Defining Events of the 20th Century

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Njaco

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from The Top 10 for the 20th Century: International Affairs - Brief Article USA Today (Society for the Advancement of Education) - Find Articles

The Top 10 for the 20th Century:
USA Today (Society for the Advancement of Education), Nov, 1999 by Llewellyn D. Howell
The critical international events of the 20th century all can be seen as outcomes of conflict and struggle--with other human beings, nature, and social and economic structures. The defining events of the century that come to mind first are the wars, which seem cataclysmic because of the centrality of human-generated violence. But other creative events have been responses to challenges that are even greater than dictators and exploitative systems. And even armed conflicts have their elements of creativity and post-war benefits......

The article goes on to list 10 events that were instrumental in changing the world during the last century. I don't agree with all of the selections as they seem to be generalized. I would list the following 5 events as world changing:

June 28, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, and his wife, Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, were shot to death in Sarajevo, capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina. I put this on the list because not only did it herald the start of WWI but the repercussions led to WWII and on into the 1990s with the Bosnian-Serbian conflict and the onset of the Cold War throughout the later half of the century.

December 17, 1903, The Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur, were credited with building the world's first successful fixed-wing aircraft making the first controlled, powered and heavier-than-air human flight. This is on my list because the achievement of flight allowed the human race to expand across the globe and onto the moon and possibly beyond. While the first forty years after Kittyhawk was spent developing a better airplane by the 1940s airpower took over from seapower and land armies as a major component of warfare.

August 2, 1939, In the United States, a group of three Hungarian Jewish refugee physicists, Leó Szilárd, Edward Teller, and Eugene Wigner believed that the energy released in nuclear fission might be used in bombs by the Germans. Germany had made many early discoveries in the physics of fission and still had a number of formidable physicists, including Werner Heisenberg, despite the expulsion of Jewish academics. These refugee scientists were desperate to encourage further research in the United States. Politically marginalized, however, they sought the assistance of Albert Einstein, easily the world's most famous physicist at the time and a Jewish refugee himself, in drafting a letter which they would attempt to have delivered to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The Einstein-Szilárd letter was written mostly by Szilárd, warning that "extremely powerful bombs of a new type may thus be constructed" by means of nuclear fission, and urging the President to establish funds for further research in the U.S. to determine its feasibility. This makes my list because this letter convinced Roosevelt to begin exploring nuclear fission which led to The Manhatten Project and the Atomic Bomb. After August 9, 1945 the world was changed by the use of this power.

June 6, 1944, The Invasion of Normandy by the Allies. On my list because it was a do or die situation for the Allies and freedom. All that went before, from WWI to the Russian Revolution to Hitler were just the chess moves for this final checkmate. No one would know the outcome when that first Allied foot set down on the beaches and the world literally held its breath. Without the positive outcome of this day the world would be afar different place.

May 14, 1948, Israel, the Jewish nation-state, the only country in which Jews make up a majority of the citizens, was established as an independent democratic state. This is on the list because after centuries of persecution culminating in the holocaust, jews were given a country of their own and a whole new set of troubles began. Conflicts which expanded into other areas of the Middle East and drew other countries, like the US and Russia, into wars and squabbles from Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, etc. The effect from this one event can still be felt today.

Well, thats my list. Maybe some agree, maybe some don't. Maybe you can add to it. Lets discuss. :)
 
Huh, what about these crucial moments of the 20th Century?

"January 30th, 1933 - Adolf Hitler named as Chancellor of Germany"
"September 29th, 1938 - Munich Clerk" or
"September 1st, 1939 - Nazi Germany invades Poland" or
"June 22nd, 1941 - Nazi Germany invades USSR" or
"December 7th, 1941 - Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor"
"August 6th, 1945 - US Atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima"
"September 11th, 2001 - Al Qaeda attacks WTC"

I'm also for the "End of the Cold War - Fall of 1989"

History is, however, consisted of very small insignificant processes...
 
June 6, 1944, The Invasion of Normandy by the Allies. On my list because it was a do or die situation for the Allies and freedom. All that went before, from WWI to the Russian Revolution to Hitler were just the chess moves for this final checkmate. No one would know the outcome when that first Allied foot set down on the beaches and the world literally held its breath. Without the positive outcome of this day the world would be afar different place.

Not "do or die". Would have taken longer to defeat the Nazis for sure but remember, we were developing the Atomic bomb with Hitler in mind. German cities surely would have been nuked.
 
The Cuban Missile crisis
The Space Race
Henry Fords production Line
would be three I would add
 
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Deviating slightly, what are your thoughts on this statement:

"The British may have claimed the 19th century by force, and the Chinese may cast a long shadow over the 21st, but the 20th century belongs to the United States".

From the dust jacket of 'The American Century' by Harold Evans-1998.
 
Deviating slightly, what are your thoughts on this statement:

"The British may have claimed the 19th century by force, and the Chinese may cast a long shadow over the 21st, but the 20th century belongs to the United States".

From the dust jacket of 'The American Century' by Harold Evans-1998.

No argument there.
 
Good points all. I was trying to pin-point certain events that steamrolled into other significant events.

ToughOmbre...Not "do or die".
You may be correct but as the event did happen as it did, what came after was very significant as far as the war. I agree, Germany would have been nuked and defeated but Normandy did happen and as such was a pivotal point of the century not just the war.

Cyrano....I'd change Normandy to Stalingrad
I would too in the context of the war. Stalingrad was a MAJOR turning point of the war but in context with the century I think Normandy had a greater impact.

Jugulator....how about the first Atomic Bombs?
That was taken in consideration on my list but where did the bombs come from, howdeveloped, who started the whole thing? Thats why I listed the Einstein-Szilárd letter. It was the starting point.

Pisis ....History is, however, consisted of very small insignificant processes...
Very correct and those events you listed are meaningful. I was trying to list things that had an impact on the century as a whole. Good points though.

I only listed five of what I thought were important. Maybe we can get up to ten? :)

Syscom wrote ...October 29th 1929, "The Wall Street Crash of 1929" -

I was thinking about adding this and it may well belong here. The depression spread beyond the US and affected numerous countries.
 
Syscom wrote ...October 29th 1929, "The Wall Street Crash of 1929" -

I was thinking about adding this and it may well belong here. The depression spread beyond the US and affected numerous countries.

Considering it was the defining economic event of the 20th century that completely changed the role of govt in economic intervention and social safety nets. I would say its important!
 
I chose the space race as it sped up so many new technologies computers and new materials
The production line that led to the victory in WW2
And the Cuban Missile Crisis that was the closest we came to the 3rd war
 
Great points. What I was trying to get at were what single event changed things. Regarding the Space Race. definately a great moment. But I put the Wright Brothers in Dec 03 because that led to the prop airplane which led to the jet airplane which led to rockets which led to the moon. Thats the timeline I was trying to establish.

The production line is perfect except I would put it as Henry Ford as he developed it. It did change how products are produced and massed marketed to the consumer among other things. Almost evey business and economic thought revolves around the production line even today. Great! Now three to go!
 
The production line is perfect except I would put it as Henry Ford as he developed it. It did change how products are produced and massed marketed to the consumer among other things. Almost evey business and economic thought revolves around the production line even today. Great! Now three to go!

The production line is a great idea for defining moments!
 
I'd also add - within the WW2 - the "Final solution of Jewish question".
And maybe also Red Khmers genocide in Camobida.
 

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