History of Europe from 1914 to 1945 The history of Europe between years 1914 and 1945 encompasses the unforgivable events of World War I and World War II. To explore history of Europe between these two events, where Germany played the main role, it is necessary to reveal the major incentives which preceded them, while paying the main attention to their byproduct, such as the emergence of fascism, as well as, to understand how these events were closely related to each other. The incentives which caused the outbreak of World War I, also called the “Great War”, were more complex.
The assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary was only the last drop which trigged the war. Extreme nationalism, patriotism, alliance system, and desire for expansion of territories were the real origins of the Great War. However, the beginning of the war was rapid and unexpected. Unlike World War II, World War I was glorified and openly supported. People expressed the spontaneous support of the war and the deep desire to fight for their country which gave them identity and citizenship.
In all countries concerned, men enlisted voluntarily and were viewed as romantic heroes. At the beginning, the war was expected to last just few months but in the end it lasted more than four years with from nine to ten million casualties and unprecedented levels of violence among combatants, against prisoners and civilians. The most striking fact is that violence of the Great War, particularly in its first weeks, was widely approved and accepted by millions of people. “It definitely contradicted to “civilizing process” in modern society. Germany, as a perceived initiator of the war, was viewed as if lacking completely of moral thinking due to committed atrocities, particularly against woman who had been made to work like men in occupied France, as one of the examples. Common to the both wars, concentration camps were used, as well as, the notions of racism and the Social Darwinism. “For the French, the German race was inferior, comparable to that of the worst African tribes. ” Defeat of Germany ended World War I and the Treaty of Versailles was signed.
This document laid out reparations owed by Germany to the other combatant nations, restrictions on the size and power of the German military, and territorial readjustments intended to punish Germany’s aggression. The outcome of World War I prepared the best conditions for the outbreak of World War II and the emergence of Hitler, along side with fascism. The years of hunger and the inability to feed its own people during World War I were replaced by the economic disaster overwhelming postwar Germany in 1920s, where unemployment and inflation, caused by the Great Depression, became an unbearable problem. Inflation grew worse by the hour. ” One U. S. dollar equaled 4,200,000,000,000 reichsmarks causing problems to buy a single loaf of bread with six days’ wages. All these circumstances made people realize that democracy, under the newly formed Weimar republic, did not bring them anything good. They wanted a strong leader who would save Germany and bring them back sense of German identity. “Anyone who would promise economic stability would capture the nation’s mind and soul as well. It brought Adolf Hitler who told them that Germany was not only a worthy nation but a superior one. People, equally scared of communism and democracy, grateful for ending their misery, helped the emergence of Hitler and fascist movements in Germany and other European countries. Disillusioned veterans of World War I, facing unemployment, poverty and inability to come back to civilian life, were ideal recruits for fascism movement.
Fascist propaganda and mass rallies, appealing to nationalist feelings, helped Hitler, Mussolini and others to unbelievably manipulate masses of people to engage in terrible acts of brutality and blindly follow fanatic ideas of their leader. Anti-Semitism and the need for territorial expansion, in order to secure and expand the “superior” German race, were at the center of the German fascism. Need for Lebensraum – living space, served as a major motivation for German territorial aggression which trigged World War II.
In the beginning of the war, due to exhaustion, France and Britain were reluctant to wage another war. They tried to avoid that possibility by pursuing a policy of appeasement, in the hope that satisfied Hitler would not drag Europe through another world war. The Treaty of Versailles was violated and the re-occupation of Rhineland and the acquirement of the Czechoslovakia’s Sudetenland were just the beginning of the Hitler’s Lebensraum plan. Hitler’s plan was to depopulate conquered lands and settle them with a “superior” Germanic race.
Besides, he wanted to completely wipe out hated Jewish and Slavic people in concentration camps and use the other conquered nations for force labor. During the Holocaust, Jews and Slavs were worked to death or gassed in gas chambers by thousands a day. After conquering Poland, Hitler launched an invasion of neutral Belgium, Holland, Luxemburg and France, followed by the battle of Britain and German’s defeat in Russia while seeking to conquer Stalingrad. Operation Overlord, on June 6, 1944 where the Allied forces launched their invasion of Nazi-occupied France was crucial.
Since that, the end of the Third Reich was inevitable. Half a year later, the Russians launched a major offense alongside with British and American forces and ended World War II. In conclusion, glorified World War I and by Hitler trigged World War II resulted in millions of deaths and affected destinies of diverse nations in years which followed. Hopefully, these two brutal events in our history have convinced people that peace, democracy, and human dignity are values which matter the most and, therefore, should be preserved at any cost.