Ethnic Cleansing

Philipp Ther

in The Oxford Handbook of Postwar European History

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199560981
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

 Ethnic Cleansing

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  • History
  • European History
  • Contemporary History (Post 1945)
  • Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing


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One can define ethnic cleansing as a mass-scale, violent, and permanent removal of an ethnically defined group from one territory to a perceived external homeland. Deportations within a state were special in this regard because there was no vision of an external territory to which the cleansed population would be sent. It still needs to be explored why some states treated deported minorities worse than other states treated their supposed external enemies. This article examines the origins and three preconditions of ethnic cleansing: modern nationalism, the concept of the modern nation-state, and the development of population policy. It also discusses four major periods of ethnic cleansing: 1912–1925, ethnic cleansing under the hegemony of Nazi Germany (1938–1944), ethnic cleansing and the postwar order in Europe (1944–1948), and ethnic cleansing in Yugoslavia (1991–1995).

Keywords: ethnic cleansing; Europe; deportations; minorities; nationalism; nation-state; population policy; Nazi Germany; postwar order; Yugoslavia

Article.  11335 words. 

Subjects: History ; European History ; Contemporary History (Post 1945) ; Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing

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