Pan-Slavism. A cultural and political movement among Slavic peoples, prevalent in the 19th century, whose adherents believed that their lineal and linguistic ties should bring about a union of all Slavs. Pan-Slavism was formulated as a theory in the early 19th century, the term itself being established by the Slovak J. Herkel in a linguistic treatise in 1826. The initial stages of the movement were devoted to praising a common Slavic past and studying Slavic languages. Pan-Slavism was pursued in particular by western Slavs as an offshoot of their national awakening. The political subjugation of the majority of Slavic peoples, the ideas of the French Revolution and German romanticism, and concurrent national awakenings resulted in the adoption of a historical and philosophical doctrine of Pan-Slavism, which not only sought the unity and federation of Slavic peoples, but envisioned the establishment of an ideal balance of power in Europe and a rejuvenation of European civilization as a result of their efforts. In the second half of the 19th century the concept was adopted by Russian circles, who quickly came to dominate the movement and developed it as a means of extending Russian influence over other Slavic peoples.
The ideas and writings of German Romantics, such as Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, and particularly Johann Gottfried von Herder (who praised the Slavic Volksgeist), had a great influence on the Slavic cultural milieu in the early 19th century, notably on Czechs, such as J. Dobrovský and V. Durič. Pavel Šafářík (a Slovak, 1795–1861) was among the first to publish statistics on Slavs with his Geschichte der slavischen Sprache und Literatur nach allen Mundarten (1826), which also mentioned Ukrainians (Little Russians) as a distinct people. Another Slovak, Jan Kollár (1793–1852), wrote the epic poem Slávy dcera (Slava's Daughter), in which he idealized the past of the ‘Slavic people’ (believing the many Slavic tribes constituted a single race). Pan-Slavic ideas also promoted the establishment of Slavic studies centers in Prague, Zagreb, Moscow, Berlin, Paris, Vienna, and other cities (both Slavic and not), which later played a central role in many national revivals.
Slavic cultural figures, such as František Čelakovský, Dobrovský, L. Gaj, and J. Jungmann, believed that Russia would assist other Slavic peoples in their struggles against pan-Germanism and Turkish domination and dreamed of a political and linguistic union under Russia. Some later came to change their views (including Gaj, L. Štúr, and Karel Havlíček-Borovský). Other Pan-Slavists had an Austrophile orientation. The father of Austro-Slavism (as that variant of Pan-Slavism was known) was the Slovene philologist J. Kopitar. The concept was further developed by the Czech F. Palacký (1785–1876), who during the Revolution of 1848–9 in the Habsburg monarchy supported the preservation of the Austrian Empire in the form of a federation of Slavs, Austrians, and Hungarians. Palacký, however, did not foresee any granting of rights to Galician Ukrainians, whom he considered Poles. After the transformation of the Austrian Empire into the Austro-Hungarian Empire he shifted his orientation to Russia and participated in the Moscow Slavic Congress of 1867.
Pan-Slavism did not command much support among the Poles, who were swayed more by Romantic patriotism and dreams of renewing the Polish state in its pre-1772 boundaries. At the same time the so-called Polish Question provided a vexing dilemma for Russian Pan-Slavists, who could easily condone the acquisition of Ukrainian lands (the ‘western provinces’) by the empire but were troubled by the implication that Polish ethnic lands could be incorporated. Nevertheless, within Poland pro-Russian and anti-Russian camps developed, the latter camp believing that the leading role in any Slavic union should be Poland's. Like their Russian counterparts the Polish proponents of Pan-Slavism did not recognize any right of the Ukrainian people to self-determination or to a separate existence.
In the late 19th century Russians came to dominate the debate over the goals and the rationale of Pan-Slavism. Even though one of the earliest proponents of Pan-Slavism, the Croatian priest Jurai Križanić (1618–83), had formulated the idea of a political union of Slavs under the Muscovite tsar as a form of protection from the perceived German and Turkish menace, the idea of Pan-Slavism remained at first weakly developed in Muscovy. With the rise of the Slavophiles in the 1840s a growing interest began to be shown in Pan-Slavism together with the idea that Russia should be the most prominent figure in any Slavic union. It was the Crimean War, however, in particular the shock of the empire's diplomatic isolation, that raised the profile of Pan-Slavism: a Slavic union was seen as a guarantee that Russia would never again stand alone. The Slavic Benevolent Committee was established in Moscow in 1858, and in 1859 Križanić's manuscript was unearthed and published. Benevolent committees were also established later in Saint Petersburg (1868), Kyiv (1869), and Odesa (1870). The most identifiable figures in the movement included Mikhail Pogodin and M. Katkov. The tone of the Russian Pan-Slavists became increasingly political as Russia moved from a fraternal role to a political one, particularly after the Polish Insurrection of 1863–4. The heydey of Pan-Slavism in Russia lasted from the staging of the Second Slavic Congress in Moscow in 1867 (in which no Poles or Ukrainians, other than two Russophile Bukovynians, took part) until shortly after the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–8. Its most broadly formulated program was prepared by N. Danilevsky in a work serialized in 1869 as Rossiia i Evropa, which foresaw the future addition of Galicia, Transcarpathia, and Bukovyna to the Russian Empire. Changed political circumstances in the 1880s undercut the tacit political support Pan-Slavism had enjoyed as a semiofficial policy, and it declined in popularity. Nevertheless Russian Pan-Slavism continued in a muted form with state subsidies for Russophiles outside the borders of the empire.
In Ukraine certain notions of Pan-Slavism were evident relatively early in the 19th century. Such ideas were disseminated mainly by Freemasons (notably the United Slavs Lodge in Kyiv, 1818–19) and by Decembrists (the Society of United Slavs, 1823–5). The political program of the Cyril and Methodius Brotherhood (1845–7) was deeply influenced by Pan-Slavism, which was also popular among Ukrainian scholars (Osyp Bodiansky, Mykhailo Maksymovych, and others) and the liberal nobility (Hryhorii Galagan, Nikolai Rigelman, and others). Many of the liberal nobility joined the benevolent committees active in Kyiv and Odesa.
In Western Ukraine the idea of Pan-Slavism initially fostered but later impeded the development of a Ukrainian national consciousness. In the first half of the 19th century people such as Pavel Šafářík and Jan Kollár inspired key representatives of the Ukrainian national revival (notably the Ruthenian Triad) to search out their Slavic heritage. The Slavic Congress in Prague, 1848, provided the setting for an unprecedented demand by Ukrainians for national recognition and political rights. That year the Halytsko-Ruska Matytsia was established as an institution of national ‘enlightenment’ along the lines of Czech and Serbian institutions. In the later part of the century, following a political reconciliation between Austria and Hungary at the expense of most of the Slavic peoples in the empire, the Ukrainian intelligentsia increasingly consisted of Russophiles, who were supported morally and financially by Pan-Slavist circles in Russia. They increasingly became a minority party as they were superseded in the 1880s and 1890s by Ukrainophile national populists.
In the early part of the 20th century Pan-Slavism saw a limited revival. Slavic congresses were held in Prague (1908) and Sofia (1910), and a new face was put on the movement by its being dubbed ‘Neo-Slavism.’ As war became increasingly more likely, patriotic circles in Russia again began to make claims of kinship with other Slavic peoples. One of their activities was the establishment of groups to provide help in laying the groundwork for possible territorial acquisitions in Western Ukraine. The groups included the Galician Russian Committee in Saint Petersburg and the Committee for the Liberation of Carpathian Ruthenia in Kyiv, both of which provided support for regional Russophile activity.
Pan-Slavism largely lost its appeal after the First World War. A concerted effort was made by the Soviet authorities in the 1940s to revive Pan-Slavic sentiments, and in 1941 they backed the creation of the All-Slavic Committee and staged the All-Slavic Congress in Moscow. Similarly, All-Slavic Committees were established in the West as Communist Party of the Soviet Union front organizations. Those efforts were more an extension of Soviet foreign policy than reflections of popular sentiment. The Pan-Slavic thrust was dropped by the Soviets after their rupture with Josip Bros Tito's Yugoslavia in 1948.
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[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 3 (1993).]
Encyclopedia of Ukraine