Contextualizing the Unit
The breakdown of the Concert of Europe allowed for territorial rivalries among European nations to arise and culminate in the world’s most deadly global conflicts. 19th century conflicts among European nations over imperialist goals created new rivalries and rekindled old ones. These rivalries spiraled into larger issues:
Nationalism began to divide empires
The Industrial Revolution spurred an arms race
Conflicts around Europe culminated in nations calling on their allies for war.
Alliances divided Europe between the Triple Entente and the Triple Alliance until the Russian Revolution forced them to revoke their involvement in the Triple Entente. After understanding the void left by Russia, the United States joined the war to aid the British and the French forces against Germany. The fresh forces, supplies, and aid of the US military ended WWI only a year later. The Paris Peace Conference severely punished the German government for its role in WWI, created the League of Nations to keep regional conflicts from erupting into global ones, and forced Germany into extreme debt.
Authoritarian dictators began consolidating power that had been previously dispersed from absolutist leadership by newly formed parliaments, constitutions, and other reforms. These dictators used the force of military, grand rhetoric in speeches, and played on the fears of others to come to power and enforce strict societal changes.
Leaders such as Francisco Franco in Spain, Benito Mussolini in Italy, and Adolf Hitler in Germany began stripping certain citizens of their rights, and effectively created a police state in each nation. Specifically, Hitler in Germany used the Great Depression to unify the German people, all the while mounting formidable alliances and rebuilding the German military to bring Germany back to its greatness before WWI.
WWII, caused mainly by the unresolved issues of the Treaty of Versailles and the rise of Hitler in Germany, is the deadliest conflict in global history. Not only were there countless casualties of the war, the rise of fascism also saw the genocide of the Holocaust. The ruthless leadership of European leaders resulted in thousands of deaths. WWII ended after strategic Allied invasions of France and Italy, the deaths of both Mussolini and Hitler, and the US used atomic weapons to force a Japanese surrender.
1914: Outbreak of WWI
1917: Russian Revolution
1917: US joins WWI
1919: Paris Peace Conference, end of WWI
1925: Benito Mussolini comes to power in Italy
1927: Joseph Stalin comes to power in the Soviet Union
1929: US stock market crash
1932: Franklin Roosevelt is elected US President
1933: Adolf Hitler becomes German Chancellor
1935: Nuremberg Laws passed in Germany
1939: Spanish Civil War ends, Francisco Franco becomes dictator
1939: Germany and Soviet Union invade Poland, WWII begins
1940: Winston Churchill is re-appointed Prime Minister of Great Britain
1941: Japanese attack Pearl Harbor, US joins WWII
1943: Battle of Stalingrad
1944: D-Day Invasion
1945: Atomic bombs are dropped in Japan, WWII ends