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Through the Indian Independence Act of August 15 , they left with immediate effect. This involved the division of the subcontinent along religious lines into the states of India under Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru — , and Pakistan under the founding father Mohammed Ali Jinnah — This process featured extreme violence between Hindus and Muslims which resulted in between The Netherlands failed in its attempt to reclaim Dutch India by violence, and on December 27 the Dutch began their withdrawal from the Indonesian archipelago, due in part to pressure from the United Nations and the USA, which threatened to cancel its assistance to the Netherlands under the Marshall Plan.

France, on the other hand, waged a costly war against the Viet Minh from to in an attempt to maintain its rule in French Indochina.

Their victory over European colonialism made the new Asian states important allies of the territories in Africa which were still under colonial rule and resulted in closer ties between anticolonial forces on the two continents. The conference held in the Indonesian city of Bandung on April , to which Indonesia 's revolutionary icon and first president Ahmed Sukarno — invited delegates from 29 Asian and African state as well as representatives of numerous independence movements, became a key moment. They demanded an immediate end to the practice of colonial rule and pledged support for the campaign to attain this goal.


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The Afro-Asia bloc which formed in Bandung and out of which emerged the Non-Aligned Countries in , became the international diplomatic spearhead in the fight against European colonialism and had its greatest effect in the context of the United Nations. The two largest colonial powers — France and Britain — were also on the retreat in the Middle East, the important continental interface between Africa and Asia.

The final joint attempt of Britain and France to dominate the fate of the region failed in During this period, Egypt became the leader of the Pan-Arab movement under President Gamal Abdel Nasser — and thus the greatest adversary of the two colonial powers. Having first consulted Israel , London and Paris reacted with the military occupation of the Canal Zone on November 5. However, diplomatic pressure from the super powers of USA and the Soviet Union forced them to retreat soon after. The Suez Crisis marked a fundamental turning point which clearly demonstrated the changed reality of global power in the context of the Cold War and clearly signalled the decline of the influence of the colonial powers.

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These signs of the disintegration of European power were not immediately apparent in the African colonies. However, the attempt to further penetrate the region in the context of the "second colonial invasion" was grist for the mill of the anticolonial nationalist movements. In general, the process of decolonization proceeded more slowly in Africa than in Asia, and varied considerably from region to region. They gradually transferred political responsibility to autochthonous elites. This resulted, for example, in a largely peaceful transition to independence in Ghana under Kwame Nkrumah — in However, the situation was completely different in the colonies of "white" settlement in North, Central and East Africa.


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  • Here the European settlers insisted on retaining their racially based minority rule, and demanded that the metropoles provide them with military support to deal with growing African resistance. In the British colony of Kenya and French Algeria, which was even officially part of France, two extremely brutal decolonization wars were fought. There were massive resettlements and internments, systematic torture was employed, and grave war crimes were perpetrated against the indigenous populations, with hundreds of thousands of casulties.

    This escalation of colonial violence and the attendant serious violations of human rights resulted in colonialism — particularly with regard to the Algerian War — being increasingly vociferously condemned in the global media and becoming a central topic on the agenda of international politics. With 17 African colonies obtaining independence in this year — Belgian rule in the Congo 78 also came to an end in this wave — went down in history as the "year of Africa". In this ground-breaking document, the international community strengthened the right of nations to self-determination, while also condemning colonialism as a fundamental violation of human rights, thereby removing all justification for colonialism.

    In his famous address to the South African parliament on February 3 , British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan — referred to these developments as the "wind of change". This wind subsequently swept the remaining vestiges of the European colonial empires from the map of the African continent, with three exceptions: the dictatorship in Portugal continued to cling to its overseas empire, and fought the resistance movements in Angola , Guinea-Bissau and Mozambique with grim determination from onward.

    It was the Portuguese Carnation Revolution of April 25 — the causes of which were deeply rooted in the three anachronistic colonial wars — and the subsequent democratic transformation in the metropole which finally brought an end to the rule of the oldest European colonial power on the African continent in In the Cold War conflict, which left bloody traces in Southern Africa in the form of the Angolan Civil War which mutated into a proxy war, 82 the racialist regime in Pretoria was viewed by Western governments as an anti-Communist bulwark and a valuable ally.

    The Soviet Union played a central role in the process of the dissolution of the European colonial empires by providing — in line with the Marxist-Leninist tradition — massive material and moral support to the anticolonial movement worldwide. The different ethnic groups gathered together in the union were subjected to a deliberate policy of Sovietization , which was intended to establish a common Soviet identity in which the Russian element — with Russian as the lingua franca and Moscow as the centre of power — was dominant.

    The "outer empire" consisted of the states of East Central Europe which had been occupied by the Red Army during the course of the Second World War and which nominally retained their sovereignty and even became independent members of the United Nations. The military alliance of the Warsaw Pact and the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance were institutional manifestations of this bloc formation.

    Attempts to break out of this bloc prompted the imperial centre to intervene militarily, as it did in in the GDR , in in Hungary and in in Czechoslovakia. Moscow underlined its unrestricted leadership role with the Brezhnev Doctrine of , which stated that Soviet interference in the internal affairs of other socialist states was justified if the socialist community as a whole was threatened. The decolonization of the Soviet empire occurred completely unexpectedly.

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    Gaudium et spes

    It occurred between and at a very fast pace and not only fundamentally transformed the situation in the periphery, but also brought down the metropole itself due to the close connection between the "outer" and "inner" empire. He reacted to the desperate economic circumstances in the Soviet Union, which were not least a result of the extremely high military expenditure resulting from the Cold War arms race, with large "reforms from above".

    He did not intend that these reforms would dissolve the Soviet empire. Rather, he wished to consolidate it and point it in a new direction. In the area of foreign policy, Gorbachev's policy of "new thinking" aimed at a rapprochement with the West and peaceful coexistence in a shared "European house". To this end, he reopened direct negotiations with the USA on armaments reduction, announced a unilateral reduction of the number of Soviet troops in the Eastern Bloc states, and brought an end to the bloody Afghanistan War, which had begun in , by completely withdrawing the Red Army.

    This change of direction in foreign policy brought about a fundamental change in the relationship between the Soviet Union and its satellite states of the "outer" empire. Gorbachev now granted these states the free and independent choice of their own political and social system without any form of interference from Moscow in their internal affairs Sinatra Doctrine , which constituted a radical break with the previous foreign policy dogma of the Brezhnev Doctrine.

    With the withdrawal of its "imperial watchman" the Red Army from onward, Moscow increasingly relinquished direct control over the states in Eastern Central Europe, thereby releasing them into complete independence. In the revolutionary year of , the old regimes collapsed in a veritable chain reaction.

    It began with Poland and then Hungary, which was the first state to cut through the Iron Curtain, followed by the peaceful revolution in the GDR and the highly symbolic fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9 By the end of the year, the Communist regimes had also fallen in Czechoslovakia "Velvet Revolution" , in Bulgaria , and — after a violent overthrow — in Romania also. The imperial retreat outside the Soviet Union also undermined central power within the Soviet Union, which was already weakened. The nationalities question which had raised its head during the course of the reforms then ignited in a veritable "explosion of ethnicity" 94 and resulted in bloody confrontations, such as between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

    Revolutionary forces developed here which openly campaigned for secession from the union and demanded independence from Moscow. Lithuania led the way, declaring national independence on March 11 , followed by Latvia May 4 and finally Estonia May 8 Neither limited Soviet military interventions in Tiflis , Baku and Vilnius nor an attempted putsch against Gorbachev by the old Soviet cadres in the summer of were able to stop this process. After the largest Soviet republic the Russian Republic under its president Boris Yeltsin — had expressed its opposition to the maintenance of the old union, the end of the Soviet Union was finally sealed when the red flag of the union was taken down from above the Kremlin on December 25 In Southern Africa, the decolonization of the Soviet empire brought an end to the proxy war in Angola, which had been ongoing since This enabled the former German colony to achieve national independence under the name Namibia.

    In turn, this withdrawal from the conflicts in Angola and Namibia had direct consequences for the "inner decolonization" of South Africa. Total isolation among the international community coupled with enormous internal resistance to Apartheid forced the government under the new president Frederik Willem de Klerk born to negotiate with the African National Congress ANC. With the election of Mandela as the first black president of South Africa on April 27 , the last remaining vestiges of direct white colonial rule on the African continent disappeared.

    South Africa is thus a special case in the history of decolonization. With the attainment of dominion status in and the subsequent gradual achievement of national sovereignty from the British Empire, with the direct effects which the disintegration of the Soviet empire had on it, and with the hard-won transfer of rule from the "white" population to the indigenous population, South Africa combined central elements of the second, third and fourth waves of decolonization. From the lateth century, decolonization was a central defining historical trend, which shaped the global system of states as it exists today through the release of destructive and constructive forces.

    On the one hand, the dissolution of the colonial empires contributed considerably to the end of Europe's centuries-long unchallenged global dominance and to the disintegration of the Eurocentric global order.

    Isolationism

    New non-European global powers, such as the United States, assumed a dominant role and filled the political vacuum. On the other hand, new states came into being on all of the continents, and in many cases adopted a political, social and economic system which was rooted in Europe. In spite of its revolutionary character — with the exception of the second phase — and the obvious breaks with the past, decolonization nonetheless by no means meant that close links between Europe and the rest of the world completely or abruptly disappeared.

    Some Facts about China's Rise

    On the contrary, it was possible in the context of decolonization to restructure and redefine this web of relationships. Dependency relationships which emerged during colonial rule did not simply end with the attainment of "formal" national independence. Instead, previous political and economic asymmetries often persisted in the "informal" context and hampered independent approaches to development in the former "colonized world". Decolonization was not a one-way street. The European continent did not just leave its mark on the "rest of the world" without itself being affected in a lasting way.

    Specifically, the methodological change of perspective brought about by Postcolonial Studies has demonstrated that it was a reciprocal, multidimensional process which left lasting traces in the periphery as well as in the metropole. The historical debates about the various effects of decolonization on the metropole are in full swing and demonstrate how significant the topic is for a European historiography which incorporates the view from outside Europe. Fabian Klose. Adomeit, Hannes et al. Ageron, Charles-Robert: Art. Albrecht, Ulrich: "Revolution", in: Ulrich Albrecht et al.

    Altstadt, Audrey L. Schwartz et al. Andrew, Christopher M. Baines, Gary et al.

    Belarus history

    Barkey, Karen et al. Beissinger, Mark R. Bonn, Julius Moritz: Art. Seligman ed. Leffler et al. Callahan, Michael D. Cole, Juan R. Conrad, Sebastian et al. Conrad, Sebastian: Dekolonisierung in den Metropolen, in: Geschichte und Gesellschaft 37, 2 , pp. Mommsen ed.


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    Brown et al. The American and French revolutions —83 and —99, respectively were both expressions of political nationalism. Later, nationalist movements inspired the Revolutions of on the European continent, the establishment of a unified Italian state in , and the formation of new nation-states in central and eastern Europe after World War I.

    Nationalism is a modern movement. Throughout history people have been attached to their native soil, to the traditions of their parents, and to established territorial authorities; but it was not until the end of the 18th century that nationalism began to be a generally recognized sentiment molding public and private life and one of the great, if not the greatest, single determining factors of modern history. Because of its dynamic vitality and its all-pervading character, nationalism is often thought to be very old; sometimes it is mistakenly regarded as a permanent factor in political behaviour.

    Actually, the American and French revolutions may be regarded as its first powerful manifestations. After penetrating the new countries of Latin America it spread in the early 19th century to central Europe and from there, toward the middle of the century, to eastern and southeastern Europe. At the beginning of the 20th century nationalism flowered in the ancient lands of Asia and Africa.

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    Thus the 19th century has been called the age of nationalism in Europe, while the 20th century has witnessed the rise and struggle of powerful national movements throughout Asia and Africa. The Enlightenment was cosmopolitan in its effort to spread the light of reason, but from the very beginning of the age there were nationalistic tendencies to be seen in varying shades.

    Although Rousseau himself was generally concerned with universal man in such works as….