World War I
Expansionist plans and conflicts in the “age of empire” between 1870 and 1914 led to bloody confrontations between the main players. The origins of the war were much more complex, and seeking to explain them is far beyond the scope of this book. The outbreak of the war, whatever the explanation, was a watershed. It was greeted with euphoria in Europe. The interminable war offered some hope for Germany in 1917–18: the Russian revolution and armistice made possible a major regrouping of the German army and a decisive new offensive in the west. The Great War spectacularly closed the “long” nineteenth century, because it destroyed all the pillars of its world system. In Central and Eastern Europe, the new era failed to open a new chapter of development and catch up with the West: instead, decades of crises followed.
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