Tag Archives: Wir sind das Volk!

Under Siege: The Berlin Blockade and Airlift

If there is one city to tell the history of the 20th century, it is Berlin. In 1900, it was the heart of imperial Germany, then turned itself into the seat of power of the new German republic after World War I (and the place-to-be for the avantgarde of the Roaring 1920s). The Nazis hated the tolerant, left-leaning Berlin and planned to rebuild it into the “World Capital Germania” once they had won the war. Those megalomaniac visions were shattered by the Soviet Army conquering Berlin in the single largest land battle in history at the end of World War II. During the Cold War, the divided Berlin was the focal point of confrontation between East and West. Finally, Berlin was re-united again in 1989/90. This article will tell the story of how the city became divided 70 years ago, why that was the better option (at least for one half of the city), and what that meant for the future of the city and the Cold War. As always, we’ll have a look at how board games represent our historical topic throughout the article, but there’s also a special section exclusively dealing with them.

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A Magic May? (1968, #2)

1968 was a year of upheaval all over the globe. We’ve already seen what was going on in the Americas. This article is going to cover Western Europe. Most countries there have seen their own 1968 protests, but we’ll focus on two dramatic cases here: West Germany and France show the universal and the country-specific aspects of the upheavals well – and both of them are covered well in board games. Wir sind das Volk! (Richard Sivél/Peer Sylvester, Histogame) has all the German history of the Cold War and places a strong focus on social movements and unrest. Mai ’68 – Le jeu (François Nedelec/Duccio Vitale, La Folie Douce) deals specifically with the protests of May 1968 in Paris.

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Towards a Bipolar World: The Marshall Plan

Seventy years ago, the Cold War had just begun. World War II had just ended. But how did the Cold War begin, and what did it have to do with World War II? Was it a natural consequence, inevitable even? We’ll explore some of these questions through the lens of a major event that linked World War II and Cold War: The Marshall Plan.

Today, the Marshall Plan is often forgotten or simply remembered as a foreign aid scheme (mostly when its memory is invoked for new programs like a “Global Marshall Plan”). We will, however, not only look at what the Marshall Plan was and which effect it had for rebuilding the European economy, but also at its implications for US influence in Europe, and how and why American and Soviet treatment of Europe differed so sharply. We’ll use two board games to have a closer look at these things: Twilight Struggle (Ananda Gupta/Jason Matthews, GMT Games) and Wir sind das Volk! including the 2+2 expansion (Richard Sivél/Peer Sylvester, Histogame).

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The Military Bubble – And How to Find Out of It

Wargaming is one of the traditional sub-sections of boardgaming. It’s not hard to see why. By definition, games need to be interactive (that is, the game state changes according to the actions of the players, in contrast to, say, a puzzle) and provide struggle (that is, non-trivial effort is required to achieve the goals). Conflict between players provides amply for both, and one of the prime kinds of conflict is that of a military nature. Games with a historical theme are no exception, depicting wars from antiquity to our age. However, the popularity of wars and military conflict as a subject for historical games is not without problems. It overshadows other areas of human enterprise (and conflict). In addition, many wargames present a de-contextualized version of war. Therefore, it’s easy to live within a military bubble as a gamer. This article will explore these problems, but also look at the solutions already being implemented to deal with it.

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Farewell 2017!

My dear readers,
The year is coming to its close. I’ll have a look back on its contents in history and gaming from a strictly personal perspective – what I enjoyed this year. Since I tend to be a bit behind the times (as befits the historian) there are not a lot of new releases (in any category) here, but maybe you’ll find some older gems. So, without further ado, here are some good historical board games, non-historical board games, historical non-fiction books, and historical novels. As a bonus, there are three of my favorite posts from this blog in 2017 as well. I’ll highlight one of them as the winner in each category. Continue reading

Willy Brandt and Ostpolitik

25 years ago on this day, former West German chancellor Willy Brandt died. He had lived a remarkable life that spanned most of the 20th century – and his biography can almost be read as a history of the 20th century in the industrialized world. This article will shine some light on Brandt’s life in the age of extremes and then discuss his foreign policy from the perspective of board games.
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