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Part 5. Big Wars and Big Bangs (Twentieth Century) 

Europe spiraled into two world wars as a result of competition, arms races, nationalism, and greed. Russia pulled out of World War I to fight its own bloody civil war. World War I ended in 1919 but the hostilities remained, to be exploited by dictators to create powerful armies and states. The failings of the treaty that ended the First World War contributed to the outbreak of the Second World War, a global conflict that turned out to be worse than the first one. The atomic age ended the war, but left everyone nervous for generations as east faced off against west in the Cold War. Communism dominated eastern Europe and then collapsed at the end of the twentieth century, leaving Europe with a whole new set of challenges, especially in eastern Europe. Finally, a few current events of interest and importance point the way to the challenges on the horizon for Europe.

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