This course explores the interactions between war, peace, and revolution in Eastern and Central Europe in the first half of the twentieth century. During the first half of the semester, students will learn about the origins of peace movements and efforts to “humanize” war and the debates aboutthe origins of World War I and its meaning for revolutions and the fate of the Ottoman, Russian, German, and Austro-Hungarian empires. Students will prepare for a variety of role-playing exercises to reach the first peace negotiations in Brest-Litovsk in February-March 1918 and thenthe Versailles negotiations in 1919 that led to the “Paris order” and the creation of the League ofNations.
In the second half of the course, students will investigate the European responses to the rise of communism in Bolshevik Russia followed by the rise of the National Socialist dictatorship and their threats to the fragile peace of Versailles, including the politics of containment in the 1920s and collective security in the 1930s. The next stage is the Spanish Civil War that was a dress rehearsal for World War II; the German-Soviet treaty (Molotov-Ribbentropp) of 1939 that began the first phase of the war in Eastern Europe, which became the center of the Holocaust and the worst atrocities of Nazi rule, as well as the atrocities of Soviet occupation/liberation. Part two ends with the wartime talks between Churchill, Stalin and FDR at Yalta and the creation of the new world order, including the United Nations and the war crimes trials in Nuremberg and the occupation regimes of the postwar peace.