Guest Author - Rebecca Graf
Eras of history do not stand alone. One event can drastically affect another even when generations separate them. The twentieth century was shaped by the wars that were fought during that period. World War I, the war to end all wars, tore away the romantic innocence of Europe while World War II and the Cold War permanently closed the door to the innocent past. The entire Western world changed as blood was shed with all areas of society turned upside down: political, social, and economical.
Politically, every war in the twentieth century threw the West into turmoil. The biggest change after World War I was the relationships between the nations. Before the war, many of the rulers of Europe were related through marriages of the descendants of Queen Victoria of England. Because of the closeness in family ties, many treaties were signed between the various nations in such a way that one incident would and did create an explosive war. These relations broke down completely as war broke out and the related nations turned onto each other in accordance to the treaties. Suspicion and vengeance filled the political arena after the war. Revenge was set in the Treaty of Versailles by the winning side with the treaty designed to punish Germany and its part in the massive war. The treaty demanded Germany to renounce “all rights, titles and privileges whatever in or over territory which belonged to her or to her allies”. Germany was hindered politically, economically, and socially causing severe resentment toward the rest of Europe and the United States laying the foundation for the revenge it would get through World War II. World War I also opened the door for the horrific act of genocide became a weapon of war as did chemical warfare. Politically, Europe found itself in a stunned state of recovery.
The biggest change in politics came after World War II. Germany was dismantled as a result of its defeat and punishment for causing another world war and split between the Western Powers and the Soviet Union. The United States became a superpower as it rose up in status causing a shift in world power.
The Holocaust became a political bomb as moves were made to give the Jews a permanent place to live in the area they had called home during biblical times. Countries began to take sides on if it should happen and where. The move toward a Hebrew nation led to troubles in the Middle East that are still brewing and exploding today. The troubles of the two world wars led to the creation of the United Nations which was “based on the idea that an international body could resolve disputes through discussion and diplomacy to avert or stop wars.” The two world wars and the tragedies that hit Europe before, during, and after set the stage for the Cold War.
“Bismarck and the Unification of Germany”. Needham Public Schools. Accessed March 1, 2013, http://www2.needham.k12.ma.us/nhs/cur/Baker_00/2001_p2/baker_lg_bp_pd.2/bismarck.htm.
Burdick, T. “Tsar Nicholas and the Great War and the Effects on Russia.” St. Lawrence University. Accessed February 25, 2013. http://it.stlawu.edu/~rkreuzer/pburdick/Tsar_Nicholas_and_the_Great_War.htm.
“Charles de Gaulle.” History Learning Site. 2000. http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/charles_de_gaulle.htm.
“Economics of WWII”. University of Wisconsin La Crosse. Accessed March 2, 2013. www.uwlax.edu/faculty/.../Economics%20of%20WWII.ppt.
Edeiken, Yale F. “An Introduction to the Einsatzgruppen.” Holocaust History. August 22, 2012. http://www.holocaust-history.org/intro-einsatz/.
“Effects of World War II”. Suffolk County Community College. Accessed March 2, 2013. http://www2.sunysuffolk.edu/westn/effectww2.html.
“European History”. A Web of English History. Accessed March 1, 2013. http://www.historyhome.co.uk/europe/hitfor.htm.
“European Power Balance (1871-1914)”. Suffolk County Community College. Accessed March 1, 2013. http://www2.sunysuffolk.edu/westn/powerbalance.html.
“Flaws of German Unification”. University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Accessed March 3, 2013. http://www-student.unl.edu/cis/hist101w03/online_course/unit3/lsn12-tp05.html.
Hitler Adolf. “On National Socialism and World Relations”. German Propaganda Archive. Calvin University. Accessed March 3, 2013. http://www.calvin.edu/academic/cas/gpa/hitler1.htm.
Keylor, William R. “World War I”. Wayne University. Accessed March 2, 2013 http://www.is.wayne.edu/mnissani/WWI/encarta.htm.
Charles S. Maier. “The world economy and the Cold War in the middle of the twentieth century.” In the Cambridge History of the Cold War. ed. Melvyn P. Leffler. Harvard University. Accessed March 3, 2013, http://history.fas.harvard.edu/people/faculty/documents/maier-theworldeconomy.pdf.
“Peace Treaty of Versailles.” Brigham Young University. Accessed March 1, 2013. http://wwi.lib.byu.edu/index.php/Articles_118_-_158_and_Annexes.
“Primary Source: Nazi-Soviet Non-aggression Pact Negotiations: The Reich Foreign Minister to the German Ambassador in the Soviet Union (August 14, 1939).” PBS. 2009. http://www.pbs.org/behindcloseddoors/pdfs/NaziSovietNegotiation2.pdf.
“The Great War and the Shaping of the 20th Century.” PBS. Accessed February 28, 2013. http://www.pbs.org/greatwar/thenandnow/index.html.
“The Legacy of World War II.” University of Milwaukee Middle School. Accessed February 28. 2013. http://middle.usmk12.org/Faculty/taft/Unit7/wwii_legacy.htm.
“The Marshall Plan.” George C. Marshall Foundation. 2009. http://www.marshallfoundation.org/TheMarshallPlan.htm.
“Treaty of Nonaggression Between Germany and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.” Yale Law School: Avalon Project. 2008. http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/nonagres.asp.