The Soviet policy of ‘Ukrainization,’which was one of the instruments for creating a new political entity –the USSR, intensively used anti-imperial rhetoric. In Lenin’s approach, the Russian empire was nothing but ‘a prison of nations.’Simultaneously, the public discourse of interwar Czechoslovakia emphasized the difference from the imperial Austro-Hungarian (specifically Hungarian) national (including language) policies toward local Ruthenians / Ukrainians. However, the policy of ‘Ukrainization’ –referring to the same addressee –the Ruthenian / Ukrainian population of Podkarpatska Rus’ and Eastern Slovakia –offered a completely different way of post-imperial transition than the authorities or various political and cultural organizations in Czechoslovakia.
This paper proposes to think of‘Ukrainization’ as a factor of the domestic policy of interwar Czechoslovakia concerning the Ruthenian / Ukrainian language issue. In other words, Soviet ‘Ukrainization,’ even if not always explicitly mentioned, shaped to some extent the image of how the new post-imperial, post-Habsburg Czechoslovakia should look.
How did the anti-imperial rhetoric and the practices of the newly born Czechoslovak state, which (dis)continued the language policy towards the Ruthenians / Ukrainians of the late Habsburg Empire, interrelate or not? What influence did the Soviet policy of ‘Ukrainization’ have on this? How did the previous structures of thinking, which influence new approaches and practices of governance, preserveduring the radical change of political and state structures? How did the different experiences of empires and various ideas about what to do with these experiences intersect to shape the reality of interwar Central and Eastern Europe?