Journal article

Patrice M. Dabrowski (2020)

Reinforcing the border, reconfiguring identities: Polish initiatives in the Carpathians in the interwar period

Short title of the journal European Review of History: Revue européenne d'histoire
Number/Volume 27/6
Page references 847-865

ISSN: 1350-7486

Established in the wake of the First World War, the multiethnic Polish Second Republic was determined to secure its long southern border, formed by the Carpathian Mountains, which prior to the war had been the internal (porous) Habsburg frontier separating the province of Galicia from Hungary. The article presents a series of initiatives essentially emanating from the state (here, primarily the military authorities) in the 1930s. The initiatives were designed to turn the Carpathian highlanders across the breadth of the interwar Polish frontier into loyal Polish citizens while encouraging them both to retain their own local identity (as Hutsuls, Górale, Lemkos and others) and to consider themselves part of a larger Carpathian brotherhood (the latter defined within the borders of the Polish state). In other words, the authorities sought to capitalize on what they perceived to be national indifference on the part of many highlanders by making room for their local identities within a more broadly conceived heterogeneous state of regions, one that would win the allegiance of the highlanders, in that sense reinforcing the border.