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The European Civil War 1914-1945


Admission requirements

Entry test, see Remarks below.


In 1914 prosperous Europe unwittingly ruined itself. Thirty years later the continent literally was in ruins and ninety millions dead and displaced persons were to be mourned. This seminar focuses on the question why these thirty years (1914-45) were so extremely violent and destructive. What forces have been unleashed in this period? To answer this question we will especially pay attention to the next themes: the many legacies of the First World War, the ethnic problems after 1918 caused by the decline of three large multi-ethnic empires, the battle between the three major ideologies – communism, fascism and liberal democracy – and the importance of the idea of a Racial Utopia.

Course objectives

Students acquire thorough knowledge of the European history between 1914 and 1945 from a ‘transnational’ perspective. They acquire insights into historiographical controversies in this field, gain research practice in analysing primary sources and develop the skills required to present the results of their research.


See here.

Mode of instruction

Research seminar.

Assessment method

Entry test, oral presentation, final paper.



Reading list

M. Mazower, The Dark Continent. Europe’s Twentieth Century (Londen etc. 1998)
S. Zweig, Die Welt von gestern (1944). A Dutch or English edition is also allowed.


via uSis.

Contact information

E-mail: Dr. P.G.C. Dassen


Ability to study and understand German texts is recommended.
There will be an entry test on the first meeting, 13 September, about ch. 1-7 of Mazower’s Dark Continent.