The Victimization Narratives of “Russophile” Ruthenians and Their Lasting Influence on Socio-political Discourses
This paper deals with deportations of Ruthenians during World War I by the Austro-Hungarian government that used civilian internment, confinement and evacuation to remove ‘suspicious’ persons from the area of operations of the Austro-Hungarian military. The cause of deportation was political suspicion that the Ruthenians would have connections to the Russian Empire. Deportations led to social disaster because many Ruthenian civilian internees died in the Thalerhof concentration camp, which marked the beginning of self-victimization of survivors and their descendants. This war crime became not only a place of remembrance but also, through the spread of the media, a sphere of conflict of political memory and historiography in Ukraine, Russia, Austria and the United States. This paper analyses the victim discourses of deportees and their descendants on the one hand and their use for national and political purposes on the other hand. The unreflected narratives like the genocide-thesis and forced labour in Thalerhof will be examined critically. The development of the victimization discourses and their transformation over time are at the forefront of this research.
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