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A History of Eastern Europe

Experience the astounding history of one of the world's most fascinating places, in this course that explains the complicated context of Eastern Europe.
A History of Eastern Europe is rated 4.8 out of 5 by 267.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great course Well-researched course - history of Bloodlines in nutshell.
Date published: 2024-06-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Focus is on recent history of the region This well executed course tells the overarching story of how Eastern European peoples and countries have been dominated by a succession of empires through the ages (from imperial Russia to Prussia to imperial Germany to Austria-Hungary to the Ottoman Empire to Nazi Germany to Communist Soviet Union), their resistance movements, and shift to joining western Europe as independent nations. Specifically the following were covered in various degrees: o Albania o Bosnia and Herzegovina o Bulgaria o Bohemia/Czechoslovakia o Estonia o Hungary o Kosovo o Latvia o Lithuania o Montenegro o Poland o Romania o Serbia/Yugoslavia o Ukraine Additionally, there is a lot of Germany and Russian history included considering how intertwined they are with this region. The following lectures were of top caliber and are critical to understanding how Eastern Europe developed: 2 (people migrations and religion) 3 (Middle Ages to early modern age) 10 (Nazi Germany and Communist Russia’s nonaggression pact’s impact on eastern Europe) 19 (fall of Communism) Two main negatives from my perspective: The structure/length of the course and the focus primarily on recent times. It is understandable that a course of this size will be unable to do justice to the rich histories of all of the individual peoples and nations of the region, yet too many times it felt like to understand a specific country’s full history you would have to piece together a 30 second to one minute clip in one lecture about that country with another 30 second tidbit in another lecture and so on. A better approach might have been a slightly longer course and a few individual lectures dedicated entirely to individual nations (even if those are split up into different lectures by time period) to complement the overall historical narrative of Eastern Europe as a whole which is required to understand big picture concepts. All of the hopping around across the various regions can be dizzying at times. From a time period perspective the course is heavy World War I on. Would have liked to gain greater insight into the medieval and early modern political histories of some of these countries. However, my overall impression of the course is positive. Professor Liulevicius delivers again. There is a lot to learn here (how many in the west know about the Baltic war of resistance post World War II?) and this course would serve as a great complement to the professor's "War, Peace, and, Power - Diplomatic History of Europe, 1500-2000" which focuses on Western Europe. I would recommend both without hesitation.
Date published: 2024-05-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Superb, eye-opening course I didn't really know much about the history of Eastern Europe until I listened to this course. It is an outstanding course. Several things make it superb: Dr. Liulevicius provides a framework for understanding the long, complcated history of these regions; He has a nice mix of "stories" and "facts" and he has many entertaining, period jokes that beautifully illustrate the points he wishes to make. This course whetted my appetite to learn more about this region, helped me understand the importance of these countries and understand the current political movements in them. I originally listened to the audio, but now have purchases the video to watch and listen again.
Date published: 2024-04-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Course with a Dynamic Professor We began this course not knowing much but the basics of Eastern European History. We ended the course with a better understanding and appreciation of the region and with greater sympathy for the people who, through the centuries, have endured conflict and loss of identity. We would love to hear Professor Liulevicius' comments on the current conflict between Russia and Ukraine which he alluded to in one of his final lectures.
Date published: 2024-03-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great course! This is an excellent course! Professor is obviously one of the popular academics in Wondrium, and this course like his other courses academically inclined, detail oriented and well articulated for novices and experts alike. I would recommend this course for any history buffs, geopolitics buffs, and generally learners of historical storytelling. Also, it is always recommended to take Prof. Liulevicious's other courses connected to Eastern Europe history. Thanks!
Date published: 2024-02-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great scholarship presented in an engaging manner I was impressed with the breath and depth of the scholarship. The presentation was always engaging and made me eager for the next lecture. After the last section I felt I had learned much about the topic and encouraged me to study it further. I would take any course by Prof. Liulevicius.
Date published: 2023-09-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from fascinating and enthralling listening experience I came across this through library via Libby. It is such a fascinating and enthralling listening experience. The narrator/professor is a passionate and skillful story-teller, combined with academic rigor. I wish this work of art can be more broadly known and enjoyed!
Date published: 2023-08-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Eye-opening This is a fantastic course. I did not know how little I new about the history of Eastern Europe. The professor is excellent, and teaches with passion.
Date published: 2023-08-13
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Experience the astounding history of one of the world's most fascinating places-and fill in a critical gap in your understanding of the globe. Uncover waves of migration and invasion, battles over the formation and dissolution of nations, and struggles for self-rule and self-identification that form the captivating story of this region. This survey gives you the historical context to understand Eastern Europe today.


Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius

To study the deepest impulses in human nature, we see the lure of wealth and conquest, the deep-seated urge for fame and glory, the quest for higher ends, a basic human determination.


University of Tennessee

Dr. Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius is Lindsay Young Professor of History and Director of the Center for the Study of War and Society at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He earned his B.A. from the University of Chicago and his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. After receiving his doctorate, Dr. Liulevicius served as a postdoctoral research fellow at the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford University. Professor Liulevicius has won many awards and honors, including the University of Tennessee's Excellence in Teaching Award and a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship. At the university he teaches courses on modern German history, Western civilization, European diplomatic history, Nazi Germany, World War I, war and culture, 20th-century Europe, nationalism, and utopian thought. Dr. Liulevicius has published numerous articles and two books: War Land on the Eastern Front: Culture, National Identity, and German Occupation in World War I and The German Myth of the East, 1800 to the Present.

Professor Liulevicius participated in The Great Courses Professor Chat series. Read the chat to learn more about diplomacy and war

By This Professor

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A History of Eastern Europe
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The Secret World of Espionage
Communism in Power: From Stalin to Mao
A History of Eastern Europe


The Other Europe: Deep Roots of Diversity

01: The Other Europe: Deep Roots of Diversity

Begin your course with a geographic overview of Eastern Europe, a region that begins at the Baltic Sea in the north and spans 20 countries to the Black Sea in the south. Here, Professor Liulevicius introduces you to the key themes of this course: Eastern Europe's remarkable diversity, it shifting borders, and its separateness from - and connections with - the West.

30 min
Formative Migrations: Mongols to Germans

02: Formative Migrations: Mongols to Germans

Examine the many waves of people who settled Eastern Europe during the ancient and medieval worlds. Ethnic groups including Germanic tribes, Slavic peoples, the Vikings, the Mongols, and many more created a diversity of language and culture. Meanwhile, the mix of Christians, Jews, and Muslims led to the region's first political strife - and laid the groundwork for the modern era.

31 min
Clashing Golden Ages, 1389–1772

03: Clashing Golden Ages, 1389–1772

Continue your study of Eastern Europe's development with a look at several decisive battles, including the Battle of Kosovo and the Battle of Tannenberg. You'll see how these battles were transformed into legends-and were also key turning points for the region's political landscape. Witness the creation of a united Poland-Lithuania, as well as the rise of modern empires in Prussia, Austria, and Ru...

30 min
The Great Crime of Empires: Poland Divided

04: The Great Crime of Empires: Poland Divided

The combined nation of Poland and Lithuania was a powerful force in the 18th century - and its dissolution is one of the great crimes of the modern era. Civil strife provided the pretext for neighboring empires to swoop in and annex the nation. Consider the results of this partition and the political problem that would plague the region for the next century.

31 min
The Origins of Nationalism, 1815–1863

05: The Origins of Nationalism, 1815–1863

Glide into the age of Romanticism, when poets surpassed politicians in setting national agendas. In this lecture, after considering the distinction between civil and ethnic nationalism, you'll study a number of 19th-century revolutions that swept across the region - and reflect how defeat in these revolutions paved the way for empires.

31 min
The Age of Empires, 1863–1914

06: The Age of Empires, 1863–1914

After poetic romanticism failed to produce a new world order, conservative politicians co-opted nationalism in support of empire building. Review the stirrings of nationalism within the Russian, German, and Austrian empires. Then turn to emerging political ideologies that laid the foundation for the world wars of the 20th century.

30 min
Jewish Life in the Shtetl

07: Jewish Life in the Shtetl

The story of the shtetl - small Jewish towns once found throughout Eastern Europe - has been significantly lost to history due to the crimes of the 20th century. Here, Professor Liulevicius reconstructs what we know about the vibrant life in these communities and how it connects to modern Jewish culture.

30 min
World War I: Destruction and Rebirth

08: World War I: Destruction and Rebirth

Examine the First World War from the very different vantage of Eastern Europe. Whereas the West's view of the Great War is one of indecision and stalemate, the war in the East was one of movement - and perhaps even a cause for celebration as the old empires were destroyed, giving room for the creation of new states such as an independent Poland, among others.

29 min
From Democrats to Dictators, 1918–1939

09: From Democrats to Dictators, 1918–1939

After the guns fell silent in Western Europe, border wars and the fight for self-determination continued in the East. Take a look at the major events after World War I, including the little-known Soviet-Polish war, forcible population exchanges throughout the region, and the rise of dictators.

30 min
Caught between Hitler and Stalin

10: Caught between Hitler and Stalin

The Nazi-Soviet Pact is one of the most perplexing occurrences in modern history. Examine this uneasy alliance and how it accommodated Hitler's and Stalin's plans for expansion in the 1930s and 1940s. See how borders were redrawn yet again as Germany and the Soviet Union invaded neighboring countries.

29 min
World War II: The Unfamiliar Eastern Front

11: World War II: The Unfamiliar Eastern Front

Continue your study of World War II from the Eastern European perspective. Here, you'll see how Hitler caught Stalin off guard with a surprise attack, causing the Soviet Union to join the Allies. Nevertheless, Stalin had his own plans to expand the Soviet sphere of influence. Meanwhile, in the Balkans, communist partisans had other ideas.

31 min
The Holocaust and the Nazi Racial Empire

12: The Holocaust and the Nazi Racial Empire

The sheer number of casualties in the Holocaust defies the imagination. In this lecture, Professor Liulevicius guides you through this troubling history. You'll learn about German goals and actions, Nazi collaborators who helped produce the Holocaust, and resistance from within the Jewish community and in the world at large.

30 min
Postwar Flight and Expulsion

13: Postwar Flight and Expulsion

After the war, the West saw a measure of stability, whereas Eastern Europe was chaotic as displaced populations and refugees shifted among new political territories in the wake of the Yalta and Potsdam conferences. Witness the travails of some of these populations, including ethnic Germans, refugees from Soviet rule, and Jews who couldn't return to their former communities.

30 min
Behind the Iron Curtain, 1945–1953

14: Behind the Iron Curtain, 1945–1953

In this lecture, Professor Liulevicius sets the stage for the next 40 years of Eastern European history. Go behind the Iron Curtain to examine how Stalin exerted control - and how countries such as Yugoslavia were able to resist. In the years after World War II, the battle lines were drawn for the emerging Cold War.

31 min
Forest Brothers: Baltic Partisan Warfare

15: Forest Brothers: Baltic Partisan Warfare

Find out about a fascinating conflict largely unknown today. The Baltic Forest War raged in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania for many years after World War II. Learn about the guerrilla fighters who hid in the forests and attacked Soviet security forces - and then examine the Soviet tactics to stop them.

29 min
Life in Totalitarian Captivity, 1953–1980

16: Life in Totalitarian Captivity, 1953–1980

Go inside daily life in Eastern Europe during the peak of the Cold War. After reviewing the dire economy, Professor Liulevicius delves into the apparatus of state control. Find out how secret police forces such as the East German Stasi and the Romanian Securitate oppressed ordinary citizens through surveillance and a culture of fear.

31 min
Power of the Powerless: Revolts and Unrest

17: Power of the Powerless: Revolts and Unrest

As the Cold War continued, Soviet forces tightened their grip on Eastern European countries, yet dissident voices emerged. In East Germany, Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia, witness the revolt of proletarian workers and see how writers used secret publications and the power of the pen to protest totalitarianism.

30 min
Solidarity in Poland: Walesa’s Union

18: Solidarity in Poland: Walesa’s Union

The beginnings of the end of Eastern European communism came with the firing of a shipyard worker in Gdansk, which led to a workers uprising and the founding of the Solidarity political movement. Dive into these exciting events, from rebellion to state crackdown, and meet some of the key players who altered the course of history.

28 min
Toppling Idols: The Communist Collapse

19: Toppling Idols: The Communist Collapse

The fall of the Berlin Wall and the breakup of the Soviet Union are two of the most iconic moments in modern history. Trace the events leading up to these moments, from the newly free elections in Poland to the botched press release in East Germany that led to the opening of borders.

31 min
The Turn: The Post-Soviet 1990s

20: The Turn: The Post-Soviet 1990s

Take an archaeological tour of Eastern Europe in the wake of the communist collapse. After considering the region's tattered economy, you'll look at some of the secrets that emerged with the fall of the USSR and the release of Stasi files. Then consider the shift of identity that took place thanks to redrawn borders and new national entities.

30 min
Yugoslav Wars: Milosevic and Balkan Strife

21: Yugoslav Wars: Milosevic and Balkan Strife

In the 1990s, Yugoslavia erupted into a brutal civil war between many different ethnic groups, including Serbs, Croats, and Bosnian Muslims. Unpack the many sides of this conflict, from its origins to ethnic cleansing and genocide to the country's breakup into separate countries. Examine the world's response to this crisis.

31 min
The New Europe: Joining NATO and the EU

22: The New Europe: Joining NATO and the EU

Despite the breakup of the Soviet Union, NATO continued to exist, and began admitting newly liberated Eastern European countries into the organization. Reflect on Eastern Europe's place in the western world and what joining NATO and the European Union means for the region. You'll also explore Russia's role in the post-Soviet world.

29 min
The Unfolding Ukraine-Russia Crisis

23: The Unfolding Ukraine-Russia Crisis

Survey the recent crisis in Ukraine and see how the origins of this conflict stem from the last hundred years of the region's history, which is rife with skirmishes and shifting borders. After providing the historical context, Professor Liulevicius explains the ins and outs of the current crisis, including ethnic divisions within Ukraine and Russia's attitude toward former Soviet territory.

32 min
Eastern Europe at the Crossroads

24: Eastern Europe at the Crossroads

In this final lecture, you'll revisit the four key themes running through this course and consider whether they still remain true of Eastern Europe today. Look at the region's economy, politics, ethnicities, and relationships to Western Europe to consider the current state of Eastern Europe and what the future may hold.

32 min