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Quadriga - 1914 - 2014: A Century of History

They were turning points in world history: it has been 100 years since the outbreak of the First World War, 75 years since World War Two erupted, and it was 25 years ago that the Berlin Wall was breached. How are these defining moments in history connected and what are their impact on the modern day?

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Did the outbreak of war in 1914 represent a great failure on the part of Europe’s decision makers? Or was it an unavoidable conflict that inexorably led to the outbreak of the Second World War? Decades after the Nazis were defeated, how were Germans able to pull down the Berlin wall and bring about the reunification of Germany? Could the First World War have been prevented? Did a lack of courage on the part of the politicians really cost 20 million lives, as some scholars claim? Or was the war systematically planned by the Central Powers?

The Second World War erupted in 1939 and cost the lives of more than 55 million people. When it ended in May 1945, many parts of Europe were in ruins. Germany was divided by the victorious allied powers, with both states under two different economic systems and defense alliances: capitalism and communism, NATO and the Warsaw Pact.

The construction of the Berlin Wall began on 13 August, 1961, and became a symbol of the Cold War which divided the world between east and west. Not many would have thought that a peaceful revolution could have breached the wall, brought down the communist East German regime and ushered in the reunification of Germany.

Twenty five years after the fall of the Wall, is Germany still a divided country? Has Germany learned the lessons of its past? What impact does its history have on its future?

Tell us what you think: 1914 - 2014: A Century of History