Chris Blackburn presented “Securing the Peace: The American Relief Administration in Eastern Europe” Tuesday as part of the School of Humanities commemoration of the 100th year anniversary of WWI.
Blackburn’s presentation took place during his regularly scheduled class periods. Students not taking his course were welcomed to attend.
The presentation focused mainly on the years after what many consider to be the end of WWI in 1919.
Blackburn, an associate professor of history, chose to focus on the years after the war because they are still a part of the war’s history.
“History is not a straight line; it’s not black and white. It’s written in shades of gray, it’s chaotic, and it’s not anything simple,” Blackburn said.
After WWI ended, fighting continued in Eastern Europe through some of the 1920s. Much of Europe had a desperate need for food after the end of the war.
Not only was starvation a threat, but so was the spread of Typhus, a deadly disease spread by lice, and the spread of Bolshevik ideals, or communism.
To prevent the spread of starvation and Typhus, America formed the American Relief Administration, headed by Hebert Hoover.
The ARA sent food into Europe for several years after the end of WWI, and eventually provided equipment to help prevent the spread of Typhus as well.
Adam Novak, a senior secondary education social studies major, said that he had never learned of the subject in school.
“It’s interesting how poor the European countries were after the war,” Novak said.