There’s a recent book review in the New York Times that starts off by claiming December 5-12 as perhaps the most important week in human history. The week started off with the Germans looking like they would take Moscow. The British were unable to persuade the US and Roosevelt to fully join the War. Then Pearl Harbor, the severe winter, and American chagrin, challenge and charge.
Seems like a good case, but history is long and there have been many wars. So, what other weeks may also lay claim to be the most momentous of all time?
One could as easily claim August 6-15 1945 (Okay, it’s a cheat because it’s 9 days.) The first and last use of atomic bombs in war, Russia declares war and invades Manchuria, and the surrender of Japan, ending World War 2.
Or the third week of June 1919, when the allies sent an ultimatum to Germany to either sign the Treaty of Versailles, the Schneidermann government in Germany collapsed and formally resigned on June 21, and the new German government signed the treaty on June 28.
Taking religion off the table, I would venture a guess that there was a tipping point in evolution where modern man either did, or didn’t thrive and become the dominant species. It’s obviously not in the historical record, however.
Both WWI and WWII trace directly back to the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand on June 28, 1914. Yes, many of the European powers may have been looking for an excuse to start a war, but this was the event that caused it, something odd and unexpected that started Europe down that road.
Has any dated single act had as much effect on the world? The Austro-Hungarian Empire was destroyed. The Ottoman Empire was destroyed. The Communists took over Russia. Much of the world’s boundaries were redrawn by the French and British. Numerous technologies, especially the airplane, were greatly advanced. The Germans, being banned from all other tools of war, started investigating rockets. American money took over the world’s financial structure. The worldwide depression of the 1930s followed the financial ruin of Europe.
And WWI was absolutely the cause of WWII. Many people call them a common war with an interregnum. Hundreds of millions died as a result of that bullet, hundreds of millions had their lives completely upended, hundreds of millions found themselves in different countries bereft and bewildered. Nothing comparable in scope and size exists in history.
Asking for the most momentous week in history is like asking for the best song ever. It depends so much on circumstances that it becomes meaningless. One person will give different answers in the morning and in the evening, different persons will differ even more.
That said, the week the French stormed la Bastille should be there. And the song may be A Day In The Life.
The 1918 flu pandemic must be a contender. Estimated 500 million infected (~1/3 of the world’s population); >50 million died. It took more than a week, but less time than both world wars. Which had a greater momentous effect? Hard to say.
It’s vaguely amusing (to me, easily amused) that by not mentioning the year and the implication it was the recent December, things are kind of reversed.
More recently, it looks like Moscow might take Ukraine and threaten Germany with fuel supply and prices. The US is unable to persuade Britain to join a wars or better unite Europe. The mild winter. America sometimes taking a more isolated role in world affairs. Covid, of Asian origin, challenging the world. Okay, not a very good description. Some days it’s chicken; some days it’s feathers.