Where the 20th century began

There’s a school of thought that there are periods or epochs in history and they might be given a period or epoch as a name but they do not necessarily fit neatly into the start and end dates which are mathematically accurate for that period.  As an example, it could be argued that the sixties did not start on 1st January 1960 and finish on 31st December 1969 but that the period the sixties represents started with the decision in the Lady Chatterley’s Lover trial on 2nd November 1960 and finished with the departure of Paul McCartney from the Beatles in April 1970 or the shooting of four protesting students at Kent State University in May 1970 or even a year or two later according to your views.  Philip Larkin’s poem “Annus Mirabilis” has a similar attitude towards things not beginning on the exact date, although he has to change the end of the “Chatterley” ban for the purpose of a rhyme:

Sexual intercourse began
In nineteen sixty-three
(which was rather late for me) –
Between the end of the “Chatterley” ban
And The Beatles’ first LP.

If then historical periods do not begin and end to fit the neat chronological periods they represent it could be argued that the twentieth century began, certainly for Europe on 28th June 1914 in Sarajevo with the assassination of the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne heralding the two World Wars followed by the cold war with the century of World-wide industrial slaughter, or the threat of it, finishing in November 1989 with the fall of the Berlin Wall or in 1999 with the action in Kosovo by NATO and Russia to end the ethnic-cleansing of the area by the Milosovic led Serbian government. The century which started in the Balkans finishing there has a nice circularity to it.  The two pictures show the spot in Sarajevo where the heir to the throne was shot by Gavrilo Princip when returning from a visit to the Town Hall.

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One Response to “Where the 20th century began”

  1. The Cellist of Sarajevo « The Flashing Blade Says:

    […] in March is one of my most memorable visits to a European capital for sometime.  As I posted here it caught my imagination for its part in European history of the previous century.  As did the […]

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