The talked about genocide in history. The
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 killedThis 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 devastating effects on Japan and initiated a new weapon of mass destruction into the world arena. Besides these wars over empires the unfortunate theme of war has plagued us throughout the century. The Russo-Japanese War early in the century marked great significance due to the fact that it marked the first time whites were defeated by a non white culture in combat. The two World Wars brought us up to the 1950s when we saw the world begin to divide up into two sides, that of democratic principles, and that of communist/socialist principles. This split marked the beginning of the inactive fighting of the Cold war between the communist USSR and the democratic US, which sparked another series of wars beginning with the war in Korea in the early 1950s. This war pitted the US and the democratic South Korea against the socialist North Korea. The war ended with nearly 55,000 Americans dead and a return to the previous borders from before the war.
Another war that raged in the midst of the Cold War was the one in Vietnam in the 1960s. This war proved most disastrous to the United States in that it was The United States longest and most expensive war. Over 57,000 Americans and hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese died. Total American expenses have been calculated at over a trillion dollars the loss of lives is priceless in a war that many think shouldve never happened.
Our century has most definitely been plagued with unfortunate things such as genocide and war however it has not been all bad, not by any means. Our century has seen great improvements in many areas. As a globe we have made great strides and advancements, both industrial and technological as well as great social advancements such as the rise in the status of women throughout the world.
Right from the beginning of the century we begin to see great strides in the are of technology. In 1903 the Wright brothers made the first powered aircraft flight, which is something we have come to rely on late in the 20th century. On the same note the first nonstop Trans-Atlantic solo flight was made in 1925 by Charles Lindhberg.
We have great strides in this field by now and we now rely on transportation by air to transport thousands of people per day all throughout the world. The Cold War although it was extremely disastrous in many ways provided a spark to great advancements in technology due to competition between the USSR and the US. The space race was a great example of this technological competition.
The Soviets launched the first orbiting satellite, Sputnik in 1957. The United States won in the race for the moon when they landed the first astronauts there in 1969. Later in the century the US Hubble telescope discovered thinks previously unlearned about outer space and in 1997 the landed an unmanned space mission on Mars.
Many people underestimate the value that this space race and the space program in general has had on the world. The spillover technologies that came out of the space race have been extremely beneficial to us. Without these technologies we may not be blessed with some of the conveniences that we experience today such as the remote control, and advancements in safety such as the bulletproof vest. Late in the century we have also come to depend on things such as the computer on a global scale.
People all around the world can be accessed with the click of a button, money transactions can be made online, and almost anything can be bought through the computer, making many peoples lives easier.Good things were not the only things to come out the competition of the Cold war however. The nuclear age was a very frightening period throughout the past century. After the development of the atomic bomb at the end of World War II a weapons race ensued due to the constant threat of war between the US and the USSR.
In 1952 the US tested the first hydrogen bomb, quickly to be followed the first Soviet explosion in 1953. In a way the development of these mass destruction type weapons helped a full-scale war to be avoided. The idea of mutually assured destruction was constant in that if one of the countries would strike first it would assure the end of the world.
The latter part of the century has seen a movement to expel these weapons due to the end of the Cold War and the fall of Communism. There has been a great push to eliminate these weapons from existence to ensure that they will not be used in the future. Our advancements due to industry have not all been beneficial however as have begun to experience late in the century severe side effects such as the global stratospheric ozone depletion discovered first in 1988.As a globe we have also seen great strides and advancements socially, as the status of women and other groups around the world has improved immensely. Women for example have always been instinctively inferior and have been discriminated through religion as well as government.
For example the practice of Sati which is the burning of a Hindu female widow was common in India. Just as well women, in the beginning of the century were denied many of the political rights that men enjoyed throughout the world. As the century went on and the World Wars came upon us women were in a way forced to take a step up and go into the workforce and take a greater responsibility. For example in Great Britain nearly 800,000 women directly replaced jobs held by men due to World War I. Women gradually began to receive the right to vote in countries throughout the world and in countries like the United States by the 1970s the number of women who had jobs and the number of women going to college were increasing immensely. By this time in France there was a quickly growing amount of female doctors as well.In conclusion our world in the 20th century has been filled with monumental events both good and bad as well as a great deal of change.
In the past one hundred or so years we have seen things that we arent to proud of and things that have made us a better place to live in as a whole.Things such as genocide make us look like an extremely evil society of people and this is one thing that we must ensure will not follow us into the upcoming century and beyond. We have gone through the all too common fields of war too many times and this destruction is also something that we must do our best to leave behind.
The world has done a great amount to harm its peoples with these themes of war and genocide, as well as the creation of nuclear weapons and so on. We have witnessed a near half-century power struggle between the communist and democratic principles. Communism as risen and fallen along with the great colonial empire that was evident in the beginning of the century.The globe has come along way with its technologies and this has aided the advancement of society as a whole.
We have seen the advancements of cultures as well as various groups of people throughout the century, with women making great strides and lands such as South Africa being liberated from previous rule.In all we must take our mistakes and learn from them, and take our advancements and improve on them to bring us successfully into the tears ahead and well into the new millenium.