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Defending the Rights of Others: The Great Powers, the Jews, and International Minority Protection, 1878-1938 Paperback – November 2, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-0521029940 ISBN-10: 0521029945 Edition: 1st

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Defending the Rights of Others: The Great Powers, the Jews, and International Minority Protection, 1878-1938 + Human Rights in the Twentieth Century (Human Rights in History) + Inventing Human Rights: A History
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 452 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (November 2, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521029945
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521029940
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #640,729 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Carole Fink's Defending the Rights of Others is a masterpiece of exhaustive research, engaging narrative, and lucid analysis that revives and reinterprets the long neglected but critically important subject of the campaign by the European powers to afford protection to religious and ethnic minorities within the new states in Eastern Europe that were carved out of the Ottoman, Habsburg, Romanov, and Hohenzollern Empires...this work sets a new standard of scholarship in the field of international history." William R. Keylor, Professor of History and International Relations and Director of the International History Institute, Boston University

"Based on an extraordinary sweep of archives and published materials, this is an original and badly needed survey of a topic rarely explored or even touched on in the history of the 19th and 20th centuries but that is becoming a central issue in the international politics of our time: the role of the world community in the protection of minorities in sovereign states." Gerhard L. Weinberg, Emeritus Professor of History, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

"Professor Fink's latest work makes a major contribution to our historical understanding of the growing need to defend human rights on a transnational scale. This volume is the product not only of her pioneering archival research, but also of the unsurpassed maturity of judgment in this field that she has developed over many years of scholarly concern with its riches and complexities." Michael Biddiss, Professor of Modern European History, University of Reading

"...contributes substantially to our understanding of the practice of official and non-official diplomacy at the Paris Peace Conference and the drafting and implementation of the minority treaties, but also reminds us that internationally sanctioned minority protection emerged in the context of expansionist nationalism. This book will be of particular interest for scholars of diplomatic and modern Jewish history, but is an important read for anyone concerned with theorizing the link between ethnic violence and state formation."
- H-German, Aimee Genell, Department of History, the Graduate Center, City University of New York

"This richly detailed and important book displays impressive scholarship. It deserves a wide readership and should be mandatory reading in advanced courses on Europe, human rights, and diplomacy in the twentieth century."
Holocaust and Genocide Studies

"...the research for this volume is truly impressive....Refreshingly, Fink's impressive study reminds us that good diplomatic history is still a pleasure to read, as well as it has much to teach."
- Jewish History, Frederic Krome

"Fink has identified a significant gap in the historiography, and she deserves applause for wading through a sea of material in several languages in order to fill it." Journal of Modern History David Cesarani, University of London

"Finke's is a truly extraordinary contribution." - Eugene C. Black, Brandeis University

Book Description

International minority protection, which began in the late 19th century, was aimed at bringing stability to the new and expanded states in Eastern Europe. This first historical study of the sixty-year period between 1878 and 1938 examines the policies of the Great Powers, which devised these arrangements; of Jewish leaders who sought to defend their endangered kindred people; of the fledgling governments, which fiercely resisted outside interference; of the League of Nations, which developed a unique system for minority protection; and of Germany, which between 1919 and 1933 went from a minorities champion to a persecutor and aggressor.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By W Boudville HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 2, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Fink gives us a rendition of the struggles in Eastern Europe, from 1878 to the eve of World War 2. But seen in the context of the travails of various minorities scattered throughout the region. The bulk of the attention is on the Jewish communities. It should be said that the book can be depressing reading. We see repeated pogroms and lesser discriminations being visited upon the Jews. By "nationalists" in every country. Serbia, Greece, Poland ...

Especially pernicious is what she describes during the First World War. When combatants on both sides would routinely revile Jews as potential sympathisers for the other side.

The US, in relative contrast, comes off pretty well. At least as compared to the at best studied indifference or cynical manipulations by the European Great Powers of minority affairs. Where typically, a Power would try to stir up trouble in an opposing Power, but simultaneously holding down its minorities.

The book has disturbing relevance in today's Europe, where the Balkans are still restless. It also provides a context for the ongoing struggles towards normal relations between such countries as Poland and Russia.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By john thames on January 31, 2013
Format: Paperback
Carole Fink's study of the minorities treaties in Eastern Europe following the First World War is academic confirmation of the fact that Jews do, indeed, exert considerable power in the world of international politics. The minorities treaties were bitterly resented by the Eastern Europeans as proof that a Jewish "nation-wthin-the-nations" was exercising interference in their affairs. Kicking and screaming they went along with the interference at the behest of the Great Powers. The Poles, in particular, tried to whittle down the treaties by exempting Jews who had fled during the war and requiring complainants to refer their actions to the League of Nations while prohibiting the plaintiffs taking direct action against the nation itself. Nevertheless, the fact that the Jews who were nowhere involved in the war itself except as combatants for their respective nations could nevertheless demand protection for Jews everywhere was interpreted as provable Jewish international power at work. The commentator Emile Joseph Dillon said as much in his book, "The Inside Story of the Peace Conference".

The minorities treaties were implemented at the same time that "The Protocols of Zion" were circulating among the English press. Mr. Gwynne of "The Morning Post" commented quite cogently on these matters in several notable essays.Fink is candid enough to admit that Polish fears of Jewish involvement in Bolshevism were not entirely unfounded, as when discussing the killing of thirty some odd Jews in a military action near Pinsk. The minorities treaties, along with the issuance of the mandate over Palestine and the Jewish delegations all over the globe dscending on Paris made a powerful impression on the anti-Semites of the day. If Jews were really nationals like everybody else, why did they not rely on their respctive governments to represent them? The question remains unanswered to this day.
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