This is my work about the Cuban Missile Crisis we started working in class.
After reading about the Berlin Blockade, Lenny asked us to answer some questions and complete a chart about the topic.
The Berlin Blockade, 1948-9 Cold War: Iron Curtain
Life in Berlin was harsh after WW2 as this was a devastated city, greatly affected by war. Population had declined massively and the ones who still lived there had lost everything. People were now poor. In addition, German´s capital was also suffering the tension between the Soviet Union and the USA. Citizens wanted to recover from war, but it was not easy among still existing conflicts and tension in their territory. The fact that the place was divided in zones made population be confused and scared without knowing what would happen next. This scenario became worse after the Berlin Blockade, in which the West had no supply from the USA, GB and FR.
Soviet policy towards the Berlin differ from that of the West. Stalin specifically wanted to keep Germany crippled. He did not want Berlin of any other part of Germany to recover completely. However, the West had a very different idea on their minds, they wanted Germany to recover as she was before as without at least rebuilding their industries they would not be able to satisfy the population´s needs.
The Western Allies (GB, USSR and USA) introduced a new currency into their new unified territory. Stalin believed the new currency was an attempt against the East economy. This finally lead into the Berlin Blockade, which finally meant the start of the Cold War.
The airlift was a major feat as this was the final straw for the beginning of the Cold War. This event showed the rivalry between the two great powers and how this increasing tension was irreversible.
The US and the USSR can be responsible for further increasing tensions during the airlift because they were very suspicious of each other although the two countries had expressed they were not willing to go to war. On the one hand, Stalin wanted to cripple Germany as they feared they could recover and eager any conflict, while on the contrary the western nations wanted Germany to at least recover to be able to satisfy their population needs. Moreover, Stalin blocked the supply roads between western germany and their zone in Berlin, as he thought this way Berlin would be totally dependent from the USSR, making the western states give up the capital. However, by 1949 it was clear for the Soviets that the Western Allies would not give up Berlin. The US saw the blockade as a threat to the freedom of Western Europe, finally giving a start to the Cold War.
Stalin in the end was forced to reopen communications and remove the blockade as it was clear that this had not made the western countries give up Berlin and, on the contrary, numbers show that over this period more supplying airlifts got into the zone than before the crisis.
Extension question; Who was more to blame for Berlin becoming a major flashpoint in the Cold War, the Soviets or the Americans?
In my opinion they were both to blame. Although the USSR was the responsible for the last straw, which was the Berlin Blockade, the USA had been responsible for many other factors that increased tension. Firstly, the capitalist country had always been suspicious of Stalin’s actions. Also, he had promised to stop any other country from turning communist (policy of containment). Moreover, the atomic bomb tried without even consulting the soviets also increased the tension. Finally, considering all the previous events of the 1930´s in which these two countries had not had a good relationship either also contributed to the start of the Cold War. They were the two greatest powers which wanted to rule the world with their economies and ideals, but a the same time both had opposite ideas on mind (communism-capitalism…). The two nations contributed the the Cold War as this wouldn’t have happened without both increasing the tension, which is why none of them has more to blame.
After reading about the Germans, Julia gave us a task in which we had to analize some sources. I was with Francisco Montoya and Trinidad Porretti.
This source, which belongs to an autobiography written by Adolf Hitler in 1924, shows Hitler’s viewpoint on the Treaty of Versailles. He clearly despised the treaty and he thought it was unfair. He considered it a disgrace and humiliation to Germany. Hitler calls it a “highway robbery” as it was unfair and was a stab in the back for the German people, who weren’t prepared to pay such a high price as a result of the Treaty. The treaty caused a scandal among most of the Germans who deeply hated the treaty.
This source, written by a woman who witnessed and lived in the Ruhr during the French occupation, shows as insight to the living conditions of the Ruhr citizens throughout this period of chaos. The French were violent and aggressive. They regarded the Germans with extreme despise and treated them awfully. The German people suffered of massive poverty and starvation as well as living in dreadful conditions during this time. Not only did they struggle through both of these things, but also they experienced a great humiliation due to the French, who ruled in a very strict and cruel manner. They would even punish the slightest detail of a behaviour they didn’t approve of. This source shows the terrible time the Germans underwent during the French occupation of the Ruhr.
This source is a British cartoon in which there are three men, one of them is drowning and the two others are watching from above standing in the ground. The two watchers represent the leaders of Britain and FRance, while the one drowning represents Germany. We can grasp the irony in this poster, as Germany is drowning due to the harsh terms of the Treaty of Versailles, which left her country crippled. The French and British did nothing to help them or at least give them more time to pay the reparations. In the inferior part of the cartoon we can see Germany asking for help, while Britain and France look with contempt and pride and do nothing to help her. Germany asks for a life-belt, which is lying no more than a few meters away from Britain and France, but still they wouldn’t bother to look for it and throw it to her. This shows that even if both of this powerful countries had the resources to help Germany, they weren’t willing to do it.
This source was written in 1992 by Finlay Mckichan, a British Historian. It is explained that the Germans were not able to realise that the causes of hyperinflation were complex and needed serious measures to be taken. Instead, the measures they took were ineffective. Germans believed that hyperinflation would be solved by simply printing money, but they were wrong. Germany blamed reparations and the Weimar Republic for hyperinflation, as the impose of reparations produced a big economic problem in the country, and were accepted, and consequently paid, by the Weimar Republic. Due to this, middle-class Germans never forgave the Republic, as they believed it created a big impact in the nation.
This source shows a poster of one of the greatest international stars, Marlene Dietrich, who made the 1920s a golden age for the German cinema. The poster is one of Dietrich’s films, “Blonde Venus”, in which it can be seen the protagonist wearing clothes that would not have been considered appropriate years ago, showing that women’s life had become more liberal and permissive. The picture shows the fact that those years meant great culture changes in Germany. People´s night life started being more liberal. Songs and movies about sex, which had been considered inappropriate and dare some years before, started being performed. Moreover, going to clubs became a common pastime. This new era started with the Weimar Republic, as all this would have been banned in the Kaiser’s days.
Here is my twitter profile I will use for the history activity.
After studying the 1920s, our teacher assigned us a work which consisted in choosing an important figure of the 1920s which influenced the USA, including a short biography and explanations of why she/he was famous and his/her impact on the US. I chose the American tennis player, Helen Wills.
Here is my presentation
Our history teacher, Lenny, told us to watch a video and read the second chapter of the book about the League of Nations. Then, we had to answer some questions.
Here is my work:
1- What were the aims of the league?
The League of Nations had several aims:
-To discourage aggression from any nation
-To encourage nations to disarm
-To improve the living and working conditions of people in all parts of the world
-To encourage countries to cooperate, especially in business and trade
2- What happened to Wilson when he returned to USA after signing the Treaty of Versailles?
When he returned to USA he wanted his country to join the League, but he needed the approval of the Congress. The idea of the League in USA was not popular, part of the country didn´t supported this idea so he couldn´t have the approval of the congress. Moreover, Harding, who was the Republican candidate, had others ideas, he was the opposite of Wilson, he thought that USA had to be isolated. He believed that Europe was affected from war so joining the league would influence in USA stability. He considered that USA had the ability to defend and develop by themselves. Warren Harding won the elections so his country didn´t join the League.
3- Why did German immigrants in USA not want to join the league?
German immigrants didn´t want USA to join the League because this enforced the Treaty of Versailles. Germans hated this Treaty because one of the most important terms of it was the punishment of Germany in which they had been humiliated. In that Treaty she lost land to several states, her overseas Empire was taken away, her army was limited and she had to pay reparations. Furthermore, Germany had to accept the blame for the beginning of WW1. Finally, she was not invited to join the League of Nations unless she showed she was a peace loving country.
4- What economic reason did USA give to stay out of the league?
They said that if the League imposed sanctions, as stop trading with an aggressive country, the American trade and business would be the one that suffered the most. Moreover if she joined the league she would have to support troops economically,due to the fact they were recovering from WW1.
5- How did Americans feel about imperialism in Europe?
They were afraid that if the League was dominated by France of Britain one of the main purposes would be to defend their empires and most of the population in US was anti-empires
6-Why did Poland invade Vilna? Why did the league not act about it?
Vilna was not only an important city for the Poles, also for Lithuanians, Jews and Belarusians. These four populations were interested in Vilna because it was culturally important for them. However, most poles lived there because, before the Treaty of Versailles, Lithuanian capital had been a Polish city. When the other states stop fighting for the territory Poland and Lithuania continued fighting over the land. Poland ended up with this territory, this was why Lithuania appealed to the League. The conflict of Vilna was a failure because the League of Nations didn´t act, although they protested, the poles pulled out. Britain and France couldn´t act due to the fact they were recovering from war.
7-Why was upper Silesia an important region for Poland and Germany?
Upper Silesia was an important region for Poland and Germany because it was their border area and was full of economic resources. As people from the two countries lived there, an equal method to resolve the problem was to make people living in Silesia vote, by plebiscite. This way they would choose wether to be part of Germany or Poland. As this was a close result, after a long dispute, the League agreed to divide the country, a part for Poland and another for Germany. The 2 nations involved accepted.
8-How did the league solve the problem in Vilna?
When Lithuania appealed to the League she couldn´t solve the problem. However the League protested, the Poles, refused to leave the city. The League of Nations was not prepared to act, they were recovering from WW1. She feared that Poland could allie with Germany. Finally as the poles were stronger than Lithuanians, the League did not oppose her. So, Vilna ended up being part of Poland (until WW2).
9-What did the league decide to do about the Aaland Islands?
The Aaland Islands traditionally belonged to Finland but most of the society wanted Sweden to govern. As the 2 countries could not decide they asked the League. To resolve this in an equal way she measured the distance from the islands to the two involved countries. The League stated that the Aaland Islands should be part of Finland because their territory was nearer to the islands than Sweden´s land. The 2 nations agreed.
10-Why did Mussolini invade Greece in the Corfu conflict?
Mussolini invaded Greece because of the execution of Tellini, an Italian general. He blamed the Greek government for this murder and wanted a compensation, he was extremely angry because of this incident. Nevertheless, the Greek government didn´t know who the victims were. As Mussolini was furious, on August 31st he bombarded and invaded Corfu (a Greek island). Due to that fifteen people were killed.
11- Why was the league criticised about the resolution in the Corfu conflict?
The Italian commissioner was the only one who was on the italian side and blamed Greece. Because of this the council changed its decision and Greece had to apologize and pay compensation to Italy. This showed that even the weakest of the major powers could get its way, and achieve their objectives if Britain and France agreed to sacrifice justice for cooperation.
12- How did the Geneva protocol weaken the league?
The Geneva Protocol was drawn up by Britain and France because of the Corfu incident. This protocol said that if two members of the League of Nations were in dispute the one who had to resolve the problem was the League, and the countries involved would have to accept the Council decisions. The purpose of this was to strengthen the League, but it didn´t. Before putting the plan into effect there were general elections in Britain. The Conservative government refused to sign the protocol because he was worried that Britain would be forced to agree if any problem occurred in the League, without thinking in its own interests. This showed the power that Britain had, but, unfortunately, in a negative way.
13- Why did Greece invaded Bulgaria in 1925?
Greece invaded Bulgaria in October 1925 because of a previous incident on the border in which some Greek soldiers were killed. She thought the League would have no reason to punish her, as it happened in the Corfu incident, in which Italy got her way.
14- Why did Greece complain that the League “seemed to have one rule for the large states (such as Italy) and other for the small ones”?
She complained this because the League was unfair. Major powers, as Italy or Britain, had more benefits and could be able to change decisions while other countries, as Greece, had not many advantages, as great powers had. This showed the inferiority of some countries and that the League was not as fair as it was supposed to be.
One example of this is the Corfu incident, in which Italy had much more benefits than Greece.
Essay Question: How successful was Wilson in achieving his aims at Versailles? Explain your answer.
Woodrow Wilson was the President of the United States. Until 1917 his objective was to keep his country out of the war, when she finally entered to World War 1 Wilson wrote the fourteen Points in order to end up the war and to prevent a future one.In the following essay I will explain Woodrow Wilson´s aims, the ones he achieved in the Treaty of Versailles, the ones he failed to achieved and conclude explaining briefly how successful he was.
Woodrow Wilson had several aims, the fourteen points were a guideline of his objectives. First of all, Wilson, wanted to strengthen democracy in defeated countries, this means, he wanted to consolidate democracy in weak countries so that its rulers could not start a conflict or even a new war.
Moreover, he wanted self-determination in all nations. He thought every country had to have the possibility to rule themselves rather than be part of an empire, they had to be ruled by themselves, by people of the same culture, customs and language.
In addition, he wanted to punish Germany, but not too harshly on account that if she recovered her power she would take revenge on the Big Three. He was worried that if they crippled her she would start another war and that large communist groups could take control over her and cause a German Revolution.
Furthermore, Wilson wanted international cooperation to keep peace around the world, the League of Nations. From Wilson´s viewpoint, this was one of the most important objectives and was essential to keep peace.
He also wanted a just and lasting peace which included all this terms that I have mentioned. All this objectives were written in the 14 points.
One the one hand Woodrow Wilson accomplished some of objectives in the Treaty of Versailles. First he achieved self-determination, although he wanted self-determination around the world he accomplished this in German´s colonies. Besides, the same happened with disarmament, although his desire was for the whole world to disarm, he achieved it for Germany.
In addition, he achieved point number 8 and 13 of his fourteen points. Point number 8 said that France had to regain Alsace-Lorraine, which was an objective attained because, in the Treaty of Versailles France recovered it. Point number 13 said that Poland had to become an independent state with access to the sea. In Versailles, the seaport of Danzig was given to Poland.
Finally the League of Nations was set up. This League acted as a police force and Germany was not allowed to join it until she had shown she was a peace-loving country.
On the other hand Woodrow Wilson failed to achieve some aims he had in the Treaty of Versailles. First, he did not achieve to strengthen democracy in defeated countries, which was key, from Wilson´s viewpoint, to keep peace between states.
Moreover, the punishment imposed to Germany in the Treaty was too harsh. She had to accept the blame for starting the war, she had to pay reparations for the damage she had caused, she lost her colonies and several territories as well as her naval power. Furthermore, she lost her military forces and she was not able to join the League of Nations unless she showed she wanted peace.
Besides, free access to the seas was not a term of the Treaty either. One of the reasons is because Great Britain did not want to. As the territory was, and it is still, and island, battleships could reach Britain from any point.
Woodrow Wilson wanted complete disarmament and self-determination, he only reached this aim, as I said before, with Germany. This is why Wilson was not totally convinced about this term of the treaty. Also, his desire was free trade between countries, which he did not achieve either.
Finally he wanted a just and lasting peace. He didn’t accomplish this aim because of War Guilt. This concept contradicted the term of a just and lasting peace, and “peace without victory”. In war Guilt Germany had to accept all the blame for being the main cause of World War 1.
In conclusion, Woodrow Wilson was not a successful man at all in the Treaty of Versailles. He failed to achieve more objectives than the ones he accomplished. Most of his aims were not respected in the Treaty of Versailles.
As a history project, Lenny told us to make a conversation between the three victors of World War 1, Woodrow Wilson from United States, David Lloyd George from Great Britan and Georges Clemenceau from France. In the conversation we had to add what should they recieve for being the victors, the fourteen points and the punishment Germany should recieve.
After producing the dialogue we made a voicethread recording it with our voices.
This is our dialogue for you to read:
I believe that with this project I learned more as if I had only studied this topic from the book. Firstly because with the dialogue we had to put ourselves in the role of each of the big three, this made me thought like they did in that time, not as I would actually do. This way it was easier for me to understand his way of thinking.
I really enjoyed the first part of the project, which was reading about the big three and start writing the conversation. Looking up information about the victors made me understand better his aims and thoughts, because, if I had written the conversation from my viewpoint I wouldn´t write the same about them. In my opinion it was a great project from which I learned a lot.
If the class from senior 1 next year were going to do the project again I would only change the application to record, voicethread. In my group´s case, it was difficult to record the conversation, mainly, because if you make a mistake, which is very common; you have to start recording all over again. From my experience the longest and more difficult part of the project was recording it with this application. So, if I would change something it would only be voicethread.