Course Description

Course Name

World War II and the New Europe

Session: VPGS1124

Hours & Credits

45 Contact Hours

Prerequisites & Language Level

Taught In English

  • There is no language prerequisite for courses at this language level.


Course description & objectives
Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic have often been at the epicentre of European politics, though mostly as mere objects of great-power relations. The creation of independent Czechoslovakia in the aftermath the First World War was a part of President Wilson’s ambitious project to reform international politics. For the rest of the interwar period, Czechoslovakia was one of the most active members of the Wilsonian League of Nations. In the late 1930s, the tense Czech-German relations resulted into a major crisis, which was one of the precursors of World War II. The 1939 German occupation of Czechoslovakia prompted Britain and France to guarantee Polish security, which eventually led them to declare war on Germany. Ten years later, the communist coup in Czechoslovakia accelerated the formation of NATO. The Soviet invasion of 1968 to crush the Prague Spring irreparably discredited Soviet communism worldwide. The 1989 “Velvet Revolution” is often invoked as the model for peaceful transition to democracy and the 1992 “Velvet Divorce” as the example of a peaceful solution of nationalist ambitions. The integration of the Czech Republic (and other Central European countries) into NATO and the European Union has been a major international issue of the past twenty years. The aim of the course is to put the history of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic into the broader international context. We will focus on both the Czechoslovak foreign policy and the role the country played in the European history of the past hundred years. We will discuss the key events and problems linking Czech history with that of Europe and the United States. We will try to examine each problem from various angles and thus to challenge conventional interpretations. Special attention will be devoted to the history of Czechoslovak-American relations. Not only did
the United States act as a midwife in the process of Czechoslovakia’s creation, but subsequently the ups and downs of Czechoslovakia‘s fate kept intersecting with American foreign policy interests.

Course evaluation
Active Class Participation 10%
The Midterm Essay 20%
The Class Report 20%
The Final Test 20%
The Final Paper 30%

Class Protocol
Students are required to be involved in class activities. They are expected to show their preparation by participating in discussions, by asking relevant questions, being critical and analytical with the contents presented in class as well as by sharing their ideas and opinions. It is expected that students arrive to class on time and that they return promptly to class after any given class break.

*Course content subject to change