A New Revolution In Science -The ideas of Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud had an enormous impact on the20th century. These thinkers were part of a scientific revolution as important as that brought about centuries earlier by Copernicus and Galileo.Impact of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity German-born physicist Albert Einstein offered startling new ideas on space, time, energy, and matter.Influence of Freudian Psychology The ideas of Austrian physician Sigmund Freud were as revolutionary as Einstein’s.
Literature in the 1920s-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.Writers Reflect Society’s Concerns The horror of war made a deep impression on many writers. The Czech-born author Franz Kafka wrote eerie novels such as The Trial (1925) and The Castle (1926). His books feature people caught in threatening situations they can neither understand nor escape.Thinkers React to Uncertainties In their search for meaning in an uncertain world, some thinkers turned to the philosophy known as existentialism.
Revolution in the Arts-Artists Rebel Against Tradition Artists rebelled against earlier realistic styles of painting. They wanted to depict the inner world of emotion and imagination rather than show realistic representations of objects. Expressionist painters like Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky used bold colors and distorted or exaggerated forms.Surrealism, an art movement that sought to link the world of dreams with real life, was inspired by Freud’s ideas. The term surreal means “beyond or above reality.” Surrealists tried to call on the unconscious part of their minds.Composers Try New Styles 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.
Society Challenges Convention-Women’s Roles Change The independent spirit of the times showed clearly in the changes women were making in their lives. The war had allowed women to take on new roles. Their work in the war effort was decisive in helping them win the right to vote. After the war, women’s suffrage became law in many countries, including the United States, Britain, Germany, Sweden, and Austria. Woman abandoned restrictive clothing and hairstyles.
Technological Advances Improve Life- The Automobile Alters Society The automobile benefited from a host of wartime innovations and improvements—electric starters, air-filled tires, and more powerful engines. Cars were now sleek and brightly polished, complete with headlights and chrome-plated bumpers. In prewar Britain, autos were owned exclusively by the rich. British factories produced 34,000 autos in 1913. After the war, prices dropped, and the middle class could afford cars. By 1937, the British were producing 511,000 autos a year.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, an American pilot named Charles Lindbergh captured world attention with a 33-hour solo flight from New York to Paris. Most of the world’s major passenger airlines were established during the 1920s.Radio and Movies Dominate Popular Entertainment Guglielmo Marconi conducted his first successful experiments with radio in 1895. However, the real push for radio development came during World War I.
Section Two: A Worldwide Depression By the late 1920s, European nations were rebuilding war torn economies. They were aided by loans from the more prosperous United States. Only the United States and Japan came out of the war in better financial shape than before. In the United States, Americans seemed confident that the country would continue on the road to even greater economic prosperity. One sign of this was the booming stock market. Yet the American economy had serious weaknesses that were soon to bring about the most severe economic downturn the world had yet known.
Postwar Europe-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. 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.
The Weimar Republic-Germany’s new democratic government was set up in 1919. Known as the Weimar Republic, it was named after the city where the national assembly. Inflation Causes Crisis in Germany- 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. Attempts at Economic Stability- Germany recovered from the 1923 inflation thanks largely to the work of an international committee. The committee was headed by Charles Dawes, an American banker. The Dawes Plan provided for a $200 million loan from American banks to stabilize German currency and strengthen its economy.
Financial Collapse-In the late 1920s, American economic prosperity largely sustained the world economy. If the U.S. economy weakened, the whole world’s economic system might collapse. In 1929, it did.A Flawed U.S. Economy -Despite prosperity, several weaknesses in the U.S. economy caused serious problems. These included uneven distribution of wealth, overproduction by business and agriculture, and the fact that many Americans were buying less. By 1929, American factories were turning out nearly half of the world’s industrial goods.The Stock Market Crashes- In 1929, New York City’s Wall Street was the financial capital of the world. Banks and investment companies lined its sidewalks. At Wall Street’s New York Stock Exchange, optimism about the booming U.S. economy showed in soaring prices for stocks.
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 of the crash, unemployment rates began to rise as industrial production, prices, and wages declined. A long business slump, which would come to be called the Great Depression, followed. The stock market crash alone did not cause the Great Depression, but it quickened the collapse of the economy and made the Depression more difficult. By 1932, factory production had been cut in half. Thousands of businesses failed, and banks closed. Around 9 million people lost the money in their savings accounts when banks had no money to pay them. Many farmers lost their lands when they could not make mortgage payments. By 1933, one-fourth of all American workers had no jobs. A Global Depression- The collapse of the American economy sent shock waves around the world. 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 policy backfired.
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.Britain Takes Steps to Improve Its Economy -The Depression hit Britain severely. To meet the emergency, 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. These measures brought about a slow but steady recovery. By 1937, unemployment had been cut in half, and production had risen above 1929 levels. Britain avoided political extremes and preserved democracy.France Responds to Economic Crisis- Unlike Britain, France had a more selfsufficient economy. In 1930, it was still heavily agricultural and less dependent on foreign trade. Nevertheless, by 1935, one million French workers were unemployed. The economic crisis contributed to political instability. In 1933, five coalition governments formed and fell.Socialist Governments Find Solutions -The Socialist governments in the Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway also met the challenge of economic crisis successfully. They 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 benefits, the governments taxed all citizens. Democracy remained intact. Recovery in the United States -In 1932, in the first presidential election after the Depression had begun, U.S. voters elected Franklin D. Roosevelt. His confident manner appealed to millions of Americans who felt bewildered by the Depression. On March 4, 1933, the new president sought to restore Americans’ faith in their nation.
Section 3: Fascism Rises in Europe
loyalty to the state and obedience to its leader. Unlike communism, fascism had no clearly defined theory or program. Nevertheless, most Fascists shared several ideas. They preached an extreme form of nationalism, or loyalty to one’s country. Fascists believed that nations must struggle—peaceful states were doomed to be conquered. They pledged loyalty to an authoritarian leader who guided and brought order to the state. In each nation, Fascists wore uniforms of a certain color, used special salutes, and held mass rallies. In some ways, fascism was similar to communism. Both systems were ruled by dictators who allowed only their own political party (one-party rule). Both denied individual rights. In both, the state was supreme. Neither practiced any kind of democracy. 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. Also, Fascists were nationalists, and Communists were internationalists, hoping to unite workers worldwide
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. Rising inflation and unemployment also contributed to widespread social unrest. To growing numbers of Italians, their democratic government seemed helpless to deal with the country’s problems. They wanted a leader who would take action.Il Duce’s Leadership-Mussolini was now Il Duce the leader. He abolished democracy and outlawed all political parties except the Fascists. Secret police jailed his opponents. Government censors forced radio stations and publications to broadcast or publish only Fascist doctrines. Mussolini outlawed strikes. He sought to control the economy by allying the Fascists with the industrialists and large landowners. However, Mussolini never had the total control achieved by Joseph Stalin in the Soviet Union or Adolf Hitler in Germany.
Hitler Rises to Power in Germany
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 Rise of the Nazis- At the end of the war, Hitler settled in Munich. In 1919, he joined a tiny right-wing political group. This group shared his belief that Germany had to overturn the Treaty of Versailles and combat communism. The group later named itself the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, called Nazi for short. Its policies formed the German brand of fascism known as Nazism.
Hitler Becomes Chancellor
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.The Führer Is Supreme- Hitler wanted more than just economic and political power—he wanted control over every aspect of German life. To shape public opinion and to win praise for his leadership, 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 (for boys) or the League of German Girls.Hitler Makes War on the Jews- Hatred of Jews, or anti-Semitism, was a key part of Nazi ideology. Although Jews were less than one percent of the population, the Nazis used them as scapegoats for all Germany’s troubles since the war. This led to a wave of anti-Semitism across Germany. Beginning in 1933, the Nazis passed laws depriving Jews of most of their rights. Violence against Jews mounted.
Other Countries Fall to Dictators
While Fascists took power in Italy and Germany, the nations formed in eastern Europe after World War I also were falling to dictators. In Hungary in 1919, after a brief Communist regime, military forces and wealthy landowners joined to make Admiral Miklós 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. They suspended constitutions and silenced foes. In 1935, only one democracy, Czechoslovakia, remained in eastern Europe. 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 dictatorship as the only way to prevent instability.
Section 4: Aggressors Invade Nations
By the mid-1930s, Germany and Italy seemed bent on military conquest. The major democracies—Britain, France, and the United States—were distracted by economic problems at home and longed to remain at peace. With the world moving toward war, many nations pinned their hopes for peace on the League of Nations. As fascism spread in Europe, however, a powerful nation in Asia moved toward a similar system. Following a period of reform and progress in the 1920s, Japan fell under military rule.
Japan Seeks an Empire
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.Militarists Take Control of Japan- As long as Japan remained prosperous, the civilian government kept power. But when the Great Depression struck in 1929, 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. Instead of a forceful leader like Mussolini or Hitler, the militarists made the emperor the symbol of state power. Keeping Emperor Hirohito as head of state won popular support for the army leaders who ruled in his name.Japan Invades Manchuria- 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.Japan Invades China- Four years later, a border incident touched off a full-scale war between Japan and China. Japanese forces swept into northern China. Despite having a million soldiers, China’s army led by Jiang Jieshi was no match for the better equipped and trained Japanese. Beijing and other northern cities as well as the capital, Nanjing, fell to the Japanese in 1937. Japanese troops killed tens of thousands of captured soldiers and civilians in Nanjing.
European Aggressors on the March
The League’s failure to stop the Japanese encouraged European Fascists to plan aggression of their own. The Italian leader Mussolini dreamed of building a colonial empire in Africa like those of Britain and France.
Mussolini Attacks Ethiopia- 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.Hitler Defies Versailles Treaty- Hitler had long pledged to undo the Versailles Treaty. Among its provisions, the treaty limited the size of Germany’s army. In March 1935, the Führer announced that Germany would not obey these restrictions. The League issued only a mild condemnation.Civil War Erupts in Spain- Hitler and Mussolini again tested the will of the democracies of Europe in the Spanish Civil War. Spain had been a monarchy until 1931, when a republic was declared. The government, run by liberals and Socialists, held office amid many crises. In July 1936, army leaders, favoring a Fascist-style government, joined General Francisco Franco in a revolt.
Democratic Nations Try to Preserve Peace
Instead of taking a stand against Fascist aggression in the 1930s, Britain and France repeatedly made concessions, hoping to keep peace. Both nations 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.
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 World War I had been a costly error. Beginning in 1935, Congress passed three Acts. The German Reich Expands- On November 5, 1937, Hitler announced to his advisers his plans to absorb Austria and Czechoslovakia into the Third Reich or German Empire. The Treaty of Versailles prohibited Anschluss 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 Again Choose Appeasement- France and Britain were preparing for war when Mussolini proposed a meeting of Germany, France, Britain, and Italy in Munich, Germany. The Munich Conference was held on September 29, 1938. The Czechs were not invited. British prime minister Neville Chamberlain believed that he could preserve peace by giving in to Hitler’s demand. Britain and France agreed that Hitler could take the Sudetenland. In exchange, Hitler pledged to respect Czechoslovakia’s new borders. When Chamberlain returned to London, he told cheering crowds, “I believe it is peace for our time.” Winston Churchill, then a member of the British Parliament, strongly disagreed.