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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 Poland regains independence. Military command is transferred to Józef Piłsudski, the commander of the Legions (a Polish military unit) just released from German captivity.

Czechia

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.

Czechia

Czechoslovakia is born

A day after Austria-Hungary accepted the USA’s peace conditions on 27 October 1918, Czechoslovakia declares itself an independent state. The Slovak National Council announces support for a joint Czechoslovak country.

Romania

Unified Romania

Romanians living outside the borders of the country intensify the battle for a unified Romania. Bessarabia, Bucovina, Transylvania and Banat decide on a union with “the mother country”.

Hungary

The Chrysanthemum Revolution

As the war ends, anti-war sentiment increases. Under the pressure, authorities agree to appoint the pacifist, Mihály Károlyi, as prime minister. However, the new government fails to win popularity, leading to the failure of Hungary’s civil democracy.

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 invaded

In September 1939, over a time span of less than three weeks, Poland is attacked by two European superpowers—Germany and the USSR. The dramatic lonely fight on two fronts is doomed, yet the defence struggle continues for over a month.

Romania

Refugees of war

The President of Poland, Ignacy Mościcki and members of the Government are hosted on Romanian territory. A wave of 100.000 refugees follows, received with sympathy by the Romanians.

Slovakia

Slovakia joins Germany

On the Wehrmacht’s side and in accord with the Germans, the Slovak Army invades Poland (1939) and the USSR (1941). Germany rewards Slovakia for its participation by returning areas occupied by Poland in 1920, 1924 and 1938, although this is weak consolation for areas occupied by Hungary.

1968

The sexual revolution

A lack of socioeconomic prospects, changes in family life as well as (in the US) the Black liberation movement and protests against the Vietnam War change the way young people all over the globe perceive the world. Taboos of sex, drugs and rock music are broken. And so a new “permissive” generation appears, to soon dominate the public life of Western countries.

Czechia

The Murder of Benno Ohnesorg

Students and intellectuals gather to protest against societal issues. The murder of Benno Ohnesorg at a demonstration against the state visit of the Shah of Iran leads to the radicalisation of the APO. The shooter, Police Inspector Kurras, has previously been an informant for the GDR ‘Ministerium für Staatssicherheit’ (Stasi).

Poland

March 1968

In the hope for more democracy, intelligentsia and university students go on strike. Student protests are brutally suppressed by ZOMO and militia forces. The turmoil is used by the communist authorities as a pretext for antidemocratic and anti-Semitic counteraction.

Czechia

Occupation

On the night of 20/21 August 1968, five Warsaw Pact members’ troops enter Czechoslovakia to stop a reformist government. Government members are arrested and taken to Moscow—where they are forced to declare the end of the democratic renewal process.

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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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