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The Battle Over Belarus: The Rise and Fall of the Belarusian National Movement, 1906-1931

  • Author / Creator
    Rudling, Per Anders
  • This
 study 
examines 
the
 rise 
and 
fall 
of 
the 
modern 
Belarusian
 national
movement
 during 
the
 quarter 
century
 between
 1906 ,
the
 year 
when 
the 
first
Belarusian 
paper
 appeared,
 until
 its
 demise
 around
 1931,
 as 
a 
result
 of
 political
 repression
 in 
the 
Soviet 
Union 
and 
Poland.
 It 
surveys
 the
 emergence 
of 
the 
modern
 concept 
of 
a 
Belarusian
nation,
 from
 the 
first 
steps 
towards
 national 
consolidation
 in
 the 
pre‐revolutionary 
era, 
through
 the 
energizing 
of
the 
national 
movement 
following
 the 
February
 Revolution 
and
 the 
German 
occupation, 
the 
Soviet 
experiments 
in 
nation 
building 
during
 the 
1920s.
 It 
analyses 
the 
difficulties 
linked
 to 
the 
establishment 
of 
Belarusian
 national
communism,
 let
 alone 
the 
modern,
 ethnic
 definition 
of 
nationality 
in 
an 
economically 
disadvantaged, 
and
relatively 
underdeveloped
 region. 
In
 Western
 Belarus, 
which 
was 
under 
Polish 
rule 
between
 1921
 and 
1939, 
the
peasantry 
was 
often 
alienated 
from
 the
 nationalist
 intelligentsia. 
In
 the 
BSSR
the 
local 
population 
often 
misunderstood 
the 
Soviet 
nationalities
 policies, 
resisting
 new
 and
 unknown 
taxonomies. 
The
 result 
of 
these
experimental
 policies 
were 
not 
what
 Moscow
 had 
expected. 
While 
the 
Soviet
nationalities
 policies, 
known 
as 
Belarusization
 came
 to 
exercise
 considerable 
attraction 
on
 the 
emerging 
national 
movement 
in 
Western
Belarus,
 in
 the 
BSSR 
they 
resulted 
in 
an
 increasingly 
independent leadership 
in
 Moscow. After Piłsudski’s coup d’état established authoritarian rule to Poland in 1926, the Soviet government became concerned about a Polish invasion. While the Belarusization had strengthened the nationally conscious elites in the republic, it had failed to generate support for Soviet rule. By 1929-1930, opposition to unpopular Soviet polices, such as the collectivization, brought the borderlands close to a popular uprising, which was followed by a crackdown on the national communists in Minsk. The purges of the elites in the BSSR were more thorough than in any other republic, leading to the demise of 90 per cent of the Belarusian intelligentsia. While the repression took different forms in Poland, from 1927 Piłsudski's sanacja regime banned, jailed and deported to the Soviet Union the leading Belarusian activists, and stepped up the attempts to Polonize Western Belarus. The national mobilization was interrupted. For the next six decades the Soviet Belarusian nation building was carried out from above, increasingly in the Russian language, and with little autonomy for the government in Minsk.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    2010-06
  • Type of Item
    Thesis
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/R38H75
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
    English
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
    Doctoral
  • Department
    • Department of History and Classics
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • David R. Marples (Department of History and Classics)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Elena Siemens (Department of Modern Languages and Cultural Studies)
    • Frances Swyripa (Department of History and Classics)
    • Timothy Snyder (Department of History, Yale University)
    • Dennis Sweeney (Department of History and Classics)
    • John-Paul Himka (Department of History and Classics)