Anti-Slavic sentiment

Anti-Slavism, also known as Slavophobia, a form of racism, refers to various negative attitudes towards Slavic peoples, the most common manifestation is the claim that Slavic nations are inferior to other ethnic groups, most notably Germanic peoples and Italian people. Slavophilia by contrast, is a sentiment that celebrates Slavonic cultures or peoples, and it has sometimes taken on supremacist or nationalist leanings, but it can also refer to an animus toward, an appreciation of, a love for, or a feeling of gratitude toward Slavic peoples or culture. Anti-Slavism reached its highest peak during World War II, when Nazi Germany declared Slavs, especially neighboring Poles to be subhuman and planned to exterminate the majority of Slavic people.[1]

20th century

Albania

At the beginning of the 20th century, anti-Slavism developed in Albania by the work of the Franciscan friars who had studied in monasteries in Austria-Hungary,[2] after the recent massacres and expulsions of Albanians by their Slavic neighbours.[3] The Albanian intelligentsia proudly asserted, "We Albanians are the original and autochthonous race of the Balkans. The Slavs are conquerors and immigrants who came but yesterday from Asia".[4] In Soviet historiography, anti-Slavism in Albania was inspired by the Catholic clergy, which opposed the Slavic people because of the role the Catholic clergy played in preparations "for Italian aggression against Albania" and Slavs opposed "rapacious plans of Austro-Hungarian imperialism in Albania".[5]

An emaciated male inmate suffering from severe malnutrition at the Italian Rab concentration camp on the island of Rab in what is now Croatia. This Italian concentration camp largely detained Slavs.

Fascism and Nazism

Anti-Slavism was a notable component of Italian Fascism and Nazism both prior to and during World War II.

In the 1920s, Italian fascists targeted Yugoslavs, especially Serbs. They accused Serbs of having "atavistic impulses" and they also claimed that the Yugoslavs were conspiring together on behalf of "Grand Orient masonry and its funds". One anti-Semitic claim was that Serbs were part of a "social-democratic, masonic Jewish internationalist plot".[6]

Benito Mussolini viewed the Slavic race as inferior and barbaric.[7] He identified the Yugoslavs (Croats) as a threat to Italy and he viewed them as competitors over the region of Dalmatia, which was claimed by Italy, and he claimed that the threat rallied Italians together at the end of World War I: "The danger of seeing the Jugo-Slavians settle along the whole Adriatic shore had caused a bringing together in Rome of the cream of our unhappy regions. Students, professors, workmen, citizens—representative men—were entreating the ministers and the professional politicians".[8] These claims often tended to emphasize the "foreignness" of the Yugoslavs as newcomers to the area, unlike the ancient Italians, whose territories the Slavs occupied. Ironically, the ancient sources refer to the Slavic peoples as the Adriatic Veneti, or the Wends, who were likely one of the settlers of Northern Italy around the time the Germanic tribes also arrived, shortly before the fall of the Roman Empire, and whose name the Veneto region and Venice both carry.