The Great War began in August 1914.  Most people believed that war would be over by Christmas, however, a military stalemate, featuring trench warfare, made the war last much longer and take the lives of millions of soldiers and civilians.  In the war’s wake, four empires fell.  One, a revolution, overthrew the Tsar of Russia and eventually established the Bolsheviks in power.

The Versailles Peace Treaty signed between the victors and the vanquished left a legacy of nationalist dissatisfaction and hatred.  Out of the economic, social and political turmoil of the 1920’s and 1930s emerged authoritarian movements that swept to power in many European countries.  In Italy, Mussolini’s  fascists seized power in 1922;  in Germany, Hitler’s National Socialist Party grew in strength through the early years of the Great Depression.  In the Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin became head of the Communist Party, purging rivals within the party and launching a series of reform that would see the USSR grow in strength and vitality throughout the depressionary 30’s.  Britain and France looked on alarmed but were too caught up in their own domestic challenges to become involved.  

After coming to power in 1933 Hitler rearmed Germany and disdainfully violated the Treaty of Versailles by reoccupying the Rhineland in 1936 and forging a union with Austria.  That same year Mussolini and Hitler supported a right-wing nationalist uprising in Spain against the democratic Spanish Republic.  Soon Hitler would use the court of world opinion to gain control of the newly born Czechoslovakia and eventually spur war when he initiated his long planned invasion of Poland.  World War II in Europe had begun.

By wars’ end, seventeen million people would be killed in fighting, and another twenty million would die as civilians, including more than six million Jews, systematically exterminated by the Nazis during the Holocaust.  Nineteen forty five would see the end of this period of crazed and maniacal anxiety only to usher in a new and potentially more dangerous period from 1945 to 1989, a period in which nuclear arms made the threat of a new war even more horrible.

Unit Six Syllabus

Reader XV: 
The Age of Modern Conflict
pages 525 to 540
The Falling Angel

Europe Comes Undone
Class 01 The War to End All Wars, Well Almost
Class 02 The Total War or Bringing War Home
Class 03 & 04 The Russian Revolution, or Peace, Bread and Land -- almost
Class 05 The Peace to End All Wars, Almost, or An Uneasy Nap for Peace
Class 06 The Age of Anxiety, or To Heck With Tradition
Class 07 20th Century Art
Links to the video associated with page 360.
PicassoMatisse (Optional: 13:06-16:53)
Class 08 & 09 Responses to Economic Uncertainty, or Im Very, Very Sad and Oh So Poor
Totalitarianism: On the Right and the Left
Class 10 The Rise of Totalitarianism, or Ours Ours, Ours, and I Get The Say
Class 11 & 12 The Rise of Totalitarian Regimes I, or, The Man of Steel
Class 13 The Rise of Totalitarian Regimes II of Il Leader and El Leader
Class 14 The Rise of Totalitarian Regimes III, or Der Leader
Anschluss, Blitzkrieg, and the Unthinkable
Class 15 & 16 The Drive to War

Class 17 & 18 World War II, or the Tabloids of War
Class 19 Test
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