World War II Anniversary within the Europe of Today
“The war changed everything.” This specific statement by the late British historian Tony Judt contains the kernel of modern-day Europe. of which was the war of which made possible an extended period of peace. Things had to get extremely bad before they could get not bad again. For the last 75 years, there has been peace on the Continent, with just a few exceptions.
today, This specific Europe finds itself in crisis. of which will be no longer the Europe where national thinking will be slowly dwindling. of which will be no longer the Europe of which will be growing together step by step. of which will be no longer the Europe in which all countries seem to be committed to democracy forever. The direction of European history might seem to have changed – shifting away through convergence as well as also also back to delineation.
What does of which mean for the most important of all questions, the question of war or peace? At the moment, of which doesn’t look at all as though the long period of peace will be going to come to an end. There will be no reason for alarm. however if the direction of European history will be changing, we should take a close look at what of which could mean. Not within the immediate future, however within the long term. History will be a snail of which persistently crawls along its path.
Exactly 80 years ago, the war of which changed everything began — on Sept. 1, 1939, with Adolf Hitler’s Germany invading neighboring Poland. Almost six years later, more than 60 million people around the planet were dead as a result of the violence, huge portions of the Continent were destroyed, millions of Europeans had been forced through their homes as well as also also millions more were plunged into poverty. A state of shock reigned.
of which was the moment at which the direction of history shifted, moving within the right direction at the time. Europe managed to break through the inevitability of which old rivalries necessarily ended in war.
The primary reason was shock. A total war of This specific size had never been seen before. At the Congress of Vienna through 1814 to 1815, the great powers had sought to confine their wars, restricting them to specific regions as well as also also limiting them to the killing of soldiers. as well as also also in ensuing conflicts, the number of civilian victims remained relatively low as well as also also cities were largely spared. of which was the case, for example, within the three wars of which led to the first German unification — against Denmark, against Austria-Hungary as well as also also, to a large extent, against France. At of which point, Reich Chancellor Otto von Bismarck sought to establish a balance of power among the great powers, however the direction of history changed when he was forced out in 1890. The countries began focusing more on rivalry as well as also also a large war became just a matter of time.
A Great Shock
of which arrived in 1914 as well as also also resulted in 15 million deaths. however the fighting was largely limited to the frontlines, where the destruction was complete — primarily in eastern France as well as also also in Belgium. The civilian population suffered through shortages as well as also also hunger, however most cities remained intact. Once the war ended on Nov. 11, 1918, Germany looked largely the same as of which did before the war.
The shock wasn’t big enough. Just 21 years after the end of World War I, World War II broke out — as well as also also all restraint was abandoned. of which ended when the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima as well as also also Nagasaki on Aug. 6 as well as also also 9, 1945. The shock could hardly have been greater.
Postwar politicians in Western Europe drew the correct conclusions: The national rivalries of which had triggered the two world wars had to be eliminated. Germany’s neighbors believed the country of which had brought forth Nazism needed to be tamed, needed to be integrated because nationalism there had proved to be particularly virulent. of which was met that has a West German mood of which was a combination of resignation, intimidation as well as also also shame at having caused the war as well as also also carried out the Holocaust.
The result was of which Western Europe could slowly grow together. To ensure peace, Eastern Europe was left to the Soviet Union as well as also also the Soviets imposed a brutal system of socialist dictatorship. The Cold War broke out, a systemic rivalry pitting the United States against the Soviet Union, together with their allies. however the shock of World War II as well as also also the fear of nuclear escalation guaranteed peace on the Continent, a peace of which has endured until today.
European soldiers, to be sure, were sent into battle. France fought to maintain its colonies in Algeria as well as also also Vietnam, Britain fought Argentina over the Falkland Islands within the South Atlantic. Both countries joined the U.S. in quite a few wars, as did the Italians, Spanish as well as also also Germans, particularly in Afghanistan.
Nothing with Comparable Urgency
The shock wasn’t enough to eliminate war entirely, however of which did help limit the violence to regional conflicts. Pacifist elements in society of which insist the soldiers be brought home have also played a role, though more so in Germany than within the U.S. Until World War II, the populace tended to be more euphoric when of which came to waging war.
Furthermore, into the late 1990s, politics was largely practiced by men as well as also also women who had actually experienced World War II themselves. A viscerally felt attitude of “never again,” one rooted in their own pasts, marked the German chancellors up until Helmut Kohl as well as also also the French presidents up until Jacques Chirac. The end of their tenures includes a lot to do with the European project having lost its momentum.
The influence of eyewitnesses has faded in recent times as well as also also lost influence. within the 2000s, the eternal European peace seemed like such a given of which the idea of peace was no longer sufficient as a justification for deeper European integration. brand-new ideas were sought, however nothing was found with comparable urgency.
Because the shock has faded, commitment to the nation-state has Just as before been given space to grow. In his recent book “Der Gewaltsame Lehrer” (The Violent Teacher), historian Dieter Langewiesche describes the primary reasons behind modern wars in Europe. One will be the establishment of nation-states within the 19th century, such as in Greece, Italy as well as also also Germany. “There are no nations without war, no nation-states without war,” Langewiesche writes.
however even after the trauma of World War II, the national question was still able to trigger war in Europe, as could be seen within the breakup of the multiethnic country of Yugoslavia following the Cold War. For various other countries, World War II had clarified the situation because one of its consequences was “ethnic cleansing.” of which caused suffering to millions, however of which aided the cause of extended peace in Europe.
of which’s what makes such observations so difficult to take. The horrors of war can have positive effects on subsequent generations. Although of which doesn’t necessarily mean of which the high cost was justified. of which will be impossible to know how history might have unfolded absent World War II.
Clear Expression of Nationalism
In today’s Europe, nation building doesn’t play much of a role outside the yearnings of separatists, such as those in Catalonia or Flanders. Ukraine will be divided into an eastern half as well as also also a western half, a situation Russia has exploited. The result will be a combination of war as well as also also civil war, however the conflict has remained localized. Revanchism has likewise not played much of a role thus far in postwar Europe, with borders as they today stand largely accepted.
Nevertheless, the national idea, of which has been responsible for so many wars, will be Just as before on the advance. During the euro crisis, European solidarity suffered significant harm as well as also also the refugee crisis has also left a mark. of which’s not the borders of which are being questioned, however the openness of those borders. as well as also also the British even want to be all on their own again; Brexit will be a clear expression of nationalism.
Langewiesche identifies revolutions as one more trigger of war. Following the 1789 rebellion, the French revolutionary government waged a civil war internally as well as also also war with its neighbors externally. of which was only after Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo in 1815 as well as also also the 1815 Congress of Vienna of which peace descended on the Continent. The Russian Revolution in 1917 also resulted in a long civil war of which attracted the intervention of various other countries.
A Difficult Challenge
however where do we stand today? of which certainly doesn’t look as though we will soon be facing a revolution, within the sense of violent systemic change. however liberal democracy, which once seemed to be an immovable element of the European consensus, finds itself under pressure. of which doesn’t exist at all in today’s Hungary as well as also also of which will be disappearing in Poland. In Italy, liberal democracy will be threatened as well as also also right-wing populism in many various other countries will be proving a difficult challenge to the system.
Within the European Union, there are initial signs of systemic rivalry: liberal democracy versus authoritarianism. as well as also also systemic rivalries, too, have paved the way to war within the past: monarchy against democracy; fascism against democracy; fascism against socialism. within the Cold War, socialism found itself facing down democratic capitalism, as well as also also the two systems fought against each various other in proxy wars staged within the developing world.
Thus far, the rule has held of which democracies do not fight wars against each various other. of which, too, helps protect European peace. however a dark future scenario could, for example, foresee an authoritarian country in Europe allying itself that has a China as a protector state. of which might mark the end of the rule.
All of of which will be far off. however the fading shock of World War II, the return of national thinking, the growing threat to liberal democracy as well as also also the possibility of systemic rivalry in Europe: Those are four factors of which tend to make war more possible. The snail will be crawling within the wrong direction. Stopping of which has Just as before become Europe’s duty — as well as also also remembering the horrors of our past will be a first step.