Wars and Betweenness

Big Powers in Middle Europe, 1918-1945
$65.00 / €59.00 / £53.00
Publication date: 
240 pages

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.

Cluster 1. Balancing (out) of Power.
• The Anatomy of an Attempt to Create a Sphere of Influence: French Policy towards Central and Eastern Europe in the 1920s
• Dealing with a "17 Stone Germany": British Foreign Policy towards Danubian Europe, 1936–1939
Cluster 2. Bordering.
• France and the Problem of the Borders of Poland, 1919–1923: The Province of Posen, Danzig, Upper Silesia and Vilnius
• Transylvania and the Soviet Foreign Policy towards Romania and Hungary, 1941–1945
Cluster 3. Putting out fire with gasoline.
• Establishing French Control over the Oil Fields of Eastern Galicia, 1918–1923
• Diplomacy and Petroleum: Italy's fight for Albanian oilfields, 1920–1925
Cluster 4. Self-determination?
• Breaking up the Fortress on the Danube? German policy towards Slovakia and Ruthenia, 1919–1933
• Italy's Defence of Austrian Independence, 1918–1932
Cluster 5. Culturing and Perceiving.
• Italian Cultural Diplomacy in Central Europe and the Balkans in 1918–1945
• Japanese Interwar Perceptions of Germany