About this Blog

This blog is now closed. It was the reflective blog of two grade 9 (age 14-15) Modern World History classes at my international school in Korea.

The method of that class was as follows: Pairs of students re-wrote our paper textbook, section by section, for a web-based, multimedia, student-written and -designed textbook on the Broken World: History from World War I to the End of World War II wiki.  That textbook is well worth a read for engaged project-based learning – and for the superiority of web-based texts over those 50 pound dumbbells we force our students to trudge through, and under, from our horrid textbook industries.

Those same student pairs gave lectures on their assigned sections, which we videotaped, uploaded to Google Video, and embedded on the wiki also.

Finally, students used this blog as the space to reflect, weekly, about whatever “wow” of history jumped out at them from the week’s student lectures or readings.

Technical note: I imported this blog from another URL, and in the process, all the student user-names (which were not full name anyway) were replaced with my own. For the record, I am the author of only this post on this blog. All other posts are by students.

Clay Burell

The Great Failure.

Lindsay.

He thought it would work out the way it did before.
Mao. Mao in China, to develop China, he used the 5-years-plan of what Stalin used in USSR. The “5-year plan” had worked out very well and developed the USSR very well. Similarly, Mao implied the 5-year plan to China, and so it turned out well as it did in USSR. Then that’s when Mao went beyond the possible, and made a mistake. He planned another 5 year plan to modernize China even more. Thinking about what China was in the Imperialistic period, they were one of the undeveloped nations by the regressive Empress Cixi. China reacted to the modernization lately while other nations were busy developing. So China’s aggressive attempt to modernization was surprising to me.
In fact, the good days were over instantly as the “Great Leap Forward,” which was the second 5 year plan was on set. The Chinese peasants brought steel to build factories and machines by melting it. Seeing that pe ople brought every thing at home that has metal contained, but I was worried that they won’t have anything left. And so it did.
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People couldn’t avoid famine. Many of them died, and the “Great Leap Forward,” when it was supposed to be a “five year plan,” it stopped at the third year. This was a BIG FAILURE in China. This also shows of how one conceit could destroy one nation. Of course China recovered back quickly, but one should know the limit and know how to stop or start or continue.
Yet, here we see China. Failure over failure and success…
“Failure is but the threshold of a success.”

hiSTORY amazement.

Lindsay

History—it was something more than just a bundle of facts, dates, events and wins or loses and so on and so forth. Before I started to get to know about history, I did not understand of the people who were so excited about history. And how they could memorize it—and actually have fun telling the history. How can they do that? That was my question. And I always asked teachers: “why is history so fun? It can be sad and teach us some lesson, but how can it be so interesting?” All the teachers I asked to answer: “history itself is a drama and a “never-ending story” that has the power of not boring the readers. What??

It was the BIG QUESTION of how history could be so interesting. But as I saw the connection of how the events relate to each other, how the historical figures react to the incidents each time. I was happy to realize in depth, especially when I found out some more things about the figures that I heard before, or the events that were well known, but when I didn’t know so well that I couldn’t say anything about it. For instance, I was a fan of the movie, Pearl Harbor, and also the book, Pearl Harbor written by John Steinbeck. But neither the movie nor the book, I couldn’t understand. I was concentrating on the characters on the movie, and I couldn’t understand the book so well. However, recently as we learned about Japan attacking the Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, as I recall the memory of the movie and the book, now I get what it was about. With the historical background in my head, I could see the picture. And it was more interesting that what I thought. Other than this, I realized it from many others.

Hitler. I have never known the background, his personal background, his life at a young age and so on… (Hitler at his young age…)
I never knew that is life experience would have affected his act of violence. Yet this was nothing about religious revolts, but his experience at a young age, it was actually

Sometimes, it seems obvious for of what will happen next. History it is like story that it has patterns; yet not exactly a pattern we could say but we get the sense of realization.
And through these kind of lectures… I found the fun of history and the power of history. And that’s why I asked to get in AP World History: to go in depth. what led him to the violent tolerance of the Jews and strong and powerful lead of Germany.

Cold War: Its legacy

The Cold War.

Its the name of the period of conflict and tension between the former wartime allies, the United States and the Soviet Union. Spanning over 4 decades, this period of tension has left its mark in history not just as a time of fear, the fear that once friends against a common enemy and with that their enemy was disposed; they were to turn against each other…

But this blog post will go on further than that.

Onto the marks that the Cold War left on history. Its legacies.

Did you know, the Korean and the Vietnam War cost the United States $8 trillion in military expenditure, and nearing 100,000 lives.

That’s just a taster… Because of the Cold War, during the 1990s, Russia suffered an economic breakdown, even worse than what Germany or the United States went through during the Great Depression six decades ago. This was due to their dismantling of their military-industrial sector after the Cold War and just for the statistics, one in every five Soviet adults were employed in the military sector. So as a result, millions were unemployed. The Russian living standards worsened with every passing year.

And the legacy of the Cold War stretches far and wide onto structuring the world affairs to this day. The Cold War basically created the role of the United States of this day. By 1989, the U.S. was responsible for military alliances with 50 countries and 1.5 million U.S. troops were posted in 117 countries. The Cold War also institutionalised the commitment to a huge, permanent wartime military-industrial complex. As the United States being the ‘peace-keeping world police’ of today.

I just cannot stop wondering… What if the United States and the Soviet Union or Russia did not go against each other in the first place?

What place would communism hold in the world? What place would capitalism hold in the world?

Would Russia hold a stronger place in the world’s economy compared to its current place today? What place would the USA hold?

Just some questions from a shallow mind of mine, but still mildly interesting nonetheless.

What do you think?

Overview of History.

Though Asians and Europeans histories have been through same main events, they also have some differences like the waterfall in a mountain and a fountain in a plaza.

Asians love waterfalls. Usually in Asian classical literatures, waterfalls have been a place where dragons lived and fairies took a bath. It has imaginary rainbows of Asian’s ancient illusions. Europeans love fountains. From underground to the sky, the water energetically goes up. Fountains can be seen everywhere, in Rome, Paris, London… and always, there’s a plaza with many beautiful sculptures. Fountains have invisible rainbows of European’s ancient dreams.

There’s a main difference in waterfalls and fountains. In order to see a waterfall, you have to go deep inside the mountain. But to see a fountain, you must go to the most thriving place in the city. Waterfall is the nature’s water while fountain’s water is the city’s, the civilization’s water. Above of all, the stream is totally different. I’d say waterfalls and fountains represent the history of Asian’s and European’s.

Waterfall

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Let’s look at the characteristics of waterfall. Water flows with the nature’s absolute power, gravity. Water’s real nature is falling top to bottom like the rain falling from the sky to earth. Asian history is just same as waterfall. It slowly faces the changes one by one when the time comes just like the flow of water. The authority coming down from the emperor to the citizens takes centuries. Asian history looks fragile but natural.

fountain

(?link)

On the other hand, fountain is completely different from the characteristics of waterfall. The stream goes up to the sky like the volcano belching ashes and rockets accelerating towards the unknown universe. The fountain’s stream; the most unnatural motion of water, challenges the real nature of water. Like some say, the power of creation, the discipline of civilizations and the movement of society is all similar to the fountain in the plaza. If there’s no artificial power to stand against gravity, the motion of the fountain stops. What makes the water shoot underground to sky is the infinity of strong artificial powers. This tension and continuances have ruled European history. See the revolutions they have been through. Enlightenment, France Revolution, Industrial Revolution… It is change after change. Everything happens so quickly that it doesn’t seem like a history. European history seems very energetic yet artificial.

Next time when you see either a waterfall or a fountain, think of Asian or European histories. You will think that it has more meaning than you knew before.

Defeat in Japan

Asia’s strongest power Japan was FINALLY defeated in World War2. Japan suffered. More than two millions of people were dead, and it’s major cities were destroyed by constant shelling and bombing by the allied countries. The major bombing was in Hiroshima and Nagasaki from US. The situation gets worse. The allies took away their lands which belonged to Japan for a long time. These disasters didn’t end yet.
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?Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

After they lost the war, some military leaders still wanted to fight. They were aggressive and so desperate to continue the fight. However, Japan’s Emperor, Hirohito said, “Should we continued to fight, it would only result in an ultimate collapse” He said instead of fighting, we should dedicate ourselves to rebuild the destroyed cities. General MacArthur accepted the Japanese surrender and took charge of US army’s occupation in Japan.

macarthur.jpg
This is a picture of General MacArthur and Emperor Hirohito. Click the Thumbnail to see the bigger picture.

General MacArthur, like any other people wanted to prevent wars in the future. He demilitarized Japan. Japan couldn’t have any armed forces anymore to conquer other countries. MacArthur left Japan with few police force. Like the German Nazis’ Nuremburg trial, Japan’s former Premier Hideki Tojo and other leaders were hung.

Also, he wanted to support self-determination, which was mentioned by Woodrow Wilson’s “Fourteen Points.” To simplify self-determination, it means to allow people to decide for themselves under what government they wished to live. Therefore, the first thing MacArthur did was to get rid of it’s empire and make a new government called “Parliamentary democracy.” (Same government system as Great Britain.) Japan’s emperor was no longer viewed as a god. Emperor Hirohito was no longer an absolute ruler. Emperor had to tell his people that he is no longer a god.

There were many changes in society. All citizens over 20, including women were allowed to vote. Also, Japan were not supposed to conquer other countries. However they were allowed only if they were attacked by other countries.

Article 9 has stated that …
1. Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.
2. In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.

However, what scares the world today in 2007 is that Japan is now allowed to attack other countries. Japan is wanting to buy a fighter plane called F-22. Picture below is the plane F-22. Click the thumbnail to see the bigger picture.
f-22-98e12077-exithan811.jpg

World War 2 have not only changed Japan in 1940s, but also changed Japan in 2007. As World War 2 ended, many countries wanted to reach their post war goals that were different to each other. These differences have changed today’s world

Lebensborn: The Spring of Life

Arguably the most important of the Nazi ideology was of ‘racial purity’. And the Nazis did all in their power to fulfill this ideal… We remember the Holocaust, we remember their Anti-semitic policies. But we don’t seem to emphasise one massive project that was initiated by Heinrich Himmler. In order to aid the racial heredity of the Third Reich, the Nazis initiated the Project Lebensborn.

Founded on the 12th of December of 1935, the Lebensborn e. V was the Nazi response to the declining birth rate of Germany. At first, the program was to serve as a welfare institution for the wives of the SS officers. Nurseries if you like. But, in order to create the ‘racially pure’, these ‘nurseries’ became secret meeting places for the idealistic Aryan German women to meet SS officers and have their children. These children, born in the Lebensborn; the SS took charge of these products of genetic experimentation.

The immorality did not stop there however… The worst was yet to come…

Around the year of 1939, the Lebensborn program reached out to the ‘racially pure’ children of the Nazi occupied eastern Europe. The SS organised the kidnap of children that met the ‘blond haired, blue eyed…’ traits of the Nazi criteria. Thousands were moved onto the former nurseries and in order to be ‘Germanised’. For the children, at the point of entry, they were to forget and reject all about their birth parents and what they have learnt from them. Any signs of refusal meant physical beatings for these children. But fate would have it, at the end most of them were sent to the extermination camps anyway.

Now over 60 years after the war, t is nearly impossible to know how much children were kidnapped in the eastern occupied countries. In 1946, it was estimated that more than 250,000 were kidnapped and sent by force to Germany. Only 25,000 were retrieved after the war and sent back to their family. It is known that several German families refused to give back the children they had received from the Lebensborn centers. And in the most tragic of cases, the children themselves refused to come back in their original family: they were victims of the Nazi propaganda and believed that they were pure Germans.

This was the Lebensborn Project.

The Holocaust, the Innocent deaths

Earlier, I wrote about to see history in different perspectives and questioned if Hitler was a villain or a hero. Here is another huge incident that made me absolutely agree that Hitler was a villain and had no mercy. His commands were unbelievably brutal, showed inhumane acts, and practiced excessive mistreatments to the races he hated without any acceptable reason.

11 million people died. Out of those people, 6 million were the Jews. 6 million…

This video really made me to think about the Holocaust and felt empathy while watching the pictures. Here it goes..

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The Holocaust is one of the most heartbreaking and disgraceful incidents that occurred in 20th centenary. This incident was led by one merciless dictator, Hitler, and was supported by the Nazis. It started out as discrimination of one race by banning Jews from entering cinemas, theaters, swimming pools, and resorts. They weren’t allowed in any public places. Their newspapers were suspended to be published, and they required carrying around their identification cards. Moreover, they started to arrest Jews and expel them. Their insanity didn’t end here; they murdered the Jews that showed the most cruelty possible.

Jews were massively massacred in gas chambers or in concentration camps. Jews were treated inhumanely and had to face miserable deaths in the shower rooms that belched gases or in gas chambers. Hitler hated Jews without any acceptable or understandable reason and commanded to genocide the Jews. He wanted to “vacuum” the Jews. He was a total racist and wanted to get rid of the inferior races that he considered inferior in his standards. His goal was to create a European world that would be dominated and only populated by the “Aryan” race.

Would he still be right to be called a hero? People have different interpretations of heroes, but discrimination and mistreating different races are absolutely shouldn’t be praised. Even the Nazis should accept the merciless historical facts and never let this happen again.

 

Sorry, Son (In Gratitude Towards Our Parents – Parent’s Day)

 

Wouldn’t it feel just sad if you were a father and your children were starving because you couldn’t get a job? Well, this was reality for one out of four people during the Great Depression. It all began because of the big gap between the rich and the poor. Since the low class didn’t have enough money, they couldn’t buy many products in the market. Due to this, there were many products left in the stores, and the factories in turn, reduced production and fired workers. Now, there were less people who would buy goods because they’ve lost their jobs and had no money.

Along with this tragedy, there were many middle-income people who bought stocks trying to earn more money. They didn’t have much money, so they borrowed from the stockbrokers. This meant that if the stocks fell, they had no money to repay. This happened in 1929. The stocks that were gradually growing were gradually dropping! Many people were in debt, and unemployment was skyrocketing. This was the beginning of the Great Depression.

Like the word depression, you could say that everybody was actually very depressed. Many people starved. In order to prevent it, people would go to charities and get food. Dads would go home empty handed or, if they’re lucky, with bread in his hand. Children would be starving at homes, and whenever Dad comes home with some food, he would give it away to the kids or his wife. Even though he doesn’t eat anything, it would be more painful of the fact that he couldn’t give them food. However, most of the time, all the family would’ve gone outside to earn money or food. There was this picture I saw of that time of a child. The child was holding a plank card asking for his dad a job. Sadly, I don’t think he would’ve had much chance in getting a job because there were millions of people doing the same thing. I just felt like buying the child a huge truck of bread. Things were pretty much getting worse until 1933.

Thank goodness, it was only a few years for them. Roosevelt began a reform called the New Deal. The government was actually spending money for their people to make jobs and help by welfare programs. Recovery was slow. But now, there was more opportunity of getting jobs. The unemployment rate was now dropping, and there were fewer dads with terrible stress.

Until now, there was one thing that was still the same. That was the worry of our fathers. They still work with all their might trying to make their children live in a happier environment. Since some of them (Koreans, this case) had gone through the hardships of the past, they wanted to give their children the best they could. The environment has changed. Similarly, in Korea, people went through the hardships just like the people during Great Depression. The effects of the Korean War were still upon the Koreans. The second generation worked their best also following the first generation of that time. Now, there was more peace and comfort in this next generation. However, not much kids theses days know their dads’ feeling towards them.

A few days ago, it was Parent’s Day in Korea. I wonder how many people showed their love towards their parents that day. My dad is a busy man that he barely gets to talk with me. I thought he liked his job so much it made him come home late. I was wrong. I found out that he had a tense stress in his mind that he should earn money for us. He was thinking he had to earn money to let us do anything we wanted to.

Both of the fathers of the Depression and now have stress inside their minds. It’s not that since it’s more peaceful, his stress had lessened. However, our attitudes have changed. We think our fathers are doing fine. We think less of them making them feel sad. Maybe the Great Depression would never come again and something that terrible wouldn’t happen. But we should never forget how hard it could be for our fathers and moms. The Great Depression would be something that would make us think more of our parents’ love towards us.

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– Father (Psy)

 

YO~ He lived only looking forward

in no time, his children don’ even listen
whole life, spends all for their bread
looks at their picture says at least one more penny
drink the cries, risk the lives, doesn’ matter even though I’m tired
what if I break down
dad’s a super man don’ worry kids
can’t show the speck when things weigh down
can’t escape when things push up
afraid, the world, I wanna escape
damn still I bear it everyday
without knowing nothing they roll over me
I live ‘cause of their play
tired still I go, darling, kids, dad’s goin’ to work

dad I finally know now
how could’ve you lived a life like that
no more don’t be lonely
now let’s go together

in no time, my kids became all students
dad hopes for only one thing
honest healthy kind kids, rightful kids
they’ll be better than others
other than school, hagwon, tutor, in competition with other dads
to win I’ll do anything
therefore have to earn lot, do well to dad
my kids make friends and talk to them
see, hear, other dads that do more and compare
buy better stuff, I get compared
more bad behavior, my kids
nag me, my wife, I become lonely
darling, kids (kids), dad’s goin’ to work

dad I finally know now
how could’ve you lived a life like that
no more don’t be lonely
now let’s go together

darling, in no time, time flies away
first to society, second to college
now want to be with my family
but it’s hard ‘cause I’m a father
life ends like this and tears droppin’
my kids look busy, Ah!
lets just take a walk honey
would you go with me


dad I finally know now
how could’ve you lived a life like that
no more don’t be lonely
now let’s go together oh~ oh~~
I want to follow you

 

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What the division caused…

Although some people still clinged to traditionalism, many people in China in the early 1900s wanted to build up their country through modernization and nationalization, since their economy was very much under foreign control. The leading group supporting this idea was the Kuomintang (the Nationalist Party) with Sun Yixian as its leader. His ideals were to build a modern government through nationalism, democracy, and economic stability. But unfortunately, he faced difficulty achieving unity among people throughout the country.

Then came more trouble. Similar as what happened to India, China participated in war against Germany during the World War I. Its aim was to gain the control of their own country, free from the foreign control. But the allies ignored their wish and even gave German-owned lands and rights to Japan instead of China. This was another case of unfair settlements at the Treaty of Versailles which caused bitterness for China. The result was overwhelming for the whole country. Angry demonstrators called for the end of the European imperialists and the protest against Japan.

There’s no doubt at all the Chinese people wanted to establish a secure, powerful, and modernized country out of nationalism. However, they were divided into two conflicting groups with different beliefs- nationalism based on Western democracy, and communism favoring Lenin’s idea of the Soviet Union. Undoubtedly, the two fought brutally against each other. It led into the Shanghai massacre in 1927 in which the nationalists killed most of the communists. Bloody civil war between these two continued from 1930 to 1949.

It is a pity that the difference in beliefs among people of the same nation led into so much violence and destruction. Why couldn’t they be harmonious and be united if they want to build up one powerful nation? Their break-up only came as an opportunity for the outsider, Japan. Since 1890, Japan with its strong military power was eager to build its empire to prove its power to the world.

Japan, no doubt, was canny in taking advantage of the political and social unrest in China and made an attack on it. Their attack started with Manchuria in 1931 and extended to a huge part of China by 1938. I think the Chinese civil war paid too high a price because Japan’s invasion resulted in heavy Chinese casualties, reaching 35 million including both military and non-military, and 95 million refugees. Eventually, the two major forces- Nationalists and Communists, had to stop their war and call a truce to defend against the Japanese. But shouldn’t it have happened much earlier?