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October 31, 2007

Suez Crisis of 1956

The Suez Canal was a vital artery for European powers to maintain connections to their colonies and trade interests for many years. In July, 1956 Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser declares martial law in the canal zone and seizes control of the Anglo-Franco Suez Canal Company. Nasser's dramatic nationalization of the Suez Canal was not unprovoked, but in response to the British and American decision not to finance the construction of the Aswan Dam as a result of increased relations between Egypt and the Soviet Union. With the newly nationalized canal, Nasser estimated that the dam would be paid for within five years. With the new national control, Egypt blocked the passage of ships making port in or shipping out of Israel through the Suez Canal, coupling with his blockade of the Straits of Tiran--Israel's only outlet to the Red Sea--and Egyptian supported attacks by the Palestinians that further degraded Egyptian-Israeli relations.

The British were outraged by the Egyptian's audacity leading the conservative British Prime Minister Anthony Eden to push for punitive action against Nasser and thereby extinguish the spread of nationalism in the Arab world. The French, eager to stop the flow of military supplies to insurgents in Algeria, were ready for action alongside the British. Both countries feared that Egyptian control of the canal would lead to Western Europe being ostracized from vital petroleum reserves in the Persian Gulf. Three months after Suez nationalization, British, French, and Israeli leaders discuss the Protocol of Sèvres, a plan in which Israel would attack the Sinai desert pressing the Egyptians back to the canal. Once the fighting was within the canal zone, the British and French would declare Egypt too unstable to maintain the canal and, with help of the United Nations, take back the canal.

The invasions began in October, 1956; however, the canal was fully functional once more and therefore did not lend to the effectiveness and support of the action. with growing opposition both at home and within the UN, especially by the United States, the invasion--albeit a success--was a political folly. After the Soviet threat to intervene on behalf of Egypt, the U.S. put tremendous pressure on Israel, France, and Britain to move towards a cease-fire.

Europe sealed its fate in the aftermath of the conflict. The British and French lost any remaining influence in the Middle East while Nasser made tremendous political gains and was seen as a hero of Egyptian and Arab nationalism. Israel did not win freedom to use the canal, but the Straits of Tiran were opened. France also learned to distrust their allies more while Britain chose to increase ties to the United States. The conflict also coincided precisely with the Soviet military intervention in the Hungarian Revolution which both gave precedent to the Soviet intervention capabilities in addition to giving a justification to the Soviets for their invasive actions. Most importantly, with the failure of Britain and France to implement their policy without Soviet or U.S. approval, the Suez Crisis solidified the power shift from Europe to the two major superpowers.

Molly Burke
Eric DeVoe
Lauren Huus

October 26, 2007

Indochina War

The Indochina War or sometimes termed the French Indochina war was a successful Southeast Asian attempt for freedom of colonial rule. Indochina was made up of the current countries of Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia. The French formed the colony in the late 1800's during "the second colonial conquests". During World War II Japan temporarily took control of the French empire. After Japans defeat, France tried to reassert control in the region, but French educated and communist Ho Chi Minh asserted his control and proclaimed his self as president. Naturally the French didn't enjoy the thought of giving up their involvement in Eastern Asia; with a humiliating defeat in the European campaign the French were desperate to reaffirm their authority. In late 1945 the fighting broke out, France was supported by mainly by the capitilist United States; Ho Chi Mien was supported by his communist neighbors to the north in china and the Soviet Union. China started to support vietnam after the civil war ended in 1950 and the communist party won contoll over the nation. Also in June of 1950 the Korean War broke out, France was forced to rely on their selfs more as the American focused on their own war in North Western Asia. There were many ups and downs to the war; French had definitive military supremacy, but dwindling public support in France from politicians and the public diminished military effectiveness. French military eventually gave up control over the entire nation and barricaded itself into the city of Dien Bien Phu for their last stand. The communist soon over ran the city and with the Geneva accords in june of 1954 assumed complete authority of Vietnam. This was not the last time that either the French or Asians would fight a similar war. The French would soon go on and fight another colonial war in Algeria(1954-1962) and the communist Asians would fight for ideological rights against the Americans(1959-1975). This war was one of many cold war battles, that didn't dirrectly involve either super power. This was however the first international war that was funded from both communism and capitilism ideological leaders.

Darrel Olson
Mike Bucahnon
Peter Kvamme

October 25, 2007

European Defense Community

With the threat of Soviet Invasion of West Germany, The United States involved in Korea a plan to rearm West Germany was put forth. France not wanting Germany to create a military force proposed a rearmed Germany under the control of a European Leadership. The republic of Germany, Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg and The Netherlands signed a treaty on May 27, 1952 forming the European Defense Community (EDC). France however failed to ratify the treaty. Even though it had been the initial proposal to establish a military in Germany under the control of European Leadership, France felt that a military presence in Germany would threaten French national security. Communists opposed the plan for fear of US capitalist expansion in Western Europe. The EDC would have established a Pan-European military with a leadership made up of an organized 6 country military to have a common budget arms and institutions.
Today NATO, the European Union and the Western European Union have taken some of the duties and functions that the EDC was attempting to form however taking in the military that had been envisioned it would provide.

Group Members
Kurt Homan
David Holly
Mike Epsky

Ho Chi Minh

Ho Chi Minh

Ho Chi Minh was one of the most well known Vietnamese leaders of all time. Ho Chi Minh was the leader of North and South Vietnam during the Vietnam War between 1954 and 1975. Ho Chi Minh was also the leader of the Vietnamese communist regime at that time. Ho Chi Minh was leading his country towards a nationalist movement at the end of the war. Ho Chi Minh wrote a letter to the French with the following five demands: The French Gov will recognize the Viet Minh Government, The Viet Minh will recognize the authority of the French Gov and during a period of 5 to 6 years-after which time the Vietnamese will be granted their independence, During this time the Vietnamese will be “autonomous? in their affairs, The French Gov will have privileges in area of industry and commerce, and the French will be permitted to advise on foreign affairs. These demands were met for quite sometime, but eventually fell apart.
Ho Chi Minh was nominated president of Vietnam in 1955 as the Geneva Convention guaranteed a national election, however South Vietnam refused to have free elections and instead “prepared for war?. In 1959 Ho's government began to provide active support for the “National Liberation Front in South Vietnam via the Ho Chi Minh Trail, which escalated the fighting that had begun in 1957. In late 1964 North Vietnamese combat troops were sent southwest into neutral in Laos. During the mid to late 1960s, Ho permitted 320,000 Chinese volunteers into northern North Vietnam to help build infrastructure for the country, thereby freeing a similar number of North Vietnamese forces to go south.
Ho Chi Minh died while the Vietnam War was still undecided. To this day Ho Chi Minh is considered to the people of Vietnam to be God-like and continues to be idolized for efforts in Vietnam.

Jodi Kurth

Michel Foucault

Michel Foucault (1926-1984) was French Historian and Philosopher who's important works include "Discipline and Punish, "The History of Sexuality," and important stances on Marxism. Foucault often took opposing viewpoints to popular Marxism, which led to much criticism from his peers.

Foucault joined the French Communist party in 1950, but was uncomfortable in it because of his differing viewpoints on Marxist ideology. In 1953 Foucault left the party because he did not agree with the actions of the Soviet government under the direction of Stalin.

Foucault held various positions in academia including chair of the philosophy department at the University of Paris VIII, and later a professorship in History at the prestigious College de France. While at this post he wrote one of his defining works "Discipline and Punish," which gave his political ideas a direction. Foucault was very left wing, and did work to include minorities in society, such as prisoners, the sick, homosexuals, or racial minorities.

During his employment in France Foucault gained a reputation for being somewhat of an activist, and was included in student protests, sit ins, and anti-police action. Foucault eventually moved to the United States where he experimented with drug use, and held a position at the University of Califonia Berkely.

Foucault died in 1984 due to an aids related illness. His influences span a braod range of topics from philosophy to political science and is quoted as an influence by many scholars, artists, and political thinkers.

Joe Masrud
Greta Schmalle
Cody Smiglewski

Lavrentiy Pavlovich Beria

As the head of the Soviet secret police Lavrentiy Beria was considered a powerful and dangerous man. He was one of Stalin’s most trusted and feared henchman and carried out Stalin’s purges and other actions against anyone perceived to be a threat. He had almost unlimited power and was a ruthless and cruel individual. He was one of the most hated and feared men in the Soviet Union, which ultimately led to his downfall.
Beria became head of the NKVD in 1938 and would help Stalin carry out his purges. During the war he played an important role in helping integrate and organize the gulags to aid wartime production. As head of the secret police he was involved in espionage as well as carrying out revenge against collaborators within the Soviet Union and against the German people. After the war he assumed greater power while maintaining his control over the secret police. When Stalin died he was a member of the five-man directory that ruled the Soviet Union. Because of the threat he posed to his fellow leaders, he was arrested, charged with treason and executed. He was one of the last Soviet leaders to be executed as most were simply exiled or disgraced in some manner when they fell out of favor.
With Beria’s death the secret police would no longer have the arbitrary power it once enjoyed. The number of political prisoners dropped dramatically and there was a sense of relief in the general population that with Beria out of the way, things would loosen up.

Joe Milner
Lisa Eimer
Hilary Kraus

October 24, 2007

Imre Nagy

Imre Nagy was a Hungarian politician who served as Prime Minister on two occasions. He was a member of the Russian Communist party and the Red Army. His first term as Prime Minister was for two years in 1953-1955. He replaced Matyas Rakosi as Prime Minister. Rakosi did not manage the economy well and the living standards fell while he was in power. However, Rakosi was not pushed out of power completely; he held the position of general secretary of the Hungarian Communist Party. During this first term he promoted a “New Course? in Socialism. The new course included relaxing the pace of industrialization, allowing peasants to leave collective farms and relaxing police terror. The Soviets did not like where he was leading the county and on April 18, 1955 he was replaced by Erno Gero.

Tensions grew in Hungry and in 1956. During the Hungarian Revolution in October of 1953 the students led the rebellion and looked back to Nagy for leadership. Nagy was reinstated as Prime Minister by popular demand. Nagy was in control and promised his people free elections and the backing out of the Warsaw Pact. The Soviets then made the decision to intervene and regain control in Hungary. Nagy went onto Radio Kossuth and told the public that he had taken over. He promised the democratization the Hungarian public life and the radical improvement of living conditions. Nagy also freed many political prisoners and decided to bring Hungary away from the one-party state. On November 3, Nagy released the details of his coalition government which included communists, social democrats. The Soviet Union did not like this at all and sent the Red Army into Hungary. Nagy went to the Yugoslav embassy for asylum. On 23rd November, 1956, Nagy and his followers, were kidnapped after leaving the Yugoslav embassy and taken to Snagov Romania. The Soviets returned him to Hungary, and he was secretly charged with organizing to overthrow the Hungarian people's democratic state and with treason. Nagy was secretly tried, found guilty. He was then sentenced to death and executed by hanging in June, 1958. His trial and execution were made public only after the sentence was carried out.

Meagan Smith
Bryce Benda
Ben Winter
Elin Soderberg

Imre Nagy (1896-1958)

Imre Nagy was a humanistic communist politician from Hungary. He emerged from less powerful political positions to the deputy prime minister under Matyas Rakosi, a Stalinist dictator currently in control of Hungary. In the period following Stalin's death in 1953, there was no clear heir to the seat of Stalin in the Soviet Union and the political turmoil that ensued directly effected the Eastern European satellites.

The Soviet Union, under the new leadership of Georgi Malenkov, no longer favored Rakosi's tactics in Hungary and replaced him with the more favorable Nagy in 1953. (Rakosi, on the other hand, remained in the political arena as the secretary of the Hungarian Worker's Party, thereby staying available for a leap to power should an opportunity present itself.) As prime minister, Nagy advocated for a reforming "New Course" to Hungarian society. In this policy, he relaxed the pace of industrialization, allowed for peasants to leave collective farms, and relaxed the terror of the police. In 1955, however, Malenkov's favorable position slipped and on February of 1955, he resigns. The new opinion in the Soviet Union ruled against Nagy and he too was forced to resign to be replaced again by Rakosi.

This second term of Rakosi was dangerously unstable, especially after Nikita Khrushchev's "secret speech" on February 25, 1953, admitting to the crimes of Stalin. Rakosi's refusal to admit his actions in the purge of the Hungarian communist party caused distrust in the people leading to the appointment of Ernö Gerö to the premiership on July 18, 1956 as a way of reconciling with the people. This attempt was in vain was Gerö's leadership paralleled that of Rakosi.

On October 23, demonstrators in Budapest call for the resignation of Gerö and by October 24, 1956, Nagy resumes as prime minister. Nagy returned to power far after things were out of hand throughout the country, therefore it took all his capabilities to attempt to control the reforms. He offered amnesty to the demonstrators, abolished the one-party system, and negotiated the withdrawal of the Red Army from Hungary. Then, on November 1, Nagy declares Hungarian neutrality and withdraws his country from the Warsaw Pact. By November 4, 1956, the Soviet Union invades Hungary and Gerö is forced from power by Soviet and internal communist pressure to be replaced by the Soviet approved János Kádár.

Fearful for his own future, Nagy seeks asylum in the Yugoslavian Embassy. Nineteen days later, through a guarantee of safe passage, Nagy left the embassy, however he was seized by the Soviets. After two years of incarceration in Romania and a refusal to endorse the new Soviet appointed government, Nagy is executed on June 16, 1958, representing one of the last executions of a politician leaving power. The next day back in Hungary, Kádár announces that Nagy and several of his fellow reformers were executed on accounts of treason thereby curbed any revolutionary reformers that were left in the wake of the Revolution.

Molly Burke
Eric DeVoe
Lauren Huus

October 18, 2007

The Battle of Algiers, 1966

The Battle of Algiers is an Italian film which depicts the conflict between disenfranchised revolutionaries and the French military/settlers (pied-noirs) in French Algeria, spanning the period from 1954 to 1960. The film was shot in black and white, on location in the capitol of Algiers. It is reknowned for its realism and relatively fair portrayal of both sides of the conflict. During the 1960's, some thought The Battle of Algiers amounted to a training film for urban guerilla warfare, while others see it as a fitting piece on the struggle to terminate France's colonial system.

A number of organizations have held screenings of the film, including one hosted by the Pentagon in 2003, shortly after the beginning of the current military actions in Iraq. A flyer for the screening noted:

"How to win a battle against terrorism and lose the war of ideas. Children shoot soldiers at point-blank range. Women plant bombs in cafes. Soon the entire Arab population builds to a mad fervor. Sound familiar? The French have a plan. It succeeds tactically, but fails strategically. To understand why, come to a rare showing of this film."

Alex Anderson (alex)
Dustin Auman (auma0004)
Molly Hintzen (hint0078
Elizabeth Peterson (pete5565)

Trofim Lysenko

Trofim Lysenko was a soviet biologist, best known for rejecting the Mendelian theory which explains hereditary traits. In 1927, Lysenko became well known throughout the Soviet Union after he discovered a way to plant pea crops with out fertilizing with minerals or fertilizer. In the following years, Lysenko had several “discoveries? published in the Soviet Media which increased his fame. These discoveries were somewhat questionable, because other scientist could not scientifically reproduce the procedure and obtain the same results as Lysenko.

The Communist Party backed his research methods and he later became the director of Genetics at the USSR’s Academy of Science. While some of experiments were successful, Lysenko could not explain this success scientifically and therefore created his own reasoning to explain what was happening. Lysenko theorized that inheritance was a result of the environment. Under the rule of Stalin, the USSR only taught the Lysenko theory of inheritance. This continued up until 1965, when the USSR recognized this was incorrect and returned the Mendelian theory of inheritance.

Greta Schmalle, Cody Smiglewski, Mike Kompa,

Battle of Dien Bien Phu 1954

Dien Bien Phu is the capital city in the providence of Dien Bien, which is located in Northwestern Vietnam, boarding Laos and China. After World War II ended nationalist leader Ho Chi Minh was organizing cadres in Vietnam in hopes of forming a republic in the eastern part of Vietnam. In 1946 when the French invited the leader to Paris, a French commander launched attacks on his own command. This pushed the French government into war that it was too weak to stop. The Indochina war would go on for seven years. The struggle in Indochina was seen as part of the cold war and the West’s battle against the spread of communism.

When the Korean War came to an end in 1953, the Chinese were able to devote more resources and money to the communist regime of Ho Chi Minh. The United States though supportive of the French in trying stop the spread of communism, decided not to intervene due to it just ending the conflict in Korea. The French then decided to move almost all of their forces into Dien Bien Phu. However, the Vietnamese and the Chinese saw the importance in holding the area and attacked the French unremittingly. Dien Bien Phu fell to the communists in May of 1954, and was the beginning of the fall of the Fourth French Republic. The 1954 Geneva accords then partitioned Vietnam into two zones. The north was to be ruled by the communist Democratic Republic of Vietnam, and the south was supported by the French in the State of Vietnam. The zones were set up to be temporary division until national elections in 1956.

Wilinson, Hughes. "Tenth Edition Contemporary Europe: A History." Pearson, 2004.

Group Members
Lisa Eimer
Hillary Krause
Joe Milner

Algerian War of Independence (1954-1962)

Algeria had been at least partially under French control since 1830, and in the century or so afterward, the country became an integral part of the France. By the years after World War II, there were about a million Europeans living in Algeria. Many had been born in Algeria (an Algerian of French descent was called a "pied-noir," which means "black foot" in French) and had never so much as visited Europe. As the decolonization process gained momentum worldwide after World War II, native Algerians gained hope that they might receive independence. Algerian soldiers had fought in both World Wars, but Algerians were treated as second-class citizens in France and, in effect, were second class citizens in Algeria itself. This made independence desirable to them. At the same time, pieds-noirs feared independence because it would upset their place in Algerian society and the economy, and they also had more connections and influence with the government in France.

The National Liberation Front (FLN), a nationlist party that leaned toward socialism, was created in 1954, and that same year, on November 1st, FLN guerillas began attacks against various colonial institutions in Algiers. France had just resigned itself to the loss of Indochina; it was not ready to lose Algieria as well. Within a few years, there were several hundred thousand troops in Algeria, and the military and police often resorted to torture to try to get information about the FLN. Henri Alleg, a pied noir who had been the publisher of a Communist newspaper but was not a member of the FLN, published an account of his experience being tortured in his book, La Question. The revelation that the French government was using torture against its own citizens and FLN terrorists further caused the war to lose popularity among the mainland population. The war also was one of the main reasons for the downfall of the Fourth Republic and de Gaulle's return to power. Yet even De Gaulle's position in power was threatened by his actions with respect to the War. When it became clear that Algeria would likely be granted independence under de Gaulle, a group of French military officers joined together to form the Organization of the Secret Army (OAS) whose goal was to prevent Algerian independence and whose motto was ""Algeria is French and will remain so." Members of the OAS conducted at least two direct attempts to remove de Gaulle from power, one of those being an assassination attempt. On May 18, 1962, France and the FLN signed the Evian Accords, which brought an end to the war (despite terrorist acts conducted by the OAS in Algeria during the months after the Accord to try to incite the FLN to break the cease-fire). In the following months, the electorates in France and Algeria voted overwhelmingly for Algeria's independence. Afterwards, many of the pieds-noirs went to France, and the harkis - the Algerians who had fought for France - also tried to leave Algeria.

The Algerian conflict is still a sore spot in French politics today. It took until 1999 for the French government to acknowledge the massacre of scores of the thousands of Parisians protesting the war in October of 1961. More recently, the Paris riots in the fall of 2005 were the result of frustrations felt by the generally poor, often unemployed 2nd- and 3rd-generation descendents of North African immigrants who live in the suburbs of Paris. (In France, it's a general rule that richer people live in the city and poorer people live in the suburbs.) The handling of the riots by Nicolas Sarkozy, then France's Minister of the Interior, played a large role in his election as president in 2007, despite, or maybe because of the fact that he referred to the rioters as "scum."

The racial undertones of the French-Algerian relationship have also been reflected in French popular culture, most notably in the work of Albert Camus, a pied-noir himself. His novels L'Etranger and L'Hote, in particular, are set against the backdrop of the conflict. More recently, the Austrian director Michael Haneke filmed the movie Cache, starring Juliette Binoche and Daniel Auteuil, whose plot is driven by the memory of events that took place during the conflict. Indigenes (English title: Days of Glory), a film about a troop of Algerian soldiers who fought for la patrie (the motherland, i.e., France), in World War II, was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars earlier this year. "The Battle of Algiers," which was released in 1966, was directed by an Italian, so it is technically not French, but it remains a classic movie about the conflict.


Contemporary Europe: A history, by James Wilkinson and H. Stuart Hughes

Meghan Anderson (ande3607)
Julie Koch (koch0190)
Julia Thieschafer (thie0048)

October 11, 2007

Sri Lanka (Ceylon)

The Sinhalese, from northern India, arrived in the late 6th century B.C.. The Romans called it ‘Taprobane’, Arabs traders knew it as ‘Serendip’. In the 1300s, a south Indian dynasty seized power in the northern part of the island and established a Tamil kingdom. In the early 1500s the country was occupied by Portuguese traders until the mid-1600s when the Dutch took over until they were replaced by the British in 1796. After successful battles with local rulers, the British established a plantation economy based on tea, rubber, and coconuts, and created the Crown Colony of Ceylon. The British granted Ceylon limited self-rule in 1931, and on February 4, 1948 Ceylon gained its independence. In 1972 Ceylon was renamed Sri Lanka.

The country is about the size of West Virginia and occupies a strategic location near major sea lanes. In the west, is the Arabian Sea with access to the Middle East and Africa; in the east, lies the Bay of Bengal leading to Southeast Asia; and south of the island, is the Indian Ocean. There are almost 21 million inhabitants; its government is a republic of eight provinces, and is called the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka; ethnic Sinhalese make up about 74% of the population, Tamils at about 12%, and the rest are diverse small groups; the literacy rate is at nearly 91% ; the primary religions are Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity; there is a Parliament; and, a highly complex legal system of English common, Roman-Dutch, Islamic, Sinhalese, and customary law.

Sinhalese are concentrated in the densely populated southwest, especially in the capitol city of Colombo; the Tamils live predominantly in the north and east. Over the years relations between these groups have been tenuous at best. In 1983 war erupted between the Sinhalese majority and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) - a Tamil separatist group. There have been several attempts over the years by various nations to broker a peace. After decades of fighting, the government and the LTTE formalized a cease-fire in February 2002 with peace talks to begin in Norway in December 2002. The LTTE, claiming they were being marginalized, dropped out of talks in February 2003. Since that time: in July 2004, the first suicide bomb since 2001 struck Colombo; in August 2005, the LTTE assassinated the Foreign Minister; In 2005, Parliament passed a state of emergency regulation that has been renewed every month since then; Government troops took control of the LTTE's eastern stronghold of Vakarai in January 2007; and, in March 2007 Tamil Tiger rebels launched their first-ever air attack on Katunayake Air Force base - next to Bandaranaike International Airport. Neither side has formally withdrawn from the cease-fire, even though Sri Lanka has been and still is in a state of civil war in one form or another.

“The US Department of State continues to warn Americans against traveling to areas in the North and East of the country given the dangers caused by the ongoing fighting between LTTE, other armed groups, and Sri Lankan military forces.?


Group Members:
Mike Epsky
David Holly
Kurt Homan
Bob Keady

October 5, 2007

William Beveridge, First Baron Beveridge and the “Beveridge Report?

William Henry Beveridge (5 March 1879, b. 16 March 1963, d.) was a British economist and social reformer. He is best known for his extensive work and authorship for his 1942 report Social Insurance and Allied Services, also known as the “Beveridge Report?. This report would go on to outline the basis for the post-World War II Labour government’s “welfare state? in the United Kingdom. Among some of the reforms proposed included the National Health Service, or the publicly funded social health care system in England. The NHS operates separately and alongside three other national health systems that have been developed under differing legislation, but provides the majority of healthcare in England to the present day.
William Beveridge was born to Henry Beveridge an Indian Civil Service agent officer, and his wife, Annette, in Rangpur, Bengal (or Rangpur, Bangladesh today) in 1879. After studying at Balliot College, Oxford, he became a lawyer. He quickly became interested in social services. He was considered the United Kingdom’s highest authority on unemployment insurance by 1908, and was considered for the UK’s Board of Trade early on in his career. He was instrumental in developing England’s national system of labour exchanges, being appointed director in 1909. During the First World War (1914-1918) Beveridge was involved in mobilizing and controlling British manpower. After the war, he was knighted for his efforts and made the permanent secretary to the Ministry of Food. In 1919 he would leave that post to become the director of the London School of Economics and Political Science, in Central London. He would become one of the higher intelligistas within the London Fabian society—the British socialist intellectual movement.
In 1941 Ernest Bevin (Minister of Labor at the time) asked Beveridge to look into and examine the existing schemes of Social Security in England, and to make recommendations to it—this report would evolve to the report on how Britain should be rebuilt after the Second World War. The report on Social Insurance and Allied Services proposed that all people of working age should pay a weekly national insurance contribution—a sort of tax—for social welfare benefit purposes. In return, benefits would be paid to people who were sick, unemployed, retired, or widowed. Beveridge claimed that such a system would provide the bare minimum standard of living “below which no on should be allowed to fall?. This outlined a social safety net, a foundation on which Britain would begin to pull itself back up economically and socially.
Many of the items proposed in the Beveridge Report were direct parts of the framework of the Fabian project—in that it served to combat the “Five Giant Evils?: Want, Disease, Ignorance, Squalor, and Idleness. It promoted economic community, as well as the need for work and the desire for wellness. This was especially represented by the implementation of a national health care system.

Wladislaw Gomulka

Wladislaw Gomulka was an influential Polish Communist leader. He was a member of the Communist Party of Poland (Komunistyczna Partia Polski, or the KPP) starting in 1926. He is a Communist leader of the “Old School?, which relates to the Bolsheviks; know as the “Muscovites?, or those hardliners trained in the iron discipline and revolution the Bolshevik era celebrated. He was arrested and imprisoned in Moscow (like many of the Muscovites were) during World War II, and for the most part because of this imprisonment by the Soviets, remained protected. Gomulka would become an influential Polish Communist, and in 1943 he convinced Stalin to allow for the restoration of the Polish Worker’s Party in Poland. He was named Deputy Prime Minister in the Provisional Government of the Republic of Poland in 1945, and again as the DPM for the Provisional Government of National Unity from 1945 to 1947. Gomulka would use his political position to win the People’s Referendum of 1946—a referendum calling on the public to test the popularity of those vying for political control in Poland following the war.
Although the actual results showed a lack of support for a communist government, the results were rigged to show that communist policies had a lot of support. (This sort of dogged behavior would outline things to come in regards to the Polish sentiment surrounding Communism). His win would usher in the era of the “hegemon of Poland?. However, trends to shortly follow between party factions would expel the Muscovite Gomulka from the Polish United Worker’s Party in the early 1950’s. Following the Nationalist split from the Soviet bloc by Tito’s Yugoslavia, Muscovite leaders around the eastern bloc were being viewed with increasing caution, seen as “right wing? and “reactionary?—not wanting to risk any more Soviet dissent, Muscovite leaders were purged left and right from the Communist sphere. This purge would lead to the deaths of many Muscovite leaders and their influential players, and the eventual imprisonment of Gomulka in 1956.
De-Stalinization began after the death of Stalinist Prime Minister Boleslaw Beirut in 1956 in Poland. This destalinization began on the heels of worker protests, citing extreme food shortages and consumer goods, bad housing, decline in real income, and economic mismanagement by the Communist Soviet Union. Security agents in Poland and elsewhere cited these rioters as “provocateurs? and the like, and killed scores of their own people across the region. This lead to the party hierarchy noting the Soviet’s purges and the riots against them, awakening nationalist sentiments, and thus reversing the party’s stance on nationalism and a potential break from the Soviet sphere. Wages were raised, and political change was promised. Thus was the results of the Poland October in 1956.
Edward Ochab invited Gomulka back from exile to serve as the First Secretary of the party. Gomulka insisted on being given a position of power to help implement the reforms, (as he was of the school established in bringing up a hard-line approach to discipline and reform). Gomulka would be key in establishing dialogue and compromise with the Soviets, who were looking at Poland’s problems as potential for a nationalist revolt against the Socialist line. Gomulka made it clear that Polish troops would resist any Soviet military pressure, and reassured the Soviet leadership that reforms were internal matters and that Poland would not stray from Communism; thus the Soviets retreated.
Information regarding the events in Poland reached a likewise compromised Hungary via Radio Free Europe’s news in October 1956. This led to a student demonstration in Budapest to support Gomulka and his reforms, asking for similar reforms in Hungary… leading to the much more volatile Hungarian Revolution of 1956. Gomulka’s “Polish approach to Socialism? became popular, and began an era dubbed “Gomulka’s Thaw?, a peaceful, albeit ambivalent time, between the Soviets and Poland. During his reign Gomulka would toughen the censorship of the media (to Soviet favor), and would persecute dissenters and intelligista of his reign (this would be one of the negatives of Gomulka’s reign). Another unpopular stance that he’d take would be the anti-Zionist propaganda campaign against Israel and their approaches to the Transjordan region—leading to the Soviet bloc opposition of the Six-Day War in 1968 (and thus, sentiments against Jews in Russia and beyond, some of which remain today).
Gomulka would retire in 1970, weakened by stroke. He yielded power to a young political dynamo, Edward Gierek. Gomulka died in 1982 of cancer. After the fall of the Berlin wall, much of his negative images in Communist propaganda were modified to reveal more of his positive accomplishments, and more of his constructive contributions to the Polish legacy were recognized.

October 4, 2007

Alcide De Gasperi

Born April 3, 1881, in the Tyrol region of what was then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Alcide De Gasperi was on the fringe of political life early on in his career, actually serving as a member of the Austrian Parliament in 1911. He was one of the founding members of Italy’s Popular Party in 1919, which opposed Benito Mussolini’s emerging Fascist Party. This opposition would prove untimely, as Mussolini’s party would continue to solidify its power in the years leading up to and throughout the second World War. De Gasperi was imprisoned from 1927-1928 for his anti-fascist views, and spent the next 17 years waiting Mussolini’s rule while working quietly as a librarian in the Vatican.
It was in the fall of 1945 when De Gasperi, as the leader of the Christian Democratic party (a sort of reorganized Popular Party), would become Italy’s Prime Minister – a position he would retain until 1953. De Gasperi was a tenacious, if unflashy, leader. His public speeches were often very factual and straightforward, though not very eloquent or inspiring. Like fellow Christian Democrat and German Prime Minister Karl Adenauer, De Gasperi had a rather matter-of-fact approach to governing and almost exclusively focused on accomplishing the necessary task at-hand without trying to pursue an agenda based more on broad principles. Overall, De Gasperi favored moderate reform from a conservative viewpoint.
Domestically, De Gasperi focused mainly on economic recovery and reasserting the authority of the state. Using funds from the Marshall Plan and leftover holdings from Mussolini’s regime, De Gasperi’s government revitalized and modernized Italy’s industrial industry. By 1954, production was 71 percent higher than in 1938, and real wages had increased by nearly 50 percent. The economic picture was not all good, however, as much of the country’s southern region, which relied heavily on agriculture, remained in extreme poverty. De Gasperi tried to address this problem by redistributing roughly 1.5 million acres of land from large estate owners to the landless peasantry. This effort fell far short of the government’s original goal, and only managed to slightly improve the poor conditions in the agrarian south.
As one of the “good Europeans,? De Gasperi vehemently supported cooperation and collaboration between the Western European countries, and is often considered today as one of the founding fathers of the European Union. That is because De Gasperi was a strong supporter of precursor organizations such as the European Coal and Steel Community and the ultimately unsuccessful European Defense Community. He would leave office mid-1953 due to a growing conservative political movement in the country, and died shortly after in 1954.

Mike Enright
India Rambo

Wilkinson, James and H. Stuart Hughes. Contemporary Europe: A History.
Gilbert, Felix and David Clay Lange. The End of the European Era: 1890 to the Present.

Berlin Airlift

On 24 June 1948 the soviets blocked the three Western powers access to Berlin by blocking the roadways and railways. This started the greatest airlift campaign in American history, the Berlin Airlift. On June 25, 1948 General Lucius D. Clay ordered the beginning of a massive airlift utilizing both military and civilian aircraft. The first plane took off the very next day. Lt. General William H. Turner was put in charge of the airlift. He instituted three rules. Instrument flight rules would be followed at all times, planes had only one chance to land returning to home if they missed, and air crews were not allowed to leave the planes at anytime for any reason while in Berlin. The Airlift lasted for 321 days, ending on September 30, 1959, significantly longer than the originally planned three weeks. At the height of the operation on April 16, 1948 an airplane landed in Berlin every minute, totaling 1,398 flights in 24 hours hauling 12, 940 tons of cargo. In all 278,228 were made during the airlift, and 2,326,406 tons of cargo. The Berlin airlift was essential to the survival of western occupied sectors of Berlin.

Chris Winkler
Jacob Schultz
Evan Hosseini

Soviet Nuclear Program

The start of the Soviet weapons program began in April of 1942, when
Joseph Stalin information about the lack of study on nuclear
fission by the US, UK, and Germany. Stalin was suspicious about this lack
of study on nuclear fission that had been discovered in 1939, and he then
paused for the study of this new energy source. However, because of the
ongoing war research could not take place, and the program was forced
underground. Lavrentiy Beria was appointed as the leader of this research
program, and Igor Kurchatov was the head scientist in this study. As the
head scientist Kurchatov recruited other scientist to help conduct this
research. However, due to the sensitive nature, and the ongoing war only 5
others were willing to take the risk of working with this program.
from the beginning of the program many stolen documents help soviet
scientist to gain immense amounts of information on nuclear weapons, that
helped in turn to move the process of making these weapons faster. Among
the many spies working for the soviets the most famous was Klaus Fuchs,
who worked with Britain on their atomic bomb. Fuchs provided the soviets
with huge amounts of information that helped the soviets make up for lost
time, and lack of money in the making of nuclear weapons. Through these
spies Stalin got information on the U.S. Manhattan project. Additionally,
Stalin received information about the U.S. and Britain combing their
programs. This event was the most important for the Soviet program as they
now had Klaus Fuchs on the inside Los Alamos the site chosen by the U.S.
and Britain. Three years after the Soviet program began the U.S. was ready
for their first test of the atomic bomb, on July 16Th 1945 the first atomic
bomb was detonated in the desert of New Mexico. One month later this new
weapon was used on Japan, two atomic bombs were dropped, on them, and WW2
came to an end. Stalin was shocked and horrified that the U.S. had caused
such damage, even though he knew about the Manhattan project. Shortly after
this news reached Stalin he ordered Beria to create the Soviet atomic bomb
within 5 years. The Soviets worked quickly, and at 7am, on August 29Th 1949
the Soviets detonated their first of many nuclear weapons.

Michael K.


The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was established in April 1949, the purpose of it was to create a collective defense against outside forces. It consisted mostly of Western countries like France, the United Kingdom, Norway, Greece, Turkey, West Germany and most importantly the United States. The main reason why the Western countries wanted the help of the United States is because they felt that the Soviet Union would not want to attack the West if they knew that the United Stated was backing them up. The Soviets would be scared of what the States were capable of doing and did not want to see what would happen. The Soviets would not want to start a nuclear war with the West because that would mean that the United States would get involve. If the United States would not have been involved in NATO, the West would be unable to stand up against the Communist East. So if you were a member of NATO, and a Communist country of the East decided to attack a Western country, you would be obligated to take some kind of action but it was unclear, until later, what kind of act needed to be taken, but you could not just sit back and watch you had to get involved. The key importance here is that they must respond to the action that has happened. There are many reasons why NATO was created, but one of the main reasons was to discourage Communist aggression. And in response to NATO, the Eastern Communist countries came up with the Warsaw act as a way of being able to defend themselves again the West.

By: Molly B
Eric D
Lauren H

The Berlin Airlift

The Berlin Airlift was necessary in order to provide supplies to the portion of Berlin not under Soviet control. The three Western allies (America, Britain and France) were each given sectors of Germany and sectors within Berlin. The problem was that they were only given a 20-mile wide air corridor from their sectors into Berlin, but on June 24, 1948 the Soviets blocked access to Berlin through railways and roadways to the three Western powers. Access to Berlin was essential for rebuilding and to help individuals. The first deliveries took place on two days after ground access was blocked, and was scheduled to last for three weeks. C-47s made 32 flights into Berlin with 80 tons of cargo; mainly powdered milk, flour, and medicine. As the winter months approached, there was a need for coal to heat the houses and more food. They realized the operation would exceeded the capabilities of the U.S. Air Forces in Europe, so the Berlin Airlift became the responsibility of the Military Air Transport Service, created on June 1st, 1948 by the merger of Air Force and Navy transport units. General Tunner arrived in Germany late in July 1948 and came with the goal to speed up the delivery of cargo. He established goal of a landing every minute, day or night. At times, the aircrews participating in the operation came close to achieving this goal, touching down just 3 minutes apart. The Airlift lasted for 321 days, ending on September 30, 1959. There were a total of 278,228 flights made during the airlift, and 2,326,406 tons of cargo delivered.

Alex A.
Elizabeth P.
Molly H.
Dust A.

The push to Consumerism

After the two world wars, global depression, and rise of authoritarian regimes the modern world was ready for a change in the way governments would treat their people. Americans pushed consumerism on Western Europe, particularly in France, England, and West Germany. The United States looked for an outlet to sell their goods world wide; Europe was the most logical choice; they had enough money for the U.S. to make good profits and also were in good relations politically as they just finished fighting two wars against Germany.

Having so much tragedy in the recent years it is obvious to see why Europe would want to indulge in material goods; this would be a treat for them selves instead of constant struggles. Not only were the rich targeted, everyone was ensured of protection from consumer society. Governments created groups in order to satisfy the people with the products companies were producing. These governmental agencies created laws and strict guidelines to produce the best quality products available to the market. The communism idea of consumerism was to produce a massive amount of goods in order for their citizens and other Eastern Europe citizens to have. The capitalism and communism systems clashed over which system effectively pleased its consumers more. In the end capitalism prevailed, communism lost due to excessive concentration on pushing out mass quantities of goods and not focusing on quality. It could be argued that the laws created on the quality of goods in the post war years in West Europe and the United States are one of the reasons communism failed to keep its citizens engaged in their political theory as they looked to the western model as a way to attain the good life.

Darrel Olson
Mike Bucahnon
Peter Kvamme

October 2, 2007

Greek Civil War 1942-1944, 1946-1949

The cause of the Greek Civil War was a government division that occurred as a result of the Nazi Germany/Bulgarian occupation of Greece from 1941-1944. In all, there were a total of two different governments and a formation of several resistance movements. One of these governments was a government in exile proclaimed by the King of Greece after he escaped to Egypt during German occupation. This government was recognized by the Western Allies, but not by the Soviet Union. The second government was set-up in Athens by the Germans, but this government also lacked support/legitimacy. Due to the lack of a legitimate government, several resistance movements were created. The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) created the largest of these resistance movements the National Liberation Front (EAM). The EAM was determined to establish a monopoly over other resistances so that they would have an advantageous position when the Germans left Greece. This led to the ELAS (the EAM’s army) attacking other resistances, precipitating a civil war across most of Greece. The largest of these attacked resistances was the Greek National Republican League (EDES), a group committed to the liberation of Greece from communism and fascism. The socialist EAM and conservative EDES made up the two sides of this war.
In early 1947, the EDES’s primary support switched from Great Britain to the United States due to financial reasons. The EAM’s support, on the other hand did not change. It remained strongly supported by Yugoslav and Albanian Communist regimes, with the support from Yugoslavia’s Prime Minister Josip Broz Tito being the stronger of the two. Both Yugoslavia and Albania allowed the ELAS to operate from within their borders. Despite Tito’s and the Soviet Union’s strong bond, the Soviet Union, on the other hand, did not directly support the KKE due to Stalin’s strategy not being to conduct war against the Western Allies in Greece. However, the EAM’s support would drastically change in 1949.
In June of 1949, the Soviet Union and its satellites cut off their relations with Tito in Yugoslavia. Thus, the KKE had to make a choice: should it ally itself with the country that had been supporting it since the beginning of the war (Yugoslavia) or should it choose the country that their communist principles were derived from (the Soviet Union)? The KKE chose Stalin and the Soviet Union. As a result to this decision, Tito closed down the Yugoslavian border to the ELAS (now the Democratic Army of Greece, DSE). Due to Tito’s actions, the DSE began to “hunt? for Tito supporters within its own ranks, resulting in its disorganization. This disorganization and the desertion of DSE fighters resulted in the DSE to not be able to sustain resistance in battle. Finally, in late August of 1949, the Albanian government under Soviet approval, announced to the KKE that it no longer would allow the DSE to operate from within its borders. On October 16, the KKE announced a cease-fire, thus marking the end of the Greek Civil War and resulting in the victory of the government’s anti-Communist forces. This victory led to Greece’s membership in NATO later that year.
In all 50,000 people were killed during the Civil War. Most of these deaths occurred as a result of the EAM’s brutality. The EAM burned villages, and executed civilians, suspected collaborators, and those who had committed various political ‘crimes’.

Hillary Krause
Lisa Eimer
Joe Milner


The Deutsche Mark

Following the fall of the Third Reich, the German economy lay in ruins. In order to prevent Western Germany from hyperinflation, excessive bartering, and a large black market, the Western Allies implemented a new currency called the Deutsche Mark. The Deutsche Mark would replace the previous German currency, Reichsmark and Rentenmark, which was worth nothing. Old currency could be exchanged at three different rates according to specific situations. One situation was for essential currency, such as wages, payment of rents etc., at a rate of one Deutsche Mark for one Reichsmark. The second situation was for the remainder of money in private non-banks credit balance. This came at a rate of one Deutsche Mark to ten Reichsmark. The third situation was for large sums of money. In this situation ten Reichsmark could be exchanged for 65 pfennig (100 pfennig equaled one Deutsche Mark). Also every citizen received 60 Deutsche Mark per capita allowance to help get back on track.

The introduction of the Deutsche Mark made the Soviets extremely mad, because they thought this was the Western Allies trying to gain control of Germany. After the Deutsche Mark hit the streets in West Germany the Soviets closed all roads, canals, and rail to Berlin, leading to the Berlin Blockade.

The Deutsche mark was also the currency of a reunified Germany until 2000 when the Euro went in to affect as the national currency. Many Germans disliked the idea of the Euro because the Deutsche mark symbolized national pride and economic prosperity. A poll in recent years showed many Germans wished to return to the Deutsche mark.

The Deutsche Mark came in bank notes of 5 DM (Deutsche Mark), 10 DM, 20 DM, 50 DM, 100 DM, 200 DM, 500 DM and coins of 1, 2, 5, 10, 50 Pfennig, 1 DM, 2 DM, 5 DM.

Interesting Fact: Following WWII American cigarettes served as the currency on the black market.

Bryce Benda, Meagan Smith, Ben Winter, Jodi Keuth, Elin Soderberg


October 1, 2007

The "Summit" of 1955

The summit was a meeting at Geneva, it was the decade's largest display of the new international atmosphere. The Geneva convention followed the failure of the EDC, European Defense Community. The four major countries that took part in the summit at Geneva were the United States, Britain, France and the Soviet Union. This meeting was not historic for any decisions that had been reached, it was historic because it was the first time in 10 years since the leaders of the U.S. and the Soviet Union came together. The leaders at the time were President Eisenhower and Nikita Khrushchev of Russia. It was the first time these two leaders had been seen speaking in a friendly fashion. There were no major agreemenst between the two leaders, except for one, it was agreed upon that while they remained in power, the Cold War would not be pushed for a final decision. Eisenhower and Khrushchev would keep the peace allowing Europeans to breath a sigh of relief. Therefore with a new leaf turned in regardts to the Cold War, Europe began to occupy itself with its own concerns.

Julie Koch
Meghan Anderson
Julia Th