This analysis of the origins of the Second World War in Europe challenges several key ideas of the historiography: the ‘thirty years war’ thesis, the notion of a European civil war, and the stereotyping of the 1930s as a seemingly unstoppable rush to war after the internationalism of the 1920s. There was no sharp contrast between decades—the period only makes sense as a whole. Churchill’s ‘unnecessary war’ was preventable. Alternatives to appeasement existed. Though the study of war origins starts with Hitler, his policies were decisively shaped by the actions of others and the instability of an international system, heavily impacted by the Great Depression and ideology. Miscalculation rather than design explains the war of 1939. The outbreak of war should not obscure the significance of the 1930s as a laboratory for ideas and institutions that came to fruition after 1945 and which continue to shape international society.
D. W. Ellwood
The First World War cost Europe the leadership of the world. But the United States of Woodrow Wilson was not ready to take its place. The 1920s brought Europe to a crossroads where mass democracy, mass production, and mass communications—the latter two dominated by American innovations— transformed ideas of sovereignty, modernity, and identity everywhere. The financial crash of 1929 destroyed illusions about the United States as the land of the future, and helped legitimize the totalitarians. European democrats looked to the 1930s New Deal as their last best hope. During the Second World War Roosevelt rebuilt the global order, with the United Nations and other new institutions. But the United States was now looking to ‘retire’ Europe from the world scene, and build a new universe based on America’s experience of the link between mass prosperity and democratic stability.
Common characteristics and objectives united the Axis alliance, composed of Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, and imperial Japan. All three were ‘latecomers’ to the great power rivalries of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and all attacked the Wilsonian-inspired global order enshrined after the First World War. Hostile to liberalism, ‘open door’ capitalism, socialism, and communism, the Axis championed authoritarianism, autarky, and a variant of capitalism that integrated state management and investment. Finally, Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, and imperial Japan sought empires as essential to eliminating social divisions. Although wary of the power of their enemies, they accepted that only war would accomplish that aim. Unable to match the resources of the Allies, the Axis powers resorted to murderous occupation practices that contributed to their defeat.
Did Europe’s ‘age of catastrophe’ (1914–1945) represent a break with the past or did it amplify the tensions of the preceding era? Was it a ‘parenthesis’ or a ‘revelation’? Historians have usually taken the latter view and have dismissed popular nostalgia for the period before 1914 as mere hindsight. Yet Europeans had good reason to be nostalgic. The period 1900–1914 had its moments of crisis and ominous trends (e.g. anti-Semitism), but it was essentially defined by stability, democratization, and significant improvements in social conditions. Nor should one exaggerate the desire for war in society or among Europe’s political elites. Prior to the July Crisis, a great Continental war seemed neither inevitable nor likely, all of which has implications for our understanding of Europe’s later descent into barbarism. Simply put, the dynamics of violence and instability that characterized the ‘age of catastrophe’ were largely generated during that period.
Anne E. Gorsuch
Focusing on the transnational flow and exchange of ideas, rather than on divisions and borders, this chapter emphasizes the ways in which early debates about ‘Sovietness’ related to multiple imaginings, understandings, and experiences of the ‘West’. This perspective builds on work that has reconsidered the history of the Soviet Union within the larger framework of European and North American modernity. ‘Being Soviet’ in the formative years of Bolshevism included ideas, technologies, and cultures that were ‘Western’. Some were openly and positively identified as such; others were covert or unacknowledged. The relationship was deeply ambivalent. But the resultant heterodoxy was notably different from Cold War concepts of the Soviet Union as rigid and impermeable.
How could the Bolsheviks exert control over Russia between October 1917 and 1921 when the Provisional Government had failed to do so after the February Revolution? This chapter reassesses those turbulent years through the prism of centre-periphery conflict and state-building, arguing that the process of civil war served to extend Soviet control through the elimination of armed rivals and the suppression of the centrifugal social forces accentuated by revolution in 1917. If the Provisional Government sought to govern at a time when state sovereignty was disintegrating, the civil war was, to a large extent, a struggle for re-integration—a struggle characterized by the projection of armed force and the exercise of violence against civilians. Military domination of the countryside proved a necessary condition for the medium-term socialization of formerly insurgent populations who initially harboured strong grievances against the new Soviet state.
This chapter examines the evolution of business and industry in Ireland since the eighteenth century. Manufacturing industry, together with financial services, is discussed alongside some key contributions to historiography. The geographically wide spread of industrial activity in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and the subsequent increasing localization up to 1914 is then noted. While Dublin and Cork led Belfast in the earlier period, Belfast emerged as Ireland’s premier industrial and commercial city from the mid nineteenth century, with a strong unionist element among its business leaders. The economic problems of post-partition Ireland, both north and south, led to more interventionist action by the Belfast and Dublin governments to support manufacturing industry and in the second half of the twentieth century there was more emphasis on attracting new foreign firms. The financial crisis and austerity measures of the early twenty-first century generated unprecedented uncertainty for Irish business, especially in the Republic.
This chapter attempts a broad historical and historiographical survey of relations between Irish history and that of the British Empire—both of Ireland as subject to English, then British conquest and colonization, and Irish roles in British imperial expansion, plus Irish people’s ambivalent place in the formation of what many historians now call the ‘British World’. It concludes that, whilst there has been a remarkable and welcome recent expansion in our knowledge of all these themes, and whilst debate on them is less polarized than was once the case, there remains much to be discovered.
The 1640s and 1650s were defining decades in Irish history. The 1641 rebellion played a crucial role in shaping the triple Stuart monarchy during the seventeenth century and triggered a decade of civil war in Ireland. Though Catholic Ireland failed to win lasting political autonomy, the 1640s was the only time before 1922 that Ireland enjoyed legislative independence and Catholics worshipped freely. By contrast, during the 1650s England dramatically reasserted control over Ireland. Cromwellian military victory after 1649, followed by English reconquest, paved the way for another round of expropriation. This chapter draws on the wealth of scholarship that has been produced since the mid-1990s, especially on the 1641 rebellion, the civil wars and the Cromwellian land settlement, and suggests avenues for future research. A chronological approach is taken but this should not obscure the forces of continuity which transcend a period otherwise characterized by intense change and upheaval.
Following defeat in the civil war of 1922–23, Irish republicans formed a new political party, Fianna Fáil, in 1926. By 1932, Fianna Fáil, under the leadership of Eamon de Valera, achieved power and remained in office from 1932 to1948 and from 1957 to 1973, being temporarily replaced by coalition governments between 1948–51 and 1954–57. De Valera remained leader of the party until 1959. This article assesses the impact of Fianna Fáil’s domination during these decades; the enduring personal appeal of de Valera, the efforts to increase the sovereignty of the state, and the significance of domestic and foreign policy initiatives, including neutrality during the Second World War. It also examines social and economic issues and conditions, censorship, the moral climate, the impact of the 1937 constitution, emigration, class and gender tensions, and the successes and failures of Irish governance during this formative period for the southern Irish state.
Violence was key to state administration and politics in interwar Europe, particularly in the major authoritarian regimes on the Continent: Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and the Soviet Union. Yet the nature and level of violence varied substantially among these three regimes, as did the importance of violence in daily policing operations and in people’s lived experiences. This chapter examines the role of violence in state administration in these three dictatorships between 1919 and 1939, focusing on surveillance, political policing, and mass repression. Each regime utilized violence in highly different ways, and it is difficult to speak of a single model of interwar authoritarianism. All three are similar, however, within a broader context of modern European state practices and especially military practices: each promoted a particular vision of social transformation that made sense only in the broader field of military conquest and the framing experiences of two totalizing global wars.
Jeffrey Brooks and Sergei I. Zhuk
The quintessentially Soviet element of cultural development in the USSR between 1932 and 1991 was Socialist Realism. The period prior to the 1930s was its preface and that from the mid-1950s a long post-script. By the mid-1980s, Soviet publics had moved irreversibly beyond Socialist Realism in all the arts, and no viable new contender could assume the particularist mantle. The best official offerings to compete with new Western movements after 1945 were too little and too late. In the absence of a viable particularist contender and with institutions of isolationism eroding, Soviet culture inexorably drew closer to its counterparts abroad. By 1991 it had been gone so long that its formal passing was hardly noticed.
D. W. Hayton
The Williamite settlement confirmed a ‘Protestant ascendancy’, with government and politics dominated by a narrow propertied elite. Protestant landowners still saw themselves as ‘the English in Ireland’ but eventually developed a form of patriotism, which, albeit confessionally exclusive, asserted Irish national interests. This shift was facilitated by the ‘constitutional revolution’ that gave the Irish parliament a central role in government, and by the quiescence of Catholic political interests under the ‘penal laws’. The sectarian tensions between Anglicans and Presbyterians in Ulster, which provided fuel for English-style ‘party politics’ under Queen Anne, also abated. But systemic economic weakness gave cause for concern, and Ireland’s enforced constitutional subordination to Britain could agitate opinion. Generally, a form of ‘constructive patriotism’ prevailed, with Irishmen seeking to use existing constitutional arrangements for the betterment of the country, but at times of crisis, the flourishing print culture of Dublin could stoke up more raucous, anti-English sentiment.
Matthias Blum and Jari Eloranta
This chapter features a discussion of the economy and mobilization for the First World War. The authors analyse the implications and cost of total war, concluding with an examination of its contradictory legacies. In studying the war’s impact on Germany in particular, the chapter provides an in-depth look at the consequences of war on Europe’s strongest pre-war economy, without the complications of separating out the issues of a developing country, which can mimic those faced in wartime. The economic challenges that warring parties faced during the war included mobilization, warfare, labour shortage, impaired domestic economic activity, restricted international trade, a systematic redistribution of resources towards the war economy, food rationing, the predictable emergence of black markets, and a drop in living standards. The authors also discuss strategies to meet the significant financial demands associated with the war, and its tumultuous economic and political aftermath.
This chapter seeks to trace the process by which the terms the ‘people of Ireland’, the ‘whole people of Ireland’, even the ‘Irish nation’ changed from meaning the Protestants of Ireland to designating Irish Catholics. This process took place roughly from 1750 to 1850, and can be explained in the first instance by the emergence in the second half of the eighteenth century by ‘the Catholic Question’—the quest for Catholic civil and religious equality in the Irish state. Equally, the deteriorating relations between the Protestants of Ireland and the British government, and the needs of a global empire for whose army and navy Irish Catholic recruits were necessary, played a significant role in this transformation. And of course, the failure of the Act of Union to deliver on the promise of Catholic Emancipation. Ultimately, the Famine, with its creation of an Irish nation abroad, was to be conclusive. By 1850, the term ‘the Irish nation’ or ‘the people of Ireland’ incontestably meant the Catholics—an outcome that could not have been foreseen in 1750.
Donald M. MacRaild
This chapter explores Ireland’s epic migrations of the long nineteenth century: a period in which the country exported a higher proportion of population than any other European state. It explores the causes, patterns, and effects of migration through the lens of key scholarship, exploring both Irish contexts and those of the new communities Irish people formed. The discussion attempts to be global in perspective and to make comparisons between sites of settlement. A major aim is to present this population movement in all its facets—economic, social, political, religious, and cultural—and to ensure that both Catholic and Protestant migrations are presented. As well as exploring important scholarship, the chapter also delves into the types of sources which historians have used to measure the demographic, human, and social aspects of one of the world’s great emigrations. The chapter finishes by suggesting future avenues of research.
A number of the conflicts that wracked European countries under Axis-power occupation during the Second World War can be understood as civil wars. This analytical prism should be seen as complementing rather than replacing the more conventional pairing of collaboration and resistance. The three European cases from this period that best fit conventional notions of civil war in terms of the intensity and duration of fighting among co-nationals are Greece, Yugoslavia, and Italy. A comparative analysis can yield insights into the complex interplay of historical continuities and ruptures, and of nationalist and internationalist frames of reference, in shaping the agendas and choices of participants in these violent struggles.
The fact that we know the end points of formal colonial rule may lead us to forget that, for those involved, the process appeared less determined and more contingent. It is deceptively easy to trip over the supposed ‘milestone’ of the Second World War, ascribing undue influence to a failing capacity or will to rule among the colonial powers themselves. Such generalizations leave no room for agency among colonized peoples themselves and dismiss both rulers and ruled as essentially homogenous, almost preprogrammed to behave stereotypically as reactionaries or revolutionaries. Recognizing these interpretive problems, political analysts of European decolonization are now more divided over the extent to which the Second World War prefigured the end of European colonial rule. Much of the evidence for a strong causal link is powerful. By 1950 the geopolitical maps of eastern, southern, and western Asia were markedly less colonial. The justificatory language for empire was also different, evidence of the turn towards a technocratic administrative style that would soon become the norm in much of the global South. If basic political rights were frequently denied within dependent territories, a stronger accent on improved living standards gave imperial powers something with which to muffle the rising chorus of transnational criticism against colonial abuses. For all that, the concept of the Second World War as a watershed in the end of empires should not be accepted uncritically. This chapter explores the reasons why.
This chapter offers a critical perspective on the historiography of European integration and human rights by tracing the interplay of romantic and technocratic forms of internationalism over the first half of the twentieth century. From the Hague peace conferences to the adoption of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), new systems of international law and organization were conceived as backward looking as much as modernizing. While technocratic internationalists shared a liberal faith in progress, reason, and science, romantic internationalists looked back nostalgically to an idealized deeper past as a basis for new transnational imagined communities that would overcome the evils of the modern age. For conservative romantics such as Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi and Winston Churchill, a united Europe could only emerge through the recovery of the mythical unity of an older Christian European civilization from which they believed international human rights norms derived.
This chapter explores transformations in European sexual mores and practices in the era of the two world wars. It pays particular attention to the contradictory dynamics of the interwar era: on the one hand, a considerable loosening of sexual customs, especially for females; on the other, an unprecedented effort on the part of national and local governments to intervene in their citizens’ private lives. The phenomenon of increased state intervention in the intimate sphere—that of relationships, bedrooms, and bodies—would be true both for those nations that turned to fascism and those that remained democratic. But no changes would be as convulsive and consequential as those wrought by the slaughter unleashed in the Second World War, as sexuality also exploded out of the familial framework—a fact that explains a great deal about the renewed turns to conservatism and domesticity which would follow in that war’s wake.