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The Laboratory on Top of the Graveyard.pdf

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Doris Bergen

THE LABORATORY ON TOP OF THE GRAVEYARD: INTERWAR CRISIS AND INNOVATION INTRODUCTION •The title alludes to the idea of enormous change quickly after WWI •The legacy of the war reached through the possibilities to create something new •The end of the WWI and the outbreak of the WW2 is a period of possibility -- many Europeans ceased the chances offered by this laboratory to create something new •Created significant institutions, political practices, and lasting legacies This idea of innovation could also be applied to the Russian Revolution (RR) and • Mussolini •RR -- the Bolshevik seizure of power would never have been possible without the demise of the tsarist empire in the midst of WWI •This is the creation of the FIRST lasting communist state •Mussolini’s Italy becomes the first fascist state -- this was completely new •It was only possible because of the shattering events of WWI •Focus on today’s lecture: East Central Europe, the successor states of the Habsburg Empire THE C ABINET OF D R. CALIGARI •Sets the scene for the argument of the day -- the notion of a laboratory on a graveyard •The film was the brain child of its two writers -- Czech poet and Austrian screen writer •They were influenced by their experience in the war •Plot of the film: •A story of a scientist who has a sleepwalker under a trance -- able to control his movements The scientist uses the sleepwalker to kill people he has a grudge against -- he • controls the sleepwalker, but it is the sleepwalker who commits the crimes •Two friends encounter the sleepwalker and the scientist at a fair •One of the friends is killed by the sleepwalker •The other friends fiancee is kidnapped by the sleepwalker •This friend decides to track down the scientists -- he discovers that the scientist is pulling the strings behind these murders •He tracks down the scientist at a mental hospital, expecting to find that the scientist is a mental patient that has escaped and is using is “craziness” to carry out the crimes -- instead he discovers that the scientist is the director of the mental hospital Political message: the evil pulling the strings behind the killer is in charge -- he is • the head of all evil •However, the movie couldn’t end that way -- they changed the ending so that the surviving friend was actually a mental patient and he had imagined it in a fevered nightmare THE LABORATORY ON TOP OF THE GRAVEYARD: INTERWAR CRISIS AND INNOVATION • According to this ending, evil resides in the tormented individual rather than the evil powers that control society •Depicts the experimentation of the time •Expressionist film -- everything is tilted to make it feel more ominous The entire movie: P EACE S ETTLEMENTS A FTER WWI PARIS PEACE C ONFERENCE , UNE 1919 •The Peace Settlements are very important for this region of Europe •One of the most misunderstood aspects of this period is the Treaty of Versailles (TV) -- blamed for the rise of Hitler, WW2, the Holocaust, and the Cold War Attempts to create something new that had significant results • •In the fall of 1918, the German officers (Luddendorf and Hindenburg) insisted that the Kaiser abdicate, that the Germans sue for peace because Germany could not fight on •Difficulty facing European and non-European diplomats trying to make peace after 4 years of a total war •The old empires were gone, but was to take their place? •Woodrow Wilson was a key player in these negotiations -- exercised the importance of national self-determination •The problem: Wilson believed that the idea of national difference (multinational empires, national strife for independence) had destabilized Europe • The solution: national self-determination allowed nationalities, linguistic groups, and religious groups to become their own political entities -- the right to self- govern • The commitment to creating liberal democracies •Democracy and national self-determination were to become the foundations of a new Europe The US emerged from the war in a much more powerful position that any other • state •27 nations were represented, not the two major defeated nations -- Soviet Russia and Germany •The major powers were the US, Britain, and France -- they each had different views of what they wanted the post-war settlement to look like • US -- Wilson wanted a map of Europe based on national self-determination; liberal democracy promoted in the new European states; and an international organization, the League of Nations (LN), which was to be a site for negations to ensure that a world war would not happen again, that countries in conflict would have a place to settle them rather than war THE LABORATORY ON TOP OF THE GRAVEYARD: INTERWAR CRISIS AND INNOVATION • France -- wanted national security, and how the Germans would pay reparations for the massive damage done to France • Very little damage was done in Germany, because it was mainly fought in France • The powers were forced to compromise -- they produced a series of treaties • None of the defeated powers had a say in the treaties that were made • Separate treaties were made for Austria, Hungary, Turkey, and Bulgaria • They were all written in a hurry -- they all involved new borders and border changes • The Paris Peace Conference was a kind of experimentation -- they had to create the next step • Wilson’s vision of the League of Nations was to be a peaceful resolution of conflicts The principle of National Self-determination was not that easy -- the world was • not clearly divided between people • Many populations were dispersed -- they intermarried, converted, learned new languages • People had multiple identities • The successor states had mixed populations -- there was no state that had ONE ethnic group • The League of Nations created a system to protect minority rights in the new successor states -- each of the new states was required to sign a treaty (the Minority Treaties) in which they pledged to recognize the full and complete protection of all inhabitants without distinction of birth, nationality, language, race, or religion • This was the vision of the NEW WORLD! -- the idea of coexistence • This was an innovation • Many of the things that came out of the Paris Peace Conference were met with enormous opposition • Germany -- emerged out of the war in a strong position • Which countries border Germany in 1914? -- all Great Powers: Russian Empire, Austrian Empire, France • Which countries border Germany after 1918? -- France, Poland, Austria, Czechoslovakia, etc Instead of being bordered by great powers, Germany was in great powers • border by small struggling nations • That Germany was surrounded by its enemy was very strong -- believed that had been stabbed in the back at home by people who refused to help the nation • Believed that had not been defeated, but that they been betrayed • Defeat meant inferiority THE LABORATORY ON TOP OF THE GRAVEYARD: INTERWAR CRISIS AND INNOVATION • The occupation of the Rhineland -- under the terms of the TV the region of the Rhine was to be occupied by the French • The French used colonial soldiers -- the presence of the men of color on German soil was physical remainder of the German failure • Found a sympathetic hero for these complaints -- the US and Britain for the ill treatment of people of color TREATY OF VERSAILLES • Often described as a harsh and punitive piece • Compared to the terms of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk (TBL), Versailles looks mild • In the TBL, Russia lost 30% of its territory including the industrial and agricultural heartland THEPOLISHCORRIDOR • In the TV, Germany lost 10% of its territory to Poland, Denmark, and France • These are recent acquisitions • The creation of the Polish Corridor -- Postwar Germany had two parts that had been separated by Poland to allow the new Polish state access to the sea • Germans of all kinds would complain about the creation of the Polish Corridor • The
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