As Europe moves toward economic and political unity, it’s facing lingering ethnic tensions, nationalism, and environmental crises.
Following WWII, Germany is split into two different countries. East Germany is influenced by the USSR and the government is communist. West Germany is influenced by the US, France and the UK and their government is a democracy.
Not only is the country split, the capital of Berlin is split as well. East Germany builds a wall to maintain the separation between the two and keeps its citizens confined within. Crossing over is strictly forbidden.
After much protest in the 1980’s and urges from other political leaders such as President Reagan in 1987, East Germany agrees to bring down the wall. On November 9th, “Mr. Gorbechev, tear down this wall!” 1989 demolition of the wall commenced.
The Balkan conflict stems from different groups wanting the same land. Many groups inhabit the Balkans. The Slavs immigrated from Russia and Poland in the 500’s In the 1300’s, the Ottoman Empire conquers the Balkans. Many Slavs are Christian and/or Jewish and the Ottomans are Muslim. Christians, Jews and Muslims now occupy the same land. This causes ethnic tension.
Serbia does not like being under foreign rule. The Serbians want a free Slavic Kingdom. They break away from the Ottoman Empire in 1878 and their actions lead to the breakout of WWI.
In 1929, the country of Yugoslavia is formed. Yugoslavia literally translates to “Land of the Slavs”. The country includes Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo and Macedonia. Land is united, but still ethnically mixed.
Yugoslavia is invaded by the Nazis and Italians during WWII. The Croatians help the Nazis hunt down and massacre Jews and Serbians Following the war, Josip Broz Tito rules Yugoslavia He encourages all groups to see themselves as Yugoslavs
Tito dies in 1980 and Yugoslavia has no single, central ruler Slobodan Milosevic — Serbian who sought to control Yugoslavia in 1990s Milosevic proposes creation of Greater Serbia - wants to expand borders to include all areas with Serbian populations; Croatia has large Serbian minority
Serbia blocks Croatian from becoming Yugoslav president in 1991 In response, Slovenia and Croatia declare independence from Yugoslavia Serbian-led Yugoslav army invades Slovenia and Croatia
Serbians want to get rid of Bosnian Muslims, Croatians Serbs use ethnic cleansing — violent elimination of an ethnic group Over 200,000 people die, over 2 million flee area
The movie Behind Enemy Lines is a film centered on the story of an American naval flight officer who was shot down over Bosnia, who ends up uncovering a massacre during the Bosnian conflict.
The Irish Republican Army (IRA) is a revolutionary military organization which was formed in 1913. The IRA opposed British occupation in Ireland. In 1921 they declared independence and fought the British in a small war. The British recognized Ireland’s independence; however, parts of Northern Ireland remained part of the UK. Today, Northern Ireland is still a topic of controversy, especially with the IRA.
The IRA has since split into several smaller groups but still operates today. Since they are an unofficial army/militia, many people consider the IRA a terrorist group. Recent actions taken by the IRA include; setting off several bombs in 1972, the assassination of Queen Elizabeth’s uncle in 1979 and a car bomb in 1998 that killed 29 people.
One incident that sparked controversy was “Bloody Sunday” in 1972. Many people gathered in protest for an independent Ireland in the city of Derry, Northern Ireland. The British Army was called in for crowd control. They opened fire, killing 14 people and injuring 26. - 7 of the deceased were teenagers