Genocide Before the Holocaust

Cathie Carmichael

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November 7, 2009
256 pages, 234 x 156
16 b/w illus.
ISBN: 9780300121179
Cloth

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This innovative and ambitious work is a systematic examination of the many instances of genocide that took place in the late nineteenth and early twentieth-century centuries that were precursors to the Holocaust.

There is an appalling symmetry to the many instances of genocide that the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century world witnessed. In the wake of the break-up of the old Hapsburg, Ottoman and Romanov empires, minority populations throughout those lands were persecuted, expelled and eliminated. The reason for the deplorable decimations of communities - Jews in Imperial Russia and Ukraine, Ottoman Assyrians, Armenians and Muslims from the Caucasus and Balkans - was, Cathie Carmichael contends, located in the very roots of the new nation states arising from the imperial rubble. The question of who should be included in the nation, and which groups were now to be deemed ‘suspect’ or ‘alien’, was one that preoccupied and divided Europe long before the Holocaust.

Examining all the major eliminations of communities in Europe up until 1941, Carmichael shows how hotbeds of nationalism, racism and developmentalism resulted in devastating manifestations of genocidal ideology. Dramatic, perceptive and poignant, this is the story of disappearing civilizations - precursors to one of humanity’s worst atrocities, and part of the legacy of genocide in the modern world.

Cathie Carmichael is Senior Lecturer in Modern European History at the University of East Anglia. Her previous books include Ethnic Cleansing in the Balkans, Language and Nationalism in Europe and Slovenia and the Slovenes.

"Carmichael's fascinating and original work breaks new ground in charting the genesis of exclusionary thinking and violence.  The interdisciplinary approach is unmatched: any reader will gain new insights about how generations came to develop, understand and also resist mass killing."—Ben Lieberman, Fitchburg State University, author of Terrible Fate: Ethnic Cleansing and the Making of Modern Europe

"A powerful book. Marshalling a massive accumulation of empirical detail, Cathie Carmichael demonstrates a wonderfully perceptive eye for both the big picture and the telling detail." - Dan Stone, Royal Holloway, University of London

"Genocidal thought and action did not begin with the Nazis. Cathie Carmichael explores the eliminationist politics and the wider cultural ramifications of the collapse of European empires in the early twentieth century. For every ultra-nationalist advocate there were always others - public figures and ordinary folk alike - who stood up for decency, humanism, and friendship between peoples. This is a superb book." - Mark Levene, University of Southampton, author of The Meaning of Genocide

"Superbly combines political and cultural history to reveal the horrific scope of ethnic cleansing and genocide in the decades before the Second World War. It is an excellent corrective to many accounts of Europe's violent late-nineteenth- to early-twentieth-century crisis." - Donald Bloxham, author of The Great Game of Genocide

‘The book is impressive in its geographical and historical scope...Genocide before the Holocaust provides an informed, useful and insightful overview of ethnic and religious persecutions of minorities.’