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Die neutrale Sprache : eine politische Geschichte des Esperanto-Weltbundes

By M. Sikosek

Abstract

The neutral language The Universal Esperanto Association (UEA), founded in 1908, is an international NGO that unites speakers of the planned or constructed language Esperanto. During the two world wars and the cold war UEA faced a series of conflicts based on political or organisational questions:\ud \ud a) National Esperanto organisations saw themselves as competitors and tried to exert increasing influence on Esperanto at an international level. They complained about political issues discussed in the UEA monthly publication Esperanto. Reorganisation of the Esperanto movement made national organisations independent affiliates of the UEA. Part of the question was how to finance activities beneficial to the whole movement, e.g. public relations, lobbying and the collection and compilation of statistics.\ud \ud b) Particular problems arose in national organisations facing a specific political situation, as in communist countries or Hitler's Germany. Local organisations were either banned or forced to adapt to prevailing political circumstances. This could bring them into conflict with the UEA which wanted to preserve its neutrality and which, in turn, demanded neutrality from the national organisations. After 1980 the UEA required national organisations only to respect the neutrality of the UEA.\ud \ud c) Some members tried to link the UEA to political movements, such as pacifism. In the 1960s and 1970s members of the UEA youth section believed neutrality should become an 'active' neutrality. Active neutrality meant not just avoiding contact with all (non-neutral) NGOs but seeking contact with NGOs of various political persuasions. However this initiative, not widely supported by UEA members, did not prove successfully. In general the UEA managed to remain neutral in spite of its growing universality, as more and more national affiliates from communist countries and the so-called third world joined it. Nevertheless it had to accept that, for example, the Czech association referred in its constitution to the leading role of the communist party. In 1934, over the question whether Jews in Germany could be listed in the UEA yearbook as local contacts ('delegates'), the UEA asked them to resign 'voluntarily'. Reasons for ignoring non-neutrality could be not only the goal of universality but also the fact that national affiliates were a source of income. Previous historiography of Esperanto sometimes uncovered political motivation where none existed. The most important examples are the Stockholm 'nationalist putsch' of 1934 and the Hamburg 'communist putsch' of 1974. Political motivation can be eliminated: in both cases the 'putsch' centred on the personal ambitions of a leader relinquishing his position.\ud \ud The main source of this historical research was the UEA archive. Other material was found in books and periodicals of the Esperanto language community. In addition, interviews were conducted with Esperantists from fifteen countries

Topics: Letteren, neutrality, constructed language, planned language, esperanto, international nongouvernemental organisation, cold war, language politics, transnational history, internationalism, universal esperanto association
Publisher: Skonpres
Year: 2006
OAI identifier: oai:dspace.library.uu.nl:1874/13710
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