of this historical and religious sense of mission.15 Nikolaj Danilevskij (1822–1885) then transformed this messianic sentiment in 1869 in his book Russia and Europe into a prophecy based on cultural history. He believed that the time of Romanesque-Germanic supremacy in Europe, submerged depravity, materialism and inner strife, was nearing its end. It would be replaced by the dominance of Slavic Orthodox culture that "represents an organic unity which is not maintained by a more or less artificial mechanism, but by the deeply rooted trust of the people in the Tsar". According to Danilevsky's view, the new Slavic civilization (with the capital Constantinople) would complement the achievements of its predecessors in the field of religion (Israel), culture (Greece), political order (Rome) and socio-economic progress (modern Europe) with a specific Slavic sense of social and economic justice: "These four rivers will unite on the vast plains of Slavonia to form a mighty sea." This notion of an earthly empire reaching its pinnacle with its capital in the "Second Rome" called to mind the original myth of the "Holy Russia".16
The political Pan-Slavist or Great Russian hostility to the "West of Europe", which advocated a union of the (East) Slavic peoples, intensified. This was also apparent at the second Slav Congress in Moscow in 1867, which was now completely dominated by Russian delegates. While the "balance" between Austria and Hungary, the Dual Monarchy, was worked out and the "Ligue internationale de la paix et de la liberté" was founded in Paris with the program of the "United States of Europe", the Slav Congress offered Pan-Slavism a forum for practical power politics for the first time. Mikhail Katkov insisted that Russia should play a role similar to that of Prussia in Germany and unite the Slavs in one state, since such a campaign "would complete the triumph of the principle of nationality and create a solid basis for today's balance of power". The rector of Moscow University announced: "Let us unite as Italy and Germany have united to form a single state, and the name of the united nation will be: Gigant!" He demanded that "a single literary language should cover all countries from the Adriatic and from Prague to Archangel'sk and to the Pacific Ocean and every Slavic nation, whatever its religion, should adopt this language as a means of communication with others."17 There can be no doubt that the language he had in mind was Russian.
Not all Slavs present at the Congress were willing to unconditionally accept Russian hegemony. The most important Czech spokespersons, František Palacký and František Rieger (1818–1903) called for a reconciliation between Russia and Poland in which both sides would have had to make concessions. The Russian delegates, however, did not yield. These disputes shed light on an inherent dilemma of Pan-Slavism at the time, namely the fact that those who were supposed to benefit from it rejected key elements of its program and did not want to belong to a Russian state. The Catholic Poles in particular felt more connected to West and did not want to accept Russian domination. The Polish question and the uprising of 1863 led to an anti-Polish rhetoric in Russia that contradicted the ideals of Pan-Slavism. Conservative nationalists still indulged in Pan-Slavic rhetoric, but, in the end, imperial interests had priority for them.18
With the foundation of the German Reich in 1871, Pan-Slavism finally became a means of curbing German influence in Central and Eastern Europe and thus a doctrine of realpolitik. General Rostislav Fadeev (1824–1883) demanded, for example, that Russia should either allow itself to enter into a power struggle with the German Reich and use its Slavic connections to weaken Austria, Germany's ally, or it should mobilize behind the Dnieper and become a predominantly Asian power. As General Fadeev liked to say to Russian diplomats: "Slavism or Asia". With the support of the Slavic peoples, nothing would stand in the way of the conquest of Constantinople, which was to be declared a Slavic city. For General Fadeev, Pan-Slavism was a prerequisite for Russia remaining a great European power.19
However, the distance to Pan-Slavist ideas still prevailed at court in St. Petersburg and Fadeev was dismissed from active service. In view of the circumstances, Pan-Slavism undermined the legitimacy of the monarchy, which the tsarist court had defended since the French Revolution. The official opinion of the Foreign Ministry was that Russia should cooperate with the German Reich and Austria to affirm the irremovability of monarchs, counteract revolutionary movements, and ensure a stable balance of forces. The Russian government could thus never consistently represent Pan-Slavism, for the expansionist undertone of such a policy would inevitably have led to war against the Ottoman Empire and the Habsburg Monarchy, if not against all European powers. Moreover, Pan-Slavism was ultimately a revolutionary strategy directed against sovereign states. The support of a rebellious nationalism was thus at a minimum a double-edged sword for the Russian Empire.20
The revolt of the Christian peasants against the Ottomans in Bosnia and Herzegovina (1875) and, above all, the activities of Bulgarian guerrillas against the Ottoman Empire (1876) led to military conflicts between Russia and the Sublime Porte in the following year. This laid the ideal groundwork for Pan-Slav agitation and put the Russian government under pressure to act. Officers, society women, and merchants founded Slavic charity committees, which held meetings, collected money and even sent volunteers to fight in the Serbian army after Serbia and Montenegro had declared war on the Ottoman Empire in 1876. Fedor Dostoevsky (1821–1881) praised the war against the Turks as a means of achieving "eternal peace";21 Petr Il'ič Čajkovskij (1840–1893) composed his "Slavic March" (1876) with reference to the Serbian-Ottoman War. The government finally supported Serbian efforts by allowing Russian officers and soldiers to take leave to serve as volunteers in the Serbian army. Among them was Fadeev's comrade, General Mikhail Černjaev (1828–1898), who soon became a hero of the Pan-Slavists.22 His attempt to liberate the "Slavic brothers" in the Balkans from the "Turkish yoke" failed miserably, however. The then Russian Minister of the Interior Petr Valuev (1815–1890) even mocked the "Slavophile onanism" of his Pan-Slavic-inspired contemporaries in his diaries.23
The Serbs' defeat put the Russian government in a dilemma. Together with other European powers, it urged the Ottoman Empire to carry out reforms to eliminate the causes of the uprising. But the Sublime Porte opposed the proposals. The Russian Empire subsequently declared war on the Sultan, not least in order to not lose its influence in the Balkans. At a meeting of the Slavic Charity Association, the writer Ivan Aksakov (1823–1886) the Russian-Ottoman characterized the war as a "historical necessity" and added: "The people have never seen a war with such apparent sympathy".24 Indeed, the war was strongly supported by the peasant population. A "Starost" (village elder) from the Smolensk area later reported that the people from his village asked in surprise: "Why does our father Tsar allow his people to suffer under the unbelieving Turks?". They moreover took note of Russia's entry into the war with relief and satisfaction.25 One way or another, the peasants provided most of the volunteers. Help in the form of money, food, and manpower also mostly came from them.
Irrespective of the people's mood, the Russian government was not inclined to exploit their ultimate victory in the war against the Ottomans in a way that would upset the balance of forces in Europe. In the Treaty of San Stefano which Russia signed in March 1878 with the Sublime Porte, reforms were set into motion in the Ottoman Empire. This resulted in a Bulgarian vassal state that enveloped most of Macedonia and thus gave Russia access to the Aegean. When the other European states raised objections to such an extension of Russian influence to the Balkans, however, the Russian Foreign Ministry withdrew and agreed to negotiations at an international congress in the summer of the same year in Berlin. The balance of power between the European powers was restored in the German capital and the borders were redrawn: Bulgaria was reduced in size and divided into the Principality of Bulgaria and the autonomous province of Eastern Rumelia. Macedonia remained under Ottoman rule, and the European powers, instead of Russia, "guaranteed" reforms in the "Empire of Continents". Although the Berlin Congress was denounced as "an open conspiracy against the Russian people conducted with the participation of Russian representatives",26 Russia managed to recover Bessarabia and thereby regain its dominant position at the mouth of the Danube. In addition, it obtained important areas in the Caucasus Mountains including the Port of Batumi, which was of crucial importance for the expanding oil industry. In the eyes of the Pan-Slavists, however, these gains were negligible compared to the brilliant, albeit short lived, results of San Stefano.27
Although Pan-Slavism met with considerable approval among the educated classes and the press, it remained inaccessible to most ordinary Russians, despite its intrinsic idea of social protest. On balance, Pan-Slavism was ill-suited to a multi-ethnic empire that feared democracy, war, and ethnic conflict, and therefore never became the basis of official politics. Moreover, among the Russian nationalists, the conflict smoldered between those who advocated nation-building at home and those who longed for Russian expansion. The missionary strain of Russian Pan-Slavism ascribed to the Russians a preeminent position among the Slavic peoples as their protector and liberator.28
Against this backdrop, the medieval German eastward expansion was often linked by Russian historians and Pan-Slavic journalists to the ideological dispute between "Eastern" Orthodoxy and "Western" Catholicism. In this narrative, the Germans pushing eastward embodied aggressive Germanic-Roman power and the expansionist will of the Roman Church. The Slavic cultures in this power struggle were thus seen as allies of Russian Orthodoxy, whose future depended entirely on Russia as the (only) major Slavic power. Since the 1880s, representatives of imperial claims in the Tsarist Empire deliberately used the political slogan of the German "Drang nach Osten" (push eastward) as an instrument to enforce their foreign policy goals. They thus legitimized the alleged role of the "historical right" of the Russian empire as protector of all Slavic brothers (especially in the Balkans) and made claim to free access from the Black Sea to Mediterranean. The topos of a German "Drang nach Osten" also remained virulent in Soviet historiography in an ideologically recoded form and, even during the Cold War, was regularly re-appropriated as the bugaboo of a (West) German eastern expansion.29
From the Tsarist Empire to Soviet power – Pan-Slavism as an imperial idea
In the 20th century, the "Slavic idea" appeared in Russia in three variants: as the neo-Slavicism of the late Tsarist Empire; as Pan-Slavic rhetoric in High Stalinism; and as a splinter in the post-Soviet search for a new Russian national identity. The protagonists in each instance referred to the Pan-Slavism of the old Tsarist Empire.
As the attempt of a Russian expansion in the Far East ended with a military defeat against Japan in the fall of 1905, Russian foreign policy turned its focus once again to Europe. Interest in the Balkans also returned at the beginning of the 20th century. In the years leading up to the First World War, the Pan-Slavic idea did not play a dominant role. It figured prominently, nonetheless, in the social life of the European part of the Tsarist Empire. There were still associations that dealt with the issue in numerous cities, especially in St. Petersburg and Moscow. Also in the debate over imperial foreign policy, science and journalism argued from a Pan-Slavist perspective.
Around the turn of the century, an attempt had been made to neutralize this imperial-hegemonic conception with a compromise: "Eurasianism".30 This formulation was intended to push the discussion in the direction of contemporary Western European ideas, such as the idea of "Pan-Europe". The neo-Slavism that emerged in the meantime can also be seen as an attempt to revive the Pan-Slavist movement, which had become increasingly meaningless. Exponents were found among the Russian liberal cadets (e.g Pavel Miljukov (1859–1943)), the Polish National Democrats (e.g Roman Dmowski (1864–1939)), and the Young Czechs (e.g Karel Kramár (1860–1937)). It was in the context of these developments that the third Slavic Congress took place in Prague in 1908 and the fourth was held in Sofia in 1910. In the course of the (Greater-) Russian leadership claims in the neo-Slavist movement, the principles formulated at the beginning of the 19th century by the arch-conservative Russian Minister of Education Sergej Uvarov (1786–1855) "Orthodoxy, Autocracy, Popularity" were propagated, sometimes blatantly, as guiding ideas.31
Nevertheless, official Petersburg politics continued to maintain its distance from the Pan-Slavist currents. The government of Nicholas II (1868–1918) preferred an inward-looking Slavicism, an idealization of Rus' and its capital Moscow before the reign Peter the Great (1672–1725).32 However, in the summer of 1914, the Tsar also resorted to Pan-Slavic ideology when solidarity with Serbia led to the Russian Empire's entry into the First World War.
With Vladimir Il'ič Lenin (1870–1924), a representative of the radical "intelligencija" came to power through the October Revolution and the civil war. He felt contempt for the Pan-Slavist dreams of the Russian nationalists and called "Great Russian imperialism" a "reactionary ideology".33 In the years after the revolution, the Pan-Slavist idea played no role in the foreign policy of the young Soviet Union. The Slavic states, which had emerged in the course of the Paris Peace Conference (1919), oriented themselves again towards the West and thus formed an anti-Soviet "cordon sanitaire".
The Soviet Union did not abandon its internationalist mission until the reign of Joseph V. Stalin (1879–1953). From the mid-1930s, there was a transformation in its self-description: The aversion to old Russia, which had shaped Lenin and the Bolsheviks of his generation, was now replaced by pride in those aspects of the Russian past that Stalinism regarded as positive.34 The Pan-Slavist propaganda of the Soviet Union in the Second World War was therefore not exclusively a reaction to the German invasion in June 1941. The possibility of taking a "Slavic direction" in foreign policy had already been considered earlier. In September 1939, the regime drew on clichés from the Pan-Slavic repertoire to justify the Soviet invasion of Poland.35 After the German invasion on June 22, 1941, however, the Soviet government resorted to Pan-Slavic rhetoric in a massive way to mobilize its own population and the (occupied) states of Europe.36
The main focus was on the Western and Southern Slavs. Now, even the Poles, who had been regularly declared an "enemy nation" since 1920, stood side by side with Russia on the imagined frontlines against fascism. In September 1941, the Bulgarian Georgi Dimitrov (1882–1949) Chairman of the Communist International (Comintern), together with the writer Aleksandr Fadeev (1901–1956) arranged for the establishment of a Slavic committee consisting of a number of Soviet military and intellectuals and representatives of Slavic countries. From 1942, the magazine Slavjane ("The Slavs") published by Dimitrov also discussed the topics of Soviet Pan-Slavism.37
Setting the tone was the brochure Barba slavianskich narodov protiv germanskovo fašisma ("The Fight of the Slavic Peoples Against German Fascism") by Emel'jan Yaroslavsky (1878–1943) from the year 1941.38 It connected the Soviet Union to the Russian Empire by presenting both as Slavic powers with a Russian core. In this sense, Yaroslavsky also used the adjectives "Russian" and "Soviet" synonymously. In order to proclaim a "Slavic front against fascism", he instrumentalized the common culture and history which, in his opinion, connected the Russian people with "Czechoslovakians", Poles, Bulgarians and "Yugoslavs". For him, eastern, western, and southern Slavs were bound as a community by shared suffering and struggle.
In a similar way, the writer Vsevolod Ivanov (1895–1963) identified a continuous line between pre-communist and Bolshevik Russia in the newspaper Slavjane in 1944. He pointed out the historical legacy of the Russian people, who since the era of the national hero Aleksandr Nevskij (ca. 1220–1263) had to defend Slavic interests. For the period after the victory over fascism, he prophesied that the "Slavic brothers" in Europe would experience the historically necessary unification under the guardianship of Soviet Russia. Even the Georgian-born Stalin regularly appealed during the war to Slav solidarity in the fight against German fascism, often using Pan-Slavic slogans.39
The effectiveness of Pan-Slavic rhetoric in the Second World War cannot, however, be completely determined, especially since it varied from country to country. Nonetheless, its goal to mobilize people for war, both inside and outside the Soviet Union, is clear. In general, Soviet Pan-Slavism fit into the mode of thinking in ethnic categories that grew more prevalent under Stalinism in the 1930s. Thus, the renaissance of Pan-Slavist thought can be seen as part of the selective valorization of different relevant historical-political topoi from the Tsarist Empire. The Soviet Union's self-representation as a "Slavic great power" also coincided with the concept of the "People's Front", which the Comintern had pursued since the mid-1930s: Instead of the internationalist utopia, the agitation should emphasize the national mission.
In the mirror of the West – Pan-Slavism as a doomsday scenario in the 19th century
Although it was the Western Slavs of the Danube monarchy who in the first half of the 19th century propagated the idea of the Slavic community and forged Slavic unification plans, in non-Slavic-speaking Europe Pan-Slavist ideas were attributed to the Russian tsar. In numerous pamphlets, travelogues, and political treatises of this time, Russia was described as a barbarian and despotic Asian power that posed a threat to "civilized" Europe and its liberal culture. The menace of an expanding Tsarist Empire was summed up under the term "Russian Pan-Slavism". It was substantiated by the so-called "Will of Peter the Great", which supposedly contained expansion plans with regard to the Baltic, the Black Sea, Southeastern Europe, and the Levant.
Although the "Will" was a forgery of Polish, Hungarian, and Ukrainian provenance from the early 1700s, which was revealed 1828, it initially had a wide resonance. It was no coincidence that the French published the document, which had been stored in the archives of their foreign ministry since the 1760s, for the first time in 1812 – the year of the campaign of Napoleon Bonaparte (1769–1821) against Russia.40 Many British, whose already existing Russophobia increased sharply after Russia's impressive victory over Napoleon, also warned of the Pan-Slavic threat in anti-Russian pamphlets and appealed for a pre-emptive strike against the Tsarist Empire.41 After the brutal suppression of the Polish uprising in 1831 by the tsarist army, parts of the British public called for a war against the "Moscovite barbarians" and the "barbarian hordes of Russia".42
German nationalists, on the other hand, regarded Russian Pan-Slavism as one of the greatest obstacles on the path toward national unity and to territorial expansion eastwards. Friedrich List (1789–1846) drew up the first German imperialist plans around the 1830s. He envisaged a "Germanic-Magyar Eastern Empire", surrounded by the Black Sea, on the one hand, and the Adriatic Sea, on the other, that was animated by a "German and Hungarian spirit". To realize these plans, List believed that Russia needed to be dispensed with an obstacle.43 But other representatives of the liberal, German-minded bourgeoisie also combined their imperialism with a pronounced anti-(Pan)-Slavism around the revolutionary year of 1848. This attitude was also a topic of intense discussion at the German National Assembly of 1848 in Frankfurt am Main. Previously, the Pan-Slavists had categorically rejected incorporation into a Greater German Reich at their Slav Congress in Prague on June 2, 1848.
Friedrich Engels (1820–1895) also became involved in Pan-Slavism debate of the late 1840s. His assessment of the Russian threat not only coincided with that of the National Assembly, but also with the view of Karl Marx (1818–1883). Although Pan-Slavism did not develop "in Russia or in Poland, but in Prague and in Agram", and was originally the "alliance of all small Slavic nations and little nations of Austria". Engels saw a danger behind this concept that primarily emanated from Russia. According to him, "the direct purpose of Pan-Slavism" was "the creation of a Slavic empire from the Erz Mountains and the Carpathians to the Black, Aegean and Adriatic Seas under Russian dominion".44 Shortly before the outbreak of the First World War, the German public was finally convinced that the path to "world domination" went through eastern Europe and would necessitate a war against the Slavs.45
Who rules Byzantium? Panhellenism vs. Pan-Slavism in Southeast Europe
The same Pan-Slavic bogeyman also influenced the Greek proponents of the "restoration" of a Hellenic-dominated Byzantine Empire in Southeastern Europe. The outbreak of the Crimean War in 1853 unleashed a heated public debate in the kingdom of Greece, founded only in 1830, about Russia's role in the Balkans. One particular bone of contention concerned St. Petersburg's claim to function as the protective power of the Greek Orthodox millet46 of the Ottoman Empire. While the Russophile camp hoped to liberate southeastern Europe from the "Turkish yoke" with the help of the Tsar and to expand Greece to the north, the opposition saw this as a "Pan-Slavist threat" to Hellenic supremacy in the region. This gave rise to the conclusion in the pro-Western camp that the continued existence of the Ottoman Empire was not only desirable for Great Britain and France, but also for Greece. If the threat of the Pan-Slavic "Russian Deluge" should subside again, Bulgarians and Serbs as well as non-Slavic-speaking Albanians and Walachians could be expected to speak out in favor of a "new" Byzantine Empire under Greek domination.47
The Greek hostility towards Pan-Slavism, which was supposedly guided by Russia, increased tremendously in the following decades. One of the main reasons was the escalation of the Macedonian question, i.e. the conflict between Greeks, Bulgarians, and Serbs over the division of Macedonia, the central Balkan region under Ottoman rule. Further conflicts were stoked by the decision of the Sultan Abdülaziz (1830–1876)to comply with the Bulgarian demands for the foundation of an independent church organization in 1870, and the subsequent break of the newly founded Bulgarian Exarchate with the Constantinople Ecumenical Patriarchate.48 A telling illustration of what the Greek people thought of the Bulgarian emancipation from Greek influences, Russia's role in it, and the closely related Macedonian question is found in the book I Ellas kai o Panslavismos ("Greece and Pan-Slavism", 1869) by Vlasios Gavriilidis (1848–1920), the "father" of modern Greek journalism. The author here describes Russian Pan-Slavism as a "merciless enemy" of Greece, which had been working to destroy the new Greek state since its founding in the service of Russia.49
The Hungarians and the Romanians of the 19th century also feared the Pan-Slavic threat. In the case of the Hungarian nationalists, this was not only due to the strong South Slavic and Russian involvement in the suppression of the Hungarian uprising of 1848, but also to the Slovakian efforts to achieve independence after the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867. The Hungarian suspicion was aroused in particular by the Pan-Slavic plans of Czech and Slovak nationalists. From the beginning of the 20th century, they demanded the foundation of a Czechoslovak Union, either as a third state structure of equal standing alongside Austria and Hungary within a federalized Danube monarchy or even as an independent state.50 Especially in Upper Hungary, later Slovakia, the authorities registered increasing Pan-Slavic activity among Slovak nationalists from 1900 onwards.51
In Romania, on the other hand, the repeated Russian invasions in Bessarabia, the tsarist occupation of this province in 1806, and the annexation that followed in 1812 left behind deep scars. Especially traumatizing to Romanians were the Russians' violent excesses during the invasion of 1806. In 1860, Karl Marx painted a picture of the horrific events of 1806 in a report based on Romanian statements, written for the New York Tribune and never published:
There were cruel excesses, compulsory levies of all kinds, forced labor, theft, and murder ... Men and women were harnessed to wagons, and the Cossacks, who drove the wagons did not spare beating them with clubs. More than 30.000 Romanians were torn out of field work to serve as working cattle ... Never has there been a more cruel destruction. Massive looting and theft by officers, and barbarism by Russian soldiers.52
The case of Italy: imperial visions, Slavophobia, and the dispute over Trieste
In the second half of the 19th century, the competition with the Southern Slavs over Julian March also incited anti-Slavic fervor among Italian nationalists. Much like the Greek imperialists dream of a Byzantine empire, in the Kingdom of Italy, founded in 1861 there were aspirations of a future state of the size and strength of the ancient Roman empire. However, two obstacles stood in the way of the territorial expansion of Italy to Julian Veneto, which the Italian irredentists regarded as part of Italy in cultural, economic and political terms. The first was the Habsburg Empire, under whose rule the region stood; the second was the South Slavic population, which had inhabited the area for centuries and given birth to independent national movements since the late 1870s. For ardent supporters of Julian March's incorporation into Italy, such as the journalists of the nationalist Trieste newspaper Il Piccolo, the Slavs in the late 1870s were a "semi-barbarian peasant population" who, despite their "racial inferiority", posed a great threat to the Italian character of Istria. In particular, the Adriatic southern Slavs were accused of insidiously founding a "Pan-Slavist movement" to de-Italianize or Slavicize the northern Adriatic regions.53
When Trieste and the Istrian peninsula were incorporated into the Kingdom of Italy as a result of the First World War, Italy was confronted with the problem of having a large Slavic-speaking minority in the newly incorporated territories. In addition, the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, proclaimed in Belgrade in 1918, directly bordered these areas and supported irredentist organizations and exile associations of the Julian Slovenes and Croats. The seizure of power by Benito Mussolini's (1883–1945) fascists in 1922 resulted in the radicalization of the Italian slavofobia and the politics of the Italianizzazione forzata (forced Italianization). Rome sought to de-Slavify its Slovenian and Croatian citizens or to force their emigration by banishing Slavic from state institutions and schools, banning Slavic-language newspapers and books, Italianizing towns, squares, streets and Slavic-sounding names, and exerting economic pressure on Slavic peasant families and small landowners.54 The organization of Mussolini's "black shirts" in Trieste, whose fascism, according to the socialist contemporary Giovanni Zibordi (1870–1943) was predominantly "nationalist and anti-Slavic", also carried out terrorist attacks on the Slavic population. In September 1920, Mussolini himself stressed that "one must not pursue a policy of the carrot but of the stick against an inferior and barbaric race such as the Slavs".55
A new (ancient) bogeyman? The ghost of "Slavocommunism" on the Adriatic and Aegean Sea
At the time of the Second World War, fascist anti-Slavism was further radicalized in Italy, whose proponents increasingly identified the "Slavic enemy" with the "communist" enemy. This fusion of enemy images in Italy in the 1940s was blatantly reflected in the neologism "Slavocommunism" (slavocommunismo). This term referred specifically to the Slovenian and Croatian partisans of Marshal Josip Broz (1892–1980), known as Tito, in the Adriatic region, who wanted to expand into the Italian territory.56 According to Slovenian-communist ideas, a "united Slovenia" would indeed emerge after the end of the war within the framework of a socialist-federative Yugoslavia. Added to this would be also be areas west of the river Isonzo (Soča). For their part, the Croatian communists planned the future annexation of Istria by means of a Yugoslavian People's Republic Croatia. They announced this goal publicly only a few days after the Italian surrender to the Western Allies on September 8, 1943.57
Mussolini's northern Italian Repubblica Sociale Italiana (RSI) in particular tried to win (back) the Italian population for the fascist cause, especially in Julian March and on the Istrian peninsula. To this end, it invoked the "Slavic specter". Against this backdrop, "the foibe" from mid-1943 were characterized as a symbol of Slavocommunist cruelty. After Mussolini's removal from power in September/October 1943 and after the end of the German occupation in May/June 1945, Tito partisans executed and made disappear hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of actual and also supposed fascists in the sinkholes in the limestone of Istria and Trieste Karst.58
Due to Yugoslavia's Balkan policy aimed at a Greater South Slav Federation, the revival of anti-Pan-Slavic themes and rhetoric in the 1940s was not limited to fascist Italy. After Greece's liberation and during the period of occupation, the three-year civil war began between the communist and bourgeois camps (1946–1949). The anti-communists saw themselves as a "nationalist" because they spearheaded a supposedly "noble" struggle to save Hellenism from Slavization. According to the "nationalist" view, the struggle against "Slavocommunism" was not only about preserving the bourgeois-democratic system, but above all about the "survival" of the nation despite the onslaught of "two hundred million Slavs" who, under the leadership of the Soviet Union, were united in their ambition for access to the Mediterranean. This at least was how the opinion-leading and conservative Athenian newspaper I Kathimerini (The Daily) explained the causes of the "Greek tragedy" in March 1947.59
For the "nationalists", the interpretation of the "communist revolt" against the Athenian government was bolstered by the fact that the communist "Democratic Army of Greece" (DSE) was not only made up of "ethnic" Greeks, but also to a large extent of members of the South Slavic-speaking minority of the Greek Western Macedonia. Already during the period of occupation, the latter had formed into militant separatist organizations, which had propagated the separation of Aegean-Macedonia from Greece and its annexation to either the Bulgarian Pirin Macedonia or to the Yugoslavian Vardar Macedonia.
The foundation of the Yugoslav People's Republic of Macedonia in August 1944 also played an important role in the "Slavization" of the Greek Civil War. Tito's decision to establish the sixth constituent republic of the Yugoslav Federation on the territory of the former Serbian-Macedonian Vardar Banschaft was also based on hopes of expansion in the direction of the neighboring Greek or Aegean Macedonia and its port city Thessaloniki (Slavic: Solun). To the great irritation of Athens, Yugoslavia intervened in the Greek Civil War like no other communist country. It presented itself on behalf of its Macedonian constituent republic as the "fatherland" of the South Slavic-speaking population. At the Paris Peace Conference of 1946, it even officially demanded the annexation of Aegean Macedonia to the recently founded Yugoslav People's Republic of Macedonia.60
In fact, the DSE was mainly supported by Yugoslavia in its struggle against what Belgrade called Athens' "monarcho-fascism" and received little help from the Soviet Union.61 Nevertheless, the image of the Russian bogeyman, who had sought for a century to expel Hellenism from the Mediterranean regions, was revived in the anti-communist discourse of the civil war years by establishing a line of continuity between Russian and Soviet expansionist policies.62
Moreover, the national-conservative German-Carinthians of Austria were confronted with a Yugoslavian policy which amounted to the unification of all southern Slavs from the Adriatic Sea in the west to the Aegean Sea in the south and the Black Sea in the east. Slovenian revisionist efforts took hold after the majority of the Slovenian-speaking population of the Carinthian lowlands (the districts of Rosegg, Ferlach, Bleiburg, and Völkermarkt) voted in favor of remaining within Austria in a 1920 referendum.63 Cultural associations of Slovenian-Carinthian emigrants such as the club Koroških Slovencev (Club of Carinthian Slovenes) tried to protect their "compatriots" from the Carinthian government's policy of Germanization, and propagated the annexation of Klagenfurt along with Gorizia and Trieste to Slovenia.64 During the Nazi regime in Austria, especially in the course of the Second World War, the "national Slovenes" were deemed "overzealous" and "subversive". While they were deported, the remaining Slavic-speaking Carinthians were forcibly Germanized. Slovenian culturallife was almost completely suppressed.65
As in the case of Istria, Carinthian Slovenes, who had found refuge in Tito's partisan units, promoted the incorporation of their Lower Carinthian homelands into the new Communist People's Republic of Yugoslavia. In reaction to this, the National Socialists instrumentalized the idea of the Slavic "specter", especially in the final phase of the war. They underscored the significance of Carinthia as a 1.000 year old Germanic borderland and as a "faithful guard at Germany's southern border".66 The members of the Institut für Kärntner Landesforschung declared that the Slavs were threat to the "European race". As they explained it, in the 7th and 8th century the "Slavic part of the national body of Central Europe" had absorbed an unwelcome amount of the blood of "the yellow race" through close contact with the "Asian Avars" and had thereby become "alienated from the bloodline". A link to the present was established through the fabrication of the threat of "Asian Bolshevism", the fight against which a "united German people was leading under Adolf Hitler".67
Outlook: The "Pan-Slavic threat" after 1945
In contrast to the Soviet-dominated Eastern Bloc, where the political instrumentalization of Pan-Slavism markedly decreased after the Tito-Stalin Split of 1948,68 the Pan-Slavist bogeyman continues to resonate in some parts of non-Slavic-speaking Europe. In particular, it played a prominent role in the culture of remembrance of the nationalist victors of the Greek Civil War. For example, on the occasion of anti-communist commemorations (such as during the seven-year military dictatorship [1967–1974]), reference was repeatedly made to the Greek soldiers in the years 1946–1949 who stopped the "raging river from the red north", put an end to the "permanent Slavic subversion" of Greece, and destroyed once and for all the "deceitful plans of the Pan-Slavists".69
A decidedly anti-Slavic culture of remembrance lives on to this day even in the northwestern region of Italy Friuli Venezia Giulia, where the majority of the approximately 250.000 Italians from Istria and Dalmatia settled after the annexation by the communist Yugoslavia. This "anti-Slavic chauvinism" is largely perpetuated by the refugees from Istria, the so-called esuli, and their descendants, who grew up in a "family house full of hatred against the Slavs".70 This specifically regional culture of remembrance has meanwhile also influenced the discourse throughout Italy. In 2005, the government of Silvio Berlusconi (born 1936) resorted to anticommunist rhetoric and finally pronounced February 10 a national "day of remembrance" (giorno del ricordo) of the murders in the foibe as well as the Italian exodus from Istria and Dalmatia. The speech of the Italian President Giorgio Napolitano (born 1925) on the occasion of this day of remembrance in 2007 also strikingly demonstrates that the specter of Pan-Slavism has still not completely disappeared from today's collective memory of the Italian nation.71