Department News

Yale Professor is Carls-Schwerdfeger
History Lecturer for 2001

Dr. Jay Winter, Professor of History at Yale University, was the speaker at the fifth annual Carls-Schwerdfeger History Lectureship at Union on October 26, 2001. His main lecture, held in the evening, was entitled “The Birth of Total War, 1914-1918.” He focused on the extension of warfare in 1914-1918 to include the civilian sector of the population, noting as examples that Germany bombed London and shelled Paris in its attempt to break its enemies’ will to resist. Dr. Winter also noted that World War I involved a brutalization of war, and he recalled Turkey’s slaughter of between 500.000 and 1,000,000 Christian Armenians in 1915 to underscore that point. Along the way, he stated that the events of September 11, 2001, in New York were in line with the new kind of warfare that World War I represented, inasmuch as innocent civilians were the target, and deep hatreds and shocking brutality characterized the terrorists’ actions. Approximately 450 people from Union University and the more general community attended the lecture.

In a morning lecture, attended by more than 100 people, Dr. Winter talked about "The Decline and Fall of British Politics in the Late Twentieth Century." He emphasized the difficulty John Major had in succeeding Margaret Thatcher as prime minister in 1990. Thatcher was a "one woman band" who brought an American presidential style of rule to the position of prime minister. She worked to break the labor union movement’s strength in Britain and succeeded. She also tried to distance her country from the European Union and failed. And along the way she created division in the ranks of her Conservative party, leaving Major to pick up the pieces. Winter described Major as a decent man, but one whose years as prime minister, coming on the heals of the Thatcher revolution in British politics, would be looked upon as being "gray" for his lack of any great accomplishment. As for Tony Blair, Britain's current prime minister, Winter pointed out that he faces the challenge of how to maintain a distinctly British identity while at the same time Europeanizing the country through its ongoing integration into the European Union.

Other Carls-Schwerdfeger history lecturers have included Dr. Jack Greene of The Johns Hopkins University (1997), Dr. Gerhard Weinberg of the University of North Carolina (1998), Dr. Martin Marty of the University of Chicago (1999), and Dr. Richard Stites of Georgetown University (2000).

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