Dr John Paul Newman

Curriculum Vitae


Dr John Paul Newman has completed PhD at the University of Southampton, on Croatia and the transition from Austria-Hungary to Yugoslavia (supervised by Professor Mark Cornwall). From 2008 until 2011 he has a post-doctoral fellow at the Centre for War Studies, University College Dublin. Since 2011 he has held the positiopn of Lecturer in Twentieth-Century European History at National University of Ireland, Maynooth; He has published on paramilitary violence and the legacy of war in the Balkans, and is the author of Yugoslavia in the Shadow of the First World War: War Veterans and the Limits of South Slav State-building, 1918-1941 (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming).


Research project at the Kolleg


I am working on an analytical overview of communist revolution and counter-revolution in Europe, with a chronological focus is 1917-1923, the period of the so-called 'Red Wave'. For many Europeans, socialist revolution offered a means of ending an exhausting and costly war, and in this respect it represented a rival utopia to the one proposed by American president Woodrow Wilson at the beginning of 1918. But just as it has been in Russia itself, the revolutionary promise of 'no more war' ignited instead a renewed phase of conflict: the clash between revolution and counter-revolution overlapped and prolonged the final stages of a long, total war, and it contributed to the drastic transformations in the political and social landscape of Europe. The 'Red Wave' and the period of revolution and counter-revolution created a new political mobilization across the continent, filling the political and ideological vacuum left at the end of the Great War by the disintegration of continental empires. 1917-1923 thus marks the real beginning of the era of mass politics in many parts of Europe, and the opening of the twentieth century's 'age of extremes'. The violent confrontations of this period throughout Europe set the precedent for the zero sum political and ideological equations that would undermine democratic and liberal politics in the following decades. My research is divided into three sections. It begins with the origins of both revolution and counter-revolution inside revolutionary Russia itself, showing how soldiers and POW's of the Great War became caught up in the revolution and fighting in the east. The second, main section of the article shows how revolution and counter-revolution played out in war-torn Europe itself during 1917-1923. It charts the peasant unrest in central Europe during 1917-1918, the revolutions and counter-revolutions of 1918-1919 in Berlin, Bavaria, Hungary (including the interventions of Romanian and Czechoslovakian armies), and Slovakia, the conflicts against Bolshevik forces in Poland and the Baltics during 1919-1921, through to the failed communist revolt in Bulgaria in 1923, the point commonly considered the passing of the 'Red Wave' in Europe. The final section presents an 'epilogue' in which the period of revolution and counter-revolution is closed and the Wilsonian settlement is consolidated throughout the continent. But just as revolution and civil war created a militarized and radicalized political culture in the Soviet Union, so the battles between revolutionary and counter-revolutionary forces in Europe during 1917-1923 polarized politics into oppositional and confrontational blocks. The spectre of revolution continued to loom large in the political imaginary of the right in Europe throughout the interwar period. Indeed, it was often evoked as a means of enforcing repressive legislation, or for the justification of a rightwards course in national politics. The period of revolution and counter-revolution therefore drastically undermined liberal political institutions throughout Europe, creating a powerful impulse towards the authoritarian or radical right until the beginning of the Second World War.


Main areas of research


  • Eastern Europe
  • Balkans
  • Yugoslavia
  • First World War
  • State-forming in the interwar period



Positions and Memberships


  • Associate Editor, First World War Studies
  • Member of international editorial board, Časopis za suvremenu povijest (The Journal of Contemporary History), Historical Institute, Zagreb
  • Member of the Centre for the Study of Wider Europe, Maynooth 
  • Member of the British Association for Slavonic and Eastern European Studies
  • Member of the American Association for Slavonic, East European, and Eurasian Studies
  • Member of the Irish Association for Russian, Central, and East European Studies
  • Member of the Society for First World War Studies