(K. Brent Tomer),
The Great Departure: Mass Migration from Eastern Europe and the Making of the Free World. By Tara Zahra. W.W. Norton; 392 pages; $28.95 and £18.99.
EASTERN Europe is in the midst of a migration panic. Milos Zeman, the Czech Republich’s president, has called the influx of refugees to the continent an “organised invasion”; Jaroslaw Kaczynski, chairman of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party, warns that they may be carrying “very dangerous diseases”. But anxieties about migration in the region are nothing new. In 1890 a lawyer in Galicia described it as “one of the most important, burning problems of the day”. Yet as Tara Zahra recounts in “The Great Departure”, a perceptive history of migration and eastern Europe, until very recently that problem was not immigration but emigration.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, emigration was considered a “fever”, that could empty villages. For most, the destination was America: 300,000 made the journey from Austria-Hungary in 1907, the highest number to arrive from one country in a single year. The story of their arrival there has been told many…Continue reading