Years of Crisis BY: Brendan Clark

A.) Postwar Uncertainty

1.) A New Revolution in Science - The ideals of Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud had an enormous impact on the 20th century. These thinkers were part of a scientific revolution as important as that brought about centuries earlier Copernicus and Galileo

*Impact of Einstein's Theory of Relatively - German born physicist Albert Einstein offered starling new ideas on space, time, energy, and matter. In 1905, Einstein theorized that while the speed of light is constant, other things that seem constant, such as space and time, are not. Space and time can change when measured relative to an object moving near the speed of light---about 186,000 miles per second. Since relative motion is the key to Einstein's idea, it is called the theory of relativity. Einstein's ideas had implications not only for science but also or how people viewed the world.

*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. Freud's ideas weakened faith in reason. Even so, by the 1920s, Freud's theories had developed widespread influence.

2.) 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. Some writers and thinkers expressed anxieties by creating disturbing visions of the present and the future. In 1922, T.S. Eliot, and American poet living in England, wrote that Western society had lost its spiritual values. He described the postwar world as a barren "Wasteland," drained of hope and faith.

*Writers Reflect Society's Concerns - The horror of war made a deep impression on many writers. The Czech-born author Franz Kafka write eerie novel, his books feature people caught in threatening situations they can neither understand nor escape. The book struck a chord among readers in the uneasy postwar years. Many novels showed influence of Freud's theories of the unconscious.

*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 Sarte of France. Existentialists believed that there is no universal meaning to life. Each person creates his or her own meaning in life through choices made and actions taken. The existentialists were influenced by the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. In the 1880s, Nietzsche wrote that Western ideas such as reason, democracy, and progress had stifled people's creativity and actions. He urged a return to the ancient heroic values of pride, assertiveness, and strength. His ideas attracted growing attention in the 20th century and had a great impact on politics in Italy and Germany in the 1920s and 1930s.

3.) Revolution in the Arts - Although many of the new directions in painting and music began in the prewar period, they evolved after the war.

*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 used bold colors and distorted or exaggerated forms. Inspired by traditional African art, Cubism was founded in 1907. Cubism transformed natural shapes into geometric forms. Surrealism, an art movement that sought to link the world of dreams with real life, started around this time. Many of the Surrealists painters have an eerie, dreamlike quality and depict objects in unrealistic ways.

*Composers Try New Styles - In both classical and popular music, composers moved away from traditional styles. A new popular music style called jazz emerged in the United States. It was developed by musicians, mainly African Americans, in New Orleans, Memphis, and Chicago. Iy swept the United States and Europe. The lively, loose beat of jazz seemed to capture the new freedom of the age.

4.) Society Challenges Convention - World War I had disrupted social patterns.New ideas and way 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.

*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. Their work in the war effort was decisive in helping them win the right to vote. After the war, women's suffrage became law in many countries, including the United States, Britain, Germany, Sweden, and Austria. Women abandoned restrictive clothing and hairstyles but still followed traditional paths of marriage and family.

5.) Technological Advances Improve Life - During World War 1, scientists developed new drugs and medical treatment that helped millions of people in the postwar years. The war's technological advances were put to use to improve transportation and communication after the war.

*The Automobile Alters Society -The automobile benefited from a host of wartime innovations and improvements. Cars were now sleek and brightly polished, complete with headlights and chrome-plated bumpers. In prewar Britain, autos were owned exclusively by the rich. British factories produced 34,000 autos in 1913. After the war, prices dropped, and the middle class could afford cars. By 1937, the British were producing 511,000 autos a year. Increased auto use by the average family led to lifestyle changes. More people traveled for pleasure. In Europe and the United States, new businesses opened to serve the mobile tourist. The auto also affected where people lived and worked. People moved to suburbs and commuted to work in the cities.

*Airplanes Transform Travel - International air travel became an objective after the war. Most of the world's major passenger airlines were established during the 1920s. At first only the rich were able to afford air travel. Still, everyone enjoyed the exploits of the aviation pioneers, including Amelia Earhart.

*Radio and Movies Dominate Popular Entertainment -In 1920, the world's first commercial radio station--KDKA in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania--began broadcasting. Almost overnight, radio mania swept the United States. Every major city had stations broadcasting news, plays, and even live sporting events. Soon most families owned a radio. 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. In the late 1920s, the addition of sound transformed movies. 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.

B.) A Worldwide Depression

1.) 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 decline after the war.

*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. The Provisional Government, as it was called, hoped to establish constitutional and democratic rule. However, within months it had fallen to a Communist dictatorship. Even so, for the first time, most European nations had democratic governments. Many citizens of the new democracies had little experience with representative government. For generations, kings and emperors had ruled Germany and the new nations formed from Austria-Hungary. Even in France and Italy, whose parliaments and existed before World War I, the large number of political parties made effective government difficult. Some countries had a down or more political groups. It was almost impossible for one party to in enough support to govern effectively. When no single party won a majority, a coalition government, or temporary alliance of several parties, was needed to form a parliamentary majority. Frequent changes in government made it hard for democratic countries to develop strong leadership and move toward long-term goals.

2.) The Weimar Republic - Germany' new democratic government was set up in 1919. Known as the Weimar Republic, it was name after the city where the national assembly met. The Weimar Republic had serious weaknesses from the start. First, Germany lacked a strong democratic tradition. Furthermore, postwar Germany had several major political parties and many minor ones. 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.

*Inflation Causes Crisis in Germany - Germany also faced enormous economic problems that had begun during the war. Unlike Britain and France, Germany had not greatly increased its wartime taxes. To pay the expenses of the war, the Germans had simply printed money. After Germany's defeat, this paper money steadily lost its value. Burdened with heavy reparations payments to the Allies and with other economic problems, Germany printed even more money. As a result, the value of the mark, as Germany's currency was called, fell sharply. Severe inflation set in. Germans needed more and more money to buy even the most basic goods. As a result, many Germans questioned the value of their new democratic government.

*Attempts at Economic Stability - Germany recovered from the 1923 inflation thanks largely to the work of an international committee. The leader of the committee provided a $200 million loan from American banks to stabilize German currency and strengthen its economy. The plan also set a more realistic schedule for Germany's reparations payments. Put into effect in 1924, the plan helped slow inflation. As the German economy began to recover, it attracted more loans and investments from the United States. By 1929, German factories were producing as much as they did before the war.

*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 1925, the two ministers met in Locarno, Switzerland, with officials from Belgium, Italy, and Britain. They signed a treaty promising that France and Germany would never again make war against each other. Germany also agreed to respect the existing borders of France and Belgium. Unfortunately, the treaty had no means to enforce its provisions.

3.) 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.

*A Flawed US. Economy - Despite prosperity, several weaknesses in the U.S. economy caused serious problems. These included uneven distribution of wealth, overproduction by business and agriculture, and the fact that many Americans were buying less. By 1929, American factories were turning put 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 American families earned less than $2,000 a year. Thus, most families were too poor to buy the goods being produced. Unable to sell all their goods, store owners eventually cut back their orders from factories. Factories in turn reduced production and laid off workers. A downward economic spiral began. As more workers lost their jobs, families bought even fewer goods.

*The Stock Market Crashes - 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. This meant that they paid a small percentage of a stock's price as a down payment and borrowed the rest from a stockbroker. The system worked well as long as stock prices were rising. However, if they fell investors had no money to pay off the loan. In September 1929, some investors began to think that stock prices were unnaturally high. They started selling their stocks, believing the prices would soon go down. By Thursday, October 24, the gradual lowering of stock prices had become an all-out downward. A panic resulted. Everyone wanted to sell stocks, and no one wanted to buy. Prices plunged to a new low on Tuesday, October 29. A record 16 million stocks were sold. Then the market collapsed.

4.) The Great Depression - People could not pay the money they owed on margin purchases. Stocks they had bought at high prices were now worthless. Unemployment rates began to rise as industrial production, prices, and wages declined. By 1932, factory production had been cut in half. Thousands of businesses failed, and banks closed. By 1933, one-fourth of all American workers had no jobs.

*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. Conditions worsened for the United States. Many countries that depended on exporting goods to the Unites States also suffered. When the United States raised tariffs, it sets off a chain reaction. Other nations imposed their own higher tariffs. World trade dropped by 65 percent. Unemployment rates soared.

*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. As European and U.S. demand for such Latin American products as sugar, beef, and copper, dropped, prices dropped.

5.) The World Confronts the Crisis - The Depression confronted democracies with a serious challenge to their economic and political systems. Each country met the crisis in its own way.

*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. These measures brought about a slow but steady recovery. By 1937, unemployment had been cut in half, and production had risen above 1929 levels. Britain avoided political extremes and preserved democracy.

*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. The economic crisis contributed to political instability. In 1933, five coalition governments formed and fell. Many political leaders were frightened by the growth of anti-democratic forces both in France and in other parts of Europe. So in 1936, moderates, Socialists, and Communists formed a coalition. The Popular Front, as it was called, passed a series of reforms to help the workers. Unfortunately, price increases quickly offset wage gains. Unemployment remained high. Yet France also preserved democratic government.

*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. All the Scandinavian countries raised pensions for the elderly and increased unemployment insurance, subsidies for housing, and other welfare benefits. To pay for these benefits, the governments taxed all citizens. Democracy remained intact.

*Recovery in the United States - In 1932, in the first presidential election after the Depression had begun, U.S. voters elected Franklin D. Roosevelt. On March 4, 1933, the new president sought to restore Americans' faith in their nation. Roosevelt immediately began a program of government reform jobs for the unemployed. New government agencies gave financial help to business and farms. Large amounts of public money were spent on welfare and relief programs. Roosevelt and his advisers believed that government spending would create jobs and start a recovery. Regulations were imposed to reform the stock market and the banking system. The New Deal did eventually reform the American economic system. Roosevelt's leadership preserved the country's faith in its democratic political system.

C.) Fascism Rises in Europe

1.) Fascism's Rise in Italy - Fascism was a new, militant political movement that emphasized loyalty to the state and obedience to its leader. Fascists preached an extreme form of nationalism. They pledged loyalty to an authoritarian leader who guided and brought order to the state.

*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. To growing numbers of Italians, their democratic government seemed helpless to deal with the country's problems. They wanted a leader who would take action. A newspaper editor and politician named Benito Mussolini boldly promised to rescue Italy by reviving its economy and rebuilding its armed forces. In october 1922, about 30,000 Fascists marched on Rome. They demanded that King Victor Emmanuel III put Mussolini in charge of the government. After widespread violence and a threatened uprising, Mussolini took power "legally."

*Il Duce Leadership - Mussolini was now Il Duce. He abolished democracy and outlawed all political parties except Fascists. He imposed government censors and outlawed strikes. However, Mussolini never had the total control achieved by Joseph Stalin in the Soviet Union or Adolf Hitler in Germany.

2.) Hitler Rises to Power in Germany - Adolf Hitler was a little-known political leader whose early life had been marked by disappointment. When World War I broke out, Hitler found new beginning.

*The Rise of the Nazis - 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's policies formed the German brand of fascism known as Nazism. Within a short time, Hitler's success as an organizer and speaker led him to be chosen as the leader of the Nazi party. After the American loans stopped, the German economy collapsed. Civil unrest broke out. Frightened and confused, Germans now turned to Hitler, hoping for security and firm leadership.

3.) Hitler Becomes Chancellor - The Nazis had become the largest political party in 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. He turned Germany into a totalitarian state.

*The Fuhrer Is Supreme - Hitler wanted more than just economic and political power--he wanted control every aspect of German life. To shape public opinion and to win praise for his leadership, Hitler used press, radio, literature, painting, and film into propaganda tools.

*Hitler Makes War on the Jews - Hatred of Jews was a key part of Nazi ideology. The Nazis used Jews as scapegoats for all Germany. The Jewish were stripped of their rights.

4.) 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. Countries such as Hungary, Poland, Yugoslavia, Albania, Bulgaria, and Romania fell to dictatorships.

D. Aggressors Invade Nations

1.) Japan Seeks an Empire - During the 1920s, the Japanese government became more democratic. But, the parliamentary system had several weaknesses.

*Militarists Take Control of Japan - When the Great Depression struck on 1929, many Japanese blamed the government. Military leaders gained support and soon won control of the country.

*Japan Invades Manchuria - In 1931, the Japanese army seized Manchuria. The army then set up a puppet government. This was the first direct challenge to the League of Nations.

*Japan Invades China - A border incident touched off a full-scale war between Japan and China. Japanese forces swept into northern China. Beijing and other northern cities fell to the Japanese in 1937.

2.) 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.

*Mussolini Attacks Ethiopia - To avenge a defeat, Mussolini ordered a massive invasion of Ethiopia in October 1935. The League did nothing to help the Ethiopian emperor when he turned to them for assistance.

*Hitler Defies Versailles Treaty - In March 1935, Hitler announced that Germany would not obey the restrictions made by the Versailles Treaty. This led to Mussolini seeking an alliance with Hitler.

*Civil War Erupts in Spain - 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 3 years. Hitler and Mussolini sent troops, tank, and airplanes to help Franco's revolt.

3.) 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.

*United States Follows an Isolationist Policy - Many Americans supported isolationism. Isolationists argued that entry into World War I had been a costly error. In 1935, 3 acts passed by Congress banned loans and the sale of arms to nations at war.

*The German Reich Expands - Hitler absorbed Austria and Czechoslovakia into the Third Reich.

*Britain and France Again Choose Appeasement - Both Britain and France decided not want to risk war after Poland turned to them for aid.

*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 2 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.


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