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Student Movements


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Social or political protests by student groups. Students have played an important part in almost every major revolution of the 19th and 20th centuries. In the early 19th century, the German universities produced student movements (Burschenschaften) supporting German nationalism and opposing the rule of Metternich. In Tsarist Russia students who agitated for liberal reforms were imprisoned, exiled, or executed. In the period between the two World Wars the universities in Germany and Japan had movements supporting mainly right-wing causes and revolutions. After World War II universities in the developing countries often fostered strong nationalist and Marxist movements, while in the 1960s left-wing movements were predominant in many universities and colleges in Europe, the USA, and Japan. The protests at the University of California's Berkeley campus (1964) and the nationwide strike at approximately 200 US campuses (1970) challenged US policy in Vietnam. In Paris, French students and workers joined in the movement (1968) to challenge the de Gaulle regime, while in Japan students acted militantly against the westernization of Japanese society.

Demonstrations by South Korean university students (1987) led to constitutional amendments and the release of political prisoners. Pro-democracy student rallies and hunger strikes in Beijing in 1989 were brutally suppressed by government forces in the Tiananmen Square massacre, which left an estimated 2600 dead and led to the arrest and execution of hundreds more. A series of student demonstrations in Prague in 1989 gained widespread support that led to the downfall of the Czechoslovak communist regime.

Subjects: World History.


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