A History of Eastern Europe

Rated 5 out of 5 by from We learned a lot! The area discussed in the course was relatively unknown to me although we have grandparents from the region. The course was a great overview and inspired us to seek out more information and literature on Eastern Europe. The professor is very knowledgeable and provided a very interesting course.
Date published: 2021-02-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An excellent and insightful course. Dr. Liulevicius took on a herculean task and in approximately 12 hours provided me with knowledge and insights covering hundreds of years of history involving an important area of the world. It was thoroughly enjoyable.
Date published: 2021-01-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Engaging and quite worthwhile I've enjoyed all previous TC courses by Prof. Liulevicius, especially his excellent treatment of World War I, but hesitated about buying this course. I saw from the detailed lecture descriptions that about half of the course is focused on the 20th century today. I saw the Cold War, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the breakup of the Soviet Union, the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, the violence as Yugoslavia unraveled, and more as it happened, on TV. But I'm glad I bought and took the course. I learned a lot about the vast sweep of Eastern Europe and its history before 1850, and even the material from WW I onward was interesting and taught me some new things.
Date published: 2021-01-18
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Strong Leftwing Bias of Prof I knew quite a bit about this area but was looking forward to knowing more. It came as a shock that this prof has powerful biases that distinctly color his historical presentation. Here are just two examples: Serbia: If you read other historians such as C Clark ("Sleepwalkers") Prit Bhuton WWI generally) or Sean McMeeken (Russia & E. Europe) you will come away with the strong impression that it was an aggressive, revanchist, almost fascist country which engaged in ethnic cleansing of minorities from the star to the very end of the 20th century. Prof L, however, presents an almost embarrassing panegyric of little Serbia battling against the mighty Austro-Hungarian Empire. Russia: His course was not even supposed to include a history of Russia. Yet he goes out of his way to describe in detail the 1903 Kishinev pogrom as the distinguishing feature of pre WWI Russia without any mention of the amazing reforms that by 1910 made that country the fastest growing and most dynamic economy in the world. You will learn good stuff from this course but you have to recognize the biases that this prof 'wears on his sleeve.'
Date published: 2020-12-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Binge Worthy I took this course to help me understand the Ukraine in light of the Trump impeachment. I needed historical context and this course delivered. My knowledge of world history is sadly lacking and this course is helping me correct that.
Date published: 2020-12-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Incredible Very impressive course. I do not know anywhere else you can find information on a topic like this. Excellent instructor. I feel like I learned a ton of information about Eastern Europe, some of which friends of mine and I have always wanted to find out. An example would be the origin of the term Ashkenazi and many other things.
Date published: 2020-12-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Eastern Europa I liked it but it jumped to the 1700s too quickly and maybe concentrated on Poland too much. I would have liked to have known more about the ancient and Middle Ages
Date published: 2020-12-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding I I wish I had seen this before last year's trip (2019) to Eastern Europe. All my grandparents came from this area. To understand why they may have immigrated and to travel (so to speak) in their footsteps was moving. I was entertained but I also learned so much! The instructor was excellent and I can't wait to see more from him.
Date published: 2020-12-06
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A History of Eastern Europe
Course Trailer
The Other Europe: Deep Roots of Diversity
1: 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
2: 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
3: 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
4: 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
5: 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
6: 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
7: 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
8: 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
9: 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
Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius

Modernity is a notoriously slippery concept, because, obviously, what is modern now will soon become the past, as time marches relentlessly forward.


University of Pennsylvania


University of Tennessee

About Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius

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

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