The First World War – the “great seminal catastrophe of the 20th century” – broke out 100 years ago this year. The Second World War began 75 years ago, provoked by the Nazi regime under the leadership of Adolf Hitler. Millions of people – soldiers as well as civilians – lost their lives in the two world wars. And millions fell victim to Hitler’s master race delusion in the Nazi extermination camps.
The consequences were devastating, especially for people in Central and Eastern Europe, who were directly affected for decades – and whose liberation from the Nazis led them straight into new dictatorships. It was not until 1989/90 that the age of dictatorships ended in Europe.
There will be numerous opportunities in 2014 and 2015 to commemorate the key events of the 20th century.