Chapter 15 by saannah harmon

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 their anxieties by creating disturbing visions of the present

and the future.

s 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. The Austrian composer Arnold Schoenberg rejected traditional

harmonies and musical scales.Guglielmo Marconi conducted

his first successful experiments with radio in 1895. However, the real push

for radio development came during World War I.

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.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.

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. People took wheelbarrows

full of money to buy food. As a result, many Germans questioned the value

of their new democratic government.

A newspaper editor and politician named Benito Mussolini boldly promised to

rescue Italy by reviving its economy and rebuilding its armed forces. He vowed to

give Italy strong leadership. Mussolini had founded the Fascist Party in 1919. As

economic conditions worsened, his popularity rapidly increased. Finally, Mussolini

publicly criticized Italy’s government. Groups of Fascists wearing black shirts

attacked Communists and Socialists on the streets. Because Mussolini played on

the fear of a workers’ revolt, he began to win support from the middle classes, the

aristocracy, and industrial leaders.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. He volunteered for the

German army and was twice awarded the Iron Cross, a medal for bravery.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:

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. Most importantly, civilian leaders had little

control over the armed forces. Military leaders reported only to the emperor.

a 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.a 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.

The Ethiopian emperor, Haile Selassie, urgently appealed to the League for

help. Although the League condemned the attack, its members did nothing. Britain

continued to let Italian troops and supplies pass through the British-controlled

Suez Canal on their way to Ethiopia. By giving in to Mussolini in Africa, Britain

and France hoped to keep peace in Europe.

On November 5, 1937, Hitler announced to his

advisers his plans to absorb Austria and Czechoslovakia into the Third Reich (ryk),

or German Empire. The Treaty of Versailles prohibited Anschluss (AHN•SHLUS), 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.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.

Credits:

Created with images by Cea. - "[ C ] Henri Cartier-Bresson - Brie, France (1968)" • frankvellis - "uniforms military world war 1" • tevyaw - "soldier books world war 1" • Moyan_Brenn - "War" • Archives New Zealand - "Peter McIntyre, Air raid at Monte Cassino, February 1944"

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