Bruce Morrison » Years of Crisis, 1919–1939

Years of Crisis, 1919–1939

Societies undergo political, economic, and social changes that lead to renewed aggression.


Section 1: Postwar Uncertainty

Section 2: A Worldwide Depression

Section 3: Fascism Rises in Europe

Section 4: Aggressors Invade Nations


Section 1: Postwar Uncertainty

The postwar period is one of loss and uncertainty but also one of invention, creativity, and new ideas.


A New Revolution in Science


Impact of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity

  • Albert Einstein—offered radically new ideas in field of physics
  • Theory of relativity—idea that space and time are not constant
  • New ideas make world seem more uncertain than before


Influence of Freudian Psychology

  • Sigmund Freud—Austrian doctor with new ideas about the mind
  • Claims that human behavior is not based on reason


Literature in the 1920s


Impact of the War

  • Suffering caused by World War I leads many to doubt old beliefs


Writers Reflect Society’s Concerns

  • Novels of Kafka reflect uneasiness of postwar years
  • Novels of Joyce reflect Freud’s ideas about the mind


Thinkers React to Uncertainties

  • Philosophy ofexistentialism—no universal meaning to life
  • Friedrich Nietzsche urges return to ancient heroic values


Revolution in the Arts


Artists Rebel Against Tradition

  • Artists want to depict inner world of mind
  • Cubism transforms natural shapes into geometric forms
  • Surrealism—art movement that links dreams with real life


Composers Try New Styles

  • Composers move away from traditional styles
  • Jazz—musical style that captures age’s new freedom


Society Challenges Convention


Women’s Roles Change

  • Women take on new roles during World War I
  • This work helps many win the right to vote
  • In 1920s, women adopt freer clothing, hairstyles
  • Some women seek new careers


Technological Advances Improve Life


The Automobile Alters Society

  • Cars improve after the war
  • Cars become less expensive
  • Increased auto use changes people’s lives


Airplanes Transform Travel

  • Charles Lindbergh is first to fly alone acrossAtlantic


Radio and Movies Dominate Popular Entertainment

  • In 1920s, commercial radio stations spread acrossU.S.
  • Motion pictures become major industry, art form


Section 2: A Worldwide Depression

An economic depression in the United States spreads throughout the world and lasts for a decade.


Postwar Europe


Unstable New Democracies

  • Fall of kingdoms, empires creates new democracies inEurope
  • People have little experience with representative government
  • Some formcoalition governments—temporary, multi-party alliances
  • Frequent changes in government create instability


The Weimar Republic


Democracy in Germany

  • WeimarRepublic—Germany’s democratic government formed in 1919
  • Government has serious weaknesses


Inflation Causes Crisis in Germany

  • Value of German currency falls dramatically


Attempts at Economic Stability

  • American loans help revive German economy


Efforts at a Lasting Peace

  • Germanyand France sign treaty pledging no more war
  • Many nations sign a similar agreement, the Kellogg-Briand pact


Financial Collapse


A Flawed U.S. Economy

  • Weaknesses in American economy cause serious problems
  • Wealth is distributed unevenly
  • Most people are too poor to buy goods produced
  • Factory owners cut back on production, lay off workers
  • Farmers produce more food than people can eat
  • Many farmers cannot repay loans and lose their land


The Stock Market Crashes

  • Stock prices soar
  • Many people buy stocks on credit
  • Investors begin selling stocks, which lowers prices
  • On October 29, 1929, stock market collapses as prices fall very low


The Great Depression


Economic Downturn

  • Great Depression—long business slump of 1930s
  • Marked by bank failures, loss of savings, unemployment


A Global Depression

  • American economic problems create problems in other countries
  • World trade falls sharply


Effects Throughout the World

  • Germanyand Austria suffer greatly, as do Asia and Latin America


The World Confronts the Crisis


Britain Takes Steps to Improve Its Economy

  • British voters elect coalition government, avoids political extremes
  • Government brings about slow, steady economic recovery
  • Preserves democracy by avoiding political extremes


France Responds to Economic Crisis

  • Francehas more self-sufficient economy
  • Preserves democracy in spite of economic troubles


Socialist Governments Find Solutions

  • Public works programs help Scandinavian countries recover


Recovery in the United States

  • FranklinD.Roosevelt—American president during Depression
  • New Deal—Roosevelt’s program of government reform to improve economy


Section 3: Fascism Rises in Europe

In response to political turmoil and economic crises, Italy and Germany turn to totalitarian dictators.


Fascism’s Rise in Italy


New Political Movement

  • Fascism is new, militant political movement
  • Emphasizes nationalism and loyalty to authoritarian leader


Mussolini Takes Control

  • Italians want a leader who will take action
  • Fascist Party leader,Benito Mussolini, promises to rescueItaly
  • Italian king puts Mussolini in charge of government

Il Duce’s Leadership

  • Mussolini takes firm control of politics and economy inItaly


Hitler Rises to Power in Germany


A New Power

  • Adolf Hitler—obscure political figure in 1920sGermany


The Rise of the Nazis

  • Nazism—German brand of fascism
  • Hitler becomes Nazi leader, plots to seize national power
  • Mein Kampf—Hitler‘s book detailing beliefs, goals
  • Hitler believes thatGermanyneeds lebensraum, or living space
  • Germans turn to Hitler when economy collapses


Hitler Becomes Chancellor


Hitler’s New Power

  • Hitler is named chancellor
  • TurnsGermanyinto totalitarian state
  • Uses brutal tactics to eliminate enemies
  • Nazis take command of economy


The Führer Is Supreme

  • Hitler takes control over every aspect of German life


Hitler Makes War on the Jews

  • Nazis deprive Jews of rights, promote violence against them


Other Countries Fall to Dictators


World Is Divided

  • Most of eastern Europe falls to dictators
  • OnlyCzechoslovakiaretains democratic government
  • World splits into two camps—democratic and totalitarian


Section 4: Aggressors Invade Nations

As Germany, Italy, and Japan conquer other countries, the rest of the world does nothing to stop them.


JapanSeeks an Empire


Militarists Take Control of Japan

  • Military leaders take control of country
  • Want to solve economic problems through foreign expansion


Japan Invades Manchuria

  • Japanhas investments in Manchuria, Chinese province
  • In 1931, Japanese army seizesManchuria
  • League of Nations protests action;Japanwithdraws from League


Japan Invades China

  • In 1937,Japanlaunches war on China


European Aggressors on the March


Mussolini Attacks Ethiopia

  • In 1935, Mussolini attacksEthiopia
  • League of Nationsdoes not stop aggression


Hitler Defies Versailles Treaty

  • In 1935, Hitler begins rebuilding German army
  • In 1936,Germanyoccupies Rhineland
  • Britainurges appeasement, a policy of giving in to aggression
  • Germany,Italy, and Japan—the Axis Powers—form an alliance


Civil War Erupts in Spain

  • In 1931, a republic is declared inSpain
  • In 1936, General Francisco Franco leads rebellion
  • Hitler and Mussolini help Franco and his Fascists
  • In 1939, Franco wins Spanish Civil War
  • Franco becomesSpain’s Fascist dictator


Democratic Nations Try to Preserve Peace


United States Follows an Isolationist Policy

  • Isolationism—avoidance of political ties with other countries
  • In 1935, Congress passes Neutrality Acts


The German Reich Expands

  • Hitler plans to expandThird Reich—German Empire
  • In 1938, Hitler annexesAustria
  • Hitler demands the Sudetenland fromCzechoslovakia
  • Czechs refuse, askFrancefor help


Britain and France Again Choose Appeasement

  • Leaders meet at Munich Conference to settle Czech crisis
  • Britainand France agree to let Hitler take Sudetenland
  • But in 1939, Hitler still takes rest ofCzechoslovakia
  • Mussolini takesAlbania; Hitler demands part ofPoland


Nazis and Soviets Sign Nonaggression Pact

  • In 1939, Stalin and Hitler pledge never to attack one another