Taking place in 2011, the Greek people began protesting outside of their government buildings in opposition to the austerity measures put into place by the European Union and IMF. Greece is taking a second bailout from the European Union and the cost of it means austerity, and the city of Athens was not happy. However, even being as angry as they were their protesters were described as “indignant but they lack the will, the determination, the message, the zeal to shake Athens”, but “What they do do is serve as a rallying point.” Athens and all of Greece felt the austerity measures were an affront on their pride and Athens is “A city at a tipping point.”
As an interesting note, just today the Greek government approved cutting15,000 civil servant jobs and as a result the people in Athens are protesting again.
Historically, resistance groups tend to take on a veil of romantic nostalgia, and Mak tries to see past this as he travels to Warsaw and learns about the Jewish organized revolt in the ghetto. Despite the fact that most of the Jews in the Warsaw ghetto had been taken away, on April 19, 1943, seven hundred and fifty of the Jews that were still there tried to rise up against their Nazi oppressors and free the ghetto. The surprising part of this story, Mak learns, is that most of the partisans in the ghetto were young people; “most of them were between the ages of eighteen and twenty.” (Mak 423). The oldest partisan was Abram Diamant, who was forty-three; the youngest was Lusiek Blones, dying at only thirteen years old. To his surprise, Mak also discovers that about one “third of the membership of the resistance groups consisted of girls and young women.” (Mak 424). While the efforts of the resistance were unsuccessful and only twelve of them survived the revolt and subsequent deportation, the courage and resistance of the Jews in the Warsaw ghetto is still an admirable story that deserves to be told.
In Brasted, Great Britain, Mak focuses on the Battle of Britain and the defense against Nazi invasion from the continent. An interesting issue Mak discusses is the key role the invention of radar played in the victory of the battle. Despite the fact that British Hurricanes were less advanced than their German counterparts, Britain was able to know instantly when a German offensive was inbound. Additionally, the Messershcmitt 109, even though it was a superior aircraft, had only a tank that lasted for 30 minutes. As a result, the Battle of Britain was won though at a heavy cost of destruction and the weakness of the German Wermacht was revealed “attuned to brief, overwhelming explosions of energy, and not long exhausting struggles” (Mak 376). Here is a picture the German aircraft Messerschmidt 109.
Dutch journalist and author Geert Mak captures his travels through twentieth century Europe in his monograph In Europe, published in 2008. In Mak’s view, “Europe […] is a continent in which one can easily travel back and forth through time. All the different stages of the 20th century are being lived, or relived, somewhere” (xii). He wonders if Europeans have a common history, only to respond in support of such a thought. To give his views substance, and to make a final inventory, a sort of status-report on what Europe was like in the twentieth century, he set out on a trip in 1999. This incredible journey begins in Amsterdam, and is the focus of this blog; it has also been documented (unfortunately only partially with English subtitles) as a documentary. Enjoy! (mak97)
This website is created by students taking HIS 344 (Recent Europe). It aims to capture our historical travels through twentieth century Europe. Feel free to follow our blog, as we take a journey beginning in 1900, and ending in the present. Enjoy!