• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Can the History of the Twentieth Century be summed up as the 'Age of Extremes'?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

HST/257 Europe Since 1870 Can the History of the Twentieth Century be summed up as the 'Age of Extremes'? I agree that the history of twentieth century in Europe can be summed up as the 'age of extremes' . Over three quarters of the century, the period 1914-1991, was characterised by extremes. This 77 year period was dominated by the extremes of: total war, genocide, the rise of extreme political parties, the first communist revolution, and a 45 year conflict between communism and capitalism. Total war is an extreme involving countries gearing their economies and committing all their resources, in both human and material form, towards war. The first half of the twentieth century saw the first two global conflicts in history: World War One (1914-1918) and World War Two (1939-1945). The two world wars were undoubtedly extreme, in terms of the scope and nature of the conflict, and their enormous death tolls. World War One completely transformed the nature of warfare. It defied everyone's expectations of conflict. It was widely expected to be short and decisive. All other major European wars had been measured in terms of weeks and months, whereas, World War One raged on for four and a half years. ...read more.

Middle

The twentieth century saw the first communist revolution. In Russia, the Bolsheviks, a group who believed that violent steps should be taken to force a communist revolution to occur, were led by Lenin. In 1917 two Russian revolutions occurred. In March the Russian people became increasingly discontented with the Tsar's inability to end Russian involvement in World War One, which they believed was responsible for the country's economic and social problems. This drove the people to start a revolution, which resulted in the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II. The provisional government established to fill this power vacuum also failed to address the severe problems in Russia. The people's anger at the ineffectiveness of this new government drove many people to support Lenin and the Bolsheviks; this mass support enabled the Bolsheviks to stage a successful coup d'etat. To consolidate his power Lenin established a totalitarian dictatorship. After his death in 1924, Lenin was succeeded by Stalin, who continued and developed Lenin's dictatorship to a more extreme level, until his own death in 1953. Fascism is a right-wing, nationalistic and authoritarian political ideology. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, I would argue that the nature and effects of the extremes are most important than their duration, and that it is necessary to look at how the extremes when placed together span a whole century. I also agree that some of the extremes were not phenomenon exclusive to the twentieth century. For example: wars had saturated history before the twentieth century, and there had been political extremes before 1900, such as: the French Revolution of the 18th century. However, the extreme elements of the twentieth century were more extreme than they had been in any other century: the heavily repressive regime of Hitler, for example, under which the Nazi ideology impacted every element of life, and the two main wars of the twentieth century (World Wars One and Two) involved more countries and killed more people than in any war in history. Some extremes, to a certain extent, were unique to the twentieth century; for example: the first communist revolution took place in this century. In conclusion, it is hard to dispute that a century which was characterised by political extremes, revolution, ideological conflict and genocide, and saw a majority of the world involved in two wars which had a combined death toll of over 60 million, can be summed up as the 'age of extremes'. Word count: 1,989 1 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level International History, 1945-1991 section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level International History, 1945-1991 essays

  1. To what extent was Hitler solely responsible for the Holocaust

    Anti-Semitism was later even fuelled by a number of economic factors, such as the great depression. Those whom were hit worst such as peasants, shop-keepers and skilled workers, blamed the Jewish financers whom held a powerful position in Germany. Hatred towards the Jewry was further enhanced through the use of

  2. Why did tension increase in Europe between 1900 and 1914?

    * The Plan was changed by von Moltke, the new Chief of Staff, who withdrew forces from the right wing of the German army, to strengthen the left. He was afraid that the French army would be able to advance into Germany too easily.

  1. Analyse the factors, which prompted the growth of Fascism in Italy by 1922.

    The government did nothing to prevent it and Mussolini announced if the government would do nothing then he would. Fascist took over public transport and the postal system and obverted the effects of the strike, which soon collapsed due to poor organisation.

  2. UNIT 6: PAPER 6b: THE SOVIET UNION AFTER LENIN

    Perhaps Totalitarianism isn't an appropriate term to describe Stalin's Russia after all. The Terror * The Terror is used to describe a whole series of events in Russia from 1928 to 1938, when millions - no one knows quite how many.

  1. Does Realism as a statist Ideology exist today?

    goes back to the idea that each state is in competition which each other. For any state, national interest comprises of the general need of survival, economic growth and security of the nation. Due to these goals in mind each states ultimately ends up competing against each other, and therefore resulting in hostility and mistrust being created amongst them.

  2. History of the United States

    to mount a revived assault on monopoly under the Sherman Anti-Trust Law. William Howard TAFT, his successor as president (1909-13), drew back in his policies, continuing only the antitrust campaign. He approved passage of the 16TH AMENDMENT (the income tax amendment, 1913), however; in time it would transform the federal government by giving it access to enormous revenues.

  1. This graduation paper is about U.S. - Soviet relations in Cold War period. Our ...

    Stalin, in turn, gave full vent to his crusade to eliminate any vestige of free thought or national independence in Eastern Europe. Reinhold Niebuhr might have been speaking for both sides when he said in 1948, "we cannot afford any more compromises.

  2. American History.

    As landowners realized that there wasn't much land left to give to indentured servants, the custom stopped and they began looking for slave labor instead. 4. Causes of the Salem Witch trials - All the upheaval contributed to the famous 1692 Witchcraft Trials, where people were executed b/c of accusations of practicing witchcraft.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work