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1918

Armistice in Compiègne

After the US joins the war, Germany and Austro-Hungary capitulate. The Habsburg monarchy collapses and new nation states emerge across Central Europe. Their shape is determined in armed struggle, which continues for four years after the signing of the armistice.

Poland

Independence

On 11 November 1918, the Regency Council – a provisional authority on Polish territory – passed a decree on the transfer of military command to Józef Piłsudski, the commander of the Legions (a Polish military unit) just released from German captivity. The decree was backed by nearly all political groups. 11 November was considered the day when Poland regained independence.

Germany

The German Republic

After four years of war and a naval blockade that leaves many people starving, the German Empire is completely burnt-out. When sailors refuse to obey orders on warships in early November, a revolution spreads throughout Germany. In the ensuing turmoil Philipp Scheidemann proclaims the German Republic.

Romania

Unified Romania

In the context of the First World War and of the fall of multinational empires, Romanians from the territories situated outside the country’s borders intensified their fight to get out from under the authority of Russia and Austria-Hungary and to unite with Romania.

Hungary

The Chrysanthemum Revolution

As the war ended, anti-war sentiment increased. Veterans and civilians demanded the right to freedom, access to land, better livelihoods, peace and independence.

1939

The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact

The Kremlin concludes a secret accord with war-hungry Germany keen to make territorial gains. The agreement opens the way for Hitler to attack Poland on 1 September 1939. The USSR joins him 16 days later. Soon, France and Great Britain declare war on Germany yet fail to meet their promised commitments towards Poland.

Poland

Poland assaulted from both sides

On 1 September 1939, Germany invaded Poland which the USSR attacked on 17 September. Despite the dramatic lonely fight on two fronts, Poland sustained a defence war for over a month.

Romania

The Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact and its importance

The pact included an additional secret protocol which provided for the division of spheres of influence among the two powers, from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea.

Slovakia

Entry of Slovakia into the war against Poland

On the Wehrmacht’s side the Slovak army invaded both Polish (1939) and Soviet territories (1941), mainly engaged on German initiatives. In fact, the war destroyed the traditional pillar of Slovak policy.

1968

1968

In the 1960s, growing prosperity in the West brought profound social change. At the same time, in the US protests against the discrimination of African Americans were intensifying. Tensions in Soviet bloc countries were quite different in nature.

Poland

March 1968

The events in Czechoslovakia stirred Poland considerably. Hoping for more democracy, the intelligentsia and university students went on strike. The protests were directly triggered by a ban on a theatrical performance of the Polish national epic – Mickiewicz’s ‘Dziady.’ The students were brutally suppressed by ZOMO and militia forces.

Slovakia

Invasion of Warsaw Pact troops

The military invasion to end the reform process in Czechoslovakia was the largest military activity in Europe since the end of the Second World War. It stopped the democratisation process and created conditions for its gains to be reversed by opponents.

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Sovfoto/UIG via Getty Images
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August 1968Prague Spring

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Peter Turnley/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images
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Vaclav Havel at Political Rally

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Barbara Bartkowiak/Wikimedia Commons
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1979John Paul II During the Visit to Poland

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Peter Turnley/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images
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1989Czechoslovakians During the Velvet Revolution

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Arnold H. Drapkin/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images
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1989Youthful celebrants in midnight reunification fete

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Rudolf Dietrich/ullstein bild via Getty Images
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August 1961Germany, Berlin, construction of the wall

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Keystone/Getty Images
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after April 1943The Warsaw Ghetto

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Popperfoto/Getty Images
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circa 1935Adolf Hitler—Nuremberg Rally

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Fox Photos/Getty Images
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May 8 1945VE Day Drive

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Jutka Miklos/Getty Images
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1875–1955Count Michael Karolyi

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