Antonio Ferrara

Modernities RevisitedIWM Junior Visiting Fellows’ Conferences, Vol. XXIX
© 2011 by the authors
Readers may redistribute this article to other individuals for noncommercial
use, provided that the text and this note remain intact. This article may not
be reprinted or redistributed for commercial use without prior written permission
from the author. If you have any questions about permissions, please contact
Klaus Nellen at IWM.
Preferred citation: Ferrara, Antonio. 2011. Beyond Ethnic Cleansing:
Demographic Surgery in European History. In: Modernities Revisited, ed. M. Behrensen,
L. Lee and A. S. Tekelioglu, Vienna: IWM Junior Visiting Fellows’ Conferences,
Vol. 29.

Beyond Ethnic Cleansing:
Demographic Surgery in European History[1]

Antonio Ferrara

Ethnic cleansing is generally recognized as a major feature of modern European
history, especially of the extremely violent first half of the 20th century.[2] While
this is certainly a plausible description, this is only a part of a bigger
story: in this short essay, I will argue that ethnic cleansing was just one
of the many possible occurrences of a phenomenon which I am going to call “demographic
surgery” – which I define as the category-based removal of whole
segments of a population from a given territory. As we will see, demographic
surgery could also be carried out according to non-ethnic criteria, and it
had some very significant consequences and implications which are often overlooked.

The historical record shows us that “nationalizing” states have
not been the only ones to carry out policies of “ethnic cleansing,” that
is, the forced migration and/or mass killing of large numbers of people identified
on ethnic grounds.[3] Non-national states,
based on a dynastic or ideological allegiance, have done the same, and the
history of the Soviet Union especially in Stalin’s era is a case in point.
So, the drive toward ethnic homogeneity – which is considered the basic
explanation of ethnic cleansing according to most of the literature on the
subject – has not been the only reason for ethnic cleansing.[4] The
latter has also been motivated by state security concerns, sometimes driven
by the interaction between states and internal minority groups, especially
when the latter were perceived to have cross-border connections with other
(rival, if not enemy) states, and/or by the suppression of resistance to imperial
rule and/or foreign colonisation . Finally, the role of social conflicts, in
areas with overlapping social and ethnic divides, needs to be acknowledged
as an important concomitant cause of episodes of demographic surgery.

However, policy objectives comparable to the ones outlined above have also
prompted policies entailing (either as an instrument or an outcome, sometimes
unintended but rarely unforeseen) the massive displacement, and sometimes the
killing, of populations identified on non-ethnic grounds.[5] This,
perhaps, would be in itself reason enough to speak about “forced migration” rather
than ethnic cleansing, just as some scholars prefer now to use the term “mass
killing” instead of genocide in order to include cases in which the victims
were selected on non-ethnic or non-racial grounds.[6] Thus
ethnic cleansing should be seen as only one among many phenomena, of which
the common denominator is the removal of populations identified according to
specific markers, in order to achieve specific goals of social engineering
(defined in a broad sense). I call this phenomenon demographic surgery, in
order to stress its “excisionary” dimension and the removal of
allegedly “harmful” segments of population from the societal body,
carried out with invasive and ultimately violent means .[7] In
20th-century Europe, demographic surgery was usually the result of policies
aiming at one or more of the following objectives:

  • Repression.  In this case, groups are “excised” in
    order to remove a perceived security threat (as in the case of Germans and
    Jews in Tsarist Empire during World War I, or of “diaspora nationalities” residing
    in Soviet borderlands under Stalin) or to suppress an actual threat, e.g.
    an armed insurgency (as in the case of Nazi and Soviet deportations of “bandits”,
    i.e. partisans, and their “accomplices” during and after World
    War II).
  • Dispossession.  In this case, people are forced to migrate
    in order to seize their assets, or they leave after being dispossessed, or
    because they are afraid they will be expropriated.
  • Colonization.  In this case, people are forced to migrate
    either to make room for incoming colonists or to be themselves settled on
    a land which is sparsely populated or has previously been vacated of its
    population. Nazi deportations in occupied Poland in 1939-41 are a case in
    point: Poles and Jews were removed in order to make room for ethnic German
    refugees from Soviet-annexed lands (who were not allowed to settle where
    they wished, but were instead sent either to Germany or to occupied Poland
    by the Nazi authorities).
  • Purification.  In this case, people are forced to migrate
    in order to expel “alien” elements from a society, in order to “purify” it
    and bring it closer to an ideal of “homogeneity” (usually of
    ethnic or racial character).

The last case is clearly one in which is possible to speak of ethnic cleansing;
this, however, should then be considered as just one subset – although
a very important one – of a wider set of similar policies in the service
of the above-mentioned objectives. Those objectives can also be pursued through
more violent means, i.e. the mass killing of the targeted population: this,
in turn, might be considered as a more radical form of “demographic surgery”,
not surprisingly favoured by more radical regimes, especially totalitarian
ones.[8] Violence is, however, always necessary – although
to different degrees – in order to coerce the targeted population into
leaving its homeland and belongings by instilling fear, forcing compliance
and/or punishing those who resist; and the process of displacement, as well
as its aftermath, can be a deadly one in and of itself.[9] People
may also prefer to escape rather than submit to policies of repression,
dispossession, colonization or purification (especially when these are pursued
through mass killings). Even in this case, the resulting forced migrations
should then be considered as a result of the policies in question, albeit as
a sometimes unintended and/or partly unwanted consequences of them.

In some cases episodes of mass killing and/or forced migration resulted from
policies aiming at more than one of the objectives mentioned above; sometimes
the same groups were targeted for different reasons in different historical
moments, even within a relatively short span of time. For example, the Rumi (i.e.,
the Greek Orthodox inhabitants of Anatolia) were affected by policies of dispossession – in
order to create a Muslim “national economy” – and colonization – aimed
at settling Muslim refugees in their villages – as early as 1913-14.
Some were expelled, while others responded to those policies by fleeing Anatolia.
Others were deported during World War I, in order to “clear” the
coastal regions from allegedly “unreliable” elements and remove
a potential threat to the security of the Ottoman empire. Finally, after the
Greek-Turkish war of 1919-22, they were expelled en masse as part
of an episode of mutual ethnic cleansing (which involved also the forced migration
of a number of Muslims residing in Greece), which aimed to “cleanse” Anatolia
from its last large Christian minority.[10]

Categories of victims

Demographic surgery is characterized by its being a policy aimed at whole categories of
people that are singled out as “dangerous” or “harmful”;
its victims are not persecuted individually, but rather en masse and
often on grounds of prevention rather than retribution. Even if the measure
is conceived (or justified) as a collective punishment, it is usually administered
through executive rather than judicial decisions – a fact that can have
significant legal and political implications. Thus the criteria used to select
the categories of victims are of the utmost importance to the understanding
of demographic surgery. Here it is important to stress that demographic surgery need
to be carried out along ethnic lines – although this has happened
on many occasions, especially but not only in the pursuit of policies of colonization
and purification. Political and social criteria have often been used to single
out the victims of policies of repression and dispossession. Soviet “decossackization” policies
in 1919-1920, for instance, were aimed at an entire social group which was
deemed politically hostile; Cossacks were a soslovie (social estate)
rather than an ethnic group, and it was mostly land ownership (and other special
rights bestowed on them by the state as a reward for military service) that
distinguished them from the other peasants. Later, the “dekulakization” of
the early 1930s repeated the pattern of “decossackization” on a
much larger scale.[11] Later Soviet deportations
from territories annexed during and immediately after World War II targeted
instead real or presumed political enemies (often identified, in theory at
least, according to their social origin); wartime Nazi Germany did the same
in most occupied territories, including those of Western Europe.[12] Those
measures were not a new phenomenon, since ancient empires – the Assyrian
empire is the best example here – had used similar measures against their
opponents; their comparably larger scale in modern times was at same time an
outcome and a sign of the politicization of the masses which had taken place
since the French Revolution.[13]

Nevertheless some qualifications are needed. E thnic cleansing could result
from the above-mentioned policies even when it was not the actual goal of the
perpetrators – especially in the peculiar environment of the region stretching
between today’s Austria and Germany to the west, Russia to the east,
and Turkey to the south, which I will call for short “Middle Europe.” This
area was in fact characterized by overlapping ethnic and social divides or,
more precisely, by the fact that the social divides could alsobe
construed as national ones (this indeed happened in many cases).[14] The
struggle for social emancipation could thuseasily assume nationalistic overtones
and, to use the words of a Ukrainian Bundist leader named Moshe Rafes, where “the
lord [pomeš?ik] was
Russian or Polish, and the banker, the industrialist and the merchant were
very often Jew… ‘Enough with the lords’ could easily be
translated as “enough with the Poles, the Muscovites and the Jews” [get’ ljaxov,
get’ moskalej, get’ žydov

This meant that even measures of repression or dispossession aimed at social
or political groups – and thus in theory nationally “color-blind”,
that is, aimed to people of a certain social standing or political belief,
regardless of their ethnicity– could end up targeting
one national group more than others and degenerate into ethnic cleansing, or
be perceived as such by its victims, especially when mass involuntary migration
was either an instrument or an outcome of such policies. In Istria and Dalmatia
after the Second World War, repressions against “fascists”, “collaborators” and
the “bourgeoisie” – enforced all over Yugoslavia – targeted
mainly Italian-speaking people, who abandoned their homes en masse when
Yugoslav state power took root and Yugoslavs began to perceive themselves as
the victims of ethnic persecution.[16] Similarly
in 1940-41, Soviet policies of “class cleansing” (to use Victor
Zaslavsky’s term) in western Ukraine and Belarus ended up disproportionately
harming Poles and Jews.[17]

Even when the main goal was the removal of a population identified on ethnic
grounds with the aim of building a “homogeneous” nation-state,
other factors could enter the equation. The expulsion of Germans from post-WWII
Poland and Czechoslovakia, for instance, was also part of a “purge” against
those who had collaborated with the occupators, conducted on a political basis.[18] Religion also played a role, at least as a key marker of “ethnic” identity.[19] For
instance, Greek-speaking Muslims would be expelled from Greece into Turkish-ruled
Anatolia in 1922- 23 in exchange for Turkish-speaking Orthodox Christians from
the same land, who were forced outside the borders of the newly-born Turkish
republic and sent to the Greek kingdom.[20] Religion
was even one of the factors determining someone’s race according to the
Nuremberg Laws, which stated that “A Jew is anyone who is descended from
at least three grandparents who are racially full Jews” (art. V, paragraph
1), but also that “a grandparent shall be considered as full-blooded
if he or she belonged to the Jewish religious community” (art. II, paragraph
2) .[21] It is in fact striking how much
religious diversity has been wiped out from the European continent by (mostly
secular) nationalistic regimes bent on pursuing “ethnic homogeneity”:
Jews emigrating from post-World War II Eastern Europe, Muslims escaping Europe’s
South-east in 1912-13 (and even before, in 1877-78), and Anatolian Christians
exterminated or “exchanged” between 1912 and 1923 are cases in

Demographic surgery as social engineering

The above-mentioned policies of repression, dispossession, colonization and
purification, of which demographic surgery was the instrument or the outcome,
were usually themselves means to an end. The objectives pursued were usually
the creation (or the preservation) of a state and/or the restructuring of a
society; in short, state-building and social engineering.

It is not surprising that demographic surgery was an aspect of state-building,
particularly after the shift “from the Vienna to the Paris system” (to
use Eric Weitz’s term) that is, from an international system centred
on dynastic legitimacy to one focused on popular sovereignty.[22] Again,
this shift paved the way not just to ethnic cleansing, but more generally to
demographic surgery which reinforced states’ foundational criteria of
inclusion and exclusion; criteria which could be ethnic, racial, social, or

Demographic surgery could be performed with the intent of radically “restructuring” whole
societies. This happened mainly under totalitarian regimes – e.g., during
the collectivization of the Soviet agriculture or during the Nazi attempt to
implement Generalplan Ost, that is, a radical demographic and social
restructuration on racial grounds of the whole eastern Europe, alreadyduring
the WW II.[23] However, demographic surgery
by nationalist regimes bent on attaining “ethnic homogeneity” certainly
falls under this rubric, although it was usually (but certainly not always,
as evidenced by the mass murders of Ottoman Armenians and Romanian Jews) less
radical. Thus, while the demographic surgery was performed by physically removing
people, it was supposed to “remake” the society at large: nationalist “demographic
surgeons” wanted, and often attained, not just “national states”,
but also “national economies”.[24] Removing “aliens” from
the economy and taking over their properties was in fact supposed to help modernize
mainly agrarian societies and to create a “national bourgeoisie”,
i.e. a “native” entrepreneurial class composed by those who would
take the places (and often the property) of those who had been killed, deported
or forced to migrate.[25]

On many occasions, however, demographic surgery was used as an “emergency” remedy – that
is, in response to a crisis which seemed to threaten the very existence of
the states performing the “surgery”. Thus Ittihad leaders
chose to deport Armenians at a moment when they perceived that the very existence
of the Ottoman empire was in danger[26] whileStalin
removed “diaspora nationalities” from the borderlands fearing that
they would assist invading foreign armies, at a time when war was perceived
as imminent .

However , the distinction between the two above-mentioned occurrences is
far from being clear-cut. Times of crisis could offer the occasion to implement
pre-existing agendas of radical social engineering (e.g. by propelling to power
their supporters) or radicalize more “moderate” policies already
in place. On the other hand, “emergency” demographic surgery in
times of crisis could have long-term outcomes, as other groups moved in to
fill the void left by those who had been removed. This also implied massive
upheaval: e.g., when hundreds of thousands of Germans and Jews were deported
from the western borderlandsof the Tsarist empire in 1915,
this indirectly increased the economic and social role played by other nationalities
inhabiting the same regions, unwittingly solidifying their claims on those
areas (it should be noted that these nationalities played no small part in
the subsequent revolution of 1917).[27]

Some consequences and implications of demographic surgery

In sum, demographic surgery was much more than a tool used to “redraw
nations” by moving peoples in order to match borders (rather than the
other way round). Its consequences and implications were not limited to radically
altering the ethnic map of Europe, but went much further; it is not an exaggeration
to say that widespread demographic surgery conferred a truly revolutionary
character upon the wars of the European 20th century. While a full discussion
of this matter lies beyond the scope of this paper, I would like to mention
some points which are often neglected by the existing historiography on the

Firstly, while authoritarian regimes were not the only ones to perform
demographic surgery, demographic surgery certainly helped undermine democracy
and rule of law wherever it was practiced. Indeed, depriving entire categories of
people of citizenship, property, and of the very right to reside on the territory
of the state meant setting a dangerous precedent – even more so since
such far-reaching measures were usually enacted through executive orders. Those
orders, in turn, were in many cases the outcomes of decisions made not even
by entire cabinets but rather by small, ad hoc committees, and they
were enforced on the local level at least partly outside the official channels – that
is, with a significant contribution of entities other than the state’s
bureaucracy, military and police forces. The other branches of the government,
that is the legislature and the judiciary, were overruled or reduced to rubber-stamping
political decisions (if necessary by subjecting the categories targeted by
demographic surgery to special legislations enacted by executive order). All
of this set dangerous precedents and undoubtedly facilitated the imposition
of authoritarian regimes – which then often oppressed the populations in
whose name
demographic surgery had been carried out, as in post-World
War II Poland and Czechoslovakia.

A second point, also frequently overlooked, has to do with the political
implications demographic surgery had for its perpetrators.[28] Ethnic
cleansing, for instance, was not just used to “make a clean sweep” of
undesirable “strangers”, but also helped to overcome “national
indifference”: this happened in two ways, through fear and involvement.
Fear of persecution meant that peoples with ambiguous national loyalties were
forced to “choose sides” (and/or face consequences for this choice
if tables were turned). On the other hand, involvement in the persecution probably
served to reinforce the political commitment of perpetrators acting out of
more “mundane” reasons – such as careerism, conformism, greed,
sadism and so on – of which there were undoubtedly many, especially at
the middle and lower levels.[29] This idea
can, of course, be generalized to include cases in which demographic surgery
was performed along different lines.

A third point, linked to both previous points, concerns the role of property,
material considerations more generally. E xpropriations linked to policies
of demographic surgery usually undermined property rights and to an increase
of the public sector of the economy – since the belongings of those who
were forcibly relocated were usually taken over by the state before being redistributed
to others (if they ever were). This weakened the existing civil society and/or
replaced the existing civil society with another heavily state-dependent society – another
development which was likely to favor authoritarianism and, more generally,
statism (in economic as well as political terms). Moreover, those in power
could use the victims’ property as a source of patronage, and in this
way build up political support for themselves and their policies. Giving out
victims’ properties gave the public a very concrete stake in political
projects carried out through demographic surgery, and could help win the loyalty
of people who were at best indifferent to those projects (if not outright hostile
to them, because of the manner in which they were enacted). On the other hand,
beneficiaries of demographic surgery were thus involved in the entire process,
although benefiting from it did certainly not equal being involved in its enactment.
Nonetheless, this might well have had similar (although weaker) effects of
reinforcing (or creating) political loyalty towards the proponents of those
measures, and helped them to stay in power (whatever else was their agenda)
by creating a constituency which felt dependent on them for its own material
well-being. In the long term, this also constituted a formidable obstacle to
the acknowledgement of wrongdoing, which was itself understood as implying
the restitution of property and/or the payment of reparations. This could have
(and often had) long-lasting effects on international relations as well as
on the internal politics of the affected countries.


Demographic surgery, especially but certainly not only along ethnic lines,
has been a key feature of modern European history because it was one of the
main “tools” of the many “state-builders” at work from
the early XIX century onwards.[30] As it
is aptly stated by Andrea Graziosi,

Most of these states pretended to be “national,” but in reality
they used the term in its European XIX century meaning, that was an ethnic
one. Others, like the USSR or Yugoslavia (but not their component Republics),
did not. Yet others, like Pakistan, claimed a religious basis. All, however,
identified with a “people,” and tried to somehow make this true
by shaping… themselves a people of their choice, along political, cultural,
religious, linguistic, and social lines.[31]

This effort of “shaping peoples” included sometimes the removal
of entire, undesirable categories of people and thus demographic surgery, practiced
in the name of a wide range of ideologies (not just of nationalist ones) and
with the objectives I have outlined in this paper. In addition to those already
discussed, I should mention the attempt to use “demographic surgery” (usually
along ethnic lines) in order to forcibly separate previously intermingled populations
and thus “solving” otherwise irreconcilable conflicts. On those
grounds the international community backed the exchange of populations between
Greece and Turkey in 1923, and Soviet authorities promoted the deportation
of Terek Cossacks in 1920; however, similar rationales were also used to justify
measures taken in order to achieve other policy objectives included in those
discussed above.[32]

Demographic surgery was however not just a tool of state-building, but also
one used to “remake” the economies and societies which it affected,
often according to some grand utopian (or rather dystopian, given the actual
result) plan. It ended up having significant consequences and implications,
with some of which Europe is still grappling in various ways.


1. I wish to thank
Maren Behrensen, Hiroaki Kuromiya, Niccolò Pianciola and Timothy Snyder
for their helpful comments on earlier versions of this paper.

2. See on this Norman N. Naimark, Fires
of Hatred: Ethnic Cleansing in Twentieth-Century Europe
( Cambridge,
MA 2001); Michael Mann, The Dark Side of Democracy: Explaining Ethnic
(New York 2005); Benjamin David Lieberman, Terrible Fate:
Ethnic Cleansing in the Making of Modern Europe
(Chicago 2006) .

3. For the concept
of “nationalizing
states” see Rogers Brubaker, Nationalizing States in the Old ‘New
Europe’ – and the New
, « Ethnic and Racial Studies » vol.
19 (1996), no. 2, pp. 411-437.

4. Such is basically the view of the above-mentioned
studies by Lieberman, Mann and Naimark; in a more or less conscious way, they
all echo a point made for the first time by Joseph B. Schechtman in Id., European
Population Transfers, 1939-1945
, (New York 1946) and Id., Postwar
Population Transfers in Europe 1945-1955
, (Philadelphia 1963). See on
that Antonio Ferrara, Eugene Kulischer, Joseph Schechtman and the historiography
of European forced migrations,
forthcoming in «Journal of Contemporary
History», vol. 46 (2011), n. 4.

5. The Soviet Union deported or killed
a huge number of persons on social and political, rather than ethnic grounds,
leading scholars like Norman Naimark to advocate for a widening of the concept
of genocide in order to include those crimes: see Id., Stalin’s Genocides (Princeton
2010), pp. 4-5, 8-9, 29.

6. See Timothy Snyder, Bloodlands:
Europe between Hitler and Stalin
(New York 2010) and Benjamin A. Valentino, Final
Solutions: Mass Killing and Genocide in the Twentieth Century
, ( Ithaca,
N.Y. 2004) . For different reasons, Christian Gerlach also prefers not to
use “genocide” as a category: see Id., Extremely Violent
Societies: Mass Violence in the Twentieth-Century World
, (Cambridge

7. Amir Weiner has
stressed the “excisionary” dimension
of Soviet policies in Id., Making Sense of War: The Second World War and
the Fate of the Bolshevik Revolution
(Princeton 2001); here I am arguing
that Soviets were far from alone in carrying out “excisionary” policies.
Joseph Schechtman compared “compulsory population transfers” (that
is, forced migrations) to surgery in various occasions: see Id., European
Population Transfers
cit., pp. 468-469.

8. Outside Europe,
where Stalin’s
Soviet Union and Hitler’s Germany were the most enthusiastic practicioners
of demographic surgery through mass killings, cases in point are Pol Pot’s
Cambodia and Mao’s China.

9. Here I am adapting an argument from
Valentino, Final Solutions cit., pp. 3, 5.

10. See Fuat Dündar
, L’ ingénierie
ethnique du Comité Union et Progres: la turcisation
de l’Anatolie (1913–1918)
, PhD thesis (Paris: École des
Hautes Études en  Sciences Sociale, 2006).

11. See on this Andrea Graziosi, La
grande guerra contadina in URSS: bolscevichi e contadini: 1918-1933
(Napoli 1998, ed. or. Cambridge, MA, 1996) , pag. 49-50. On the
deportation of Cossacks see Shane O’Rourke, Trial Run: The Deportation
of the Terek Cossacks 1920 , in Richard Bessel e Claudia B. Haake (eds.),
Removing Peoples. Forced Removal in the Modern World
2009); Peter Holquist, «Conduct Merciless, Mass Terror»:
Dekossackization on the Don, 1919
, « Cahiers du monde russe»,
vol. 28 (1997), n. 1-2, pp. 127-162.

12. See e.g. Mark
Mazower, Hitler’s
Empire: How the Nazis Ruled Europe
(New York 2008).

13. Here a useful comparison can perhaps
be made between the Tsarist deportations of (mostly aristocrat) Poles after
the uprisings of the XIX century and the much more massive ones carried out
by the Soviet Union in 1940-41.

14. See on this Ludwig Mises, Nation,
State, and Economy Contributions to the Politics and History of
Our Time
(Indianapolis 2006 but originally Wien 1919); Lewis B. Namier, Conflicts.
Studies in contemporary history
( London 1942); Id. , Vanished
Supremacies. Essays in European History 1812-1918
( London 1957).

15. M. G. Rafes, Dva goda revoljucii
na Ukraine,
(Moskva 1920), p. 7, quoted in Graziosi, La grande guerra cit.

16. See Raoul Pupo, Il lungo
esodo: Istria, le persecuzioni, le foibe, l’esilio
(Milano 2005).

17. S ee Id., Class Cleansing: The
Katyn Massacre
, (New York 2008, Italian or. ed. 2006).

18. See e.g. Benjamin Frommer, National
Cleansing: Retribution against Nazi Collaborators in Postwar Czechoslovakia
2005) .

19. In Soviet Union
there were also cases of small deportations of religious groups deemed “politically unreliable”,
while often the clergy was persecuted as such – i.e. as an autonomous “enemy” category.

20. See Renée
Hirschon, Crossing
the Aegean: An Appraisal of the 1923 Compulsory Population Exchange between
Greece and Turkey
(New York 2003); Stephen P. Ladas, The
Exchange of Minorities. Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey
( New York 1932).

21. Quotations from
Jeremy Noakes and Geoffrey Pridham (eds.), Nazism, 1919-1945: A History in Documents
and Eyewitness Accounts
, ( New York 1990), vol. I pp. 538-539.

22. See Eric D. Weitz, From the Vienna
to the Paris System: International Politics and the Entangled Histories of
Human Rights, Forced Deportations, and Civilizing Missions
, « American
Historical Review», vol. 113 (2008), n. 5, pp. 1313-1343.

23. On Generalplan
see now Mazower, Hitler’s
cit., pp. 199-211; see also Enzo Collotti, L’Europa
nazista: il progetto di un nuovo ordine europeo (1939-1945)
(Firenze 2002), chap. II and Christian Ingrao, Croire
et de?truire: les intellectuels dans la machine de guerre SS
(Paris 2010), pp. 227-238.

24. See e.g. Martin
Dean, Robbing
the Jews: The Confiscation of Jewish Property in the Holocaust, 1933-1945
(Cambridge 2008).

25. See Raymond H.
Kévorkian, Le
génocide des Arméniens
, ( Paris 2006) ; Vladimir Solonari, Purifying
the Nation: Population Exchange and Ethnic Cleansing in Nazi-Allied Romania
Washington, D.C. 2009).

26. See Donald Bloxham, The Great
Game of Genocide: Imperialism, Nationalism, and the Destruction of the Ottoman
. (Oxford 2005). Ittihad is a shorthand for the “Committee
of Union and Progress” which ruled the Ottoman Empire from 1913 to
1918 as a (albeit rudimentary) one-party regime.

27. See Eric Lohr, Nationalizing the
Russian Empire: The Campaign against Enemy Aliens During World War I
Cambridge, Mass. 2003), pp . 164-165, 172.

28. I wish to thank
Niccolò Pianciola
for pointing this out to me. On the “nationalizing” effects of
policies of demographic surgery on both victims and perpetrators see, e.g.,
Timothy Snyder, The Reconstruction of Nations: Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania,
Belarus, 1569-1999
. (New Haven 2003) , chaps. 8-10.

29. A starting point
for the analysis of perpetrators’ motivations can be Mann, Dark Side cit.,
pp. 26-30. On the concept of “national indifference” see Tara
Zahra, Imagined
Noncommunities: National Indifference As a Category of Analysis
in « Slavic
Review », vol. 69 (2010), no. 1, pp. 93-119.

30. With the crumbling of European colonial
empires, the proliferation of states has spread to other continents, and it
is not by chance that episodes of demographic surgery have also marked the
recent history of Africa and Asia. See on this Ian Talbot, The End of European
Empires and Forced Migration: Some Comparative Case Studies
in in Panikos
Panayi and Pippa Virdee (eds.), Refugees and the End of Empire:
Imperial Collapse and Forced Migration in the 20th Century
, ( Basingstoke,

31. I am quoting from Andrea Graziosi, Stalin’s
Genocides, and…
, forthcoming in the Journal of Cold War
I wish to thank the author for letting me read the unpublished
manuscript of this essay.

32. On Soviet authorities’, and
especially Stalin’s, motives for deporting Terek Cossacks in 1920 see
now also Andrea Graziosi, Stalin’s Foreign and Domestic Policies:
Dealing with the National Question in an Imperial Context, 1901-1926,
in the published proceedings of the conference Istoriia Stalinizma: itogi
i problemy izucheniia
(held in Moscow between 5 and 7 December 2008).
I wish to thank the author for letting me read an unpublished, but extended
and revised, version of this essay.