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Locating Germanness: Bukovina and Bukovinians after the Second World War

Fisher, GC; (2015) Locating Germanness: Bukovina and Bukovinians after the Second World War. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London).

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The National Socialist regime’s policies of discrimination, territorial expansion and genocide, and their immediate consequences, radically transformed the demographic, geographic and political map of Europe. These historical circumstances also lastingly recast what it meant to be German. The violence of these events was such that it reverberates across generations until the present. Yet if German nationalism was discredited by the defeat of Hitler, the war also seemed to confirm the necessity of a convergence between peoples and state borders. In addition, the legacies of violence perpetuated the distinction between overwhelmingly Jewish victims and German perpetrators. This thesis explores the development of a variety of constructions and uses of Germanness in the aftermath of World War Two. It is based on the case study of Bukovina, a former province of the Habsburg Empire regarded as both an ‘island of Germanness’ and a model of ‘peaceful coexistence among peoples’. Until the Second World War, the historical territory of Bukovina was home to a significant minority of German-speaking Jews, and self-defining ethnic Germans. After 1945, many of these German-speaking Bukovinians developed a nostalgic and quasi-diasporic relationship to this homeland, epitomised by the creation of Landsmannschaften (homeland societies) in Germany and Israel. This thesis explores the complexities of these Bukovinian identities in different and changing post-war contexts, primarily West Germany, but also former East Germany, Romania and Israel. It argues that these narratives and enactments influenced each other, but also need to be related to the larger post-war categories of ‘expellees’ (Heimatvertriebene) and ‘Holocaust survivors’ in particular. Adopting a socio-cultural approach and taking Bukovina as a site of interaction of different discourses on Germanness in the post-war period, this thesis challenges the direct link often posited between experience, identification and national frameworks of understanding. Instead, it emphasises the importance of ‘belonging’, ‘compensation’ and ‘coherence’.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Locating Germanness: Bukovina and Bukovinians after the Second World War
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > SELCS
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1461387
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