Mitropa

is there such a thing as Central Europe? Once you leave France something definitely changes, but is that only because France has a unique sense of its own identity? Or is there a continuity among the lands to the East?

When I was a kid, the concept didn’t exist. There was Western Europe, which was with the Americans, and Eastern Europe, which was not (even if not always fully with the Soviets either – Yugoslavia, Romania). The two were divided by a wall, and you got shot if you tried to cross it (well, East to West, anyway). Then came 1989, and Germany was unimaginably one again, and the natural fault lines were free to resurface…

so far, the case looks good. There is a feel to it, something to do with the square shuttered houses and the onions in the church steeples, and the slow, hefty pace. It’s Germanic, but not just that – there are Slavs on the trains, and even the German accents seem to have a Slavic edge to them. So far means Germany, Switzerland, Austria (and Liechtenstein), but how will the concept fare in Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic? We’ll have to see…

In the meantime, nobody quite seems to be able to agree on its borders:

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