August 20, 2020
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v2.1 Reference

Wars and Betweenness

Big Powers and Middle Europe, 1918-1945

The region between the Baltic and the Black Sea was marked by a set of crises and conflicts in the 1920s and 1930s, demonstrating the diplomatic, military, economic or cultural engagement of France, Germany, Russia, Britain, Italy and Japan in this highly volatile region, and critically damaging the fragile post-Versailles political arrangement. The editors, in naming this region as "Middle Europe" seek to revive the symbolic geography of the time and accentuate its position, situated between Big Powers and two World Wars.

The ten case studies in this book combine traditional diplomatic history with a broader emphasis on the geopolitical aspects of Big-Power rivalry to understand the interwar period. The essays claim that the European Big Powers played a key role in regional affairs by keeping the local conflicts and national movements under control and by exploiting the region's natural resources and military dependencies, while at the same time strengthening their prestige through cultural penetration and the cultivation of client networks.

The authors, however, want to avoid the simplistic view that the Big Powers fully dominated the lesser players on the European stage. The relationship was indeed hierarchical, but the essays also reveal how the "small states" manipulated Big-Power disagreements, highlighting the limits of the latters' leverage throughout the 1920s and the 1930s.

About the Authors

Bojan Aleksov is Associate Professor in South-East-European History at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London.

Aliaksandr Piahanau obtained his PhD from the Toulouse University, and was an associate researcher at the Padova University and the Slovak Academy of Sciences. His expertise covers modern international relations and politics in Central and Eastern Europe. He is the editor of Great Power Policies in Central Europe, 1914–45 (e-International Relations Publisher, 2018).


"In compiling these essays, the editors aimed to gain concrete case studies on how the post-war treaties failed in Central Europe. How, although filled with Wilsonian idealism, the realities and effects of the treaties lead to a continuation of the great power politics which has plagued Europe for centuries and directly lead to the Second World War, which officially was declared over the Polish Corridor and Danzig (now Gdansk), the existence of which was hypocrisy considering the idealistic goal of 'self-determination'"—Kamil Jaronczyk, Visegrad Insight


"A powerful, imaginative, and timely account of the struggle of small states and national minorities threatened by the ambitions of great powers in a period of crisis."—Robert Gildea

"This important collection of essays shows the range of ways in which the Great Powers intervened in central European politics between 1918 and 1945. In particular, it demonstrates the links between transnational politics (manifest in cultural institutes, business enterprises, etc.) and great power competition, showing how such transnational relations facilitated the pursuit of the classic goals of power politics—security, territorial expansion, and military power. By drawing together a rich range of case studies, Wars and Betweenness breaks new ground and offers an important contribution to our understanding of not just the region, but of the conduct of international politics in the twentieth century as a whole."—William Mulligan

"Its interdisciplinary approach and focus on lesser known case studies makes Wars and Betweenness a welcome addition to the scholarship on the region, one that combines a more traditional diplomatic history approach with a broader emphasis on entanglements and the spatial-geopolitical aspects of Great Power rivalry. With its explicit focus on "Middle Europe" as a significant area of Great Power politics between the wars, the volume reassesses the significance of minor and marginal players in the context of the post-war settlement and contributes to recent debates on the "in-between-ness" of the space in question." —Andrei Cusco

9789633863350 : wars-and-betweenness-aleksov-piahanau
240 Pages
$65.00 USD

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