World Power or Decline: The Controversy over Germany's Aims in the First World War

World Power or Decline: The Controversy over Germany's Aims in the First World War

World Power or Decline: The Controversy over Germany's Aims in the First World War

World Power or Decline: The Controversy over Germany's Aims in the First World War

Excerpt

The omnipresence of cold war issues caused many historians to concentrate their attention immediately after I945 on the Second World War. But in recent years the Second World War has been seen increasingly as part of a larger phenomenon variously characterized as the second Thirty Years' War, the European civil war, the end of European history, and the beginning of world history. It is a phenomenon that began with the outbreak of the First World War, and many of its critical events—the dissolution of the Russian, Habsburg, German, and Ottoman Empires and the emergence of the United States as a world power—occurred during the war itself. Deeper and more subtle changes followed from the first total and global conflict. Government control over opinion, ideology, the press, the economy, and society not only provided the model for totalitarian experiments, but also left its mark on democratic societies. The First World War can thus be said to be the beginning of a new ideological era of which the cold war is only one chapter. By its expansion into a global conflict and its simultaneous weakening of the European powers, the war altered the relationship between the developed, imperialist societies of the North Atlantic and the less developed areas of the world, especially those under colonial rule. Although it ended with the extension of European colonialism, the seeds of the colonial demise had been sown and would be reaped after the Second World War. In short, many of . . .

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