HIS 344: Postwar: Europe After WWII

After Hitler’s Third Reich and its shadow states fell to allied forces, Europe lay in ruins. Seventy percent of the continents industrial infrastructure was destroyed. Populations were displaced. Although one dictatorial regime was vanquished, Soviet Russia seemed poised to adopt the mantel of totalitarian threat. To many in Western Europe, Communism appeared to loom at every turn. Yet, miraculously, much of Europe bounced back remarkably quickly. There was an economic miracle in the west that soon ushered in new challenges related to an expanding consumer culture and a diversifying ethnic and racial population in many places. This course explores how Europeans adapted to changed circumstances. It will explore the creation of the European Union, the emergence of youth culture, the realities of widespread immigration, the nature of Cold War politics and the challenge of dealing with a violent past. The course will involve a variety of pedagogical methods including discussion, lectures, both fiction and non-fiction readings, and several films that capture the ever-changing zeitgeist of postwar Europe. Ultimately, students will gain an understanding of important events and developments while also gaining a sense of what it was like to live in Europe after the disasters of the first half of the bloodiest century in human history

This was a cinematic research project. For this research paper, we had to choose a European film that was made after World War II. After watching the film, I had to reflect on the context in which it was produced, conduct research on this conduct, and write a paper that places the movie into historical context. For my paper, I chose the British made “A Matter of Life and Death” made in 1946, and explain why in a time when war was plaguing the countryside, so many people still went to see war films.

A Matter of Life and Death in Postwar Britain

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