Omer Bartov: Wartime Lies and Other Testimonies. Jewish-Christian Relations in Buczacz, 1939–1944
Omer Bartov Brown University Wartime Lies and Other Testimonies Jewish-Christian Relations in Buczacz, 1939–1944 I The borderlands of Eastern Europe were sites of interaction between a multiplicity of ethnic and religious groups. For city- and town-dwellers, as much as for villagers, living side by side with people who spoke a different lan- guage and worshipped God differently was part of their own way of life and that of their ancestors. Ethnicity and religion often also meant a different position within the socioeconomic scale and thus differentiation, bringing with it resent- ment and envy, status and wealth, poverty and subjugation. As new national nar- ratives began to supplement the old religious and social differentiation between groups, they also provided a new retrospective meaning to the past and a new ur- gency about mending the present in a manner that would conform to the per- ceived historical rights and correct former injustices. In the national movements’ fantasy, the future belonged to them, or not at all. Past coexistence, which had been the norm, with all its benefits and shortcomings, friction and cooperation, as well as occasional outbursts of violence, came to be seen as unnatural, as a problem to be solved, often by radical social surgery. Cutting off unwanted, seemingly malignant, and allegedly foreign elements would, it was said, enable the newly discovered and supposedly eternal national body to thrive. It is, however, exceedingly difficult to understand and analyze how this transformation occurred on the ground and how it was perceived...
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