S2, Ep 11 D'Annunzio, Lenin and Hitler: Charles Emmerson (1920)

This panoramic episode of Travels Through Time is set in the year 1920. In it the historian Charles Emmerson guides us from the Free State of Fiume to Moscow and the boisterous beer halls of Munich. He shows us a world of volatile post-war politics and introduces us to three unforgettable figures: Gabriele D'Annunzio, Vladimir Lenin and Adolf Hitler.


In the neat and tidy chronology of the classroom, 1920 is often seen as the end of a period of conflict and the start of an entirely new era. But that, argues the historian Charles Emmerson, is a misreading of history.


The Great War might have ended. The Treaty of Versailles might have been signed. But right across Europe the old conflicts continued. In 1920, for instance, there was gorilla war in Ireland, civil war in Russia, a putsch in Germany and there were troops on the Rhineland.


‘The war was not over,’ Emmerson says, ‘it had only fragmented into a million different conflicts and upheavals, cultural and political.’


In this episode Emmerson guides us through the tangled politics of this complex year.


Charles Emmerson is the author of Crucible: The Long End of the Great War and the Birth of a New World, 1917–1924.


Show notes:


  1. The Golden Platypus restaurant (or The Golden Stag) in Fiume. Gabriele D'Annunzio and the Fiume adventure.

  2. The Second Congress of The Communist International (Comintern) in Moscow in the summer of 1920, shortly after the war against Warsaw had begun.

  3. The first floor of Hofbräuhaus beer hall in Munich, which the German Workers Party have hired out for the launch of their new manifesto and where a young Adolf Hitler gives a speech.

Memento: Lenin’s hunting rifle wrapped in a tablecloth once owned by Gabriele D'Annunzio


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Presenter: Artemis Irvine


Guest: Charles Emmerson


Producer: Maria Nolan


Titles: Jon O.


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