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EUROPE IN RUINS

As a consequence of World War I, old empires broke up and modern national states were created. Pacifism and the idea of European integration gained increased support but faltered in the face of rising nationalism and totalitarian aggression.

World War II is often described as a “total war”; abandoning the distinction between soldiers and civilians. Millions of people fell victim to mass execution, deportation, starvation, forced labour, concentration camps and bombing.

Entrance to Europe in ruins - third floor

WORLD WAR I

1914, a turning point for Europe. Politically, economically and culturally Europe had reached the peak of its global power.

Yet, the outbreak of World War I, the first industrialised mass war, caused unprecedented destruction on the battlefield and in societies at large. These four years shook Europe to its foundations, dragging it into a global conflict as never seen before.

This catastrophe was the trigger for the most murderous century in European history, and its traumatic effects had a profound impact on European memory.

Audio guides:

World War I

Causes of the war

European war, global war

Soldiers' experience

Industrialised war

Mass war

Poison gas

Images of the enemy

Memory of the war

The Peace Treaties

TOTALITARIANISM VERSUS DEMOCRACY

As a consequence of World War I, old empires broke up and modern national states were created. Pacifism and the idea of European integration gained increased support but faltered in the face of rising nationalism and totalitarian aggression.

Parliamentary democracy flourished all over Europe, whereas the Soviet Union became the first Communist dictatorship. However, by 1939 the majority of these democracies had failed and most Europeans lived under authoritarian or totalitarian regimes, which forcibly controlled public and private life and limited individual freedoms.

The Nazis came to power in 1933 and established a totalitarian regime that saw Aryan Germans as the biologically superior master race, destined to dominate Europe. Jews were blamed for Germany’s problems and accused of plotting to take over the world.

Audio guides:

New political landscape

Democracy

State and nation

 

1917-1920

Spread of the revolution

Totalitarianism versus democracy

 

Breaking the traditions

Pacifism / Ethnical conflicts

Rapprochement / Revanchism

European idea / Fascism

Keynesianism / The Great Slump

Authoritarian regimes

 

Ideology (Stalinism)

Leadership (Stalinism)

Economy (Stalinism)

Mass terror (Stalinism)

Genocide and mass terror (National Socialism)

Economy (National Socialism)

Leadership (National Socialism)

Ideology (National Socialism)

 

International impact of the Spanish Civil War

WORLD WAR II

World War II is often described as a “total war”; abandoning the distinction between soldiers and civilians. Millions of people fell victim to mass execution, deportation, starvation, forced labour, concentration camps and bombing.

Under Nazi rule, millions were murdered through systematic social and ethnic cleansing. In both its scale and bureaucratic form, the genocide of the European Jews became an unparalleled event in history. Caught in the cross-fire between Nationalism Socialism and Stalinism, the war had a particularly brutal character in Central and Eastern Europe.

Audio guides:

World War II

Total destruction

Cause of the war

Mass executions

Mass deportation

Starvation

Forced labour

Concentration camps

Shoah

Bombing

Collaboration and cooperation

Resistance

THE HARVEST OF DESTRUCTION

An estimated 60 million people died in World War II, nearly two thirds of them civilians. Numbers alone, however, fail to convey the full extent of the personal tragedies involved or the catastrophic impact of these events on various groups of people. The objects assembled here tell the human story behind these events and challenge us all to consider how people come to terms with trauma and loss on such a scale.

Audio guide:

The harvest of destruction