Section 1: Postwar Uncertainty- The horrors of World War I shattered the Enlightenment belief that progress would continue and reason would prevail. In the postwar period, people began questioning traditional beliefs. They challenged the way people looked at the world. As society became more open, women demanded more rights, and young people adopted new values.
A. A New Revolution in Science- The ideas of famous scientists had a big impact on the 20th century. They were very important people.
1. Impact of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity-German-born physicist Albert Einstein offered startling new ideas on space, time, energy, and matter. Scientists had found that light travels at exactly the same speed no matter what direction it moves in relation to earth. In 1905, Einstein theorized that while the speed of light is constant, other things that seem constant, such as space and time, are not. Relative motion is key in the theory or relativity.
2. Influence of Freudian Psychology- The ideas of Austrian physician Sigmund Freud were as revolutionary as Einstein’s. Freud treated patients with psychological problems. From his experiences, he constructed a theory about the human mind. He believed that much of human behavior is irrational, or beyond reason. He called the irrational part of the mind the unconscious. In the unconscious, a number of drives existed, especially pleasure-seeking drives, of which the conscious mind was unaware.
B. Literature in the 1920s- The brutality of World War I caused philosophers and writers to question accepted ideas about reason and progress. Disillusioned by the war, many people also feared the future and expressed doubts about traditional religious beliefs. In 1921, the Irish poet William Butler Yeats conveyed a sense of dark times ahead in the poem “The Second Coming”: “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; / Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.”
1. Writers Reflect Society’s Concerns- s The horror of war made a deep impression on many writers. The Czech-born author Franz Kafka wrote eerie novels such as The Trial (1925) and The Castle (1926). His books put people in situations that they could not escape. Many novels showed the influence of Freud’s theories on the unconscious. The Irish-born author James Joyce gained widespread attention with his stream-of consciousness novel Ulysses.
2. Thinkers React to Uncertainties- In their search for meaning in an uncertain world, some thinkers turned to the philosophy known as existentialism. A major leader of this movement was the philosopher Jean Paul Sartre of France. The existentialists were influenced by the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche.
C. Revolution in the Arts- Although many of the new directions in painting and music began in the prewar period, they evolved after the war.
1. Artists Rebel Against Tradition- Artists rebelled against earlier realistic styles of painting. They wanted to depict the inner world of emotion and imagination rather than show realistic representations of objects. Expressionist painters like Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky used bold colors and distorted or exaggerated forms. Surrealism, an art movement that sought to link the world of dreams with real life, was inspired by Freud’s ideas. The term surreal means “beyond or above reality.” Surrealists tried to call on the unconscious part of their minds.
2. Composers Try New Styles- In both classical and popular music, composers moved away from traditional styles. In his ballet masterpiece, The Rite of Spring, the Russian composer Igor Stravinsky used irregular rhythms and dissonances, or harsh combinations of sound. A new popular musical style called jazz emerged in the United States. It was developed by musicians, mainly African Americans, in New Orleans, Memphis and Chicago.
D. Society Challenges Convention- World War I had disrupted traditional social patterns. New ideas and ways of life led to a new kind of individual freedom during the 1920s. Young people especially were willing to break with the past and experiment with modern values.
1. Women’s Roles Change - The independent spirit of the times showed clearly in the changes women were making in their lives. The war had allowed women to take on new roles. Women abandoned restrictive clothing and hairstyles. They wore shorter, looser garments and had their hair “bobbed,” or cut short. They also wore makeup, drove cars, and drank and smoked in public. Although most women still followed traditional paths of marriage and family, a growing number spoke out for greater free dom in their lives.
D. Technological Advances Improve Life- During World War I, scientists developed new drugs and medical treatments that helped millions of people in the postwar years.
1. The Automobile Alters Society- The automobile benefited from a host of wartime innovations and improvements—electric starters, air-filled tires, and more powerful engines. Cars were now sleek and brightly polished, complete with headlights and chrome-plated bumpers. By 1937, the British were producing 511,000 autos a year.
2. Airplanes Transform Travel- International air travel became an objective after the war. In 1919, two British pilots made the first successful flight across the Atlantic from Newfoundland to Ireland. In 1927, an American pilot named Charles Lindbergh captured world attention with a 33-hour solo flight from New York to Paris.
3. Radio and Movies Dominate Popular Entertainment- Guglielmo Marconi conducted his first successful experiments with radio in 1895. However, the real push for radio development came during World War I. Motion pictures were also a major industry in the 1920s. Many countries, from Cuba to Japan, produced movies. In Europe, film was a serious art form. However, in the Hollywood district of Los Angeles, where 90 percent of all films were made movies were entertainment. The advances in transportation and communication that followed the war had brought the world in closer touch. Global prosperity came to depend on the economic well-being of all major nations, especially the United States.
Section 2: A Worldwide Depression- By the late 1920s, European nations were rebuilding war torn economies. They were aided by loans from the more prosperous United States.
A. Postwar Europe- In both human suffering and economic terms, the cost of World War I was immense. The Great War left every major European country nearly bankrupt. In addition Europe’s domination in world affairs declined after the war.
1. Unstable New Democracies- War’s end saw the sudden rise of new democracies. From 1914 to 1918, Europe’s last absolute rulers had been overthrown. The first of the new governments was formed in Russia in 1917. Many citizens of the new democracies had little experience with representative government. When no single party won a majority, a coalition government, or temporary alliance of several parties, was needed to form a parliamentary majority. Because the parties disagreed on so many policies, coalitions seldom lasted very long. Frequent changes in government made it hard for democratic countries to develop strong leadership and move toward long-term goals.
B. The Weimar Republic- Germany’s new democratic government was set up in 1919. Known as the Weimar Republic, it was named after the city where the national assembly met. The Weimar Republic had serious weaknesses from the start. Worst of all, millions of Germans blamed the Weimar government, not their wartime leaders, for the country’s defeat and postwar humiliation caused by the Versailles Treaty.
1. Inflation Causes Crisis in Germany- Germany also faced enormous economic problems that had begun during the war After Germany’s defeat, this paper money steadily lost its value. Germans needed more and more money to buy even the most basic goods For example, in Berlin a loaf of bread cost less than a mark in 1918, more than 160 marks in 1922, and some 200 billion marks by late 1923.
2. Attempts at Economic Stability- Germany recovered from the 1923 inflation thanks largely to the work of an international committee. The committee was headed by Charles Dawes, an American banker. By 1929, German factories were producing as much as they had before the war.
3. Efforts at a Lasting Peace- As prosperity returned, Germany’s foreign minister, Gustav Stresemann and France’s foreign minister, Aristide Briand tried to improve relations between their countries. In 1928, the hopes raised by the “spirit of Locarno” led to the Kellogg-Briand peace pact. Frank Kellogg, the U.S. Secretary of State, arranged this agreement with France’s Briand. Almost every country in the world, including the Soviet Union, signed. They pledged “to renounce war as an instrument of national policy.” Nonetheless, the peace agreements seemed a good start.
C. Financial Collapse- In the late 1920s, American economic prosperity largely sustained the world economy. If the U.S. economy weakened, the whole world’s economic system might collapse. In 1929, it did.
1. A Flawed U.S. Economy- Despite prosperity, several weaknesses in the U.S economy caused serious problems. By 1929, American factories were turning out nearly half of the world’s industrial goods. The rising productivity led to enormous profits. However, this new wealth was not evenly distributed. The richest 5 percent of the population received 33 percent of all personal income in 1929. Yet 60 percent of all American families earned less than $2,000 a year. Thus, most families were too poor to buy the goods being produced. During the 1920s, overproduction affected American farmers as well. Unable to sell their crops at a profit, many farmers could not pay off the bank loans that kept them in business.
2. The Stock Market Crashes- s In 1929, New York City’s Wall Street was the financial capital of the world. Banks and investment companies lined its sidewalks. At Wall Street’s New York Stock Exchange, optimism about the booming U.S. economy showed in soaring prices for stocks. To get in on the boom, many middle-income people began buying stocks on margin.
D. The Great Depression- People could not pay the money they owed on margin purchases. Stocks they had bought at high prices were now worthless. Within months of the crash, unemployment rates began to rise as industrial production, prices, and wages declined. A long business slump, which would come to be called the Great Depression, followed. By 1933, one-fourth of all American workers had no jobs.
1. A Global Depression- The collapse of the American economy sent shock waves around the world. Worried American bankers demanded repayment of their overseas loans, and American investors withdrew their money from Europe. The American market for European goods dropped sharply as the U.S. Congress placed high tariffs on imported goods so that American dollars would stay in the United States and pay for American goods. This policy backfired.
2. Effects Throughout the World- Because of war debts and dependence on American loans and investments, Germany and Austria were particularly hard hit. In 1931, Austria’s largest bank failed. In Asia, both farmers and urban workers suffered as the value of exports fell by half between 1929 and 1931. The crash was felt heavily in Latin America as well.
E. The World Confronts the Crisis- The Depression confronted democracies with a serious challenge to their economic and political systems.
1. Britain Takes Steps to Improve Its Economy- The Depression hit Britain severely. To meet the emergency, British voters elected a multiparty coalition known as the National Government. It passed high protective tariffs, increased taxes, and regulated the currency. It also lowered interest rates to encourage industrial growth.
2. France Responds to Economic Crisis- Unlike Britain, France had a more self sufficient economy. In 1930, it was still heavily agricultural and less dependent on foreign trade. Nevertheless, by 1935, one million French workers were unemployed. Unfortunately, price increases quickly offset wage gains. Unemployment remained high. Yet France also preserved democratic government.
3. Socialist Governments Find Solutions-The Socialist governments in the Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway also met the challenge of economic crisis successfully. They built their recovery programs on an existing tradition of cooperative community action. In Sweden, the government sponsored massive public works projects that kept people employed and producing.
4. Recovery in the United States- In 1932, in the first presidential election after the Depression had begun, U.S. voters elected Franklin D. Roosevelt. His confident manner appealed to millions of Americans who felt bewildered by the Depression. On March 4, 1933, the new president sought to restore Americans’ faith in their nation. Roosevelt immediately began a program of government reform that he called the New Deal. Large public works projects helped to provide jobs for the unemployed. New government agencies gave financial help to businesses and farms.
Section 3- Fascism Rises in Europe- Many democracies, including the United States, Britain, and France, remained strong despite the economic crisis caused by the Great Depression. However, millions of people lost faith in democratic government. In response, they turned to an extreme system of government called fascism.
A. Fascism’s Rise in Italy- Fascism was a new, militant political movement that emphasized loyalty to the state and obedience to its leader. Unlike communism, fascism had no clearly defined theory or program. Nevertheless, most Fascists shared several ideas. They preached an extreme form of nationalism, or loyalty to one’s country. Fascists believed that nations must struggle—peaceful states were doomed to be conquered. They pledged loyalty to an authoritarian leader who guided and brought order to the state. In each nation, Fascists wore uniforms of a certain color, used special salutes, and held mass rallies.
1. Mussolini Takes Control- Fascism’s rise in Italy was fueled by bitter disappointment over the failure to win large territorial gains at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. Rising inflation and unemployment also contributed to widespread social unrest.
2. Il Duce’s Leadership - Mussolini was now Il Duce or the leader. He abolished democracy and outlawed all political parties except the Fascists. Secret police jailed his opponents. Government censors forced radio stations and publications to broadcast or publish only Fascist doctrines. Mussolini outlawed strikes.
B. Hitler Rises to Power in Germany- When Mussolini became dictator of Italy in the mid-1920s, Adolf Hitler was a little-known political leader whose early life had been marked by disappointment. When World War I broke out, Hitler found a new beginning.
1. The Rise of the Nazis- At the end of the war, Hitler settled in Munich. In 1919, he joined a tiny right-wing political group. This group shared his belief that Germany had to overturn the Treaty of Versailles and combat communism. The group later named itself the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, called Nazi for short. Its policies formed the German brand of fascism known as Nazism.
C. Hitler Becomes Chancellor The Nazis had become the largest political party by 1932. Conservative leaders mistakenly believed they could control Hitler and use him for their purposes. In January 1933, they advised President Paul von Hindenburg to name Hitler chancellor. Thus Hitler came to power legally. Soon after, General Erich Ludendorff, a former Hitler ally, wrote to Hindenburg.
1. The Führer Is Supreme- Hitler wanted more than just economic and political power—he wanted control over every aspect of German life. To shape public opinion and to win praise for his leadership, Hitler turned the press, radio, literature, painting, and film into propaganda tools.
2. Hitler Makes War on the Jews - Hatred of Jews, or anti-Semitism, was a key part of Nazi ideology. Although Jews were less than one percent of the population, the Nazis used them as scapegoats for all Germany’s troubles since the war. This led to a wave of anti-Semitism across Germany. Beginning in 1933, the Nazis passed laws depriving Jews of most of their rights. Violence against Jews mounted.
D. Other Countries Fall to Dictators - While Fascists took power in Italy and Germany, the nations formed in eastern Europe after World War I also were falling to dictators. In Hungary in 1919, after a brief Communist regime, military forces and wealthy landowners joined to make Admiral Miklós Horthy the first European postwar dictator. In Poland, Marshal Jozef Pilsudski seized power in 1926. In Yugoslavia, Albania, Bulgaria, and Romania, kings turned to strong-man rule. They suspended constitutions and silenced foes. In 1935, only one democracy, Czechoslovakia, remained in eastern Europe.
Section 4- Aggressors Invade Nations- By the mid-1930s, Germany and Italy seemed bent on military conquest. The major democracies—Britain, France, and the United States—were distracted by economic problems at home and longed to remain at peace. With the world moving toward war, many nations pinned their hopes for peace on the League of Nations.
A. Japan Seeks an Empire During the 1920s, the Japanese government became more democratic. In 1922, Japan signed an international treaty agreeing to respect China’s borders. In 1928, it signed the Kellogg-Briand Pact renouncing war. Japan’s parliamentary system had several weaknesses, however. Its constitution put strict limits on the powers of the prime minister and the cabinet.
1. Militarists Take Control of Japan As long as Japan remained prosperous, the civilian government kept power. But when the Great Depression struck in 1929, many Japanese blamed the government. Military leaders gained support and soon won control of the country. Unlike the Fascists in Europe, the militarists did not try to establish a new system of government. They wanted to restore traditional control of the government to the military. Instead of a forceful leader like Mussolini or Hitler, the militarists made the emperor the symbol of state power.
2. Japan Invades Manchuria Japanese businesses had invested heavily in China’s northeast province, Manchuria. It was an area rich in iron and coal. In 1931, the Japanese army seized Manchuria, despite objections from the Japanese parliament. The army then set up a puppet government. Japanese engineers and technicians began arriving in large numbers to build mines and factories.
3. Japan Invades China Four years later, a border incident touched off a full-scale war between Japan and China. Japanese forces swept into northern China. Despite having a million soldiers, China’s army led by Jiang Jieshi was no match for the better equipped and trained Japanese.
B. European Aggressors on the March The League’s failure to stop the Japanese encouraged European Fascists to plan aggression of their own. The Italian leader Mussolini dreamed of building a colonial empire in Africa like those of Britain and France.
1. Mussolini Attacks Ethiopia Ethiopia was one of Africa’s three independent nations. The Ethiopians had successfully resisted an Italian attempt at conquest during the 1890s. To avenge that defeat, Mussolini ordered a massive invasion of Ethiopia in October 1935. The spears and swords of the Ethiopians were no match for Italian airplanes, tanks, guns, and poison gas.
2. Hitler Defies Versailles Treaty Hitler had long pledged to undo the Versailles Treaty. Among its provisions, the treaty limited the size of Germany’s army. In March 1935, the Führer announced that Germany would not obey these restrictions. The League issued only a mild condemnation.
3. Civil War Erupts in Spain Hitler and Mussolini again tested the will of the democracies of Europe in the Spanish Civil War. Spain had been a monarchy until 1931, when a republic was declared. The government, run by liberals and Socialists, held office amid many crises. In July 1936, army leaders, favoring a Fascist-style government, joined General Francisco Franco in a revolt. Thus began a civil war that dragged on for three years.
c. Democratic Nations Try to Preserve Peace Instead of taking a stand against Fascist aggression in the 1930s, Britain and France repeatedly made concessions, hoping to keep peace. Both nations were dealing with serious economic problems as a result of the Great Depression.
1. United States Follows an Isolationist Policy Many Americans supported isolationism, the belief that political ties to other countries should be avoided. Isolationists argued that entry into World War I had been a costly error. Beginning in 1935, Congress passed three Neutrality Acts.
2. The German Reich Expands On November 5, 1937, Hitler announced to his advisers his plans to absorb Austria and Czechoslovakia into the Third Reich or German Empire. The Treaty of Versailles prohibited Anschluss or a union between Austria and Germany. However, many Austrians supported unity with Germany. In March 1938, Hitler sent his army into Austria and annexed it. France and Britain ignored their pledge to protect Austrian independence.
3. Britain and France Again Choose Appeasement France and Britain were preparing for war when Mussolini proposed a meeting of Germany, France, Britain, and Italy in Munich, Germany. The Munich Conference was held on September 29, 1938. The Czechs were not invited. British prime minister Neville Chamberlain believed that he could preserve peace by giving in to Hitler’s demand. Britain and France agreed that Hitler could take the Sudetenland.
4. Nazis and Soviets Sign Nonaggression Pact Britain and France asked the Soviet Union to join them in stopping Hitler’s aggression. As Stalin talked with Britain and France, he also bargained with Hitler. The two dictators reached an agreement. Once bitter enemies, Fascist Germany and Communist Russia now publicly pledged never to attack one another. On August 23, 1939, their leaders signed a nonaggression pact. As the Axis Powers moved unchecked at the end of the decade, war appeared inevitable.