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Consumed by War

Consumed by War: European Conflict in the 20th Century

Richard C. Hall
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 296
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  • Book Info
    Consumed by War
    Book Description:

    Europe endured such incessant political discord throughout the twentieth century that some historians refer to the period's conflicts as the Long War. During the Balkan wars of 1912--1913, regional fighting in southeastern Europe ignited conflict across the continent that continued through both world wars and the Cold War.

    InConsumed by War: European Conflict in the 20th Century, Richard C. Hall illuminates the complex diplomatic and military struggles of a region whose instability, rooted in a nineteenth-century nationalistic fervor, provided a catalyst for the political events that ensued. From the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914 to the incarceration of Radovan Karadzic in 2008, this narrative history appeals to general readers and scholars interested in a fresh interpretation of a complicated and brutal era.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-5995-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. List of Maps
    (pp. viii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Chapter 1 BALKAN WARS, 1878–1914
    (pp. 1-18)

    The Great Powers system dominated European politics since at least the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648. The most politically and militarily powerful countries of Europe maintained a loose mandate to regulate international affairs. This regulation usually depended on the upholding of a balance of power among the major countries so that no one country or coalition became overwhelmingly dominant in Europe. During the nineteenth century these powers included Austria, France, Great Britain, Prussia, and Russia. In 1861 a newly united Italy joined them. In 1866 the Austrians and Prussians fought over which of them would unify Germany. Five years later,...

  6. Chapter 2 WESTERN FRONT
    (pp. 19-33)

    The Great Powers had anticipated the outbreak of general war in Europe for some time. They drafted their male citizens and drilled their armies year after year to be ready when war came. All the Great Powers based their military strength to some degree on their industrial prowess. None of them, however, recognized the extent to which industrial technology had altered the battlefield. Modern, mass-produced weapons, including machine guns and rapid-firing artillery, would give generals tactical abilities far beyond their strategic capacities. New weapons such as gas, flamethrowers, airplanes, and tanks would increase the horrors and casualties of combat. As...

  7. Chapter 3 EASTERN FRONTS
    (pp. 34-52)

    The eastern campaigns during the first phase of the First World War were much more complex and fluid than those in the west. The main focus of the eastern fighting was the vast border region between Germany and Austria-Hungary on one side and Russia on the other. A multitude of peoples lived in this region, including Byelorussians, Germans, Jews, Lithuanians, Poles, and Ukrainians. This area was much more topologically varied than the arena in western Europe. It also lacked the modern infrastructure of the west, including dense networks of roads and railroads and urban areas in close proximity to one...

  8. Chapter 4 AMERICAN INTERVENTION, 1917–1918
    (pp. 53-69)

    The origins of American intervention in the First World War lay in the naval struggle that had been an important factor in precipitating the war and began in earnest at the outbreak of war. The British-imposed blockade on Germany to strangle its industrial economy and German attempts to break the blockade were important issues that led to U.S. entry into the war. In particular, American outrage over the German naval strategy provided a basis for action against the Germans.

    At the beginning of the twentieth century, all the Great Powers had indulged in a frenzy of warship construction. Rivalry between...

    (pp. 70-86)

    The failed settlement of the First World War had its origins in the aims of the belligerents. Both sides quickly framed their objectives in mainly geographic terms. At first no one envisioned a political or ideological alteration of Europe. Once the fighting began, the military dictated the course of events, not the diplomats, who had singularly failed in the summer of 1914. Fighting, not talking, determined the war aims.

    At the onset of the war, the Entente Powers sought to expand their territories in Europe and thus limit Germany and Austria-Hungary. The Belgians wanted to annex Luxembourg. Even though young...

    (pp. 87-102)

    The peace settlement achieved at Paris was fragile from its inception. Britain would not be a major supporter. The elimination of the German High Seas Fleet and the U-boats assuaged British security concerns, while the responsibilities of a global empire placed increasing demands on Britain’s nagging energies. Immediately after the war, the Irish quest for independence provided a major distraction from continental affairs. Italy, largely because of its contention that its rewards did not match its losses in the war, was a problematic advocate for preservation of the peace. Germany, though exhausted and defeated, remained demographically and economically the main...

    (pp. 103-118)

    By the early 1930s Europe had again polarized into two hostile camps—those countries that supported the 1919 settlement, and those that sought its revision. Unlike the situation before 1914, no formal arrangement united the adherents of these positions. Only their mutual desires to maintain or overturn the status quo guided their policies. Several factors complicated the situation. Britain, as it had been before 1914, was equivocal about any commitment to the continent. The states in eastern Europe, divided into the two camps and then divided among themselves within the camps, were weak economically, militarily, and politically. Because of these...

  12. Chapter 8 RENEWED WAR
    (pp. 119-136)

    Twenty years after the conclusion of peace, war again erupted in Europe. In the early morning of 1 September 1939, German forces invaded Poland on the pretext of a contrived Polish provocation at the Silesian border town of Gleiwitz. All advantage lay with the attackers. The Germans fielded well-trained forces motivated by the promises of Nazi ideology.

    The Germans enjoyed another major advantage over their opponents. They were developing a new strategy for waging war calledBlitzkrieg, or lightning war. Based on the assault tactics of the First World War developed by General Oskar von Hutier and Colonel Georg Bruchmüller,...

  13. Chapter 9 GERMAN-RUSSIAN WAR
    (pp. 137-155)

    The realization of lebensraum in eastern Europe and especially in Soviet Russia had always been an important goal of Hitler’s foreign policy. The defeat of France in the summer of 1940 made the realization of this goal possible. Even though Great Britain remained in the war, plans for the invasion of Soviet Russia, code-named Operation Barbarossa, began in the fall of 1940. In an echo of Napoleonic reasoning, Hitler thought that the defeat of Soviet Russia might encourage the British to come to terms. The Germans were confident of success. After all, they had defeated Russia during the previous war,...

  14. Chapter 10 AMERICAN INTERVENTION, 1940–1945
    (pp. 156-170)

    The renewal of the twentieth-century European conflict did not initially attract a great deal of interest in the United States. The country was in the grip of the Depression. Many Americans, disappointed by the failed settlement of the previous war, were determined to avoid further involvement in European affairs. In addition, some Americans, among them the aviation hero Charles Lindbergh (1902–1974) and ambassador to Great Britain Joseph Kennedy (1888–1969), evinced some sympathy for the new regime in Germany. These factors underlay a strong sense of isolationism in the United States. The spread of Japanese power in Asia dominated...

    (pp. 171-189)

    At the onset of the second European war, the Germans had begun to dominate eastern European economics. After their victories in eastern and western Europe in the first year of the war, the Germans exercised an unprecedented control over all of Europe. Never in European history had any one power dominated the continent to such an extent. In this way, Nazi Germany surpassed even Napoleonic France. German domination of Europe increased after the June 1941 invasion of Soviet Russia, when large areas of that country came under the direct rule of German civilian or military authorities. The year 1942 marked...

  16. Chapter 12 ORIGINS OF THE COLD WAR
    (pp. 190-207)

    The origins of the settlement of the Second World War began during the actual fighting. This settlement is inseparable from the beginning of the Cold War, the third phase of the twentieth-century European conflict. The Cold War began as the Second World War concluded and prevented a formal resolution of that war for some time.

    German war aims were fairly straightforward, though they tending toward the fantastical. The Germans wanted to dominate Europe economically and politically as far as the Ural Mountains. This involved the defeat of France in western Europe and the conquest of Soviet Russia for the acquisition...

  17. Chapter 13 EUROPE DIVIDED
    (pp. 208-225)

    Soon after the establishment of Soviet hegemony in eastern Europe, Soviet control there began to erode. To a considerable degree, the Cold War had developed out of the American reaction to the Soviet takeover of eastern Europe during and immediately after the Second World War. Yet the Soviets’ control of eastern Europe began to unravel even before the institutions to maintain their presence were in place. Yugoslavia, initially a stronghold for the Soviets, slipped out of Soviet hands as early as 1948. This event helped precipitate an opportunity for the Cold War to end during the 1950s.

    After the victory...

  18. Chapter 14 BALKAN WARS, 1991–2001
    (pp. 226-242)

    As Cold War tensions revived, Soviet leadership deteriorated into a gerontocracy. These two events were not coincidental. The increasingly frail and decrepit Leonid Brezhnev lived until 1982, but in his final years he exercised little control over events around him. Most of his advisers were likewise elderly and ill. Brezhnev’s successor, Yuri Andropov (1914–1984), seemed to promise change if not reform. He was, however, already fatally ill at the time of his elevation to Soviet leader. He died in 1984 only to be succeeded by another sick individual, Konstantin Chernenko (1911–1985). Chernenko’s illness was so obvious that he...

    (pp. 243-246)

    International conflict was pronounced throughout twentieth-century Europe. This conflict in general can be divided into three parts. The first phase began with the Balkan Wars in 1912, extended through the end of the First World War, and lasted until 1921 in Europe. The Paris peace settlement proved to be fragile, and after a brief respite of only eighteen years, the most intense phase of the conflict, the Second World War, exploded in Europe. Many Europeans—including, most importantly, the Germans, but also the Bulgarians, Hungarians, and Italians—were unwilling to support and sustain the peace settlement. As soon as a...

  20. NOTES
    (pp. 247-255)
    (pp. 256-264)
  22. INDEX
    (pp. 265-288)