Years of Crisis By: Johnathan Shepherd

Section 1: Postwar Uncertainty

A. A New Revolution in Science: Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud had an enormous impact on the 20th century. Copernicus and Galileo, earlier thinkers, were also part of this.

1. Impact of Einstein's Theory of Relativity: Albert Einstein had many various, startling new ideas and many great theories about space, time, energy, and matter. Einstein's idea was called the theory of relativity. It replaced Isaac Newton's comforting belief of a world operating according to absolute laws of motion and gravity.

2. Influence of Freudian Psychology: The ideas of Sigmund Freud were as revolutionary as Einstein's. He constructed a theory about the human mind. Freud's ideas weakened faith in reason. Even so, by the 1920's, Freud's theories had developed widespread influence.

B. Literature in the 1920's: Some writers and thinkers expressed their anxieties by creating disturbing visions of the present and the future. In 1921, the Irish poet William Butler Yeats conveyed a sense of dark times ahead in the poem "The Second Coming".

1. Writers Reflect Society's Concerns: The horror of war made a deep impression on many writers. Frank Kafka's books struck a chord among readers in the uneasy postwar years.

2. Thinkers React to Uncertainties: A major leader of the existentialism movement was the philosopher Jean Paul Sarte of France. The existentialists were influenced by the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. His ideas attracted growing attention in the 20th century.

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. Inspired by traditional African art, Georges Braque of France and Pablo Picasso of Spain founded Cubism in 1907. Surrealism, an art movement that sought to link the world of dreams with real life, was inspired by Freud's ideas. Many of their paintings have an eerie, dreamlike quality and depict objects in unrealistic ways.

2. Composers Try New Styles: In both classical and popular music, composers moves away from traditional styles. A new popular musical style called jazz emerged in the United States. The lively, loose beat of jazz seemed to capture the new freedom of the age.

D. Society Challenges Convention: World War 1 had disrupted traditional social patterns. 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. Women abandoned restrictive clothing and hairstyles. As women sought new careers, the numbers of women in medicine, education, journalism, and other professions increased.

E. Technological Advances Improve Life: New drugs and medical treatments improved and helped millions of people's lives.

1. The Automobile Alters Society: The automobile benefited from a host of wartime innovations and improvements. After the war, prices dropped, and the middle class could afford cars now. By 1937, the British were producing 511,000 autos a year. The auto also affected people's lives greatly.

2. Airplanes Transform Travel: International air travel became an objective after the war. Amelia Earhart was an American who, in 1932, became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. At first the only the rich were able to afford air travel.

3. Radio and Movies Dominate Popular Entertainment: Guglielmo Marconi conducted his first successful experiments with radio in 1895. The advances in transportation and communication that followed the war had brought the world in closer touch.

Section 2: A Worldwide Depression

A. Postwar Europe: In both human suffering and economic terms, the cost of World War 1 was immense.

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. Many citizens of the new democracies had little experience with representative government. The weaknesses of a coalition government became a major problem in times of crisis.

B. The Weimar Republic: Germany's new democratic government was set up in 1919. Known as the Weimar Republic, it has named after the city where the national assembly met. Furthermore, postwar Germany had several major political parties and many minor ones.

1. Inflation Causes Crisis in Germany: Germany also faced enormous economic problems that had begun during the war. As a result, the value of the mark, as Germany's currency was called, fell sharply. As a result, many Germans questioned the value of their new democratic government.

2. Attempts at Economic Stability: Germany recovered from the 1923 inflation thanks largely to the work of an international committee. By 1929, German factories were producing as much as they had before the war.

3. Efforts at a Lasting Peace: Germany and France tried to improve relations between their countries in 1925. They signed a treaty promising that France and Germany would never again make war against each other.

C. Financial Collapse: In the late 1920s, American economic prosperity largely sustained the world economy.

1. A Flawed U.S. Economy: Despite prosperity, several weaknesses in the U.S. economy caused serious problems. 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: In 1929, New York City's Wall Street was the financial capital of the world. In September 1929, some investors began to think that stock prices were unnaturally high. Prices plunged to a new low on Tuesday, October 29. A record 16 million stocks were sold. Then the market collapsed.

D. The Great Depression: People could not pay the money they owed on margin purchases. A long business slump, which would come to be called the Great Depression, followed. Thousands of businesses failed, and banks closed. 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. Many countries that depended on exporting goods to the United States also suffered. World trade dropped by 65 percent. This contributed further to the economic downturn. Unemployment rates soared.

2. Effects Throughout the World: Because of war debts and dependence on American loans and investments, Germany and Austria were particularly hard hit. 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. Each country met the crisis in its own way.

1. Britain Takes Steps to Improve Its Economy: The Depression hit Britain severely. By 1937, unemployment had been cut in half, and production had risen above 1929 levels. Britain avoided political extremes and preserved democracy.

2. France Responds to Economic Crisis: Unlike Britain, France had a more self-sufficient economy. Nevertheless, by 1935, one million French workers were unemployed. Unemployment remained high. Yet France also preserved democratic government.

3. Socialists Governments Find Solutions: They built recovery programs on an existing tradition of cooperative community action. To pay for these benefits, the governments taxed all citizens. Democracy remained intact.

4. Recovery in the United States: In 1932, U.S, voters elected Franklin D. Roosevelt. Roosevelt immediately began a program of government reform that he called the New Deal. Regulations were imposed to reform the stock market and the banking system. The New Deal did eventually reform the American economic system.

Section 3: Fascism Rises in Europe

A. Fascism's Rise in Italy: Fascism was a new, militant political movement that emphasized loyalty to the state and obedience to its leader. Fascists believed that nations must struggle -- peaceful states were doomed to be conquered. Also, Fascists were nationalists, and Communist were internationalists, hoping to unite workers worldwide.

1. Mussolini Takes Control: Rising inflation and unemployment contributed to widespread social unrest. They wanted a leader who would take action. A newspaper editor and politician named Benito Mussolini boldly rescue Italy by reviving its economy and rebuilding its armed forces.

2. II Duce's Leadership: Mussolini was now II Duce, or the leader. Mussolini outlawed strikes. He sought to control the economy by allying the Fascists with the industrial alists and large landowners. However, Mussolini never had the total control achieved by Joseph Stalin in the Soviet Union or Adolf Hitler in Germany.

B. Hitler Rises to Power in Germany: Adolf Hitler was little-known at the time when Mussolini became dictator of Italy in the mid-1920s. When WW1 broke out, Hitler found a new beginning.

1. The Rise of the Nazis: At the end of the war, Hitler settled in Munich. The National Socialist German Workers' Party was called Nazi for short. Hitler became arrested in 1923. While in jail, Hitler wrote Mein Kampf. After leaving prison in 1924, Hitler revived the Nazi Party. Germans now turned to Hitler, hoping for security and firm leadership.

C. Hitler Becomes Chancellor: The Nazis had become the largest political party by 1932. In January 1933, Hitler came to power legally. Once in office, Hitler called for new elections, hoping to win a parliamentary majority. 6 days before the election, a fire destroyed the building where the parliament met. The Nazis blamed the Communists. Hitler soon put millions of Germans to work. As a result, the number of unemployed dropped from about 6 million to 1.5 million in 1936.

1. The Fuhrer Is Supreme: Hitler now wanted everyone to know he was in control. He burned every book that did not conform to Nazi beliefs in a bonfire. Hitler believed that continuous struggle brought victory to the strong. He twisted the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche to support his use of brute force.

2. Hitler Makes War on the Jews: Hatred of Jews, or anti-Semitism, was a key part of Nazi ideology. Beginning in 1933, the Nazis passed laws depriving Jews of most of their rights. On the night of November 9, 1938, Nazi mobs attacked Jews in their homes and destroyed thousands of Jewish-owned buildings.

D. Other Countries Fall to Dictators: 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. Although all of these dictatorships restricted civil rights, none asserted control with the brutality of the Russian Communists or the Nazis.

Section 4: Aggressors Invade Nations

A. Japan Seeks an Empire: During the 1920s, the Japanese government became more democratic. Most importantly, civilian leaders had little control over the armed forces. Military leaders reported only to the emperor.

1. Militarists Take Control of Japan: As long as Japan remained prosperous, the civilian government kept power. Keeping Emperor Hirohito as head of state won popular support for the army leaders who ruled in his name. It would also give Japan room for its rising population.

2. Japan Invades Manchuria: Japanese businesses had invested heavily in China's northeast province, Manchuria. Japanese engineers and technicians began arriving in large numbers to build mines and factories. Japan ignored the protests and withdrew from the League in 1933.

3. Japan Invades China: Four years later, a border incident touched off a full-scale war between Japan and China. Beijing and other northern cities as well as the capital, Nanjing, fell to the Japanese in 1937.

B. European Aggressors on the March: The League's failure to stop the Japanese encouraged European Fascists to plan aggression of their own.

1. Mussolini Attacks Ethiopia: Ethiopia was one of Africa's three independent nations. To avenge that defeat, Mussolini ordered a massive invasion of Ethiopia in 1935. By giving in to Mussolini in Africa, Britain and France hoped to keep peace in Europe.

2. Hitler Defies Versailles Treaty: Hitler had long pledged to undo the Versailles Treaty. The League's failure to stop Germany from rearming convinced Hitler to take even greater risks. A month later, Germany also made an agreement with Japan. Germany, Italy, and Japan came to be called the Axis Powers.

3. Civil War Erupts in Spain: Hitler and Mussolini again tested the will of the democracies of Europe in the Spanish Civil War. They sent troops, tanks, and airplanes to help General Francisco Franco's forces which were called the Nationalists. Early in 1939, Republican resistance collapsed. Franco became Spain's Fascist dictator.

C. Democratic Nations Try to Preserve Peace: Britain and Spain were dealing with serious economic problems as a result of the Great Depression. In addition, the horrors of World War I had created a deep desire to avoid war.

1. United States Follows an Isolationist Policy: Isolationism was the believed that political ties to other countries should be avoided. Isolationist argued that entry into WW1 had been a costly error.

2. The German Reich Expands: Hitler next turned to Czechoslovakia. In September 1938, Hitler demanded that the Sudetenland be given to Germany. The Czechs refused and asked France for help.

3. Britain and France Again Choose Appeasement: The Munich Conference was held on September 29, 1938. The Czechs were not invited. In exchange, Hitler pledged to respect Czechoslovakia's new borders.

4. Nazis and Soviets Sign Nonaggression Pact: Britain and France asked the Soviet Union to join them in stopping Hitler. On August 23, 1939, their leaders signed a nonaggression pact. As the Axis Powers moved unchecked at the end of the decade, was appeared inevitable

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