The "Second Thirty Years' War"
World War I and World War II

  1. The European world on the eve of the First World War
    1. Particularly in western Europe, the middle class was gaining dominance in industry, inroads to politics
    2. In general, a powerful sense of self-confidence among European elites, brought about by imperial and economic success
    3. Much of middle class and elite Europe was strongly positivist in their attitudes
      1. the belief that things will change for the better
      2. and that things will slowly progress (not in a revolutionary way)
    4. A belief on some level in Social Darwinism was also widespread
      1. encouraged the idea that the strong have a right to prosper
      2. the success of imperialism shows the dominance and rectitude of European culture and society
    5. War seen by many as a cleansing process, a way to show strength
      1. war in the modern world would have to be short, given the ferocity of modern war machinery
      2. the rules of Social Darwinism made war inevitable and necessary, but also meant that the strong would make short work of the weak
      3. the most recent wars in European history had in fact been short affairs (the Danish War, the Franco-Prussian War, etc)
      4. many European nations had built large armies in the late 19th and early 20th, but no continent wide war has hit Europe in almost 100 years
  2. Background to hostilities
    1. European diplomacy rested on the Balance of Powers
      1. no power was supposed to be allowed to become too strong
      2. complex network of alliances (some secret!) meant to insure that no one power could risk war on its own
      3. The main alliances balanced Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire against Britain, Russia, and France
    2. War triggered by assassination of Austrian Archduke Francis Ferdinand (6/28/14) by a Serbian nationalist
      1. Austria accused Serbia of backing this action, without proof
      2. Wanted Serbia to submit to Austrian domination
      3. Serbia refused, called on Russia for help, putting alliance system into motion
      4. Germany, allied to Austria, saw chance to keep France out of fight, so invaded Belgium (to get to Paris quickly)
      5. Britain joins to defend Belgium and contain Germany
    3. The short war that wasn't
      1. Germans believed they could smash through to Paris and end the war - almost made it, but stopped by French and British at the Marne
      2. The Western Front becomes stalemated, resulting in trench warfare
        1. both sides dig elaborate systems of trenches
        2. soldiers hide in trenches while massive artillery bombardments are carried out by both sides
        3. from time to time, soldiers will leave trenched to punch through enemy lines
        4. because of the machine gun, this rarely works, resulting in massive deaths
        5. some battlefields, such as Somme and Verdun, will see casualties in the hundreds of thousands (700,000 at Verdun)
      3. On the Eastern Front, Germany and its Austrian and Turkish allies have more success, but the vast terrains make final victory elusive
    4. Total war
      1. World War I devolves into a war of attrition, meaning that each combatant must muster as many resources as possible
      2. millions of soldiers mobilized
      3. states seize control of industry for war production
      4. massive propaganda to mobilize the "home front"
    5. American intervention and the end of the war
      1. Pacifism and isolationism keep the U.S. out of the war until 1917, but U.S. does supply France and Britain
      2. Russia sues for a separate peace
      3. Germany gambles that it can sink U.S. shipping and defeat France and Britain before U.S. enters the war
      4. This gamble fails, and an armistice is declared on 11/11/18
    6. Humiliation for the losers, disillusionment for the victors
      1. Treaty of Versailles
        1. takes several months to produce
        2. Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924) tries to use peace treaty to counter imperialism and promote self-determination
          1. combined with defeat of Russian, Austro-Hungarian, and Ottoman Empires, results in a number of new nations
          2. in eastern Europe, several nations gain independence or are created from scratch
          3. but several would-be nations are left disappointed, notably in Russia and the Middle East
        3. France and Britain more concerned about containing Germany, promoting own power
          1. results in what Germans will call the diktat - the dictated peace
          2. Germany forced to accept blame for war
          3. required to demilitarize western frontier and pay $132 billion in reparations
          4. results in resentments and financial upheaval for Germany
        4. Wilson's project of the League of Nations greatly weakened by refusal of Senate to approve U.S. membership
      2. Disillusionment in victory
        1. a whole generation of young European men wiped out
        2. profound sense of betrayal by many - what was this war for?
        3. U.S. retreats into isolationism
        4. Europeans begin to believe their civilization is in decline
  3. The Interwar Period and the Clash of Ideologies
    1. The Boom - and the Great Depression
      1. 1920s are a period of frenzied spending and growth in U.S. and parts of Europe
      2. Bubble economy of the 1920s collapses in 1929 market crash
      3. Financial panic becomes Great Depression as credit markets freeze and governments pursue protectionism, shutting down much of world trade
    2. Economic disaster and postwar disillusionment lead to radical changes
      1. In the United States, Britain, France and Scandinavia, governments rapidly expand, using taxation and public spending to redistribute wealth and promote growth
      2. In much of Latin America, government shift to military dictatorships
      3. In Germany, Italy, and Russia, and elsewhere, revolutionary movements emerge and grab for power
    3. Communism in Russia
      1. February Revolution - defeat in war and public anger of war depravations leads to collapse of the monarchy in February, 1917
      2. October Revolution - political turmoil enables Marxist Bolshevik movement to seize power in October, 1917
      3. Russian Empire renamed as Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
      4. After a bloody civil war, Vladimir Lenin (1870-1924) and Josef Stalin (1879-1953) establish a totalitarian state
        1. end of private property
        2. collectivization of economy under state control
        3. "Dictatorship of the proletariat" - complete control of politics, society and culture by Communist Party
        4. especially under Stalin, expansion of a powerful and violent police state
    4. Fascism in Italy and Germany
      1. Like Russian Communism, Fascism is totalitarian
        1.  but also stridently nationalist
        2. state control of economy, but with private property and government alliance with private industry
        3. power imposed with violent police state
      2. Italy - in 1922, Benito Mussolini (1883-1945) seizes power, seeking to recapture Roman imperial glory
      3. Germany - in 1933, Adolph Hitler (1889-19450 gains power, seeking to restore German imperial might in the context of an imagined racial purity
      4. Similar political movements spread to eastern Europe, and fascist sympathizers appear in Britain, France, U.S. and elsewhere
      5. Spain erupts in civil war that brings the militarist and stridently Catholic Francisco Franco (1882-1975) to power in in 1936
  4. World War II (1939-1945)
    1. War in Europe sparked by Hitler's desire to gain territory in the east for German expansion
      1. Initially attacks France and Britain in order to clear the way for an unfettered conquest of eastern Europe and the Soviet Union
      2. Frustrated by failure to defeat Britain, Hitler attacks Soviet Union in June, 1941
    2. War in Pacific sparked by Japanese imperial ambitions
      1. Japan needed resources of British and Dutch colonies to support their conquest of China
      2. Attacked United States at Pearl Harbor in effort to keep U.S. out of action long enough to complete conquest of east Asia
    3. Emergence of the Superpowers
      1. Both Soviet Union and U.S. are unprepared for full scale war
      2. Both able to call upon their vast resources to recover and overwhelm enemies
        1. Soviet war of attrition against Germany provides opening for U.S. and Britain to invade Italy and France, leading to German defeat
        2. Massive resources of United States overwhelms Japan's ability to sustain far-flung empire
      3. After defeat of Germany and Japan, only U.S. and USSR have resources to be world powers