Interpretations and Perspectives of the Great Conflict
Edited By Jarosław Suchoples and Stephanie James
Jan M. Piskorski - Suicide or Comeback? Europe from 1914 to 2014
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Jan M. Piskorski
Institute of History and International Relations (IHiSM) University of Szczecin, Poland
Suicide or Comeback? Europe from 1914 to 2014
Abstract: Europe changed dramatically in the last hundred years. In the first part of this period Europe faced two world wars, a Bolshevist revolution, fascism and Nazism, forced labour, flight, expulsion and mass killings. In the second part, there has been patient reconstruction, human rights and a long lasting peace which seems in danger of ending now. In context of new discussions about World War I and its legacy, the author firstly asks what Europe is. Unfortunately, this question has not appeared at all in the current discussions about World War I, although only when this question is answered allows a move to the next question, what was World War I for Europe: downfall, suicide, a catalyst of following European wars, the seminal catastrophe of the 20th century, or the catastrophe which ended as Europe’s comeback? He stresses that while the years 1914–1918 were catastrophic for European empires, Europe itself was strengthened through the war and the development, which it allowed. Europe emerged from the breakdown of the Roman Empire as a Europe for free people. The author also asks, if the empires which ruled over most of Europe in the 19th century were doomed. His answer is: yes and no. If the empires had put an end to social and national oppression, they may have survived. But...
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