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ethnic cleansing

Subject History

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1900-1999

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631209379.1999.x


The removal by force (by the dominant group) of all other ethnic groups from an area. The term was first used in the yugoslav civil war (1991–5) but the concept was not new. After the treaty of Lausanne (1923) a million Greeks left Turkey and 350,000 Turks were expelled from Greece. At the end of the Second World War ten million Germans fled or were expelled from Eastern Europe, particularly from the Sudetenland and Poland. gomulka's aim was to get rid of all Germans: 5.5 million fled and 1.7 million were killed, leaving a German minority in Poland today of 60,000. In what became Yugoslavia, Muslims, Croats and Serbs had lived together for over 500 years. All this changed when Croatia declared its independence in July 1991. Immediately the Serbs in Knin and Krajina declared their own independent state and began driving out Croats. The women and children were allowed to go free, the men were massacred, often after being tortured. The terror encouraged many to flee before they were attacked, so whole areas were ‘cleansed’, as half a million Croat refugees took to the road. When the war extended to Bosnia in 1992, ethnic cleansing became a characteristic of the conflict there. Serbs deliberately murdered the Muslim elite – lawyers, doctors, teachers – and were accused of the organized extermination of their opponents in concentration camps, in which many were executed and others ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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