At the beginning of the 20th century, most of Eastern Europe was incorporated into the multinational Empires of the Tsar, Austro-Hungary and the Ottoman Turks. This study examines the transformation of these backward, underpopulated and essentially agricultural communities, with large and vigorous minority populations, into the industrialized and racially far more homogeneous nation states of the Communist bloc. Uneasily sandwiched between Russia and the West, the countries of East Europe have been torn and buffeted by the often incompatible ideologies and political ambitions of their larger and more forceful neighbours. The author takes as his starting point Vienna in 1913 a city in which, by strange coincidence, both Hitler and Stalin were elaborating ideas and policies that were to have a dramatic effect on the peoples of Mittel-Europa. Both Hitler and Stalin had their individual philosophies; and it is the tension between these two ideologies that provides the leitmotiv of this account of Eastern Europe through two world wars to the 1980s.