Some days ago I read about the Huzulei, and I draw a perfect blank. I had absolutely no idea what this was or is. And I take a certain (hopefully innocent enough) pride in knowing something about the Hultschiner Ländchen (Ger., Eng.), ha !
The first thing that showed up in my head is “Binnenexotismus”. “Exotism” or “exoticism” understood as a European-centered point of view, as admiration, or fascination for or with “exotic” areas, landscapes, humans and their culture, understood to be of non-European origin, situated in far-away countries & continents. “Binnen” means as much as “within” or “domestic”, so “Binnenexotismus” is something that is “exotic”, but just around the corner. One could know about it.
But it was not just the fact that there is an area, a population, and hence a more or less independent culture within Europe, I never had heared about that vexed me, it is part of larger field I have no knowledge about – I have to reach back a bit to describe what it is all about.
I was always interested in history. I can not say when this started, maybe the stories my grandparents told about their youth, and “the olden times” in general stand at the start of this ongoing preoccupation with “what was”. For me “history” from the start was, and still is, lived human life, not an abstract operation, or ministry, of abstract “forces” ; it is life as it was, humans solving problems, getting on, more or less.
It started seriously in the last classes of gymnasium (secunda & prima), when we were happy enough to choose our subjects by ourselves. I was in one of the first years of the “reformierte Oberstufe”. I choose “History” and “Latin” as majpr subjects (“Hauptfächer”), in retrospect I should have voted for English. Sadly I never had a chance to learn even the basics of a Slavic language, Polish would have been a good choice.
The last two years were divided into semesters, and for each semester we could choose a topic, within a given frame. History of the Third Reich was a given, of course. We also choose the history of the “Deutsche Reich” from 1871 onwards, something I was not happy about, because it meant social and economic history, hence a lot of statistics, numbers, and I am terribly bad at numbers. The second topic was “War & Peace”, and we looked at the German wars in the 19th century, WWI and WWII – how did they start, how did they end etc. The last topic to choose should involve some non-European culture, it could be basically anything from Africa to South America, Russia or the US – we choose Japan, it was facinating.
At the university I heared , among other stuff, “Modern History”, and WWI was one of the themata in my oral exam, I did not do too well, but survived.
To make a long story short, I really believed that I would “know” something about WWI. This idea showed the first cracks after 1989, when the Serbian madness started, and all of a sudden the EU was at war. And not only me, but a lot of people understood that in “the East”, “the Balcans” especially, a lot of problems had survived the Cold War that had their origin in the end of WWI – think of all these borders that were drawn at the proverbial “green table”.
I finally understood that I had (and still have) a big blind spot regarding WWI, when I read an article that mentioned a decisive battle, at a place I not even could pronounce, Przemyśl (Ger., Eng.). (Good luck trying, use the wikipedia thingy. I was taught it by a Polish speaking person only recently.)
So I was very happy when I finally had the means to buy the two volume work by Polish historians Włodzimierz BORODZIEJ (Ger., Eng. Pol.) and Maciej GÓRNY (Pol.) titled Der vergessene Weltkrieg. Europas Osten 1912-1923, Darmstadt 2018, zuerst : Nasza Wojna, 2016 (The forgotten Worldwar. Europe’s East 1912-1923). This is the master narrative of that war in the East, long overdue, very useful.
The story of the Huzulei is a margin in all what happened in those years, a typical one, but excuse me I am too tired now. And no, this is not a “cliff-hanger”, I really am too tired, and there is absolutely nothing special about

6 thoughts on “G’schicht’l

  1. Oh, dear… History and geography were (and still are) never my strong points. They didn’t really even come as high up the scale as to be weak points! Eastern Europe and West Asia is just a confusing array of countries, the names of which I recognise, but couldn’t even begin to point to on a map (and wars and politics are even further over my head). And I was only ever interested in ancient Greek and Egyptian history – and Dinosaurs!
    If any of these wars featured armies riding into battle on the backs of stegosauruses, then I might be of some use. However, I suspect they didn’t, so anytime you feel that you are ignorant of some historical/political point, just think of me to make yourself feel better.

  2. I was an A grade Humanities student – but Humanities covers an awful lot of things, in a vague way – and you know how good I am at vague! Humanities covers History and Geography, so in theory I should be good at these subjects, but I’m not. My Grandfather fought in WWI, but I believe it was such an awful experience that he never spoke about it.
    I enjoy reading about modern, and personal history. I’m also interested in the history of shoes. I am someone Mr Devine can think of to make himself feel better about general ignorance.

  3. I know more about Geograpghy and World History than most Americans, but that’s only because the bar is set low. Ha,ha,ha. I never thought about Poles or Poland until recently when I read a book about a man’s experience escaping a Russian Guluag. It was only throu his narrative that I came to understand the Polish had been put in an impossible position at the time. Maybe you can find a copy in German. Of course, there is one random American in the story too, because that’s how we are, popping up in the most random of places. The book is: The Long Walk Home By Slavomir Rawicz.

  4. Notoriously disoriented these Poles. Maybe Rawitz wanted just some matches from the kiosk at the corner, but noo, Tibet, India, whatnot …

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