I first learned about Eastern Europe and the various nations in the region by watching the Olympics. The 1984 Winter Games in Sarajevo was a formative experience in my life. I hold a B.S. in Political Science and a minor in History with an emphasis on International Affairs. My professional career reconnected me with Eastern Europe when I spent six years guiding tours and developing exhibits at a decommissioned Minuteman Intercontinental Ballistic Missile site that had been designated a National Park. From that point I began to read more widely about Eastern Europe and starting traveling throughout the region. I have now made seventeen trips to Eastern Europe. Much of this blog is the result of those travels. In my professional career, I currently live and work in Canton, Ohio.
Hi, I just nominated you for the Liebster Award! More info here:
Is your profile picture in Belgrade? I had a fab time there. They have some serious captured arsenal from the conflict in the military museum!
It’s in Budapest on Oktober 6th utca (Ocotber 6th street). Not far from Deak Ferenc ter (Ference Deak square) Really like Belgrade as well. I have a post under the Balkans section about Kalmegdan Fortress in Belgrade.
I will check it out. Have been writing about Crimea today. From Austria eastwards is still an entirely different world but changing rapidly as East merges with West as you say……
You may be interested in my 90 year old father’s memoirs – he was born and raised in Konigsberg and writes about his childhood, war and POW experience.
Really, enjoyed this blog as I am also curious about where East meets West. My belief that it is somewhere in the Balkans. Bismark said that the Balkans begin in Southern Vienna, however, as I am currently in Budapest I feel like the line would be somewhere really close to here. I sort of feel like Budapest, if it where a person, would be diagnosed as bi-polar. Budapest’s head (intellect, reason) are in the high society and German culture of Vienna, of which Budapest wants/longs to be (again). But, the heart and soul (emotions/passions) of this place in rooted more in the Balkans-of which Budapest/Hungary cannot escape. The Blue Danube is the artery that connects these two worlds, and, I think, is a logical route of exploration to try to determine where East meets West. I would be curious to hear others opinion, or, if you are traveling now in the area to discuss. email@example.com
Just stumbled across your blog – such interesting and well-crafted articles! I’m currently researching and writing up my father’s WW1 “experience” (he was born in 1892!) serving with the Austro-Hungarian k.u.k. army on the eastern front and in particular Galicia. So I am finding many of your articles and tidbits on books and places to visit in Eastern Europe very stimulating. Currently planning my next trip to Hungary this July/August and really want to visit places such as Kosice, Przemyl, Lviv and of course Püspökladány!
Wellington, New Zealand
Thanks for the compliment:)
Do you know what regiment he was in and some of the battles he fought in. I might be able to help you find some information!
Yes, I have hard data from the annual Austro-Hungarian k.u.k. army officers lists available online that he served with IR67, Traindivision nr. 6, IR68 and IR65. I also have two medal citations from the Kreigsarchiv in Vienna (which I visited a couple of years ago) providing great info. I’m working my way through the plentiful English-language books now available on the Eastern Front and Stan Hanna’s wonderful translation of the massive 7 volume Austrian official history (OULK) with campaign maps etc. So I am slowly piecing together where my father’s units were at various times during WW1 and thus which campaigns and battles he probably “experienced”. Of course I can’t be sure but it’s a fascinating, time-consuming exercise for an amateur historian. This August I hope to return to Hungary and also explore some of the west Galicia areas in Slovakia and southern Poland. Kosice, parts of the Carpathians, Przemysl, maybe Lviv etc. So any tips or or references to some of your previous articles would be most welcome, thank you!
Just replied through gmail
thank you for writing this.I am also beginning to research my grandfather’s history – born in 1878 inthe balkans, died 1941 in th Katyn massacre having become Polish along the way, after marrying my grandmother in przemysl and then moving to Lwow. i may be tempted to pick your brains at some point in the future if I may.
Thankyou, your blog is really excellent and I. for one, think you write very well. Your posts on the eastern front campaign of 1914-1915 are very interesting. My personal interest? I’m an ex-military Australian now living in Tarnow, Poland. Yes, you read right: Australian, not Austrian, and Tarnow, Southern Poland. The many military cemeteries around here on the “Gorlce ” front bear witness to the fighting of an almost forgotten part of the first world war. I had done a lot of reading on the Western Front and Gallipoli (for obvious reasons) and explored both battlefields extensively, especially the Dardanelles. But the clashes between the Austro-Hungarian empire and the Russian empire, this was another matter!
I often think about these vanished empires when I walk or drive past some of the 1st world war cemeteries in my own home town. So many names of soldiers from vanished regiments fighting for vanished empires…sic transit gloria mundi…
I would like to cite your report “A Second Stalingrad … Siege of Budapest Tour” in a privately published book, not for sale, how would you like to be listed as the author, Forchoteau1 or CJ Wil.. Thanks
What is the name of the book and subject matter? Look forward to hearing from you.
Congrats on ticking over 600 posts! I always enjoy reading your article. Don’t drop by as often as I should, but keep up the good work. One of the best history blogs I read.
Thanks Robert! Please feel free to share them:)
I also have a Balkan love affair on the go. Happy to find your blog.
I was ROTFL, reading your description of the Debrecen railway—-so very true. Regarding why the book didn’t mention much about the former station could very well be that it was a painful loss, but perhaps because it was a functional building, unlike the Ispotaly templom (website included below), which was both an orphanage and a school open to the public.
Your blog is very informative- thank you I too am on a family history quest. I am going to croatia in a couple of weeks to reunite with some of my family – I last went in 1968 – only one living relative left. I am in the process of translating my grandfather’s childhood memoirs – he was born in 1878 relatively near Sarajevo – so I am reading your blog with interest.
Thank you for the comment Basia! Does your grandfather comment on the Franz Ferdinand’s assassination in the summer of 1914? It would be interesting to know what it was like in the days afterward. CJW
unfortunately his memoir only goes as far as his military education. he was a cartographer in the \ustro hungarian army and then became a Pole, and eventually killed in the Katyn massacres.
Chris I just came across your blog today because someone tweeted one of your posts. This is good stuff, and very informative. You need to get your writings out there more, and social media is the key. I found your profile on Twitter, but there is little to no activity. You have to get this stuff out there. Keep up the good work.
Thanks for the compliment! Feel free to share my posts widely:)
Insightful observations and encounters, a smart blog site. Your remarks on Eastern Europe are spot on, viz. limbo; …forever being influenced by it. “The impression I had was that we were leaving the West and entering the East.” – Chapter 1, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Jonathan Harker’s journal. It’s more than an impression, but the truth.
The past is present indeed as I experienced this year doing genealogy research and some sightseeing in Poland, Hungary and Romania. Any traveler should read the history of the places they are going to first with some depth.
I read various 19th century accounts of mainly British and French travelers to Hungary and Romania (Transylvania in particular). Stunning as my own experiences showed not much change. Example: traveling from Hungary into Romania trains are few with very long journey times for 350 miles. I compared the timetables from the late 19th century to today. The same journey times generally! Hungarians I spoke with confirmed this. On the train to Romania, but still in Hungary, we had to get off and take a bus the rest of the way. Why? The tracks were cut leading into fellow EU and NATO member Romania. CMIU. None of it. That said, Transylvania was fascinating.
On the Austrian OBB express train from Wien to Budapest, in the first class wagon I was in, at the first stop in Hungary alighted a large group of gypsies (Roma or Sinti). The conductor wearily eyed them, they had no tickets and massed between the carriages, not sitting in the compartment. They left at the next station, but not before the conductor asked me if that was my suitcase behind my seat where the gypsies had placed next to it a baby stroller, I said yes and he nodded keeping an eye out as they departed. I note this as when one reads the 19th century accounts of banditry in the region I had no surprises awaiting me. The aim is the same, distract the unwitting and relieve them of their valuables.
Of interest to you, regarding the chained past, another 19th century traveler keenly wrote of one group of peoples in Romania that was noted for remembering past slights and exacting revenge, although the offense have taken place decades ago.
Finally, the old ghosts of the region are alive. Recently, Hungarian P.M. Orban ticked off six neighbor countries when he wore a scarf showing ‘Greater Hungary’. It’s called revanchism. And this has always lurked but was kept in check during the Cold War. That cat is out of the bag. Let the games begin.
Thanks for sharing your travel stories.
Thanks for sharing your experiences Rob!