whats-your-context_smOne of the goals of the History faculty at UMHB is to ensure that our students understand how context effects events. Why does an event happen at a particular time, in a particular way? Major events in history are often associated with a famous, or infamous person. Those events occurred not only because a leader was motivated to act, but also because the context, or the environment, allowed the event to take place. Both positive and negative examples of this abound.

The question often arises why Adolf Hitler was able to rise to power and expand that power by taking over areas of Europe such as Austria. Hitler was known as a charismatic speaker and certainly had personal motivations for his actions, but why did European leaders not block this early extension of power? In part, Hitler could make reference to known and accepted ideas. During the Paris Peace Conference, Austria asked to be united with Germany. This request was denied, but everyone in Europe knew about it. Hitler also pointed to the accepted idea of self-determination, the concept that people of similar culture, language and history should be able to come together as a state. The Austrians were, after all, of Germanic heritage. Hitler also held a plebiscite, first in Austrian and then in Germany. The vote was overwhelmingly for union. It should be noted that the circumstances under which the vote was taken in Austria virtually guaranteed that outcome, but the vote was an official record. Significant European states were also predisposed against intervention. The United Kingdom and France had barely started the slow process of recovery from the worst years of the Great Depression. Italy shared a fascist political orientation and totalitarian approach to government. The Soviet Union used this action as another example of capitalist imperialism. All of these factors created the context in which Hitler was able to absorb Austria.

All important decisions have a context, including your decision to come to UMHB.

You may choose to be here because it is a family tradition, friends are also attending, or perhaps because all of your siblings attended a different institution. UMHB may be close enough that your parents find it acceptable, while at the same time being far enough away for you to feel independent. Your decision to come to UMHB may have been influenced by the institution’s emphasis on missions, offering a specific major, or providing a scholarship. The context for each person and each decision is different. So, what’s your context?