World In The 20Th Century The 20th century has been a period that has seen things such as great political and social change, great advancements, and great catastrophe as well. From the Wright Brothers first flight in 1903, through the beginnings of the nuclear age in the 1940s, to Iraqs invasion of Kuwait in 1990, the century has been full of major and influential occurrences that have strongly affected our global society as a whole. The century has seen dreadful things such genocide, two full-scale global wars, and a series of smaller wars to go along with great changes in governments, ideals, and society, as well as great industrial and societal advancements. Unfortunately the theme of Genocide has been an all to frequent occurrence throughout the 20th century. From some of the most talked about genocide such as the Holocaust of the Jews (1933-1945), and the Cambodian Genocide (1975-1979), to some of the lesser-talked about genocide this has been an underlying theme of evil throughout the century. The Holocaust is arguably the most talked about genocide in history.
The Holocaust being the methodic extermination of five to six million Jews by means of forced labor, shootings, and gassings. This was undoubtedly a catastrophe on an enormous scale. Hitler Germanys leader at the time used the Jews as scapegoats for many of Germanys problems claiming they were corrupt and predatory materialists, devoid of patriotism and feelings for others.(Totten 139) The Jews were deprived of their civil rights and forced into extermination camps were they were more than likely headed for death. Bruno Bettelheim a rare survivor of the Holocaust describes his experiences in the concentration camps of Dachau and Buchenwald: Physical punishment consisted of whipping, frequent kicking, slaps in the face, shooting or wounding with the bayonet. These alternated with attempts to produce extreme exhaustion.
For instance, prisoners were forced to stare for hours into glaring lights, to kneel for hours, and so on. From time to time a prisoner got killed This shows an example of how demoralizing and horrible the experience of the Holocaust was to millions of Jews. The Holocaust made many realize the horror that humans can put each other through. This was by no means the only or last horror of its kind, The Cambodian Genocide beginning in 1975 shows that we as humans did not learn or did not care for our mistakes of the Holocaust. Mere weeks after Cambodia fell to the Khmer Rouge led by Pol Pot in 1975, the nations cities were evacuated, hospitals emptied, schools closed, factories deserted, and money and wages abolished. Freedom of the press, worship, organization, and association all completely disappeared for four years.
A whole nation was captured and beleaguered from within. Democratic Kampuchea was a whole state of a prison camp that lasted for four years. Of its 8 million prisoners over 1.5 million of them were brutally worked, starved, and beaten to death. Pol Pot set out to eliminate Buddhism from Cambodia as well as all the minorities present in the Cambodian population. Since 1979 it has not been possible to find a Vietnamese resident who had survived the Pol Pot years 0there.(Totten 341) The Pol Pot regime claimed that they totaled only 1 percent of the total population but just by looking at the numbers and the harsh reality they are easily written off. Things that can not be written off are the numerous numbers of other genocides that occurred throughout the century, throughout the world.
Events such as the Genocide of the Hereros in South-West Africa (1904) to the Armenian Genocide (1915-1923) through the Rwanda Genocide (1994) towards the end of the century, have plagued us throughout the past one hundred or so years. Another horror that has been all to frequent throughout the last century has been that of war. Our world has seen two global scale wars as well as several smaller scale wars to go along with them. In the early 1900s the world was completely dominated by European countries such as Germany, Austria, Britain, France, and Italy. These countries had great amounts of land throughout the world carved up into colonies. By 1914 Europe was divided into two combinations of great powers originally formed by defensive purposes to decreases risk of attack.
This turned out to be quite the opposite however. The two alliances formed were, The Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria, and Italy, and the Triple Entente of France, Russia, and Britain. Nationalism was also becoming an extremely important theme in the early 20th century. The idea of South Slav nationalism is said to be the sparkplug that ignited the First World War. The Austro-Hungarian Empire was a state that included people of dozens of ethnic groups. This became a problem in this age of nationalism, this sparked the independent kingdom of Serbia who wanted to take in these Slavic groups to assassinate Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austrian throne.
If it wasnt for these alliances and ideas of nationalism, Austria-Hungary if they had not been sure of Germanys support would not have risked war with the greatest Slavic nation Russia, by attacking Serbia after the assassination. Thus began a global war with both alliances battling amongst one another. Thus World War I was fought and millions of lives were lost. The Triple Entente emerged victorious with the aid of the United States and many things changed after the war. Empires such as the Austrian and Ottoman crumbled and this proved that multinational states could not survive and that each people must have their separate country.
The war also showed that the most developed countries of the world (Europe), could not indefinitely dominate the globe. And the war to end all wars that was World War I did not do what it was supposed to, approximately 30 years later the sides were lining up and an even more devastating war was about to take place. World War II began as a convergence of originally separate drives for empire into one conflict. The Japanese had invaded Manchuria in 1931, Italy invaded Ethiopia in 1935, Hitler invaded Poland in 1939, and the Japanese launched an attack on the U.S. possession in Peal Harbor. All these invasions represented a yearning for empire by the invading countries.
By the end of 1941, the German and Japanese drives had converged into a conflict of continents against the worldwide British Empire. Total war was again upon the world and this time it was uglier and showed we could not learn from what happened in the past. This war is arguably worse however, nearly 50 million people were left dead after this war and almost half of these casualties were civilians. Many of these victims were that of indiscriminate aerial bombing which was taken for granted in the plans of all nations. Also a new age began towards the end of war, this being in my opinion one of the worst things to happen to us in the century, is that of the nuclear age. In 1945 the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki successively three days apart effectively ending World War II. The bombs used primarily for the intent of ending the war did that duty, but also left long lasting …