When did the First World War end? When did the Second World War begin? The violent history of Europe in the twentieth century cannot be understood if we see the two wars, which consumed the lives of more than 100 million people, as separate events.
The European cataclysm began in 1914 with the First World War, whose most important political consequence was the overthrow of the Russian monarchy in the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, an event that led to the slaughter of the Russian royal family in 1918 and made the West European political establishments, which in that period were deeply imperialist and monarchist, aware of the appeal that communism had for the oppressed middle and poor classes; to counter the threat of a spate of communist revolutions erupting in several Western European states, they encouraged the rise of violent right-wing groups which were supposed to destroy the political base of the communist revolutionaries, but the communists fought back, dividing European society on class lines and precipitating a civil war between the right-wing (monarchists, fascists, and nazis) and the far left (socialists, Fabians, and communists), which in turn led to the decline of the moderate centrist parties in several European countries, including Germany, where political power was captured by Hitler’s Nazis, whose racial fury and geopolitical ambitions led to a vast escalation in the cycle of European violence, ongoing since 1914, into a full-fledged World War, beginning in 1939 and ending in 1945.
It is clear from the sentence above that the European war raged for a duration of three decades, beginning in 1914 and ending in 1945, with the fall of Hitler’s nazi regime. It can be argued that the European war did not end in 1945 either, it went on in the form of a savage nuclear standoff, known as the Cold War, between the two suicidally aggressive superpowers, the Soviet Union and the USA, which between them possessed enough nukes to fry all of mankind. Peace came to Europe only in 1991, when the Soviet Union fell, leaving the USA as the sole superpower.