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.