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European Coasts of Bohemia

European Coasts of Bohemia: Negotiating the Danube-Oder-Elbe Canal in a Troubled Twentieth Century

Jiří Janáč
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 274
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt45kd2k
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  • Book Info
    European Coasts of Bohemia
    Book Description:

    The Danube-Oder-Elbe Canal attracted a great deal of attention throughout the twentieth century. Its promoters, The Danube-Oder-Elbe Canal, attracted a great deal of attention throughout the twentieth century and defined it as a tool for integrating a divided Europe. Although the canal was situated almost exclusively on Czech territory, it promised to create an integrated waterway system across the Continent that would link Black Sea ports to Atlantic markets. In return, the landlocked Czechoslovakian state would have its own connections to the sea. Today, the canal is an important building block of the European Agreement on Main Inland Waterways. This book provides a fascinating story of the experts who confronted and contributed to different and often conflicting geopolitical visions of Europe. The canal was never completed, yet what is more remarkable is the fact that the canal remained on various agendas and attracted vast resources throughout the twentieth century. This title is available in the OAPEN Library - http://www.oapen.org.

    eISBN: 978-90-485-1812-8
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Acknowledgements
    (pp. 5-6)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. 7-8)
  4. Chapter 1 Introduction
    (pp. 9-26)

    “This (the Danube Oder Elbe canal) is a European affair. It makes no sense as a national project. We cannot afford it; such a project is tens or hundreds of billions of crowns. If the European Union recognizes the project is reasonable and is ready to finance it, then it might be realized”. Thus argued Pavel Drobil, Czech Environment Minister on August 16, 2010. Drobil agitated for a bold decision: Three months earlier, on May 26, 2010, the caretaker government of the Czech republic, led by Prime Minister Jan Fischer, decided to extend the building ban in the corridor of...

  5. Chapter 2 Mittel-Europeanization on Waterways
    (pp. 27-84)

    Looking at a standard map of what is now Europe, you would hardly notice any signs of a waterway network in the middle. A mountainous belt reaching from the swiss Alps through Bavaria and Czechoslovakia to the Carpathians forms a watershed that divides Europe without leaving much space for anything aspiring to be called “the Middle.”² The watershed actuallyisthe center; all other parts inevitably belong to either the river basin or the waterway systems. Hence, the call to improve the unified Central European Waterway network was not so much a complaint about the state of affairs at the...

  6. Chapter 3 Canal as Artery for Nazi Expansion
    (pp. 85-130)

    In December 1937, during a Czechoslovak parliamentary hearing on the state budget, a silesian MP named Josef Chalupnik tried to persuade the National Government of the need for transport infrastructure investments in general and the vital importance of constructing the Danube-Oder-Elbe canal in particular. Reading between the lines, the strong and rather explicit message was: follow the courageous and progressive example of Germany, let’s do it the German way!

    The German annexation of so-called sudetenland (border regions of former Czechoslovakia with an ethnically German majority) changed the territorial shape of the country. The annexation also transformed the atmosphere in society....

  7. Chapter 4 Linking the Soviet Volga; not the Rhine!
    (pp. 131-180)

    Towards the end of the war, the Protectorate and Nazi authorities both paid less and less attention to the canal project. The exception was theWehrmacht, which requested a copy of the canal plans in March 1945, when the Red Army entered Silesia and moved along the Oder towards Moravská Ostrava.² However, information included in the canal design did not help the Germans to stop the advancing Soviet troops. Ironically, the Moravian Gate, described by Baťa and others as the Czechoslovak key to (Central) Europe, served as the entrance from the east.

    The canal idea re-surfaced soon after the German...

  8. Chapter 5 Mastering Three Seas
    (pp. 181-234)

    Despite the victorious march of Sovietization and ensuing division of the continent into two halves, as epitomized by the Comecon waterway integration scheme, Czechoslovak engineers on the DOE project never abandoned the ideal scenario of a pan-continental waterways network. They tended to ignore the political barrier of the Iron Curtain that was threatening to detach their dream project from one of the three seas it once boasted to connect. The opening quotation comes from discussions on the DOE canal held in the early 1960s and shows, in condensed form, how the Comecon scheme was accompanied and enlarged by the broader...

  9. Chapter 6 Conclusion
    (pp. 235-244)

    This book has studied twentieth-century European history and the dynamics of “Europe” as an imagined community, in particular through the lens of the DOE project. This study revealed two distinctive aspects. The first was the continuity of European waterway integration in spite of various political ruptures, namely the break-up of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, Nazification, Sovietization, and Europeanization. The second aspect was the important role of experts in the alignment of national and transnational interests and infrastructure development plans. These experts were responsible for continuity in the hidden integration of Europe, as they were able to propose the DOE as a...

  10. Annex 1 List of Barge Types
    (pp. 245-246)
  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 247-268)
  12. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. 269-270)
  13. Summary
    (pp. 271-273)

    This book looks at the integration processes in Europe from the perspective of a single waterway project, the Danube-Oder-Elbe Canal (DOE). In doing so, it draws on the recent strand of scholarly literature considering the process of European integration as an outcome of transnational networking, system building and infrastructure development. Two core assumptions of such an approach, labeled “hidden integration” claim: (1) that the process of integration (and fragmentation) of infrastructures on the continent began back in the nineteenth century, and (2) the integration processes were driven by transnational expert organizations rather than diplomats representing nations states and their interests....

  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 274-274)