A New Revolution in Science
Albert Einstein revolutionized the way people discovered new ideas on things such as space, science, and time. Einstein took the ideas of other scientists and took their discoveries a step further while researching about the subject. While Einstein discovered new possibilities he was not the only one that revolutionized the way people think. Sigmund Freud started his journey by working with patients who had psychological problems. He had an interest in the human mind and started to research how the brain worked. He developed the idea of the unconscious. With this exposed to the public in the 1920s he had developed a wide spread influence.
Literature in the 1920s
The effects of World War I caused philosophers to question the ideas of reason and progress. People started to question their past beliefs and feared the future and became weary of their religious views. Writers started to express their views of the changes in their writing pieces when the public started to read the articles they became afraid of what was happening and did not like the change they were being forced to do. One writer wrote that the Western Society had lost its spiritual values. He also stated the postwar area as a wasteland without hope. Once the writings started to set in people had no clue of what to put their faith in so they turned to existentialism. Jean Paul Sarte was one of the main leader of existentialism. These people believed that there was no real meaning to life and people decided how their lives would end up. These people were influenced by the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzche. Friedrich wrote about reason, democracy, and progress throughout many years. When his writings were published people questioned their past beliefs and started to step into a new way of life.
Revolution in the Arts
Art started to evolve after the war was concluded. When the war ended artists began rebelling against realistic styles of art. Artists painted more emotional pieces that let out their creativity. Many artists were inspired by African art pieces. Rather than the realistic form they were used to African pieces expressed how the artists felt using bright colors and sharp angles. Freud introduced the idea of surrealism. Surrealism was used to collaborate real life and a type of dream the artists experienced. Music began to transition from using the classical instruments to making new sounds and rhythms. A popular genre of music was a production of this change jazz.
Society Challenges Convention
After the war people began to change from the way they lived to the way they thought. Younger individuals took advantage of this change and embraced it. They were willing to experiment with ideas and life. During the war women were forced to take on major roles left by the husbands and men who left for the war. Women worked in factories and took on the role of head of the house. When the war concluded women assumed they would have more rights and privileges. Women took a stand and changed how they dressed and presented themselves. They left the the tight corsets in the past and began to wear shorter, looser clothing and started the time of the "bobbed" hairstyle. While some women did not see a need in change others saw their chance to be what they finally wanted.
Technological Advances Improve Life
While the war was taking place scientists were home working on advancing drugs, medical advances, and an advanced way of transportation. Once the soldiers returned home the new advances contributed to the saving of many people that had injuries and mental issues due to the war. The automobile took a complete transformation. The new innovations includes an electrical starter, air filled tires, and a more powerful engine. They also experienced a physical transformation. The once big and rough looking car had become sleek and brightly polished. Automobiles became an everyday essential for the new lifestyles of Americans. Cars were not the only advancement. Air travel became an international interest. Charles Lindbergh was an American pilot who captured the worlds attention by flying a 33 hour solo flight from New York to paris in 1927. The advances in transportation and communication that followed the war had brought the world in closer touch. Global prosperity came to depend on the eco- nomic well-being of all major nations, especially the United States.
The Great War left every major European country nearly bankrupt. With this change people realized Europe needs a governmental change. The last absolute ruler of Europe was overthrown around 1914. European people transitioned from an absolute leader to a democracy. The first of the new governments was formed in Russia in 1917 which was the Provisional Government. The European Government hoped to establish constitutional and democratic rule. Within a few months under the new system the system had failed and fell back under a Communist dictatorship. Some countries became very strict with the new form of government. They realized that the european people needed a democracy and for the first time ever most european countries were under a democracy. The citizens were new to this form of government so it became hard for one party to win. Due to this problem the coalition government was formed. This was a temporary alliance of several parties, was needed to form a parliamentary majority.
The Weimar Republic
A new democratic government was set up in 1919 known as the Weimar Republic. Germany was in need of a strong democratic tradition that the Weimar Republic lacked. Due to this postwar Germany had several major political parties and many minor ones. millions of Germans blamed the Weimar government, not their wartime leaders for the country’s defeat and postwar humiliation caused by the Versailles Treaty. Germany also faced enormous economic problems that had begun during the war. Germany had not greatly increased its wartime taxes. To pay the debts of the war the Germans had printed money to cover the expenses. When they did this paper money steadily lost its value causing an even bigger dilemma. They were in need of the money to pay off their allies in the war. Once they began printing more money the German currency fell sharply. Germany recovered from the 1923 inflation thanks largely to the work of an international committee led by Charles Dawes. Dawes Plan provided for a $200 million loan from American banks to stabilize German currency and strengthen its economy.
In the 1920s America had stabilized countries economic problems but they were not expecting their own. Some problems that contributed to the fall of Americas economic system was uneven distribution of wealth, overproduction by business and agriculture, and the fact that many Americans were not buying like they once had. In 1929 American factories were producing more than half of the world’s industrial goods. The rise in productivity had brought in enormous amounts revenue but this caused the distribution of the money to be very uneven. The richest 5 percent of the population received 33 percent of all personal income in 1929. Yet most families brought in less than $2000 dollars a year. An effect of this was most families were too poor to buy the goods being produced. Causing the factories lose business with storeowners when they were unable to less produce. By 1920 farmers became effected scientific farming methods and new farm machinery had dramatically increased crop yields. American farmers were producing more food. Without the buying of crops many farmers lost money with the crops that had already been produced. Unable to sell their crops at a profit, many farmers could not pay off the bank loans that kept them in business. Their unpaid debts weakened banks and forced some to close.
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 unemployment rates began to rise as industrial production, prices, and wages declined. This decline was called The Great Depression. Many economic mistakes contributed to the start of the Great Depression. By 1932 factory productions had been cut in half, businesses began to close left and right. People lost the money they had put into savings accounts due to the banks need to use the money to simply stay open. Farmers lost their lands when they could not make mortgage payments and by 1933, one-fourth of all American workers had no jobs and by 1933 one-fourth of all American workers had no jobs. The collapse did not just effect the US it sent a wave of economic problems around the globe. 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 backfired for America and things only became worse. Countries that depended on exporting goods to the United States also suffered.
The World Confronts the Crisis
A democracy gave the hard hit countries their own option of how to reestablish their once flourishing economy. One country that was hit was Great Britain, the citizens elected a multiparty coalition known as the National Government. This helped because it passed high protective tariffs, increased taxes, and regulated the currency. While some countries were hit hard others like France were effected but it did not break their economy. One reason France was not as effected was because it depended on agricultural rather than foreign trade. Socialist governments in the Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway also met the challenge of economic crisis successfully. Government officials supported public events that would raise money to support the country. The first presidential election after the depression was in 1932 with the new president becoming Franklin D. Roosevelt. Many americans were inspired by his confident attitude toward fixing the economy to the way it once was. His first action in business was a new program that reformed government called the New Deal. Large public works projects helped to provide jobs for the unemployed and large amounts of public money were spent of welfare and relief programs. The New Deal was successful with help america get back on track with the economy.
Fascism’s Rise in Italy
Fascism was a new militant political movement that emphasized loyalty to the state and obedience to its leader. Unlike most fascism had no clearly defined theory or program. Fascism's spoke of an increase in nationalism and stated that a country must struggle to become strong but if they people remained loyal to their country it would become a nation that could not be harmed. They believed the nations who promoted peace were doomed fan had no chance of survival. Fascism's believed in a ruler who could keep control of their country and guide the people to become more advanced. They stated their was no need in individual rights and that society must be based on class levels. Fascism's rule became popular in Italy due to the failure of territorial land being gained in 1919. A politician named Benito Mussolini once promised to rescue Italy by reviving its economy and rebuilding its armed forces. He stated he would fill the role of a strong leader that was so desperately needed in Italy. As economic conditions worsened his popularity increased and began criticizing the government stating they were unfit. The citizens response to this was march in Rome and demand he fill the role as leader. Once in office he abolished democracy and outlawed all political parties except the Fascists.
Hitler Rises to Power in Germany
Adolf Hitler was a little known political leader whose early life had been marked by disappointment. When the war began he recognized this as a new beginning for him. He volunteered for the German army and was twice awarded the Iron Cross a medal for bravery. After the war Hitler joined a political group called the National Socialist German Workers’ Party later renamed Nazis for short. This group believed Germany had to overturn the Treaty of Versailles and combat communism. The Nazis set up a private militia called the storm troopers or Brown Shirts. After a short time Hitler was named leader of the Nazi group and decided it was time to seize power of Germany. His attempt failed and Hitler was arrested. He was tried for treason but was sentenced to only five years in prison. He served less than nine months. Once he left prison in 1924 Hitler revived the Nazi Party. Most Germans ignored him and his angry message until the Great Depression ended the nation’s brief postwar recovery. After American loans stopped the German economy collapsed. The German people turned to Hitler for leadership and guidance.
Hitler Becomes Chancellor
By 1932 the Nazi party had become the largest political party. At first conservatives believed they could control Hitler and use him to get what they wanted. In January 1933 citizens of Germany advised President Paul von Hindenburg to name Hitler chancellor. Once he was chancellor he was able to power legally. The first thing Hitler was motivated to do was hold an election to win a parliamentary majority. Before the election could be held a fire broke out burning the building naturally they blamed the Communists. Hitler used his new power to turn Germany into a totalitarian state. He banned all other political parties and had opponents arrested. The Nazis quickly took command of the economy. New laws banned strikes, dissolved independent labor unions, and gave the government authority over busi- ness and labor. Hitler was stiletto pleased he didn't just want to control the economic and political power he wanted control over every aspect of German life. To do this Hitler turned the press, radio, literature, painting, and film into propaganda tools. Books that did not conform to Nazi beliefs were burned in huge bonfires. Churches were forbidden to criticize the Nazis or the government. Schoolchildren had to join the Hitler Youth or the League of German Girls. A key part of Nazi ideology was to have a natural hatred for jews. Nazi mobs attacked Jews in their homes and on the streets and destroyed thousands of Jewish owned buildings.
Other Countries Fall to Dictators
While fascism was taking over in Italy other countries were also falling to dictators. The new ruling dictators suspended constitutions and silenced foes. Only in European nations with strong democratic traditions Britain, France, and the Scandinavian countries did democracy survive. With no democratic experience and severe economic problems many Europeans saw dictator ship as the only way to prevent instability. To gain their ends the Fascist dictatorships had indicated a willingness to use military aggression. Although all of these dictatorships restricted civil rights, none asserted control with the brutality of the Russian Communists.
Aggressors Invade Nations
The remaining democracies included Britain, France, and the United States. But the remaining few were distracted by economic problems at home and longed to remain at peace. With the fear of the world moving toward war nations focused their hopes for peace on the League of Nations. While fascism spread in Europe a nation in Asia moved toward a similar system. After seeing the reform Japan fell under military rule.
Japan Seeks an Empire
In 1920 the Japanese government fell under a more democratic from of government. When the Great Depression struck in 1929 Japanese citizens blamed the government. Soon military leaders gained support and won control of the country. Military leaders hoped to restore traditional control of the government to the military instead of introducing a different type of government. Japan’s militarists were extreme nationalists they wanted to solve the country’s economic problems by foreign expansion. The expansion would include a Pacific empire that conquered China. The empire would provide Japan with raw materials and markets for its goods. It would also give Japan room to increase its population. When Japan seized Manchuria League members protested unfortunately Japan ignored the protests and withdrew from the League in 1933. Years later a border dispute stared a war between Japan and China. Japanese soldiers swept into northern China. Even with China having a million soldiers the army led by Jiang Jieshi was no match for the better equipped and trained Japanese.
European Aggressors on the March
When the League failed to stop the Japanese European Fascists planned an aggression of their own. The Ethiopians resisted an Italian attempt at conquest during the 1890s. To avenge that defeat Mussolini ordered a massive invasion of Ethiopia in October 1935. The Italians had airplanes, tanks, guns, and poison gas while Ethiopia defended themselves with spears and swords. The Ethiopian emperor urgently appealed to the League for help. Although the League condemned the attack its members did nothing. Britain continued to supply Italy with the defense they needed. Hitler continued his dream to undo the Versailles Treaty. While the treaty minimized the size of the army Hitler was not pleased. The Germans made it clear to the league that they would not follow these restrictions. Hitler and his army entered the area where the French and British were fighting. Astonished they both backed down unknowingly Hitler would not have fought the two. When the two backed down to Hitler that only furthered his power. Forces combined Germany, Italy, and Japan came to be called the Axis Powers.
Democratic Nations Try to Preserve Peace
Instead of standing up against Fascist aggression in the 1930s Britain and France kept themselves quiet hoping to keep peace. At the time both nations were dealing with serious economic problems as a result of the Great Depression. Many Americans supported isolationism the belief that political ties to other countries should be avoided. They supported this because they said that entering WWI was a costly error and America could not make the mistake to enter another war with the economy recovering like it was. France and Britain were preparing for war when Mussolini scheduled a meeting of Germany, France, Britain, and Italy in Munich, Germany. Hitler demanded that Poland return the former German port of Danzig. The Poles refused and turned to Britain and France for aid. But appeasement had convinced Hitler that neither nation would risk war. They both opposed war because of the peace act. While the Axis powers moved in war appeared to be inevitable.