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Ethnicity, Nationalism and Conflict in the Early 20th Century

David DeNaples

Contents of Curriculum Unit 02.03.04:

To Guide Entry

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In 1993, Harvard political scientist Samuel P. Huntington argued that the wars of nation-states and ideologies, the wars of the 20th century, would be replaced by wars of culture. It will be a “clash of civilizations”.1 Whether we agree with him or not, some of the events of 2001 and so far in 2002 might lend some credibility to his argument. Most of the wars of the past and present, however, have not been fought strictly among opposing civilizations. Within each of the major civilizations there are smaller groups united by a common language, history, religion, culture, value system and perception of self. This defines the “ethnic group”. We have certainly seen this intra-civilization fighting over the years and today. The 1990’s witnessed some of the most violent ethnic conflicts of the century, some of which were residual effects of the colonial and imperial systems of the 19th and early 20th centuries (Israel/Palestinian conflict, East Timor, tribal fighting of Afghan warlords, Zimbabwe). Others were movements of self-determination; secessionist and independence struggles for autonomy and/or statehood (Kosovo, Northern Ireland, Chechnya, Sri Lanka, Basque). These movements often united a people based on ethnic lines. Although there are exceptions (Nepalese Maoist rebels, Korea, Columbia), ideas such as communism or “Yugoslavism” were no longer what drove people to conflict; ethnicity was now the spark. Has the nature of modern ethnic conflict evolved into the larger ‘clash of civilizations’, uniting the intra-civilizational ethic groups against another united civilization (culture) opposing theirs, as we begin the 21st century? Are Islamic Iran and Iraq ready to put aside the past and unite in the fight again ‘the West’ or against ‘Orthodoxy’? Huntington claims that these great struggles will begin on the fault lines of civilizations.

To understand the civilizational fault lines of this century a student of history must: know the ethnic make up of the last century; comprehend the fundamental differences of those groups; analyze what role identity (ethnic or national) has played in the century’s major wars and what effects those wars have had on conflicts of today.

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Unit Purpose

To understand what role ethnic identity and nationalism have played in the conflicts of the 20th century.

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Academic Setting

The unit “Ethnicity, Nationalism & Conflict in the Early 20th Century” is to be used in a course entitled Modern World History. This course will be offered at Wilbur Cross High School to college bound students in the eleventh and twelfth grades. Although this unit was written to teach college and honors level students, with the appropriate modifications it can be used in any World Civilizations course taught at any level. Time permitting, I would use this same unit in my basic level 9th grade classes. The material for this unit can be covered in as few as six lessons, but the teacher can take the liberty to break it up and spend more time exploring large and complex topics. This unit plan will explain those six lessons. The lessons were written to work in a 90-minute block class, as taught at Wilbur Cross. The longer class period allows the teacher to use many styles and sources in one class meeting. Again, the teacher may modify the lessons to be used in twelve traditional forty-five minute periods. The lessons will cover the following topics: Ethnicity & Identity, Age of Empire & the Balkan Wars, Sarajevo 1914, Armenian Genocide, Arab Nationalism & T.E. Lawrence, The Old Order Dies. With these topics the course will begin.

The primary teaching method of this unit will be lecture/discussion, with analysis of primary and various secondary documents. Some primary documents will include eyewitness accounts of the horrors of the Balkan wars and WWI. The class will analyze such secondary sources as a standard history textbook, but also Armenian poetry and the classic film Lawrence of Arabia.

The assessment will consist of three exams and an essay. My goal is to model this class closely to an underclassmen college class in order to prepare the students for what they are about to face in an actual college history course.

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The following topics will need to be studied by the student before beginning this unit: The Enlightenment, The 18th &19th century Revolutions, ideas of Democracy & Nationalism, The Industrial Revolution, and the Age of Empire. Ideally, this unit would be followed up by “Ideology & Conflict in the Mid 20th century: 1918 to 1948”, which would cover such topics as: Bolshevism & Fascism, the new Yugoslavia, rise of Japan (Asia for Asians), and WWII & The Holocaust. Then followed by “Ethnicity, Nationalism, Ideology & Conflict in the Late 20th century: 1948 to 2001”, which would cover such topics as: the creation of Israel, the independence and partition of British India, French Indochina, Cold War, the development of Apartheid (to be compared to the American south), African wars of liberation, Arab/Israeli conflict, Personal Politics of the 1960’s, Kissenger & America’s Dirty Wars, the collapse of USSR, more Balkan Wars, Rwanda and lastly, September 11th.

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Students will define terms essential to the unit: ethnicity, ethnic group, culture, race, nationalism, empire, autonomy, self determination, ethnic cleansing, genocide, population removal, religion, language, homeland, identity, autonomy, irredentism, sovereignty, republic.
Students will determine how they identify themselves (as a female, or a Hispanic, or as a student, or as a American, a son, a basketball player, as a Laker fan…what about them defines them), and then analyze how other people might identify them.
Students will be able to describe the cultural and political geography of the early 20th century.
Students will determine the policies towards ethnic groups and nationalities in the multiethnic British, Russian and Ottoman empires
Students will know and identify the ethnic groups within the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Students will examine the pre-WWI Balkan Wars, and identify role played by ethnic nationalism.
Students will be able to explain what role ethnicity and nationalism played in the origins of WWI (specifically in the Balkans).
Students will be able to explain what role ethnicity played in the nationalist struggles in The Balkans.
Students will know who was allied with whom in the first and second Balkan Wars, and know what role the Great Powers played in the War.
Students will use historical maps to understand boundaries and locations over the time period of 1908-1914.
Students will understand the horrors of war, and the hatred between ‘the South Slavs’.
Students will be able to see the connection between the Balkan Wars and the Great War that soon followed.
Students will understand the history of the use of terror.
Students will be introduced to The Black Hand and Young Bosnia, and compare them to modern terrorists.
Students will take a stance on an issue, voice it publicly, and defend it.
Students will comprehend the different causes of WWI.
Students will explain the causes and the events of “Sarajevo 1914” in the form of a newspaper article.
Students will discover human side to the act of genocide.
Students will appreciate the role of the poet during the ‘dark times’.
Students will apply definitions of genocide and population removal to the Armenian case.
Students will use poetry as historical source.
Students will understand the Armenian Genocide.
Students will know how Arab nationalism was used by the British in the Great War.
Students will determine the policies towards ethnic groups and nationalities in the multiethnic British and Ottoman empires.
Students will learn history through viewing films.
Students will be able to identify bias, misinformation, abuse of history in film.
Students will predict the effects the Great War had on the Ottoman Empire.
Students will be able to explain the difference between primary and secondary sources.
Students will analyze Wilson’s 14 points, the idea of self determination, and Sykes-Picot agreement of 1916.
Students will find out what impact the war had on the above mentioned empires.
Students will be able to comprehend impact ethnicity and nationalism has had on the 20th century.
Students will be able to demonstrate an understanding of the complex nature of a ethnic conflict.

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Origins of the term ethnic come from the French ethnie, which means “community or group”. Myth and history provide the foundation for ethnie, and history has shown us that for the most part people feel closer to their ethnie than to a political body (the nation). There are at least five common elements to an ethnie. They are: identification, culture (language, religion values), idea of a homeland, sense of solidarity, and history. This establishes one’s ethnic identity. Their solidarity with others they identify as the same as themselves establishes the ethnic group (also, how they are identified by outsiders equally defines the ethnic group).

National identity is a more specific form of identity, with more specific common elements such as territory, common law, and a civic culture (men, ideas, and traditions that unite.) Nationalism is the political manifestation of “a consciousness, on the part of the individual or groups, of membership in a nation or a desire to forward the strength, liberty, or prosperity of a nation”. Nationalism has also be defined as “a condition of mind…of a group of people living in a well defined geographic area, speaking a common language, possessing a literature in which the aspirations of the nation have been expressed, attached to common customs, venerating it’s own heroes, and, in some cases, a common religion”2. Students will come to class having read pages 3-23 in Boyd Shaffer’s Faces of Nationalism, here the author discusses the many definitions of nationalism and why establishing a definition is both tricky and important. The student will know and appreciate the task before them when they arrive to class and are asked to define the other terms listed above and below.

Other terms important to the unit are: ethnicity, ethnic group, nation, nationalism, patriotism, empire, autonomy, self-determination, ethnic cleansing, genocide, population removal, democracy, and totalitarian.

The last definition of nationalism is one that also contains elements of ethnic mobilization. Ethnic mobilization and nationalism will be one of the points of view from which the class will examine the events of the 20th century. Both national and ethnic identities fall under the umbrella of civilization identity.

The idea of one’s civilization identity transcends a common homeland, language, or history3. At its core seems to be, first, a system of values and, second, religion. According to Huntington, there are eight major civilizations: Western, Confucian, Japanese, Islamic, Hindu, Slavic-Orthodox, Latin American and possibly African. Does the class agree? Are there more/less? Can these even be described a separate civilizations? Confucian?!?

Establishing and debating the definitions of these terms will be the nature of the first lesson. Dependant upon a student’s point of view, religious or ethnic background, political stance, and personal history, each student will have a slightly different definition for the above terms. This will also give the students a chance to examine their own identity. How do they see themselves (a Puerto Rican, a Laker fan, a good student, an older sister), what do they think defines them? How do outsiders identify them? Is there a difference? What contributes to that difference?

Throughout the course, the following should be considered when studying exactly what does contribute to those differences: What is the culture of the group? What is the location of the group? What is the source of tension or grievance? Unique circumstances? What are the goals of the group?

Cultural & Political Geography

The teacher should, at this point, describe the ethnic geography of the early 20th century, along with the boundaries of the Great Powers and their Empires. Many regional maps, charts and statistics will be used to identify regions, nations, the ethnic groups with in multi-ethnic empires, migratory trends, population changes, etc. Most of this information can be found in any textbook or historical atlas. Excellent historical maps can be found, however, at the beginning of both Glenny’s and Fromkin’s books.

Age of Empire

“I contend that we Britons are the finest race in the world, and the more of the world we inhabit, the better it is for the human race…”

Cecil Rhodes, Confessions of Faith 18774

During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries political, social, and economic forces drove the great powers of Europe to pursue an aggressive policy of expansionism, extending influence around the globe. The conquering of a territory or country by a stronger country with the intent of dominating its social, political and economic lives of the people is called imperialism5.

By this point in a Western Civilizations or World History course, the history and geography of the Russian, Ottoman, Austrian and British empires will have been covered. Extra attention, or an enrichment activity, would help here as reminder of the dynamics of the Imperial system and the political geography of the different empires.

The Balkan Wars

The mountainous corner of southeast Europe known as the Balkans has always had a long history of ethnic conflicts and nationalist uprisings .Two events led to an escalation in these conflicts again in the early 1900’s. First, the decline of the Ottoman Empire led to many ethnic groups in the Balkan portion of the Empire to declare their independence (Greeks, Bulgarians, Serbs, Romanians, Montenegrins) and they each hoped to extend their borders to include their historic homelands. The Serbs pursued the dream of a Greater Serbia, and encouraged their coreligionists in neighboring Bosnia and Herzegovina (at this under the control of the Austro-Hungarian Empire) to fight for their freedom.

Encouraged by Archduke Franz Ferdinand, Austria annexed the territory in 1908. This was the second catalyst to war. This push into Balkan (and Orthodox) lands not only angered the Serb nationalists but also Tsarist Russia.

The Serbs were also looking to extend their borders in the opposite direction, into lands currently held by the Ottomans but were historically Serb (Kosovo, Macedonia, Albania). While their desire for war against the Austrians was cooled by the Great Powers (Germany via Russia), the Albanian lunge for independence in August of 1912 signaled Serbia to attack the ‘sick old man of Europe’, the Ottoman Empire.

The First Balkan War (Bulgaria, Greece and Serbia vs. The Turks) ended in November of 1912 after six weeks. Bulgarian distrust of their Orthodox brothers, the Serbs, over the spoils of war led to the Second Balkan War. It lasted less then a month. Bulgaria suddenly attacked Serbia in January of 1913 while the leaders of Europe were drafting a peace treaty for the first war. The war was a catastrophe for Bulgaria (and Turkey), and Serbia did ended up becoming greater territorially as it hoped. A possible guided reading assignment for class could be Glenny, p.243 - 248 which details the Bulgarian catastrophe that the Second Balkan War was.

The war is important to this unit for the following reasons: it holds contains some of the horrors of the Great War to come (Class will read passages from Misha Glenny’s The Balkans to illustrate the brutal nature of this conflict), and it illustrates some of the causes of the Great War (political entanglements, involvement of the Great Powers, strong nationalist and ethnic movements). It also explains why Turkey and Bulgaria choose the side they did when WWI broke out6.


June 28th, 1914(see Glenny, pg 293-306)

Serbian resentment of the Austro-Hungarian rule was at it zenith. The archduke Franz Ferdinand, who was planning to visit the city of Sarajevo, was warned to stay out of the region. Even though there already had been many attempts on his life prior, and even though June 28th was the date of an important Serbian patriotic holiday, he chose to go to Bosnia anyway. As he left the town hall, a bomb was thrown in his car. Many were wounded, the archduke wasn’t. He continued his planned tour of the city, and was then shot at point blank range by a Serb nationalist named Gavrillo Princip. Class can read p. 304 from Glenny’s The Balkans which discusses the most astonishing part of the assassination: its success. Princip was arrested immediately, and Europe was beginning a maddening decent into war.

If Gavrillo Princip had gotten cold feet, would the world have disintegrated into massacre as it did? Most likely. One major underlying problem that caused the war was the Balkans. The Habsburg and Turkish empires’ decreasing ability to govern their south Slav subjects, coupled with the growing nationalism and Yugoslavism of the region (and, of course the defensive alliances of the European rulers) provided a powder keg ready for a spark. Ironically, Franz Ferdinand, killed for his militaristic view, was the only conservative minister who might have halted war.7. The Austrians had underestimated the Serbs, and thought they could once and for all crush them.

Vienna responded with harsh demands that were certain would not be met. When the Serbs rejected the demands placed upon them, the Austrians declared war on Serbia. As a result, the Russians mobilized to protect the orthodox Slav brothers. In accordance with The Dual Alliance Between Austria-Hungary and German of October 7, 1879, which stated:

Should, contrary to their hope, and against the loyal desire of the two High Contracting Parties, one of the two Empires be attacked by Russia the High Contracting Parties are bound to come to the assistance one of the other with the whole war strength of their Empires, and accordingly only to conclude peace together and upon mutual agreement.8

Germany then declared war on Russia and her ally France. Britain declared war on Germany. The First World War had begun.

One possible writing assignment would be for the students will to write a newspaper article covering the Archduke’s infamous trip to Bosnia. The article will give the necessary background on the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, Bosnia, the Archduke, the Sarajevo trip, and the Black Hand. It will also provide an account of the events of June 28, 1914. Another possible writing assignment would be for the student to defend or denounce the actions of the Black Hand. The connections to modern terrorists (The IRA, al Qaeda, Hamas, ETA, etc) are obvious.

At this point in the unit, the teacher may take a break from the plan provided and spend more time focusing on various aspects of the First World War. Within the context of the First World War, the unit will address two events: The Armenian Genocide and Arab Nationalism.

Armenian Genocide

Although the act of mass removal and killings of peoples dates back to the ancient world, most historians agree that the first modern genocide was the Armenian genocide at the hands of the Turks within the Ottoman Empire. The years 1909-1918 witnessed emigration under pressure of the government, transfers and exchanges, and eventually the mass killings of the Armenian population in the Ottoman Empire. The war years saw a great increase in the killings. In some regions (Anatolia), the Armenian population was completely annihilated. A brief explanation of Ottoman motives and rational can be found in Fromkin, pg. 211-213.

This event is important for many reasons, but one worth mentioning here is that the Armenian Genocide (and how the Turks got ‘away with it’) served as a model and impetus for Hitler’s Final Solution twenty years later. “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians”9, Hitler told his military cabinet days before the invasion of Poland. This is important to note here because it so clearly emphasized the importance of historical recollection, or of never forgetting.

The focus of this lesson will be a human one, one of the human soul. Poetry is the song of the human soul. What affects the soul of humanity, affects the poetry of humanity. As the German poet Bertolt Brecht wrote:

In the dark times, will there also be singing?

Yes, there will be singing.

About the dark times.

The students will learn about the victims of genocide through their song, their poetry. , poems such as “The Dance” by Siamanto, or “Dream” by Vahan Tekeyan10. Analyzing the imagery, language and point of view of these poems can provide an insight into these events that a standard historical account may not. These poems personalize the horrors of man against man. (This lesson provides an excellent opportunity for interdisciplinary teaching also)

As the lesson can be opened with the above Brecht poem, it can be closed with another poem from the German poet.

This, then, is all. It’s not enough. I know.

At least I’m alive, as you may see.

I am like the man who took a brick to show

How beautiful his house once used to be.11

Certainly the Armenians were killed en masse, but can the term genocide apply? After a discussion on the definition of genocide (using The History and Sociology of Genocide & Ethnic Cleansing as a source), the class will verify that it qualifies as an actual genocide. According to Andrew Bell-Fialkoff in Ethic Cleansing, being forcibly removed or killed en masse can be called a population removal.12 How is this any different from Genocide? The students will analyze Bell-Fialkoff’s definition, and Frank Chalk and Kurt Jonassohn’s definition of genocide (“ a form of one-sided mass killing in which a state or other authority intends to destroy a group, as that group and membership in it are defined by the perpetrator”13) and contrast the two. After reading the background of this event from their textbook, the student will return to class to apply either of these definitions to the Armenian case. They will also analyze: the motives and methods of the perpetrators, the culture of the victims, and resistance to genocide from either side. This will set a framework to better analyze later events such as the Ukrainian genocide, the Holocaust, Apartheid, and the Balkans of the 1990s.

Arab Nationalism and T.E. Lawrence

Before the Great War, the Ottomans governed most of the Arab world. As war approached, the Empire was experiencing the same troubling nationalist movements as the other multiethnic empires. One of the most important and powerful nationalist movements was that of the modernist and militarist Turks.

Turkish national identity had been repressed by the Ottomans and was beginning to assert itself with a vengeance after the 1913 coup of the Young Turks. They were turning the backward Ottoman system upside-down.

The Ottoman Empire (Turkey) sided with Germany during the War, still reeling from it losses in the Balkan Wars and looking for revenge against Russia and Serbia. After signing the Turco-German Alliance in August of 1914, the Turks formally entered the War on October 28 of that year. Russia, then France and Britain, declared war on Turkey immediately.

The British, who had always competed with the Ottomans for control of the middle east, saw the rise in Turkish nationalism as an opportunity to court Arab nationalism. They hoped to play one off the other, promising the Arabs who lived in the Ottoman Empire independence after the war, and the British and French governments encouraged the Arabs to revolt. A British man name T.E. Lawrence was part of this effort. He and the Arabs carried out a successful guerilla campaign against Turkish rail supply lines and the Arabs conquered the city of Damascus in 1918.

Lawrence assured the Arabs that if they revolted against the Turks they would be rewarded with their independence after the war (as they, and he, were told). The British and French governments never intended to keep this promise, but Lawrence didn’t know this. (see Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916, and corresponding maps). After the War, Lawrence lobbied British politicians and attended the Versailles peace conference in an unsuccessful effort to get the Allies to grant the Arab peoples independence. After WW I the Middle East was divided between the French and the British empires. This portions of the European colonial system would slowly die out aver the course of the first half of the century, but would remain a thorn in the side of it’s colonial master for a long while.

See lesson below for lesson accompanying the viewing of Lawrence of Arabia. Also, see Eyewitness to History for an account by Lawrence of the assault on a Turkish column en route to Damascus14

The Old Order Dies

By the end of the war, the three multi-national empires were drifting towards collapse. The Russian, Austro-Hungarian, and Ottoman empires would not live to see the next decade. In their wake, many new nations in would be born.15

The Tsarist empire experienced its collapse through an internationalist socialist revolution, very different than the catalyst behind the demise of the other two. Lenin, Bolshevism, and The Russian Revolution should be addresses within the context of the social upheavals of the First World War, and are not a part of this unit.

Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Aftermath

As the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian Empires approached their end, it appeared as if new states of the south Slavs would emerge. This is what the nationalist movements within the Empire wanted, but the governments of Europe saw this a step closer to chaos in the region16 Once the Empire collapsed, the people of the Balkans began wrangling (and fighting) over the territories of the former Empire. The new nation that was born, however, was a multi-ethnic federation called Yugoslavia. Was it really a unique multiethnic state representing and protecting the rights of it’s many ethnic groups? Or was it, as many inside and outside saw it, simply a greater Serbia?

The battle to balance, counter, and conquer Serb dominance of the new federation would be a “bitter struggle which eventually consigned Yugoslavia to ashes”17 For further understanding of this dilemma, the student can read “Zagreb IV” (p. 83-88) in Rebecca West’s Black Lamb and Grey Falcon.

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Modern World History

Lesson Plans -- 1914-1919

Lessons One

Title: Ethnicity
Purpose: To establish and understand the definitions for the key terms central to the unit.
Bellringer: Can anyone define ‘ethnic cleansing’? Can anyone tell me what “ethnic” means? Is it the same as ‘race’? Realizing that they do not know the precise meaning of these words they regularly hear and use, the student will become engaged in the lesson that is about to begin.
Materials: Reading on Nationalism, Notes,
Duration: One 90 minute class
Method: Guided discussion based on readings, lecture & note taking
Student will define the following terms: ethnicity, ethnic group, race, culture, religion, language, nationalism, homeland, ethnic cleansing, ethnic mobilization, genocide, identity, self-determination, autonomy, irredentism, sovereignty, republic.
Students will know and identify the ethnic groups within the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Students will be able to explain what role ethnicity played in the nationalist struggles in The Balkans.
Students will come to class prepared, having read pages 3-23 in Boyd Shaffer’s Faces of Nationalism the night before. The class will establish a working definition of nationalism based on the reading. Teacher will go through rest of the terms, one by one, with the class generating the accepted definition of each term. This will establish how the terms will be used for the remainder of the unit; it will also illustrate the importance of words.
Teacher will then introduce the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the context of multinational empire strife with ethnic and nationalist conflict. Teacher will proceed to give background notes on the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Check for Understanding: Teacher will randomly to call on students to state the definitions of selected terms, and to name a “who’s who” of ethnic groups within the empire.
Closure: Teacher will explain how the remainder of the unit and the course will revolve around the issues these terms are key to, such as the Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust, Apartheid and segregation in the American South, and, the conflict in the Middle East.
Assignment: Further reading from textbook p. 614, 744-746. This reading provides a background on The Austro-Hungarian Empire, Nationalism, The Alliance System, and The Balkan Crisis.

Lesson Two

Title: The Balkans
Purpose: To analyze the role nationalism played in the Balkan Wars, and to examine Balkan Wars as a foreshadowing to the Great War.
Bellringer: Who is Slobodan Milosovic? (The evil doer of the late ‘90s) Does anyone remember a war called ‘Kosovo’? Can anyone tell when it began? After the class informs teacher that it began a few years ago, the teacher will tell them it actually began in 1389. The teacher will proceed to tell about the great battle on the Kosovo Polje, which means “The Field of Blackbirds” and Milosovic’s speech given there in 1989 six hundred years later. The point of the story will be to illustrate the heavy weight of History that the South Slavs (Yugoslavs) carry to this day. Another set of historical events that greatly shaped the formation of Balkan and 20th century history were the pre-WWI Balkan Wars.
Materials: Historical Maps of the Balkans, Notes, Glenny passages
Duration: One 90 minute class
Method: Lecture & Discussion
Students will know who was allied with whom in the first and second Balkan Wars, and know what role the Great Powers played in the War.
Students will determine cause and affects of Balkan War
Students will use historical maps to understand boundaries and locations over the time period of 1908-1914.
Students will understand the horrors of war, and the hatred between ‘the South Slav’.
Students will be able to see the connection between the Balkan Wars and the Great War that soon followed.
Students will be introduced to The Black Hand and Young Bosnia, and compare them to modern terrorists.
After reading material from their textbooks the previous night, the students should be able to explain to class what nationalism is, and what affect it’s growth was having on the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Teacher will provide chart on the ethnic groups of the Balkans and their characteristics, this should be complemented with current and historical maps of the region as well.
Teacher will give notes explaining the causes of The First Balkan War, addressing the running questions: what role does nationalism play, what role does ethnicity play, what role does history play?
Class will then read a graphic passage from Glenny (p. 230) detailing the aftermath of a Turk attack on a Bulgarian village.
This will be followed by notes explaining the Second Balkan War, The Bulgarian Catastrophe as Glenny calls it, and the outcome of The Balkan Wars as a whole.
Check for Understanding: Teacher will ask for opinions on the outcome of the Wars, and predictions of the future for the region.
Closure: The class will read any article from the 1990’s that further illustrates the long-standing hatred between these groups. It can be pointed out that the ‘history’ they just studied is now one of the major causes of the problems witnesses in the region during the 1990’s.
Assignment: Students will read few pages on the Black Hand, and write a one page paper comparing/contrasting them to modern terrorists.

Lesson Three

Title: Sarajevo: 1914
Purpose: To appreciate how a single, isolated event can trigger World War.
Bellringer: Class will being by viewing pictures of Sarajevo in all its splendor during the 1992 Olympics, the photos will show the diverse and prosperous state place that it was. Then pictures of Sarajevo, in all its chaos and destruction during the Croat and Serb onslaughts immediately following the Games, will be shown. The teacher will point out to students that this wasn’t the first time the city of Sarajevo was the center of a major historical event. What role did this city play in the origins of WWI? (Students will have read material on the assassin Princip the night before for homework)
Materials: Photos of Sarajevo, testimony from Princip explaining motives, Background notes on ‘road to war’, reading from Hobsbawm 321-323, outline of alliances
Duration: One 90 minute class
Method: Taking a stance, Lecture/Notes, Journalism
Students will take a stance on an issue, voice it publicly, and defend it.
Students will understand the history of the use of terror18
Students will connect past use of terror to the present use of terror.
Students will understand the causes of WWI.
Students will explain the causes and the events of “Sarajevo 1914” in the form of a newspaper article.
After bellringer activity, class will begin with a reading of the account of Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand’s assassination accompanied by photographs of the famous event.
Based on what they read the night before and on the notes and readings from class, the students will have a writing assignment: Would you or would you not support the Black Hand or the Young Bosnians? They will need to explain the motivations with facts. Explain why terror is never the answer; explain why it is the only answer. Take a stance and defend it! Make connections to today’s use of terror
Class will then read testimony taken from Princip after the assassination, comparing his motives to theirs.
Class will take notes detailing chronology of the road to the Great War, and who fell in alliance with whom. Class should be able to participate, taking a logical guess what the alliances might look like.
Check for Understanding: Class will be called on randomly to answer questions such as: why did the Russians come to the aid of the Serbs, why did the Bulgars fight on the opposite side of their Orthodox brothers, etc
Closure: This is called the “shot heard around the world”, why?
Assignment: Based on readings from text, supplemental reading from Eric Hobsbawm’s Age of Empire (pages 321-323), and assassination narrative the student will to write a newspaper article covering the Archduke’s infamous trip to Bosnia. The article will give the necessary background on the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, Bosnia, the Archduke, the Sarajevo trip, and the Black Hand. It will also provide an account of the events of June 28, 1914. For extra credit they can use newspaper formatting and clip art from a word processing program such as Microsoft Word or Claris Works.


Many lessons should be inserted here to cover the topics that are out side the scope of this particular unit. Some suggestions for lessons: rise of militarism, the ‘justness’ of the Great War; African American soldiers; the affect the Great War had on US women; the attempts to avoid The War entirely; the military history of the war (battles, innovations like gas, trenches, tanks, various weapons, leaders, etc); The Russian Revolution, the War’s affect on art, etc.

Lesson Four

Title: Armenian Genocide
Purpose: To define, understand, and humanize the act of genocide by reading about through the poems of the victims.
Bellringer: Class will begin with the reading of the Brecht poem mentioned above.
Materials: Text book, copies of poems from Against Forgetting (or other applicable source), notes, Bell-Fialkoff chart on the degrees of population removal19
Duration: One 90 minute class
Method: Discussion, use of poetry, notes
Student will define, understand, and humanize the act of genocide.
Student will appreciate the role of the poet during the ‘dark times’.
Students will develop of the skills necessary to come to an initial understanding of a poem’s meaning.
Students will apply definitions of genocide and population removal to the Armenian case.
Students will use poetry as historical source.Activity:
Students will come to class having read background material on the Armenian genocide from their textbook, a student will be called on to summarize the events leading up to and during the genocide.
Then, the role of the poet will be introduced by reading the above-mentioned Brecht poem. Then class will silently read two other Armenian poems about their genocide, recording their thoughts and emotions in an open, free-writing assignment. After enough time has been allowed, students will offer their thoughts on the poems and on the horrors that humanity has brought on itself.
Lastly, class will address the following: was this a population removal or genocide? Is there a difference? For this will use the above-mentioned definitions. Figure 1 from Ethnic Cleansing can be handed out here to illustrate the degrees of population removal.
Check for Understanding: Was it genocide? Why/Why not?
Closure: Teacher will read latter Brecht poem (above), and ask the question: If writing about it and telling the world isn’t enough? What is??
Assignment: In a couple paragraphs, students will explain why the Turks hated the Armenians to the point of totally annihilating them. OR Students can take home any N.Y. Times article that discusses the modern ‘Armenian question’, that of the Armenians in Karabakh (Azerbaijan) and compare these grievances to those of the beginning of the century between that Armenians and the Turks.

Lesson Five

Title: The Desert War & Arab Nationalism (Teaching ‘Lawrence of Arabia’)
Purpose: To demonstrate how the Great Powers used nationalism to destabilize and defeat their enemies in the First World War
Bellringer: At the front of the classroom will be the movie poster from the film Lawrence of Arabia. The original 1962 poster20 has a Christ-like Peter O’Toole standing on a hill with the sun setting behind him (there is another poster out there that contains a much more mysterious and shadowy Lawrence). The students will take a minute to examine the poster, and then will be asked: What words would you use to describe what kind of person T.E. Lawrence was? How does the poster convey that to you? What do you think the director’s opinion of Lawrence is? What might you be able to predict about the movie? Teacher will inform the class that because of his adventures during the Great War, Lawrence became a larger than life figure and attracted a cult following. Paradoxically, he died rather plainly; in a motorcycle accident on a rainy day in England.
Materials: “Lawrence of Arabia” (Film), Background Notes
Duration: Four 90 minute classes
Method: Film & Guided Discussion
Students will learn history through viewing films
Students will be able to identify bias, misinformation, abuse of history in film
Students will know how Arab nationalism was used by the British in the Great War
Student will determine the policies towards ethnic groups and nationalities in the multiethnic British and Ottoman empires
Students will predict the effects the Great War had on the Ottoman Empire
After bellringer activity, student will take a brief set of notes on the background of Ottoman Empire in Arab lands, European interests in Arab lands, and Arab Nationalism.
Class will then review historical maps of region that detail the political boundaries, physical setting, and WWI in the Middle East.
Teacher will put WWI timeline on the board, outlining key events of the War especially in relation to Middle East and Ottoman Empire.
Teacher will introduce the film Lawrence of Arabia, possible fact about the movie to mention are: the director used a technology that was able to capture more colors of the desert, and images more deep and vast; the movie won seven Academy Awards (including Best Director, Best Picture, Best Music Score, and Best Film Editing. It was also nominated for Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Screenplay).
The class will then view the film, stopping periodically for questions and discussions. Throughout the viewing of the film, students will be required to keep a film journal. The journal will contain their thoughts and opinions on the film, and also they will address running questions for the film. Examples of such questions are:
Describe how the film portrays the Arabs that Lawrence is liberating, and give an example.
When Lawrence reaches Suez someone asks, “Who are you?” But Lawrence cannot answer. Was he an English Officer or an Arab nationalist? The movie raises the question. What do you think?
Explain why, on two occasions, Lawrence has to kill a friend of his, was this the right thing to do? What else could have been done? Was it OK because it was during a war?
When Lawrence found out that the British and French intended to betray the Arabs, what should he have done?
The film journals will be collected and reviewed at the end of the viewing of the film.
Check for Understanding: Who was Lawrence? Predict the problems that might arise after the war?
Closure: How does this connect to today’s problems in the Middle East? Does it at all?
Assignment: Last film journal assignment, what did you learn from the film? What don’t you understand?

Lesson Six

Title: The Old Order Dies
Purpose: To know what impact The Great War had on the multinational empires of Europe.
Bellringer: Teacher will list some the many countries that came into existence after The War on the board, and then inform the students that they were all born of WWI.
Materials: Historical Maps, passage from Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, notes, copy of Sykes-Picot Agreement
Duration: One 90 minute class
Method: Discussion, lecture, geography skill-builder
Student will analyze a primary document.
Students will compare historical maps, and reinforce map-skills.
Students will identify winners and losers of The Great War.
Students will analyze literature as history.
Students will appreciate problems that will plague Yugoslavia in the future.
The class will begin with a copy of the Sykes-Picot Agreement handed out and read together, the question will be raised and discussed: how is does this differ from what we saw in the movie? The students will then analyze the political geographic changes to the region.
Students will be provided two maps, one of pre-1914 Europe and one of Europe in 1920. Their task will be to list the new nations found in the 1920 map, and identify from what empire they emerged. The students will take a close look at one of the regions we discussed in the unit: The Balkans.
The students will be given a brief introduction to Dame Rebecca West. Class will then read passage from West, “Zagreb IV” (p. 83-88), which captures a conversation between a Croat and Serb in the 1930’s. They are having the debate about Serbian dominance of Yugoslavia. Students should be able to deduce what the future might hold for the region based on this passage.
Teacher will then explain the unit exam.
Check for Understanding: Who were the ultimate winners of The Great War? Who came out the worse??
Closure: Read to class Glenny quote regarding the “bitter struggle which eventually consigned Yugoslavia to ashes” and show pictures Jansenovac21, Srebrenica, Vukovar, and Kosovo22.
Assignment: See final assessment below.

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Part One

The student should take a test in class at the completion of the unit, checking for knowledge of the basic terms and locations, and a comprehension of the main ideas of the unit (Nationalism, Road to War, etc)

Part Two

A final assessment of student comprehension should also be given in the form of a take home final exam

The student will choose an ethnic group in conflict with another, or with their imperial masters, from the era of the First World War. They will explain why this group has a grievance with the other group. This explanation will include: the appropriate developments in the country or region leading up to the conflict, the characteristics of the particular ethnic group, and how ethnic identity has played a role in this conflict. (See guidelines above) Students will be required to give examples and evidence.

Students can also be given the option of completing this assignment in the form a creative writing project. The student can being writing a (lengthy) letter from the point of view of a Turk to an old Armenian friend justifying removal, or from a British official to his Arab neighbor explaining why British rule is best. This would reemphasize the personal aspects to these historical events even further. Also, this provides a good opportunity for interdisciplinary teacher.

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Primary Documents23

“The Dual Alliance Between Austria-Hungary and German of October 7, 1879”

“Wilson’s Fourteen Points”

“Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916”

Secondary Sources

A Peace to End All Peace, David Fromkin

Against Forgetting, Carolyn Forche’

Ethnic Cleansing, Andrew Bell-Failkoff

Eyewitness to History, John Carey

Faces of Nationalism, Boyd Schaffer

The Age of Empire, Eric Hobsbawm

The Balkans, Misha Glenny

World History (textbook), Roger Beck


Lawrence of Arabia. Dir. David Lean. With Peter O’Toole, Alec Guinness, and Anthony Quinn. Columbia, 1962.


The Avalon Project The site is located at this URL: http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/avalon.htm . The site was last updated on: 7/25/2002

The Internet History Sourcebooks are collections of public domain and copy-permitted historical texts presented for educational use. The site can be located at http://www.fordham.edu/halsall.

The Armenian National Institute, Inc., (ANI), http://www.armenian-genocide.org/ is a non-profit organization dedicated to the study, research, and affirmation of the Armenian Genocide.

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Bell-Failkoff, Andrew. Ethnic Cleansing. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 1996.

Beck, Roger. World History: Patterns of Interaction. Evanston Illinois: McDougal Littell, 1999

Carey, John, ed. Eyewitness to History. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1988

Chalk, Frank and Kurt Jonassohn, eds. The History and Sociology of Genocide. New Haven and Yale: Yale University Press, 1990.

Forche’, Carolyn, ed. Against Forgetting: Twentieth Century Poetry of Witness. New York: W.W. Norton & Co, 1993

Fromkin, David. A Peace to End All Peace. New York: Avon Books, 1989.

Glenny, Misha. The Balkans: Nationalism, War and the Great Powers, 1804-1999. New York: Viking, 1999.

Gurr, Ted Robert. “Managing Conflict in Ethnically Divided Societies” in Charles Kegley and Eugene Wittkopf, eds., The Global Agenda, 6th edition.

Hobsbawm, Eric. The Age of Empire 1875-1914. New York: Vintage Books, 1989.

--------------------. The Age of Extreme 1914-1991. New York: Vintage Books, 1996.

Huntington, Samuel P. “The Clash of Civilizations?” Foreign Affairs, 72:3, (1993)

Shafer, Boyd C. Faces of Nationalism: New Realities and Old Myths. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1972.

Walzer, Michael. Just and Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument With Historical Illustrations. New York: Basic Books, Inc., 2000

West, Rebecca. Black Lamb and Grey Falcon. New York: The Viking Press, 1946.

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1 Samuel Huntington, “The Clash of Civilizations?”, Foreign Affairs, 72:3, (1993), p. 22

2 Boyd Schaffer, Faces of Nationalism, New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1972, p. 3-4

3 Huntington, p. 24

4 As found at http://cla.calpoly.edu/~nclark/Hist431/Rhodes.htm, last updated in Sept of 2000

5 Roger Beck, et al, World History, Evanston: McDougal Littel, 1999, p.686

6 Misha Glenny, The Balkans, New York: Viking Press, 1999, p.428

7 Glenny, 305

8 This document, and many others, can be located at The Avalon Project: The Dual Alliance Between Austria-Hungary and Germany - October 7, 1879. The document is located at this URL: http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/dualalli.htm. The document was last corrected for conversion errors or the markup was updated on: 07/25/2002 11:47:11

9 Carolyn Forche ed., Against Forgetting, New York: W.W. Norton & Co, 1993, p.55

10 Against Forgetting, p. 55-62

11 The Brecht poems can be found in Against Forgetting, p. 27 and p. 51, respectively.

12 Andrew Bell -- Fialkoff, Ethnic Cleansing, New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 1996, p.3

13 Chalk & Jonassohn, p. 23. Here the authors break down the definition, and explain it word by word. Many of the words in the definition can provide some trick interpretation -- “intends”, “completely”, “as defined by”, etc. Again, this illustrates the importance of precision in language.

14 John Carey ed., Eyewitness to History, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1988, p. 481-489

15 See Woodrow Wilson’s “14 Points”

16 Eric Hobsbawm, Age of Empires, New York: Vintage Books, 1989, p. 27

17 Glenny, 366

18 A great source for the teacher on the historical illustrations of the use of terror can be in Walzer, chapter twelve

19 Bell -- Fialkoff, Fig 1

20 This can be purchased at www.movieposters.com

21 Infamous Nazi/Croat (Ustashe) concentration camp where Jews, Communists, and Serbs were sent

22 Three regions that witness some of the worst of the Balkans horrors of the 1990’s

23 These documents, and many others, can be found online at The Avalon Project at www.yale.edu.

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