Influence of Freudian Psychology
Sigmund Freud had ideas as impacting on the world as Einstein's. He treated people with psychological problems. He constructed ideas about the mind and human behavior. He said that much of human behavior is irrational. This part of the mind he called unconscious. He said that pieces of the mind like pleasure-seeking drives, the conscious mind was not aware of. These ideas put down faith, although they spread in the 1920's.
Writers Reflect Societies Concerns
War horror made an impression on writers in this time period. Franz Kafka wrote novels like The Trial (1925) and The Castle (1926). These involved people caught in situations they cannot control or escape.
Thinkers React to Uncertainties
In the search for meaning, many people turned to existentialism. Jean Paul Sartre of France was a major leader of the philosophy. Existentialists believed that people create their own meaning of life through their actions and choices. They were influenced by Friedrich Nietzsche. In the 1800's he wrote the Western ideas of reason, democracy, and progress had made people less creative and fizzled their actions. He pushed the return of the values of pride, assertiveness, and strength. These ideas got much attention in the 20th century and made an impact on politics in Italy and Germany in the 1920's and 1930's.
Composers Try New Styles
Classical and popular music composers began to move away from traditional musical styles. In The Rite of Spring, Igor Stravinsky used irregular rhythms, creating harsh sounding music. Arnold Schoenberg rejected traditional musical scales. Jazz emerged in the United States. It was developed mainly by African Americans in New Orleans, Memphis, and Chicago. It swept the United States and Europe. The new beat seemed to capture the freedom of the age.
Technological Advances Improve Life
During WWI, scientists developed new drugs and medical treatments that helped millions. The technological improvements that begun helped improve transportation and communication post-war.
The Automobile Alters Society
Plenty of automobile changes happened after the War. Cars became fancier, which was a huge change since before the war only the rich could own them. British factories put out 34,000 automobiles in 1913. After the war, prices dropped and the middle class began to be able to afford them. By 1937, the British were producing 511,000 automobiles in a single year! This lead to lifestyle changes. More people traveled for pleasure. In the U.S. and Europe, businesses started to serve mobile tourists. The auto also changed where people lived and worked.
Radio and Movies Dominate Popular Entertainment
Guglielmo Marconi made the first radio in 1895. This invention spread like wildfire throughout the United States. However, it really became big in World War I. In 1920, KDKA--in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania (the world's first commercial radio station) began. Soon many families owned radios! Movies also became a huge industry in the 1920's. Countries from Cuba to Japan made movies. In Europe film was an art form. However, in the Hollywood district in Los Angeles, where 90 percent of films were made, movies were entertainment. Charlie Chaplin was a major face in Hollywood silent films. He was best know as the portrayer of the lonely little tramp bewildered by life. In the late 1920's, sound began in movies. The advances in technology and cultural modernization "brought the world closer in touch." Global prosperity really relied on the economic well-being of the U.S. and other major nations.
The Weimar Republic
Germany's new democratic government began in 1919, the Weimar Republic. This Republic had serious weaknesses, consisting of their lack of strong democratic tradition, having too many major political parties, and millions of Germans blamed the Weimar government for their defeat and postwar humiliation because of the Treaty of Versailles instead of their wartime leaders.
Attempts at Economic Stability
Germany recovered from the 1923 inflation because of the work of an international committee. Charles Dawes, an American Banker. The Dawes Plan provided for a $220 million loan from American banks. The plan also made a more realistic schedule for Germany's reparations payments. It was put in effect in 1924. The Dawes Plan helped slow inflation. As the German economy began to recover, it attracted more loans and investments from the U.S. By 1929, German factories were producing as much as they did before the war.
The Stock Market Crashes
In 1929, NYC's Wall Street was the financial capital in the world. Banks and investment companies lined the sidewalks. At Wall Street's New York Stock Exchange, optimism about the good state of the U.S. economy soared the price of stocks. To get into this, many middle-income people began buying stocks on margin. They paid a small amount as a down payment and then borrowed the rest from a stockbroker. The system worked if prices still rose. But if they fell, investors had to pay off their loans. In September 1929, some investors began to think the stock prices were way too high. They began selling their stocks, believing the prices would fall. In October, the stock prices started to rollercoaster down. Panic broke out as everyone wanted to sell them and no one wanted to buy. On October 29, prices were at a whole new low and 16 million stocks were sold. The market fell through.
The Great Depression
People could not pay for what they needed. Stocks they paid much money for were now worthless. Within a few months of the crash, unemployment rates skyrocketed as in industrial production, prices, and wages declined. The Great Depression followed. The stock market was not all that caused this depression, however it quickened the collapse of the economy. By 1932, factory production was cut in half. Around 9 million people lost all the money in their savings accounts because banks had no money to pay them. Others lost their jobs. Many farmers could not make mortgage payments and therefore lost their land. By 1933, one-fourth of the population was out of a job.
Effects Throughout the World
Because of the war debts and dependence on American loans and investments, Germany and Austria were one of the worstly affected. Austria's largest bank failed. Asian farmers and urban workers failed. The value of exports dropped by half between 1929 and 1931. This affected Latin America as well. As European and U.S. demand for Latin American products rose, the prices dropped.
France Responds to Economic Crisis
France had a more self-sufficiant economy. In 1930, it was still heavily agriculture-based and not very dependent on foreign trade. By 1935, one million French workers were unemployed. The economic crisis helped increase political instability. In 1933, five coalition governments came to life and fell. Many political leaders were scared that antidemocratic forces in Europe were increasing. The Popular Front passed reforms to help workers. The price increases offset wage gains. Unemployment stayed high but France stayed true to preserving democratic government.
Socialist Governments Find Solutions
In Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Sweden. Norway all met the challenge of economic crisis well. They built recovery programs on the tradition of cooperative community action. In Sweden, the government sponsored massive public works projects. These kept people employed and production up. The Scandinavian countries raised pensions for the elderly, increased unemployment insurance, subsides for housing and other positives for welfare. Democracy remained intact as citizens were taxed to make these benefits happen.
Fascism's Rise in Italy
Fascism was a militant political movement. It emphasized obedience to your state and leader. Unlike Communism, this had no set theory or program. Most Fascists preached extreme nationalism. They believed that peaceful states were doomed to be overtaken. They pledged loyalty to an authoritarian leader. Each nation's fascists each had their own uniforms and special salutes, and held mass rallies. Fascism and communism both were ruled by dictators who allowed only one-party rule. Both did not allow personal rights, and they saw the state as supreme. Neither practiced democracy, although Fascists did not seek a classless society. They instead believed each class had their own place and ways of dealing in that place. The majority of Fascist parties were made of aristocrats and industrialists, war veterans, and the lower middle class. Fascists were nationalists, and Communists were internationalists.
II Duce's Leadership
Mussolini was now the new leader or II Duce. He abolished democracy and outlawed every political party except for the Fascists. Secret police jailed his opponents and government censors forced the press to broadcast or publish only Fascist doctrines. Mussolini did not allow strikes and sought to control the economy by allying the Fascists, industrialists, and large landowners. However, he never had the total control that Joseph Stalin or Adolf Hitler had.
The Rise of the Nazis
At the end of the war, Hitler put roots down in Munich. In 1919, he joined a right-wing political group. This group shared his belief that germany had to uproot the Treaty of Versailles and fight against communism. This was later called the National Socialist German Workers' Party. Nazi for short. The policies created Nazism. It set up a private militia and adopted the swastika as their symbol and wore brown shirts. Hitler became the leader of the Naxi party. Inspired by Mussolini's March on Rome, Hitler and the Nazis planned to take over Munich. The attempt failed and Hitler was jailed. He served only nine months. He wrote Mein Kampf in jail. It set forth his beliefs and Germany goals. He asserted that Germans he called "Aryans" were a master race. He said the Versailles Treaty was an outrage and other races were inferior. He said Germany was overcrowded. He promised more space by conquering eastern Europe and Russia. After leaving prison in 1924, he started the Naxi party again. Most ignored him until The Great Depression ended. When American loans stopped, the German economy went down. Civil unrest broke out. Germans were scared and turned to Hitler.
The Fuhrer Is Supreme
Hitler wanted control over every aspect of German life. Hitler turned to the press, radio, literature, painting, and film propaganda as tools to win praise for what he did. Books that didn't conform to Nazi ideas were burned in huge bonfires. Churches were not allowed to criticize them. School children had to join the Hitler Youth (boys) or the League of German Girls (girls). He believed struggle made them stronger and twisted Friedrich Nietzsche to support his ideas of force.
Other Countries Fall to Dictators
While Fascists kept taking power, the nations formed in eastern Europe after WWI were falling to dictators. In Hungary 1919, after a brief Communist regime, military and wealthy landowners joined in attempt to make Admiral Miklos Horthy the first European dictator after the war. In Poland, Marshal Jozef Pilsudski took power in 1926. In Yugoslavia, Albania, Bulgaria, and Romania, kings began turning to strong-man rule. They did not allow constitutions. In 1935, only the Czechoslovakia democracy remained in eastern Europe. Only in European nations with strong democratic traditions- Britain, France, and Scandinavian countries held democracy. With no democratic experience and severe economic problems, European countries saw dictators as the answer By mid-1930s, the powerful nations of the world were split into two antagonistic camps- democratic and totalitarian. To gain their ends, the Fascist dictators were willing to use their military. Although these dictatorships restricted civil rights, none used control as brutally as the Russian Communists or Nazis.
Militarists Take Control of Japan
As long as Japan was prosperous, the civilian government kept power. Many Japanese blamed the government for The Great Depression. Military leaders gained support and won control of the country. Unlike the Fascists, the militarists did not want to start a new form of government. They wanted to restore traditional control of the government to the military. Instead of a forceful leader, they made the emperor the symbol of state power. Keeping Emperor Hirohito as head of state gained popular support for the army leaders who ruled in his name. The Japanese militarists were strong nationalists. They wanted to begin foreign expansion to solve economic problems. They planned a Pacific empire. The empire would provide Japan with raw materials and markets for their goods. It would also give them room for their rising population.
Japan Invades China
Four years later, war started between Japan and China over a border incident. China's army (led by Jiang Jieshi) wasn't a match for the Japanese. Beijing and other northern cities including Nanjing fell to the Japanese in 1937. Japanese troops killed many captured soldiers and civilians in Nanjing. Forced to retreat westward, Jieshi set up a new capital at Chongqing. Meanwhile, the Chinese guerrillas led by Mao Zedong, continued to fight the Japanese in the conquered area.
Mussolini Attacks Ethiopia
Ethiopia was one out of Africa's three nations. The Ethiopians had successfully resisted an Italian conquest during the 1890s. To avenge the defeat, Mussolini ordered an invasion in October 1935 of Ethiopia. The Ethiopian weapons were no match to those that the Italians used. Haile Selassie appealed for help from the League. Although the League were not supportive, they did not act against it. Britain continued to allow Italian troops and supplies pass through the British-controlled Suez Canal. By giving in to Mussolini, Britain and France attempted being peace makers in Europe.
Civil War Erupts in Spain
Hitler and Mussolini tested the democracies of Europe in the Spanish Civil War. Spain was a monarchy until 1931, when republic was declared. The government held office and was run by Liberals and Socialists. In 1936, army leaders that favoured a Fascist-style government joined General Francisco Franco in revolt. So a Civil War begun. Hitler and Mussolini sent troops, tanks, and airplanes to help the Nationalists a.k.a. Franco's forces. The Republican (Spain's elected government) did not get much help internationally. The Western democracies remained neutral. Only the Soviet Union sent support. An international brigade of volunteers fought for the Republicans. In early 1939, Republican resistance collapsed. Franco was then Spain's Fascist dictator.
Britain and France Again Choose Appeasement
France and Britain were preparing to go to war when Mussolini proposed that Germany, France, Britain and Italy meet in Munich, Germany. The Munich Conference was on September 29, 1938. The Czechs were not invited. Neville Chamberlain, the British prime minister believed he could preserve peace by giving in to Hitler's demand. Britain and France agreed to let Hitler take Sudetenland. Hitler pledged to protect their borders because of this. When Chamberlain returned to London, he explained that he believed they were at peace. Winston Churchhill strongly disagreed (as a member of the British Parliament. He opposed the appeasement policy and told of what he thought the consequences would be. Less than six months later, Hitler took Czechoslovakia. Mussolini then seized Albania. Then Hitler demanded that Poland return to the former German port of Danzig.