From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Central Europe is the region lying between the variously and vaguely defined areas of Eastern and Western Europe. In addition, Northern, Southern and Southeastern Europe may variously delimit or overlap into Central Europe. The term has come back into fashion since the end of the Cold War, which had divided Europe politically into East and West, with the Iron Curtain splitting "Central Europe" in half. The understanding of the concept of Central Europe varies considerably from nation to nation, and also has from time to time.
The region is usually used to mean:
Rather than a physical entity, Central Europe is a concept of shared history, in opposition to the East represented by the Ottoman Empire and Imperial Russia, as well as the associated religions of Eastern Orthodoxy and Islam—with Central Europe generally defined as an overwhelmingly Catholic area, and up to World War I distinguished from the West as an area of relative political conservatism opposed to the liberalism of France and Great Britain and the influences of the French Revolution.Template:Fact In the nineteenth century, while France developed into a republic and Britain was a liberal parliamentary monarchy in which the monarch had very little real power, Austria-Hungary and Prussia (later German Empire), in contrast, remained conservative monarchies in which the monarch and his court played a central governmental role, along with some influence of religion. Following World War I, nations in Central Europe, with exception of Czechoslovakia, rapidly fell under authoritarian regimes while Western European countries maintained their parliamentary systems, and although the divide between Western and Central Europe became somewhat obsolete after World War II and the fall of Nazism, it remains as a historic and cultural boundary.
In the English language, the concept of Central Europe largely fell out of usage during Cold War, shadowed by notions of Eastern and Western Europe. It may be seen in historical and cultural contexts. However, the term is being increasingly used again, with the recent expansion of the European Union.
It is sometimes joked that Central Europe is the part of the continent that is considered Eastern by Western Europeans and Western by Eastern Europeans.
Central European contributions to world culture
Although Central European is a rather loose geographical term, the region has produced quite a sizeable contribution to world culture that is clearly recognised as distinctly "Central European". Its peak time was the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, when the Golden Triangle of Prague-Vienna-Budapest, as well as numerous other centres of culture radiated to the entire world.
The region produced outstanding talents in science, such as the psychologists Sigmund Freud, Adler and Jung, or the philosophers Karl Popper and Ludwig Wittgenstein.
In music some truly Central Europe figures include the Strauss family, Arnold Schönberg, Gustav Mahler, Antonín Dvořák, Zoltán Kodály and Béla Bartók.
In painting Gustav Klimt, Paul Klee and Oskar Kokoschka and Alfons Mucha are defining artists, all belonging to the Secessionist movement, a distinctly Central European phenomenon. Also Jacek Malczewski should be pointed. Secession was present in architecture, with Otto Wagner, Adolf Loos and Ödön Lechner being leading figures.
In literature one might mention Jaroslav Hašek, Václav Havel, Franz Kafka, Robert Musil, Kundera, Péter Esterházy, György Konrád and Danilo Kiš.
In terms of cooking, the area has contributed the meat dish Wiener schnitzel, the cakes Sachertorte, Gerbaud and dobostorta, as well as Gugelhupf. The lager (pils) variety of beer can also be identified as being of Central European origin.