YEARS OF CRISIS Chapter 15 By zach dishman



1919 - Weimar Republic is established in Germany.

1921 - Albert Einstein receives the Nobel Prize.

1927 - American pilot Charles Lindbergh crosses Atlantic.

1928 - Kellogg-Briand peace pact is signed by almost every country in the world.

1929 - U.S. stock market crashes; Great Depression begins.

1931 - Hirohito's Japan seizes Manchuria.

1933 - Hitler is named German chancellor.

1935 - Ethiopia is invaded by Italian forces.

1936 - Spanish Civil War begins.

1939 - Germany and Soviet Union sign nonaggression pact.

Section 1 - Postwar Uncertainty


Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud were a big part of the scientific revolution brought about by Copernicus and Galileo in earlier centuries.

1. Impact of Einstein's Theory of Relativity

A German scientist named Albert Einstein developed new ideas on time, space, energy, and matter. Scientists discovered that the speed of light travels the same speed no matter what direction, but Einstein discovered that space and time are not constant. He called this the theory of relativity.

2. Influence of Freudian Psychology

Austrian physician Sigmund Freud study the human brain. He was a psychologist and discovered over many years, that much of our behaviors are without reason. He called this the unconscious where most of our irrational behavior was directed towards pleasure-seeking drives.


After the brutality of World War 1, writers started to question many ideas and traditional beliefs. In the 1920's, writers T.S. Eliot and William Butler Yeats wrote about the destruction of the war.

1. Writers Reflect Society's Concerns

Czech-born author Franz Kafka wrote The Trial (1925) and The Castle (1926), both which feature people caught in situations that they don't understand and can't escape. Also, James Joyce gained popularity after she wrote Ulysses (1922) which focused on the lives of three people in Dublin, Ireland. Her book didn't use normal sentence structure because she tried to mirror the workings of the human mind.

2. Thinkers React to Uncertainties

Jean Paul Sartre lead a movement in which thinkers turned to philosophy known as existentialism. Existentialists believed that there is no universal meaning to life. Each person creates his or her own meaning in life by the choices they make. They were influenced by the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. In the 1880's, he wrote how Western ideas had limited people's creativity. His thinkings influenced politics in Italy and Germany in the 1920's and 1930's.

Friedrich Nietzsche


Painting and music began to evolve after World War 1.

1. Artists Rebel Against Tradition

Artists started to show the world of emotion and imagination rather than realistic representations of objects. Inspired by traditional African art, Georges Braque of France and Pablo Picasso of Spain founded Cubism in 1907. This transformed shapes into geometric forms. Often several views were depicted at the same time. Freud inspired another art movement called Surrealism. This sought to link the world of dreams with real life. The term surreal means "beyond or above reality." Many of their paintings have an eerie, dreamlike quality and depict objects in unrealistic ways.

2. Composers Try New Styles

Composers such as Igor Stravinsky and Arnold Schoenberg moved away from traditional styles of music. Jazz emerged in the United States. It was developed by musicians, mainly African Americans, in New Orleans, Memphis, and Chicago.


Since the war, people were willing to experiment with different ideas and ways of life.

1. Women's Roles Change

After World War 1, women's suffrage became law in many countries. They abandoned restrictive clothing and hairstyles as well as drove cars , drank, and smoked in public. An increasing number spoke out for greater freedom in their lives. Also, women started working more in medicine, education, and journalism.


During the war, scientists developed new medical treatments as well as improvements to transportation and communication.

1. The Automobile Alters Society

Some advancements to the automobile were to the electric starters, air-filled tires, and more powerful engines. They had headlights and chrome-plated bumpers. British factories produced 34,000 cars in 1913 and by 1937, the British were producing 511,000 cars a year. This caused more people to travel for pleasure, new businesses opened to serve the mobile tourists, and people to move to suburbs to work in the cities.

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, Charles Lindbergh flew 33 hours from New York to Paris. At first only the rich were able to afford air travel.

3. Radio and Movies Dominate Popular Entertainment

Guglielmo Marconi conducted his first successful experiments with the radio in 1895. In 1920, the world's first commercial radio station--KDKA in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania--began broadcasting. Motion pictures were also a major industry in the 1920's. In Europe, film was a serious art form, but in Los Angeles, movies were entertainment. Charlie Chaplin was the first biggest star. The addition of sound eventually transformed movies.

Section 2 - A Worldwide Depression


The cost of WW1 was affected humans and economics. It left almost every European country nearly bankrupt.

1. Unstable 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. 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, the large number of political parties made effective government difficult. Some countries had over a dozen political parties. This made it almost impossible for a single party to win 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 a strong leadership and move toward long-term goals. Voters in several countries were then willing to sacrifice democratic government for strong, authoritarian leadership.


Germany developed a new government in 1919 known as the Weimar Republic. It was named after the city where the national assembly met. It was weak from the start however, as it had too many political parties. Also, 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 faced economic problems unlike Britain and France because they had not greatly increased its wartime taxes. To pay for the war, Germany simply printed money. After Germany lost, the money had lost its value. Because of this, Germany printed even more money. Sever inflation arose and people couldn't even buy the most basic goods. For example, in Berlin a loaf 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.

2. Attempts at Economic Stability

Germany recovered from the inflation thanks to the work of an international committee. It was lead by Charles Dawes, and American banker. The Dawes Plan provided for a $200 million loan from American banks to stabilize Germany currency and strengthen its economy. The plan also set a more realistic schedule for Germany's reparations payments. It was put into effect in 1924 and by 1929, German factories were producing as much as they had before the war.

3. Efforts at a Lasting Peace

Germany's foreign minister, Gustav Stresemann, and France's foreign minister, Aristide Briand, tried to improve their relations between the two countries. They met in 1925 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. 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 signed. The treaty said war was an instrument of national policy. The refusal of the U.S. weakened the Union.

C. Financial Collapse

The United States economy sustained the world economy. If it collapsed, the whole world's economic system might go down. In 1929, it did.

1. A Flawed U.S. Economy

Weaknesses occurred in the U.S. economy such as distribution of wealth, overproduction, and the fact the Americans were buying less. Since American factories were producing so much, it led to enormous profits, but the wealth was not evenly distributed. The richest 5% of the population received 33% of all personal income and 60% of all American families earned less than $2,000 a year. Thus, most families could not buy the goods which caused store owners to cut back their orders from factories. This made factories not produce as much so they cut back expenses and laid off workers. During the 1920's, overproduction affected American farmers as well. They were producing many crops while Australian, Latin American, and European farmers were giving them competition. This caused prices and profits down. Unable to sell their crops, farmers could not pay off loans which then caused banks to weaken.

2. The Stock Market Crashes

New York City's Wall Street was the financial capital of the world. The booming U.S. economy showed in soaring prices for stocks. Many middle-income people began buying stocks for a small percentage of a stock's price as a down payment and borrowed the rest from a stockbroker. Stock prices got too high in September 1929 which made many people sell their stocks. By October 29, 16 million stocks were sold as the market collapses.


People could not pay the money they owed on margin purchases. Stocks were now worthless. The unemployment rates began to rise as wages declined. A business slump, which would come to be called the Great Depression, followed. By 1932, factory production had been cut in half. Around 9 million people lost the money in their savings accounts when banks had no money to pay them. Many farmers lost their lands and by 1933, one-fourth of all American workers had no jobs.

1. A Global Depression

Worried bankers demanded repayment of their overseas loans, and American investors withdrew their money from Europe. 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 however, conditions worsened for the U.S. The country raised tariffs and other nations also imposed their own higher tariffs. World Trade dropped by 65% as unemployment rates soared.

2. Effects Throughout the World

Austria's largest bank failed while in Asia, both farmers and urban workers suffered as the value of exports fell by half between 1929 and 1931. Prices collapsed as European and U.S. demand for Latin American products decreased.


1. Britain Takes Steps to Improve Its Economy

To fight the Depression, 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.By 1937, unemployment had been cut in half, and production had risen above 1929 levels.

2. France Responds to Economic Crisis

France was different from Britain in that it was still heavily agricultural and less dependent on foreign trade. In 1933, five coalition governments formed and fell. Many political leaders feared the growth of antidemocratic forces, 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. Yet the unemployment rate still remained very high.

3. Socialist Governments Find Solutions

Denmark, Sweden, and Norway 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, the governments taxed all citizens.

4. Recovery in the United States

In 1932, Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected as president. He 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. Large amounts of public money were spent on welfare and relief programs. Regulations were imposed to reform the stock market and the banking systems.

Section 3 - Fascism Rises in Europe


Fascism was a new, militant political movement that emphasized loyalty to the state and obedience to its leader. It had no clearly defined theory or program. Fascists believed that nations must struggle--peaceful states were doomed to be conquered. They pledged their loyalty to an authoritarian leader. Also, Fascists wore uniforms of a certain color, used special salutes, and held mass rallies. Fascism was similar to communism in that both systems were ruled by dictators who allowed only their own political party, both denied individual rights, and in both, the state was supreme. However, unlike Communists, Fascists, did not seek a classless society, rather they believed that each class had its place and function. In most cases, Fascist parties were made up of aristocrats and industrialists, war veterans, and the lower middle class.

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 as well as rising inflation and unemployment. Italians wanted a leader to take action. A newspaper editor and politician named Benito Mussolini vowed to give Italy a strong leadership. He founded the Fascist Party in 1919 and as economic problems worsened, his popularity increased. As groups of Fascists attacked Communists and Socialists on the streets, Mussolini began to win support from the middle classes, the aristocracy, and industrial leaders. In October 1922, about 30,000 Fascists marched on Rome. They demanded that King Victor Emmanuel III put Mussolini in charge of the government. The King decided that Mussolini was the best hope for his dynasty to survive. After widespread violence and a threatened uprising, Mussolini took power “legally.”

Statue of Mussolini

2. Il Duce's Leadership

Mussolini was now Il Duce, or the leader. He abolished democracy and outlawed all political parties except the Fascists. He also did away with strikes. He sought to control the economy by allying the Fascists with the industrialists and large landowners.


Adolf Hitler was a little-known political leader whose early life had been marked by disappointment. During WW1, he volunteered for the German army and twice awarded the Iron Cross, a medal for bravery.

1. The Rise of the Nazis

At the end of the war, Hitler joined a right-wing political group. This group shared his belief that the Treaty of Versailles needed to be overturned. That group later named itself the National Socialist German Worker's Party, called Nazi for short. Its policies formed the German brand of fascism known as Nazism. The party adopted the swastika as its symbol. Within a short time, Hitler was elected as the leader of the Nazi party. They planned to seize power in Munich in 1923. The attempt failed, and Hitler was arrested. He was tried and sentenced to five years in prison but only served less than nine months. While in prison, Hitler wrote Mein Kampf (My Struggle) which shared his beliefs and goals for Germany. He declared that anybody that was not German was an inferior race and he also said that Germany was overcrowded and needed more lebensraum, or living space. Since the Great Depression, people looked to Hitler, hoping for security and leadership.


The Nazis had become the largest political party by 1932. In 1933, they advised President Paul von Hindenburg to name Hitler chancellor. Once in office, he called for a new election, however six days before the election, a fire destroyed the Reichstag building. The Nazi's blamed the Communists. Hitler used his power to turn Germany into a totalitarian state. He banned all other political parties and had opponents arrested. Meanwhile the SS formed and only answered to Hitler. In 1934, they arrested and murdered hundreds of Hitler's enemies. This action applied by the Gestapo, the Nazi secret police, shocked Germans into total obedience. The Nazi's took command of the economy building factories and putting millions of Germans to work. By 1936, the unemployment rate dropped from 6 million to 1.5 million.

1. The Fuhrer is Supreme

Hitler wanted to control every aspect of German life. He turned the press, radio, literature, painting, and film into propaganda tools. Churches could not criticize the Nazis or the government. Schoolchildren had to join the Hitler Youth (for boys) or the League of German Girls.

2. Hitler Makes War on the Jews

Even though Jews were less than one percent of the population, the Nazi's hated them. Beginning in 1933, the Nazis passed laws depriving Jews of most of their rights. On November 9, 1938, Nazi mobs attacked Jews in their homes and on the streets and destroyed thousands of Jewish-owned buildings. This rampage, called Kristallnaht (Night of the Broken Glass), signaled the real start of the process of eliminating Jews from German life.


In Hungary in 1919, after a brief Communist regime, military forces and wealthy landowners joined to make Admiral Miklos 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. In 1935, only one democracy, Czechoslovakia, remained in eastern Europe. Democracy survived in Britain, France, and the Scandinavian countries. By the mid-1930's, the powerful nations of the world were split into two antagonistic camps--democratic and totalitarian.

Section 4 - Aggressors Invade Nations


During the 1920's, the Japanese government became more democratic. Its parliamentary system had several weaknesses-the constitution put strict limits on the powers of the prime minister and the cabinet, and civilian leaders had little control over the armed forces.

1. Militarists Take Control of Japan

When the Great Depression struck, 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. They made Emperor Hirohito the symbol of state power. Japan's militarists planned a Pacific empire that included a conquered China and this empire would provide the country with raw materials and markets for its goods. It would also give Japan room for its rising population.

Japan flag

2. Japan Invades Manchuria

China had a northeast province named Manchuria. It was rich in iron and coal. In 1931, the Japanese army seized Manchuria. People began arriving to build mines and factories. The attack on Manchuria was the first direct challenge to the League of Nations. Many League members protested after the attack and in 1933, Japan withdrew from the League.

3. Japan Invades China

Four years later, Japan and China went to war. Beijing and other northern cities as well as the capital, Nanjing, fell to the Japanese. Forced to retreat, Jiang Jieshi set up a new capital at Chongqing.


1. Mussolini Attacks Ethiopia

Since Ethiopia defended itself from Italy in the 1890's, Mussolini wanted to avenge themselves and ordered a massive invasion of Ethiopia in October 1935. The League condemned the attack but did nothing to help them.

2. Hitler Defies Versailles Treaty

Hitler wanted to undo the Treaty of Versailles so in March 1935, Germany moved into the Rhineland. Stunned, the French were unwilling to risk war. The British urged appeasement, giving in to an aggressor to keep peace. Hitler later admitted that he would've backed down if France and Britain had challenged him. This increased Germany's power and caused him to speed up his expansion. Mussolini thought that it would be a good idea to team up with Germany, so in October 1936, the two dictators reached an agreement known as the Rome-Berlin Axis. A month later, Germany made an agreement with Japan. Germany, Italy, and Japan came to be called the Axis Powers.

Adolf Hitler

3. Civil War Erupts in Spain

In July 1936, Spanish army leaders, favoring a Fascist-style government, joined General Francisco Franco in a revolt. Thus began a civil war that lasted for three years. Hitler and Mussolini helped Franco's forces while only the Soviet Union sent equipment and advisers to help the Republicans. Finally in 1939, Republican resistance collapsed. Franco became Spain's Fascist dictator.


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 WW1 had been a costly error.

2. The German Reich Expands

Hitler announced to his advisers his plans to absorb Austria and Czechoslovakia into the Third Reich, or German Empire. The Treaty of Versailles forbid an alliance between Austria and Germany, but Hitler sent troops in and annexed it anyways. Hitler then tried to take over Czechoslovakia but they resisted and turned to France for help.

3. Britain and France Again Choose Appeasement

The Munich Conference was held on September 29, 1938 and involved Germany, France, Britain, and Italy. Britain and France agreed that Hitler could take the Sudetenland. In exchange, Hitler pledged to respect Czechoslovakia's new borders. Less than six months after the meeting, Germany took Czechoslovakia and Italy seized Albanis. Then 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.

4. Nazis and Soviets Sign Nonaggression Pact

Britain and France asked the Soviet Union to join them in stopping Hitler's aggression. Stalin talked with Hitler, however, and the two dictators reached an agreement. Germany and Russia agreed to never attack one another and on August 23, 1939, their leaders signed a nonaggression pact.


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