Final Paper

Final Paper - 1 Jim Stanley Stanley Prof. Youngblood HIST...

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Jim Stanley Prof. Youngblood HIST 114 December 14, 2009 What the Great Powers Did and Didn’t Do in 20 th Century Eastern Europe Throughout its history, the small powers of Eastern Europe have had a complicated relationship the world’s “great powers”. Their association has ranged from militant nationalism on the part of the small powers, to outright domination by the great ones. In the 20 th century, this region was ravaged by two World Wars, economically devastated by communism, and eventually home to a number of fledgling democracies. While much of the area’s recent history is marked by domination by larger neighbors, there are a number of examples where these countries revived their nationalistic tendencies and forged their own policies. This paper will examine the interactions between the nations of Eastern Europe and the more powerful countries that surround them. In the immediate aftermath of the First World War, the victorious Allied forces were faced with the task of redrawing the map of Eastern Europe in the wake of the Central Powers’ defeat. The goal of this effort was both punitive for the “aggressors”, and an effort to ensure the long-term stability of the region. One of the effects of this plan was the creation of Yugoslavia, a large south-Slavic state to be controlled by the Serbs. This new state was to be relatively liberal, but with a strong government. Stjepan Radic, the leader of this new country sought and received support from the Soviet Union for his Croatian Peasant Party. Further to the north, Hungary was punished by the allies 1
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for its role in the central powers, as well as its maltreatment of its national minorities. Admiral Miklos Horthy was appointed the military dictator of the country, and it was significantly shrunk in size. Finally, in Poland, Jozef Pilsudski was appointed to lead the country, and it was reunified after 123 years of being partitioned. In the years leading up to the Second World War, the countries of Eastern Europe all related differently to Great Powers surrounding them. While the effects of the post- WWI treaties on the Great Powers are well known, they also had a major effect on the smaller states that reverberated for the next several decades. One of the most striking examples of this is Hungary, where the punitive loss of land sparked a wave of irredentism among the population that led to a close association with Hitler and the Nazi Party, which promised them a return of their land for their support. As Hitler rose to power in the 1930s, he repeatedly violated the Treaty of Versailles by rearming Germany, and when he made moves to annex parts of Czechoslovakia, England allowed it under the Munich Agreement. In 1939, it became apparent that Britain’s efforts at appeasement failed when Germany invaded Poland, officially starting WWII. During this period, the effects of the Great Depression in America were also being felt in Eastern Europe, with a severe decline in foreign investment crippling a number of their economies.
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Final Paper - 1 Jim Stanley Stanley Prof. Youngblood HIST...

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