One aspect of Europe's 20th century history that doesn't often make it to mainstream popular history output is our own record of ethnic and linguistic 'adjustment', behind which lay stories of cruelty, heartbreak and unbearable grief. It is perhaps because such history still has the power to motivate strife that we as Europeans choose to bury it - and why no Simon Scharma, Antony Beevor or BBC producer has sought to revive it. Sometimes a cine camera was accidentally present to capture a hint of it - the column of wounded and cowering ethnic German DPs who had just been machine-gunned by ethnic Czechs who then drove a 4 ton lorry over their legs. Most frequently the horrors are buried and hidden, and parents and grandparents who witnessed such things are taking them to the grave.
I have maps of Europe that span pre-1914 to post-1945 and that document how the lines moved in 1919 and in in 1946. Each tiny movement a million people, a thousand years of family rootedness, an ocean of tears. The Slovenes left in Austria after the 1920 plebiscite, the Tiroleans left in Italy, the German mini state in the Balkans, Poles, Ruthenians, Silesians, Alsations, German, French, Czech, Slovak, Slovene, Slavone. And such adjustments, if not accelerated by a little local genocide, continue still today. The smaller the remnant of a minority gets, the more zealous to preserve its language and local place names, and such concessions are made these days, until the last unassimilated people disappear to leave just a few badly remembered words and some interesting recipes.
All of this is why the mainland Europeans are so much keener on the EU than we are. It is not to preserve peace between sovereign nations, not to prevent the rise of dictators but to save us from our neighbours who wear a different patterned headscarf. To prevent the midnight banging on the door, with the boys being dragged off to a ditch to be shot. Here in the UK we have no folk history of it - except perhaps in Ulster, far removed from 97% of us.
As anyone has ever undergone a corporate restructuring will know, the changes are frequently not at all scientific and with little rationale. Once the main pieces on the board have been traded and the big knobs want to go home, the little pieces are swiftly repositioned so as not to disturb the main deal. So Health and Safety finds itself reporting to the Marketing director. Versailles and Yalta were the same. The bell had gone for dinner, so a ruler or a river and a blue pencil solved the final boundaries.
For anyone looking at the following two maps of the middle east, remember that the lines of 20th century Europe were simple and the numbers in the millions not the hundreds of millions.
No polemic today, just quiet despair.