Philip Wilson Lyon
- Doctoral Candidate
- University of Maryland, College Park
Ethnic Germans and Identity in Interwar Yugoslavia: How Yugoslavia’s Largest Minority Became Nationally Conscious
The 1918 establishment of Yugoslavia occasioned profound shifts and crises of identity for the country’s 550,000 ethnic Germans. These ethnic Germans were Yugoslavia’s largest minority and came to national consciousness just as the South Slavic state sought to consolidate itself. The ethnic Germans for the first time became aware of themselves not merely as ethnically German but also as integral members of a larger national community. The rise of National Socialism in Germany prompted redefinitions of this nascent German identity in the 1930s. Even as national consciousness was developing among Yugoslavia’s Germans, the very essence of that consciousness was challenged by rivals who sought to define German nationalism differently and thereby legitimize their own right to leadership of the German community. This project traces the evolution of German identity and "minority nationalism" in Yugoslavia with special attention to national festivals, monuments, and art exhibitions in Slavonia, and Vojvodina.