While writing “The Luck Of The Weissensteiners” I was becoming fascinated by the concept of Nations.
During my research I read Stanislav Kirschbaum’s “History Of Slovakia” and Mary Heimann’s “Czechoslovakia – The State That Failed”.
It was an eye opener to learn how a region in Central Europe could have been part of so many different countries. What made people belong to each other in the ever changing borders, countries and political alliances? Loyalty to a king or a throne, language, shared history or blood?
Bratislava had been the capital of Hungary, then it got renamed into Pressburg, its population was a melting pot of Germans, Hungrians, Austrians, Czechs and Jews. Part of Czechoslovakia, Czecho-Slovakia, then Slovakia, Czechoslovakia again.
Yet the people retained their National Identity through Habsburg rule, Czech domination, Fascism and Communism.
As a German I have always been anxious to use the term National because of our Nation’s history. Even as more time passes between Hitler and the peaceful present I can not wave the German flag at football games without feeling slightly self conscious and odd about it.
When the Berlin wall came down I certainly felt no affinity to the East Germans and my family in Brandenburg with their forty years of Communist history had little in common with us but the language and a distant past. Only over time will the broken halves fit together again.
As the UK is discussing a referendum for Scottish Independence and Argentina demands self governing for the Falkland Islands I find myself more and more confused by the concept of Nations.
With so many Scottish people living in the South and so many English people living North, the lines between the Nations seem difficult to draw. Likewise with the Falkland Islands, many of whose current inhabitants are British or want to remain part of the UK.
Globalisation erases many of the actual differences between cultures. Migration and years of cultural exchange have altered the concerned areas so much, to me personally it seems odd that emotions about it should run so high. Although I hasten to add that I deeply respect those sentiments all the same.
And despite it all, the desire to be one’s own Nation remains and can not be argued away. It seems almost
human nature to strive to belong to one.
Although this idea of Nations is not the most prominent theme in “The Luck Of The Weissensteiners” it has created the basis for the next parts of the Three Nations Trilogy.