European History

Reconstructing Seapower

Andrew Lambert— In the late 1880s, American strategist and historian Alfred Thayer Mahan coined the term “sea power” by purposefully splitting the word “seapower,” a direct translation of the Greek thalassokratia, to sustain his agenda. The Greek word had been used by Herodotus and Thucydides to describe states which were

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Armistice Attire

Guy Cuthbertson— When the fighting on the Western Front ended on November 11, 1918, and people celebrated wildly back at home, unusual outfits featured prominently in those celebrations. Flags became clothing, and there was plenty of improvised fancy dress. Adults and children dressed as the Kaiser, for instance, or students

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How an Epic Painting Became a Monumental Flop: The Perils of Art and Politics

Katie Hornstein — Powerful rulers have always relied on visual images to bolster their standing and seek public support for their military endeavors.  While these sorts of images can be broadly understood as propaganda, the question of their effectiveness as art in the service of power is anything but assured,

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European Couples: Mussolini and Hitler

Christian Goeschel— On July 20, 1944, a bomb exploded in the Wolf’s Lair, Adolf Hitler’s East Prussian Headquarters. The Nazi leader survived. Hours later, he received Benito Mussolini. This would be the final encounter between Mussolini and Hitler, leaders of Europe’s most significant fascist dictatorships. It took place almost exactly

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How Do You Talk to a Russian Gangster?

Mark Galeotti— He was quite the most charming contract killer with whom one could imagine having a drink. But nonetheless, for all his cheerful Chechen twinkle, and the ritualised North Caucasus courtesy which meant we had to argue fiercely over the right to pay the bill, even though we both

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American and Israeli Jews Tell Different Truths About the Holocaust

Hannah Pollin-Galay— “The End of the Jewish People is Here.” This is not a headline from the 1940’s but from June 2018. It appeared as one of many articles reporting on a survey conducted by the American Jewish Committee, which polled American and Israeli Jews on a range of contemporary

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Political Cartoons in the Digital Age

David Francis Taylor— In 2004 Morten Morland published a cartoon in the Times that took aim at Anglo-American attempts to broker peace between Israel and Palestine. He did so by adapting a much older image: James Gillray’s “Sin, Death, and the Devil” of 1792. Gillray’s caricature responded to the sacking

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Creating “William the Bastard”

David Bates— The fact that William the Conqueror’s parents, Robert, duke of Normandy from 1027 to 1035, and Herleva, were not married according to the rules of the Christian Church has over the years massively influenced interpretations of his life, his prospects, and his personality. It has been transmitted across

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Nazi Cinema

Bill Niven— In April 1954, together with his lawyer, the film director Veit Harlan made his way to a gravel pit near Zurich. There, he demonstratively set fire to the only available negative of the anti-Semitic Nazi film he had directed for Joseph Goebbels: Jud Süβ, first shown in 1940.

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Rabin’s Peace Policy

Itamar Rabinovich— On July 26, 1994, Prime Minister Rabin and King Hussein spoke to a joint session of the U.S. Congress, and on July 30 they signed an agreement in Washington ending the state of war between Jordan and Israel. It was an interim step leading the way to a

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