Second Thirty Years' War

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This is about the term and historiography. For history of the period see World War I, World War II, etc..
Second Thirty Years' War
Part of European Civil War
Date28 July 1914 – 9 May 1945 (1914-07-28 – 1945-05-09)

The "Second Thirty Years' War" is a periodization scheme sometimes used by historians to encompass the wars in Europe from 1914 to 1945.[a]

Just as the Thirty Years' War of 1618 to 1648 was not a single war but a series of conflicts in varied times and locations, later organized and named by historians into a single period, the Second Thirty Years' War has been seen as a "European Civil War", fought over the problem of Germany and exacerbated by new ideologies such as communism, fascism, and Nazism.[1]

Concept's origins[edit]

The concept of a "Second Thirty Years War" originated in 1946 with former head of French Government Charles de Gaulle speech in Bar-le-Duc (28 July 1946) evoking "the drama of the thirty years war, we just won", for him the First World War and the Second World War were a single conflict, the interwar period being just a mere truce.[2] It was echoed, among others, by Sigmund Neumann in his book The Future in Perspective (1946).[3] In 1948 British Prime Minister Winston Churchill gave the idea a boost when, in the first paragraph of the Preface to The Gathering Storm (1948), he says his books will "cover an account of another Thirty Years War".[4]

As point in fact, major European conflicts during this period included: Balkan Wars (1912–13), World War I (1914–18), Russian Civil War (1917–23), Ukrainian–Soviet War (1917–21), Polish–Soviet War (1919–21), Spanish Civil War (1936–39) and World War II (1939–45). In addition the Interwar period saw significant levels of civilian and labor conflict as well as colonial wars.

Though it is not "scholarly" in form, it is obviously based upon close acquaintance with the sources and keenly perceptive observation. Thus it is that rare combination of the scholarly study and readable synthesis that many strive for and few attain. In approaching his subject, Neumann regards the years since 1914 as another Thirty Years' War which has been accompanied at the same time by a revolution that is still going on. Likening World War I and the Versailles peace to a prologue, he interprets what followed as five acts of a Greek drama of approximately equal length: 1919–24, 1924–29, 1929–34, 1934–39 and 1939–45.[5]

— Lee, D. W. (December 1946). "Review of Sigmund Neumann's The future in perspective"

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Use of this term can be found in many sources. Some examples include "Naming World Wars" at, Anthony Shaw's The World in Conflict, 1914–1945 (2000) ISBN 978-1-57958-212-8, and many other sources.


  1. ^ "HIST2013 Twentieth-century Europe, Part I: The European Civil War, 1914–1945". The University of Hong Kong. Archived from the original on 2007-03-09. This period can be seen as a Thirty Years' War fought over the problem of Germany, beginning with the First World War, 1914–18, and climaxing with the total defeat of Germany at the end of the Second World War, 1939–45. Tensions between the Great Powers were exacerbated by new ideologies such as Fascism, Nazism and Communism, which appeared in Europe as part of a general crisis in Western Civilisation after the First World War.
  2. ^ Charles de Gaulle, Discours prononcé à Bar-le-Duc, 28 juillet 1946,
  3. ^ Pons 2000, p. XII, Footnote 3.
  4. ^ Churchill 1948, preface.
  5. ^ Lee 1946, pp. 604–606.