Anti-Slavic sentiment

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Anti-Slavic sentiment, also known as Slavophobia, a form of racism or xenophobia, refers to various negative attitudes towards Slavic peoples, the most common manifestation is the claim that the inhabitants of Slavic nations are inferior to other ethnic groups. Anti-Slavism reached its peak during World War II, when Nazi Germany declared Slavs, especially neighboring Poles to be subhuman (Untermensch) and planned to exterminate the majority of Slavic people.[1]

20th century[edit]


At the beginning of the 20th century, anti-Slavism developed in Albania by the work of the Franciscan friars who had studied in monasteries in Austria-Hungary,[2] after the recent massacres and expulsions of Albanians by their Slavic neighbours.[3] The Albanian intelligentsia proudly asserted, "We Albanians are the original and autochthonous race of the Balkans. The Slavs are conquerors and immigrants who came but yesterday from Asia".[4] In Soviet historiography, anti-Slavism in Albania was inspired by the Catholic clergy, which opposed the Slavic people because of the role the Catholic clergy played in preparations "for Italian aggression against Albania" and Slavs opposed "rapacious plans of Austro-Hungarian imperialism in Albania".[5]

An emaciated male inmate suffering from severe malnutrition at the Italian Rab concentration camp on the island of Rab in what is now Croatia. This camp largely detained Slavs.

Fascism and Nazism[edit]

Anti-Slavism was a notable component of Italian Fascism and Nazism both prior to and during World War II.

In the 1920s, Italian fascists targeted Yugoslavs, especially Serbs. They accused Serbs of having "atavistic impulses" and they also claimed that the Yugoslavs were conspiring together on behalf of "Grand Orient masonry and its funds". One anti-Semitic claim was that Serbs were part of a "social-democratic, masonic Jewish internationalist plot".[6]

Benito Mussolini viewed the Slavic race as inferior and barbaric.[7] He identified the Yugoslavs (Croats) as a threat to Italy and he viewed them as competitors over the region of Dalmatia, which was claimed by Italy, and he claimed that the threat rallied Italians together at the end of World War I: "The danger of seeing the Jugo-Slavians settle along the whole Adriatic shore had caused a bringing together in Rome of the cream of our unhappy regions. Students, professors, workmen, citizens—representative men—were entreating the ministers and the professional politicians".[8] These claims often tended to emphasize the "foreignness" of the Yugoslavs as newcomers to the area, unlike the ancient Italians, whose territories the Slavs occupied.

Count Galeazzo Ciano, Mussolini's son in law, and Foreign Minister of Fascist Italy later executed by Mussolini, writes in an entry in his diary:[9]

Vidussoni comes to see me. After having spoken about a few casual things, he makes some political allusions and announces savage plans against the Slovenes. He wants to kill them all. I take the liberty of observing that there are a million of them. "That does not matter," he answers firmly.


In Canada, many xenophobic white supremacists were deeply tied to their nation's "Anglo-Saxon" culture, specifically from the early 1900s to the end of World War II. The Ku Klux Klan in Canada was prominent in the provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta, both of which have a relatively high Eastern European ethnic population. Immigrants from Ukraine, Russia and Poland were frequently denounced and targeted.[10]

During World War I, thousands of Ukrainian Canadians were seen as "enemy aliens" as Canadian nativists saw them as a "threat" to Canada's Western European heritage. Due to this, many of them were interned in concentration camps. There was constant discrimination towards Ukrainians who recently immigrated from the Austro-Hungarian Empire.[11]

Nazi Germany[edit]

Anti-Slavic racism is an essential component of Nazism.[12] Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party regarded Slavic countries (especially Poland, the Soviet Union, and Yugoslavia) and their peoples as non-Aryan Untermenschen (subhumans), they were deemed to be foreign nations that could not be considered part of the Aryan master race.[1] Hitler in Mein Kampf stated: “One ought to cast the utmost doubt on the state-building power of the Slavs” and from the beginning rejected the idea of incorporating Slavs within Greater Germany.[13] There were exceptions for some minorities in these states which were deemed by the Nazis to be the descendants of ethnic German settlers, and not merely Slavs who were willing to be Germanized.[12] Hitler considered the Slavs to be inferior, because, in his view, the Bolshevik Revolution had put the Jews in power over the mass of Slavs, who were, by his own definition, incapable of ruling themselves but were instead being ruled by Jewish masters.[14] He considered the development of Modern Russia to have been the work of Germanic, not Slavic, elements in the nation, but believed those achievements had been undone and destroyed by the October Revolution.[15]

Because, according to the Nazis, the German people needed more territory to sustain its surplus population, an ideology of conquest and depopulation was formulated for Central and Eastern Europe according to the principle of Lebensraum, itself based on an older theme in German nationalism which maintained that Germany had a "natural yearning" to expand its borders eastward (Drang Nach Osten).[12] The Nazis' policy towards Slavs was to exterminate or enslave the vast majority of the Slavic population and repopulate their lands with millions of ethnic Germans and other Germanic peoples.[16][17] According to the resulting genocidal Generalplan Ost, millions of German and other "Germanic" settlers would be moved into the conquered territories, and the original Slavic inhabitants were to be annihilated, removed or enslaved.[12] The policy was focused especially towards the Soviet Union, as it alone was deemed capable of providing enough territory to accomplish this goal.[18] As part of this policy, the Hunger Plan was developed, which included seizing food produced on the occupied Soviet territory and delivering it primarily to the German army. This should ultimately result in the starvation and death of 20 to 30 million people (mainly Russians, Belarusians, and Ukrainians). It is estimated that in 1941–1944 over four million Soviet citizens were starved according to this plan.[19] The resettlement policy reached a much more advanced state in Occupied Poland because of its immediate proximity to Germany.[12]

To deviate from ideological theories for strategic reasons by forging alliances with Independent State of Croatia (created after the invasion of Yugoslavia), and Bulgaria, puppet regime described the Croats officially as being "more Germanic than Slav", a notion made by Croatia's fascist dictator Ante Pavelić who imposed the view that the "Croatians were the descendants of the ancient Goths" who "had the Panslav idea forced upon them as something artificial".[20][21] However the Nazi regime continued to classify the Croats as "subhumans" despite its alliance with them.[22] Hitler also deemed the Bulgarians to be "Turkoman" in origin.[21]


Traditionally, in Greece, Slavic people were considered to be "invaders who separated the glory of Greek Antiquity, by bringing an era of decline and ruin to Greece – the Dark Ages."[23] In 1913, when Greece took control of Slavic inhabited areas in Northern Greece, the Slavic toponyms were changed to Greek, as according to the Greek government this was "the elimination of all the names which pollute and disfigure the beautiful appearance of our fatherland."[24]

Anti-Slavic sentiment escalated during the Greek Civil War, where Macedonian partisans, who aligned themselves with the Democratic Army of Greece, were not treated as equals and suffered discrimination everywhere, as they chose to identify as Slavic, not Greek, thus being considered a "sin" for not being Greek, and being Slavic.[25] The Macedonian partisans were subjected to threats of extermination, physical attacks, murder, attacks on their settlements, forcible expulsions, restrictions of freedom of movement, bureaucratic problems, among other discriminatory acts.[25] Although allied with the Greek Left, due to their Slavic identity, Macedonians were viewed by the Greek Left with suspicion and animosity.[26]

In 1948, the Democratic Army of Greece evacuated tens of thousands of child refugees, both Greek and Slavic in origin.[27] In 1985, the refugees were allowed to re-enter Greece, and claim Greek citizenship, and reclaim property, only if they were "Greek by genus", thus prohibiting those with a Slavic identity from obtaining Greek citizenship, entry into Greece, and claiming property.[28][29]

Today, the Greek state does not recognize its ethnic Macedonian and other Slavic minorities, claiming that they do not exist, with Greece therefore having the right to not grant any rights that are guaranteed by human rights treaties.[30]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b Longerich, Peter (2010). Holocaust: The Nazi Persecution and Murder of the Jews. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press. p. 241. ISBN 978-0-19-280436-5.
  2. ^ Detrez, Raymond; Plas, Pieter (2005), Developing cultural identity in the Balkans: convergence vs divergence, Brussels: P.I.E. Peter Lang S.A., p. 220, ISBN 90-5201-297-0, it led to adoption of anti-Slavic component
  3. ^ Koliqi, Ernesto & Rahmani, Nazmi (2003). Vepra. Shtëpía Botuese Faik Konica. p. 183.
  4. ^ Kolarz, Walter (1972), Myths and realities in eastern Europe, Kennikat Press, p. 227, ISBN 978-0-8046-1600-3, Albanian intelligentsia, despite the backwardness of their country and culture: 'We Albanians are the original and autochthonous race of the Balkans. The Slavs are conquerors and immigrants who came but yesterday from Asia.'
  5. ^ Elsie, Robert. "Gjergj Fishta, The Voice of The Albanian Nation". Archived from the original on 5 June 2011. Retrieved 5 April 2011. Great Soviet Encyclopaedia of Moscow... (March 1950): "The literary activities of the Catholic priest Gjergj Fishta reflect the role played by the Catholic clergy in preparing for Italian aggression against Albania. As a former agent of Austro-Hungarian imperialism, Fishta... took a position against the Slavic peoples who opposed the rapacious plans of Austro-Hungarian imperialism in Albania. In his chauvinistic, anti-Slavic poem 'The highland lute,' this spy extolled the hostility of the Albanians towards the Slavic peoples, calling for an open fight against the Slavs".
  6. ^ Burgwyn, H. James (1997) Italian Foreign Policy in the Interwar Period, 1918–1940. Greenwood Publishing Group. p.43.
  7. ^ Sestani, Armando, ed. (10 February 2012). "Il confine orientale: una terra, molti esodi" [The Eastern Border: One Land, Multiple Exoduses]. I profugi istriani, dalmati e fiumani a Lucca [The Istrian, Dalmatian and Rijeka Refugees in Lucca] (PDF) (in Italian). Instituto storico della Resistenca e dell'Età Contemporanea in Provincia di Lucca. pp. 12–13. When dealing with such a race as Slavic – inferior and barbarian – we must not pursue the carrot, but the stick policy. We should not be afraid of new victims. The Italian border should run across the Brenner Pass, Monte Nevoso and the Dinaric Alps. I would say we can easily sacrifice 500,000 barbaric Slavs for 50,000 Italians.
  8. ^ Mussolini, Benito; Child, Richard Washburn; Ascoli, Max; & Lamb, Richard (1988) My rise and fall. New York: Da Capo Press. pp.105–106.
  9. ^ Ciano, Galeazzo, conte (2015). The war diaries of Count Galeazzo Ciano 1939–1943. Alan Sutton. [Stroud]. ISBN 978-1-78155-448-7. OCLC 910968625.
  10. ^ "Eastern European Canadians - Minority Rights Group".
  11. ^ "Ukrainian Internment in Canada | the Canadian Encyclopedia".
  12. ^ a b c d e Bendersky, Joseph W. (2007).A concise history of Nazi Germany Plymouth, U.K.: Rowman & Littlefield. p. 161-2
  13. ^ A Ridiculous Hundred Million Slavs: Concerning Adolf Hitler's World-view Jerzy Wojciech Borejsza, page 41, Wydawnictwo Neriton and Instytut Historii Polskiej Akademii Nauk, 2006
  14. ^ Megargee, Geoffrey P. (2007). War of Annihilation: Combat And Genocide on the Eastern Front, 1941. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 4–. ISBN 978-0-7425-4482-6.
  15. ^ Bendersky, Joseph W. (2000) A History of Nazi Germany: 1919–1945. Plymouth, UK: Rowman & Littlefield. p.177.
  16. ^ Housden, Martyn (2000). Hitler: Study of a Revolutionary?. Taylor & Francis. pp. 138–. ISBN 978-0-415-16359-0.
  17. ^ Perrson, Hans-Åke & Stråth, Bo (2007). Reflections on Europe: Defining a Political Order in Time and Space. Peter Lang. pp. 336–. ISBN 978-90-5201-065-6.
  18. ^ Hitler, Adolf (1926). Mein Kampf, Chapter XIV: Eastern Orientation or Eastern Policy. Quote: "If we speak of soil [to be conquered for German settlement] in Europe today, we can primarily have in mind only Russia and her vassal border states."
  19. ^ Snyder, Timothy (2010) Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin. New York: Basic Books. p.411.
  20. ^ Rich, Norman (1974) Hitler's War Aims: the Establishment of the New Order. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. p.276-7.
  21. ^ a b Hitler, Adolf and Gerhard, Weinberg (2007). Hitler's Table Talk, 1941–1944: His Private Conversations. Enigma Books. p.356. Quoting Hitler: "For example to label the Bulgarians as Slavs is pure nonsense; originally they were Turkomans."
  22. ^ Davies, Norman (2008) Europe at War 1939–1945: No Simple Victory. Pan Macmillan. pp.167,209.
  23. ^ Curta, Florin (30 January 2011). The Edinburgh History of the Greeks, c. 500 to 1050. Edinburgh University Press. p. 3. doi:10.3366/edinburgh/9780748638093.001.0001. ISBN 978-0-7486-3809-3. But during and after the Civil War, the ‘Slavs’ themselves became a national enemy. Throughout the Civil War, the Slav Macedonians of northern Greece made an important contribution to the Communist cause. A strong link was thus established between national identity and political orientation, as the Civil War and the subsequent defeat of the left- wing movement turned Slav Macedonians into the Sudetens of Greece (Augustinos 1989: 23). By 1950, those embracing the ideology of the right saw their political rivals as the embodiment of everything that was anti- national, Communist, and Slavic. To hold Fallmerayeran views thus became a crimen laesae maiestatis. Dionysios A. Zakythinos, the author of the fi rst monograph on medieval Slavs in Greece, wrote of the Dark Ages separating Antiquity from the Middle Ages as an era of decline and ruin brought by Slavic invaders (Zakythinos 1945: 72 and 1966: 300, 302 and 316). In the United States, Peter Charanis regarded Emperor Nikephoros I as the hero who saved Greece from Slavonicisation (Charanis 1946). The early medieval Slavs thus became a historiographic problem, to slavikon zetema.
  24. ^ Danforth, Loring M., 1949– (1995). The Macedonian conflict : ethnic nationalism in a transnational world. Princeton University Press. p. 69. ISBN 0-691-04357-4. OCLC 32237371.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  25. ^ a b Rossos, Andrew (1997). "Incompatible Allies: Greek Communism and Macedonian Nationalism in the Civil War in Greece, 1943–1949". The Journal of Modern History. 69 (1): 56. doi:10.1086/245440. ISSN 0022-2801. S2CID 143512864. The terror campaign unleashed after Varkiza by the Greek Right against the entire Left was directed with special vehemence against the Macedonians. In addition to the ideological "treachery" of supporting EAM-ELAS, they were attacked for committing the ultimate "sin" of not being, or rather not considering themselves, Greeks. They were condemned as Bulgars, komitajis, collaborators, autonomists, Sudetens of the Balkans, and so forth, and threatened with extermination.
  26. ^ Rossos, Andrew (1997). "Incompatible Allies: Greek Communism and Macedonian Nationalism in the Civil War in Greece, 1943–1949". The Journal of Modern History. 69 (1): 42–43. doi:10.1086/245440. ISSN 0022-2801. S2CID 143512864.
  27. ^ Danforth, Loring M. (1995). The Macedonian conflict : ethnic nationalism in a transnational world. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press. p. 54. ISBN 0-691-04357-4. OCLC 243828619.
  28. ^ Denying ethnic identity : the Macedonians of Greece. Human Rights Watch/Helsinki (Organization : U.S.). New York: Human Rights Watch. 1994. p. 27. ISBN 1-56432-132-0. OCLC 30643687.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  29. ^ "Press Release".
  30. ^ European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance (2009). "ECRI REPORT ON GREECE (Fourth Monitoring Cycle)". Council of Europe: 62.

Further reading[edit]

  • Connelly, John (1999). "Nazis and Slavs: From Racial Theory to Racist Practice". Central European History. 32 (1): 1–33. doi:10.1017/s0008938900020628. PMID 20077627.
  • Connelly, John (2010). "Gypsies, Homosexuals, and Slavs". The Oxford Handbook of Holocaust Studies. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 274–289. ISBN 9780199211869.
  • Đorđević, Vladimir, et al. "Beyond Contemporary Scholarship and toward Exploring Current Manifestations of Pan-Slavism." Canadian-American Slavic Studies 55.2 (2021): 147-159.
  • Konstantinova, Yura. "The Slavic and Anti-Slavic Idea in the Context of the East-West Dilemma. Slovenians, Bulgarians, and Greeks in Late 19th and Early 20th Centuries." Études balkaniques 3 (2015): 126-149.
  • Phillips, Megan. "Don’t Believe Everything You See at the Movies: The Influence of Anti-Communist and Anti-Slavic Governmental Propaganda in Hollywood Cinema in the Decade Following WWII." The Alexandrian 4.1 (2015). online
  • Rossino, Alexander B. Hitler strikes Poland: Blitzkrieg, ideology, and atrocity (University Press of Kansas, 2003) online review.
  • Sulyak, S. G. "The Slavic Factor in the History of Moldova: Scientific Research and Myth-Making." RUSIN 49.3 (2017): 144-162. online