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  • louise
    Chapter VII DISRUPTED CENTRAL EUROPE Between the open plains of Northern Europe and the broken mountain country of the Balkan Peninsula lies the great inland
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 1, 2005
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      Chapter VII

      DISRUPTED CENTRAL EUROPE

      Between the open plains of Northern Europe and the broken mountain
      country of the Balkan Peninsula lies the great inland basin of the
      Danube. The Danube river-basin is the heart of Central Europe. It
      is a well-defined geographical area. Bounded on every side by
      highlands or mountain-ranges, it possesses a distinct general
      unity. Internally, however, the Danube basin is divided into two
      portions of unequal size. The smaller western portion is mainly
      hilly or mountainous country; the larger eastern portion is a vast
      plain.
      Nature thus seems to have designed the Danube basin to be
      politically either one nation or two nations in more or less
      intimate association. That has, in fact, been the tendency during
      much of its history - a tendency which was fairly well realized in
      the "Dual" Empire of Austria-Hungary. But the recent break-up of
      that empire at the close of the late war reveals dramatically the
      presence of other factors hostile to the geographical trend. If the
      Danube basin had been isolated by more inaccessible barriers,
      political unity would probably have been a certainty. The Danube
      basin, however, lies in the heart of Europe, and its natural
      boundaries, while well defined, have not been sharp enough to keep
      out penetration from all sides. The result has been a confused
      series of invasions, conquests, and settlements which have overlaid
      natural unity with human diversity. Instead of being inhabited by
      one or, at most, two races, building up a home-made culture and
      political organization, the Danube basin has been a battle-ground of
      diverse stocks, streaming in from different directions and seeking
      either to conquer their rivals or to annex their particular part of
      the Danube basin to homelands lying beyond its natural frontiers.
      These conflicts of race, language, and nationality have disrupted
      the half-formed political unity of the Danube basin more than once
      in the past, and they have just done it again. The peace treaties
      which closed the late war shattered the Dual Empire of Austria-
      Hungary and remade the Danube basin into a political crazy-quilt,
      with frontiers running in defiance of geography and economics, and
      only imperfectly corresponding even to those divisions of language
      and nationality which were the excuse for making the new borders.

      Lothrop Stoddard, 'Racial Realities in Europe' [pp145-6]
      London, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1924.

      Lest we forget, the exacting science of geography bears its own
      significance, in the dramas of human life, and most certainly in
      those supremely important sideshows, politics and economics.

      Louise
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