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Mitteleuropa: typologische Annäherungen an einen schwierigen Begriff aus der Sicht der Geographie

"Mitteleuropa": typological approaches to a difficult terminism from the geographical point of view
[journal article]

Schenk, Winfried

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Abstract The term "Mitteleuropa" has experienced a general renaissance since the mid-1970s and since the mid-1980s there has been a lively discussion again in geographic circles. It is constantly marked by a vagueness of the spatial relevance and creates for the author the opportunity to follow the changes in meaning of the term. This ist done from a typological view which roughly retains the chronology of the discussion from its first mention in 1808 up until the present. Before 1918 the location of Germany in the centre of Europe was considered precarious as it was subject to attacks by enemy states. The drafts of Central Europe made in the Wilhelminian era revolved, therefore, in its spatial expansion around a German-Austrian-Hungarian nucleus with the aim of expanding the German remains of the empire of 1871 under the leadership of Prussia, without Austria, economically and in political power. Germany's and Austria's policy after 1918 was marked by the attempt at revising the Versailles and related treaties. Structural "Mitteleuropa" concepts, which aimed at determining German settlements and cultural space, gained in importance. These ideas were interpreted aggressively and militarily by Hitler's fascist lebensraum ideology. The Mitteleuropa concept was therefore disavowed after the second World War. Nevertheless, the term continued to be used after 1945 less historically and methodologically to define the European regions. During these years there were an increasing number of concepts to define Mitteleuropa as an on-going acculturation process over 1,000 years which is revealed in a historic-geographical spatial analysis. The discussion on the term starting in the mid-1970s, mainly in the successor countries to the Danube monarchy, did not aim at a geographically designated central Europe but was an appeal to a regionalistic and across-block world picture and feeling moulded by humanistic ideas. With reference to a common central European history and culture Mitteleuropa is used by the states formerly belonging to the east block as a claim to rapid integration in the European Union and Nato. In view of the multi-layered content and the political burden of the term the author pleads for its de-spatialization. Mitteleuropa describes mainly people who think and feel "mitteleuropäisch" in very many different ways. There is a great number of such people in the following states: Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Poland, Slovenia, Germany and the Italian regions Friaul and south Tirol, Switzerland, in the Baltic states as well as in Croatia, the Slowakian Republic and west Ukraine.
Keywords Europe; Central Europe; geopolitics; technical language; Germany; historical development; zone; national border; identity; European integration; regional policy; EC; EU
Classification Area Development Planning, Regional Research; Natural Science and Engineering, Applied Sciences
Document language German
Publication Year 1995
Page/Pages p. 25-36
Journal Europa Regional, 3.1995 (1995) 4
ISSN 0943-7142
Status Published Version; reviewed
Licence Deposit Licence - No Redistribution, No Modifications