West Central Europe

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

West Central Europe is a large region of Central Europe that can only be defined vaguely and can be interpreted as West Central Europe , but is also used in other meanings. The counterpart to West Central Europe is East Central Europe . The pair of terms emerged from the beginning to the middle of the 20th century and was mainly shaped by the historical and regional studies of the Polish historian Oskar Halecki .

While the term East Central Europe is still very much in use today, the term West Central Europe is less common among scientists. In the western half of Europe it was up to the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989/90 in language largely Central Europe equated itself.

Development of the term

Territorial division of Central Europe between 1871 and 1918
Territorial division of Central Europe between 1919 and 1937

Towards the end of the 18th century , Europe was gradually categorized into large regions from the point of view of common or related identity and culture. The Germans and their culture took on a prominent position in Central Europe that they considered incontestable. In the 19th century , this dominance led to efforts on the part of Czech and Hungarian authors to establish an independent Central European concept for themselves, but without lasting success.

As a result of territorial shifts due to the First and Second World Wars , the original definition of the term Central Europe was no longer acceptable for some historians and a new concept had to follow. In 1950, in his work The Limits and divisions of European history , Halecki published the West-Central and East-Central Europe, which he largely defined. In addition, he made remarks on the major regions of Eastern Europe, in his view synonymous with Russia or the Soviet Union , as well as Western Europe. Its definitions are considered to be the most lasting result of several debates on the topic of Eastern European history at various international congresses of historians, especially the 1923 congress in Brussels and 1934 in Warsaw. Whereas Halecki's idea of ​​East Central Europe was caught between West Central Europe and Eastern Europe, he defined West Central Europe as Germany and Austria . He has not set any clearly defined boundaries between the large areas that cannot be changed through history. Rather, he linked the expansion of West Central Europe to the expansion of the area of ​​East Central Europe, which was politically weak for a long time. Depending on how the pressure from the west or from the east affects East Central Europe, the borders shift.


While the term East Central Europe is often used in the professional world and is the subject of lively, extensive research , the term West Central Europe has received little attention since its introduction until today. Not very successful was z. B. 1992 the attempt to break down the structure defined by Halecki through the publication West Central Europe - East Central Europe: Comparisons and Relationships. Popular publication for Ferdinand Seibt on his 65th birthday . Some scientists even vehemently deny the existence of the pair of terms West-Central Europe - East-Central Europe. Lonnie R. Johnson mentions the fact that, in the 1970s, Hungarian economic historians in particular began to use the term East Central Europe in order to achieve a linguistic separation from the Soviet Union as one possible reason why West Central Europe did not prevail, in contrast to his counterpart . For Austrian, German and Czech historians, on the other hand, it was inconceivable during the Cold War and the resulting East-West division of Europe to split Central Europe into an East and a West. This view is maintained by some art historians even after the end of the Cold War: The general subdivision of Central Europe is not appropriate, since until 1945 German culture extended far to the east due to numerous settlement areas .

Further use of the term

Deviating from the original meaning according to Halecki, the term West Central Europe is also used for other geographical units, for example in the geography map collection of the Augsburg University Library for the states of the Netherlands , Belgium and Luxembourg .