URBICIDE AND DESTRUCTION IN EASTERN EUROPE: WARSAW, MARIUPOL, AND AGHDAM IN COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS
The term urbicide is generally understood as “violence against the city” or “destruction of the urban,” where urbs means “city” and cide refers to the “killing.” This term applies to a deliberate attempt to destroy a city or urban settlement. However, urbicide represents neither a supplement to mass extermination nor collateral to armed intervention, as its purpose is to ruin the city itself. The term was coined in 1963 by Michael Moorcock and has been widely employed to describe urban restructuring, mostly in Western countries. However, scholars began using this term in the context of destruction beginning with the Balkan Wars in the 1990s, especially after the “Siege of Sarajevo.” Besides the Balkan Wars, different types of urbicide have happened in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, including in post-Soviet countries. The present renewed interest in the topic of urbicide is connected with the wars in Syria and Ukraine. This study focused on the first incident of urbicide in modern warfare, Warsaw during the Second World War, and two recent cases: Mariupol in Ukraine and Aghdam in Azerbaijan. The author, by comparing different cases, posits that a warring party that embarks on urbicide might pursue different goals—not only to destroy a conflicting party’s defense, but also to erase the city’s cultural attribution as well as to prevent the future rehabilitation and return of the pre-war population.