Iván Berend proposed the idea of a “short 20th century” with the idea that the World War I, World War II, and the Cold War were all connected. It refers to the events surround 1914 to 1991 and the fact that when people talk about the 20th century, they only talk about the events mentioned above. I believe they are all connected, because without the first World War, Germany would not have been felt revengeful at losing. The Cold War was caused due to the aftermath of World War II, with the United States and the Soviet Union disagreeing over their political and economical differences.
World War I began in August 1914 after the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife were assassinated. “It was what historians call a total war, meaning one built on the full mobilization of entire societies” (Hunt 822). There were two sides to their war, Germany and Austria-Hungary were on one side while the United States, United Kingdom, French, and Russian Empire were on the other. The German side lost and their empire was almost wiped out by this war. While designing the Armistice, an important detail was left out. The detail was that World War I started because of the German’s and the German’s lost. Germany would not admit defeat and would carry this idea with them until Hitler gained power in 1933.
“World War II opened when Hitler launched an all-out attack on Poland on September I, 1939” (Hunt 881). Because of their defeat in World War I, Germany was feeling spiteful. The world believed they were at fault, while Germany thought they were a superior race. This thought led Hitler to try to take over the world; invading new countries and changing their government to match Germany’s. Along with mass civilian casualties, World War II saw the first atomic bomb used in war and the mass murders of the Jewish race. Germany surrendered on April 29th and unlike in the first War, there was no Armistice.
During World War II, tensions between the United States and the USSR were growing. Both were massive countries with extremely different ideas. To end World War II, the United States dropped a bomb on Hiroshima with some believing it had two purposes. “First, of course, was to bring the war with Japan to a speedy end and spare American lives. It has been suggested that the second objective was to demonstrate the new weapon of mass destruction to the Soviet Union” (History). The result of these tensions started the Cold War.
The Cold War began around 1947. While Russian was a communist nation, the United States represented a federal republic. While Russian government controlled their press, the United States believed in a free press and democratic systems for their citizens. While there was no fighting during the Cold War, both sides were prepared in case the other launched a nuclear attack on the other. In the event of a nuclear attack, both sides would be destroyed. The United States started to give aid to Western Europe to challenge the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union, in retaliation, tried to put a nuclear base onto Cuban with resulted in the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 which lead the United States to put an embargo on Cuba.
World War I ended with Germany feeling cheated. They believed they were not at fault for the World War and since no one ever asked them to admit defeat, they believed they had never one. The result of that led to Hitler wanting to reestablish Germany’s superiority by starting World War II. Unlike the first World Wars, Germany did not start the Cold War. It started because of the tensions that arose during the Cold War between the United States and USSR. While you could argue the Cold War was separate, I believe that without the previous wars, the Cold War would not have happened as soon as it did.
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