The aftermath of WAR (1919-1939)


After the first world war, Europe was no longer the leading role as a banker. United States was starting

to grow its power economically, Japan was getting stronger and North America ruled over the great routes from Atlantic to the Pacific. Europe however spent a lot of money on war for four years, thus at the end of the war the leaders of the European countries faced complications with the wish to return their country to the way it was before the war.

Economic problems in Britain

Britain cherished the return of the veterans with their slogan “Homes fit for heroes”, however sadly the returning soldiers came back to no jobs. The British Island was depended a lot on their trade for prosperity, so in 1920 the country faced severe economic blows to its export industries (cotton textiles, steel and coal). Other complications would be :

  • German submarines destroyed 40% of the British merchant fleet during the war.

  • The trading nations, specifically USA and Japan competed with Britain in many oversea markets.

  • Many nations imposed high tariffs on import after the war, even though they were actually aimed for domestic domestic industries from foreign competition, they still damaged Britain.

  • Britain also had a lack of developed technology, thus also cutting deeply into the British trading system. Even though Britain was the first country to industrialize, many of its factories were old and equipments were outdated ever since before the war. Coal mines needed replacement and outdated equipment hit hard on the British steel and shipbuilding industries, thus facing harsh competition from newer industrial nations.

As the trade and economy declined, British manufactures cut down on their production and by 1920, 700,000 were unemployed and by 1921 it went up to 2 million (almost a quarter of the work force). However by 1922, it fell to 1 million unemployed and the 1 million continued being jobless for a complete decade. In 1926, Coal exports fell thus the coal owners cut down the wages which led to a General Strike and it lasted for nine days. However, troops and nonunion workers supplied vital services, thus the strike failed. The government responded with a anti-labor legislation, thus spreading bitterness among the workers. Britain had also borrowed money from US and because of the trade decline, they could not pay it back and at the same time Germany could not make the reparation payments owed to Britain under the Versaille treaty, so in conclusion even though Britain was going through a lot of economic declines, they remained as a stable democratic nation.

An independent Ireland

The Irish have fought for centuries to become free from the British. The British Parliament had passed a home rule bill in 1914, however it got delayed when the focus switched onto the war. In 1916, the nationalistic leaders of Ireland organized the Easter Rebellion against Britain but were defeated by the British troops and leaders were executed. The executions agitated the Irish people more and the Irish Republican Army gained more supporters.

Britain tried to end this conflict by splitting Ireland into two sections. The southern countries, which were Catholic became the Irish Free State, a dominion in the British Commonwealth. The northern section of Ulster, which were largely Protestants remained part of the Great Britain. Many Protestants in the northern section did not want to be a part of the Irish Free State and many Catholics in the Northern section demanded a united Ireland, which is all an issue still remaining till today.

Postwar recovery in France

In similarity to Britain, France also suffered economically with heavy blows on the Western Front and like Britain borrowed a lot of money during the War. Ten million acres of farmland had been turned into wasteland and 20,000 factories and 6,000 public buildings were destroyed by the war. In contrast to Britain, France was able to keep their unemployed relatively low in the 1920’s. However, The french government borrowed double to be able to reconstruct the country and bring it into its original shape. As a result, this led to a huge burden on the french to pay it back as well as inflation and a decrease in the french currency. By 1926, The head of the government, Raymond Poincaré reduced government expenses, increased taxes and stabilized the currency. With the help of the many reforms, France gained a strong economic recovery.

France also invested a lot in military preparations, considering Germany had invaded France within the same range. By the 1920’s, France was determined to prevent the invasion to ever happen again, thus building the Maginot Line, which was an elaborate system of fortifications, along the french borders with Germany and Luxemburg.

German Inflation

The Versaille Treaty forced Germany to pay stiff preparations with the total of 33 Billion dollars. The German government tried to pay of the debt by printing out more paper money, which on its own led to inflation. The peak of the inflation was in 1923, where a person had to fill a wheelbarrow with money for just a loaf of bread. This inflation led to political issues as well for the Germans. As a response to the crisis the German government chose to call a temporary halt to reparations payments, which in 1923 France took advantage of by calling troops and occupy the Ruhr (industrial heartland of Germany). The french wanted to collect German steel mills and coal mines, which they did not succeed in doing considering the Ruhr workers responded with Passive Resistance, meaning nonviolent opposition - they refused to work. The inflation worsened ever more as more people started to support the German workers.

An international committee headed by an American banker Charles G. Dawes came to the rescue with his plan of 1924, which meant that Germany had to continue paying her debts but on a smaller scale and the US had to promise to provide loans for Germany to recover. Thus France had withdraw its troops from Ruhr in 1925. As the German economy recovered, the reparation payment increased and this allowed Britain and France to pay some of their debts back to the US.

The Diplomacy Of Peace

During 1920’s, leaders of the Western European countries were hopeful of a new era with international relations. They all chose to reject the Balance-of power politics and the Alliance system, which many people had believed had contributed to the Great War. The people chose to depend on the League of Nations to keep their peace. The League was based on the idea of Collective Security, meaning an organized community of nations, acting together to preserve peace. The League settled disputes between small nations with ease, however could not settle peace among the major powers. Moreover, the three major powers being USA, Germany and Russia were not members of the League. Germany’s complications with the Versaille treaty continued haunting Europe until 1925 where the Allies met up with Germany (Britain and France) and signed the Locarno pact, which was a series of agreements. The Western European nations agreed to guarantee existing borders and seek peaceful solutions to any dispute as well as Germany promising a peaceful settlement of borders disputes with Poland and Czechoslovakia, thus the Locarno pact improved relations in Western Europe. People believed in the Locarno pact and by 1926, Germany entered the League of Nations and finally became a part of the world community. Throughout the 1920’s, the great powers discussed about disarmament, especially naval ones. USA and Japan joined in a disarmament conference in Washington D.C., and Geneva, Switzerland. In 1928, American secretary of state Frank.B Kellogg and French foreign minister Aristide Briand created the Kellogg-Briand pact, which symbolized the optimism of that period for wanting to maintain the ongoing peace. 62 nations including USA signed the pact and agreed upon “renouncing war as an instrument of national policy” as well as banishing wars and to not enforce peace through machinery.

Expanded Horizons for Women

This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

Not with a bang but with a whimper//Eliot’s poem The Hollow Men.

This poem represents the people's mourn over all the kills caused by and built up disgust over all the leaders who led their friends to their deaths. Progress was no longer a belief and people were stuck in a spacetime continuum. Slow but continuous changed created new patterns of life in Europe. Before the war, women had won suffrage in some countries but after the war, women had won the right to vote in most of Western Europe as well as Russia, USA and India. In 1924, the Danes elected the first women to a national cabinet post. The changes in women's styles were one of the indications to the change in women's role in the society. While the short skirts, makeup (which was unacceptable in 1914) and bobbed hair styles became more widely accepted, so did the notion that women could contribute to the society. In Britain, women over 21 won the vote in 1928, but in France they had to wait until 1944.

Women profited from the war, considering they got the chance to work in factories for the war effort. However, when the war ended either many employers changed a lot of the women with men or the women returned home on their own. But the amount of working women was still more in 1920’s in comparison to 1914. During the war some single women moved into their own apartments and earned their own money instead of living with big families and relatives, thus getting the chance to feel more independent. During the 1920’s they gained more political and economical rights. Moreover, American and European families became smaller, which meant less kids to feed, thus the women had more time to be active in the society.

The impact of new technology

The traditional jobs of the women in the households were easier with the new technologies. Canned and packaged foods, vacuum cleaner and electric irons were just a few of the many new household tools that increased the women's free time. The air age was beginning with the Lindbergh’s flight across the Atlantic. The first international airmail was carried between London and Paris in 1919, big cities built airports as the air flight's became more common and in 1930 the first transcontinental airline service was started in USA, 1939 regular transatlantic passenger service by air was begun. An example would be the change of the amount of vehicles in France from 125,000 in 1913 to over 2 million by 1938. People's lives were in general a lot more fun with the postwar technology like the many theatres and the phonographs which bloomed the record business.

Postwar currents of thoughts

Ideas were flourishing before 1914, but in the postwar after the many slaughters the people rejected the enlightenment ideas of progress and faith and the developments in science and industries were no longer celebrated. Many of the European writers in the 1920’s expressed a sense of helplessness and pessimism. French writer Paul Valéry wrote about the post war saying “The storm had died away, and still we are restless, uneasy, as if the storm were about to break. Almost all the affairs of men remain in a terrible uncertainty. We think of what has disappeared, and we are almost destroyed by what has been destroyed; we do not know what will be born, and fear the future, not without reason”. Another writer would be German novelist Erich Maria Remarque “All quiet in the western front”. T.S. Eliot expressed aguish and disillusionment with the poem “The waste land”, German playwright Bertolt Brecht attacked capitalism in “The three penny opera! And other plays. Sigmund Freud, who was a Viennese physician influenced many writers with that irrational, unconscious forces shaping the human behavior. Many writers also used the stream of consciousness to probe the unconscious minds of their characters, which the Irish author James Joyce used in “Ulysses” to show a day of a middle class Dubliner. Joyce used unusual grammar, bits of thoughts and unconventional language to suggest a confusion of the unconscious mind in similarity to the English writer Virginia Woolf characters with “To the lighthouse” with complex internal monologues.

Modern painting

Artists in the early 1900’s used unconventional means to explore the human emotions and heavily disliked realism and impressionism, because they saw them as increasingly abstract. Cubists used geometric forms in complex patterns to represent an object's form or a human form. One of the founders of cubism, Pablo Picasso went on to paint equally famous paintings in a variety of modern styles and others followed by abandoning realism and stressed colors, lines and forms. In composition with red, yellow and blue the Dutch artist Piet Mondrian presented a series of brightly colored boxlike shapes without a meaning. Another famous artistic move was Dada “Hobby horse” in french, which implied nonsense. Artists painted in traditional artistic forms, such forms they saw meaningless in a world upside down from all the slaughters from the war. Marcel Duchamp was a leading Dada artist who exhibited shovels, another artist produced a Mona Lisa portrait with a mustache and ridiculous graffiti. Dada writers wrote poems by picking out words from a hat.

Postwar isolation

US : Events in Europe grew an isolationist feeling among the US people, thus trying as much as they can to avoid the European turmoil. However, the President of the US, Wilson tried hard to win approval for the Versaille treaty and tried to get US into the League of Nations, but the Senator William E. declined this request in November 1919. During the Russian revolution, the Bolsheviks party under Lenin led Russia to turn into a communist country. Bombs exploded in several cities of America during 1919-1920, thus many Americans believing that foreign-born people were trying to kick of a Bolsheviks uprising. In response the attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer started started arresting thousands of people he believed were “Red Scare”. The Isolationism and the Red Scare caused tension and led all the Americans to demand a change in the immigration policy. USA already limited the amount of immigrants from Japan and China to visit US, but not Europe, thus in 1921 and 1924 the congress paced acts placing quotas on European immigration. However, US did not cut off from the world entirely, considering they continued being active in the naval disarmament negotiations, Dawes plan with the German reparation and Kellog-Briand Pact to keep peace.

Prosperity-on the surface

During the 1920’s, America focused on growing in their domestic lives, thus the American daily life changed more than in Europe. Warren G. Harding succeeded Woodrow Wilson as President in 1921, and he promised “Normalcy” to the people, meaning a withdraw from external complications and focus on building a healthy peacetime economy. Unemployment decreased from 11.7% in 1921 to 2.4% in 1923 and never reached 5% for the rest of the decade. Vehicle sales tripled from 1921 to 1929, many houses were built, magazine's were spread with “Flappers” who were women with flashy clothes and slangs, radios were common and about 60 million Americans went to watch a movie each week like Charlie Chaplin and Rudolph Valentino. Jazz flourished as well with daring dances during the Roaring Twenties. But under all of that happiness grew bitterness among the farmers who flourished during the war with increased productions in the ready markets in Europe, and so in the postwar the crop decreased in production and price, with wheat dropping from 2.26 to 1.00 dollar in 1922. Coals, miners and textile workers did poorly as well.

The stock market crash and the great depression

The stock market was very high and flourished in the late 1920’s, in 1929 the stock market burst and in October investors sold with loses. By november, the total stock market value of stocks traded on the New York stock exchange fell to about 30 billion dollars. This led to the great depression, with high unemployment, slow business and low wages which on its own led to a worldwide crisis. In 1932 unemployment increased from 3.2% to 23.6% about 85.000. People ran to banks to try to get their money out, but sadly the banks had loaned too much money to the European nations to be able to pay, thus many banks closing. By 1928, the new President, Herbert Hoover tried to encourage to encourage the people for a better future and at the same time believed that this period would end soon like the other economical bad periods. He also asked the congress to vote money for public works projects so that the government would hire workers for building jobs as well as created the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, a government agency that lent money to banks and businesses. But none helped.

The new deal

In 1932, the new president, Franklin D. Roosevelt promised “A new deal for the American people”, which inevitably led to progressive economic and social programs passed by the Congress to restore confidence in banks like the Emergency Banking Relief act allowed banks to reopen under federal supervision, Glass-Steagall act, in which the government promised up to 5000 dollar of deposit for each depositor. To reduce unemployment, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) was created, which benefited America a lot. The Civilian Conservation Corps gave jobs as well and the Federal Government gave money to states to be used for poverty. When it comes to the social programs, the Social Security Act was passed, providing unemployed insurance and old people benefits (which already existed in some European countries before WWI), The National Labor relations Act guaranteed workers rights to organize unions and bargain collectively. The New deal can be debated whether or not it solved the great depression, considering it never gave prosperity to US, but until now the Federal government has played a big role in the economy of the nation.

Considering America cut back on investments in Europe, the European nations got a increase in unemployment and their trade and manufacturing fell. The European allies still owed money to America, which they could not pay back considering Germany and Austria stopped paying reparations in 1932. The desperation increased so much that people turned to radical leaders for solution in the 1930’s.

British response to the great depression

Their was a great depression in Britain as well, with the people roaming the streets with shabby clothes and missing teeth, who could only afford “Dole”, a relief payment from the government that only covered necessities (white bread, tea, margarine). The Labour party was in control during the great depression, thus until 1935 the Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald made the Labour and Conservative parties share power to create a more united start for a peaceful economy. Later the conservative leader Stanley Baldwin took power and created a widespread intervention in Britain and his actions were similar to Franklin D. Roosevelt. In contrast to Franklin D. Roosevelt, Baldwin increased export, passed protective tariffs to help the manufacturing and lowered interest rates which led to many housing constructions. The economy was stable by 1932 and by 1937 it was better than in the 1920’s.

Deep divisions in France

In contrast to Britain, France was more stable at the beginning of the great depression considering France was more dependent on agriculture than on foreign trade, but by 1932 export fell and unemployment rose in France, thus France reached political instability. There were many political parties in the Third Republic from socialists on the left to monarchies on the right and none of the parties had enough voted to rule. For the French government to continue ruling, thus a coalition (pact) was created among several parties but the supporters were not satisfied with the government policy thus they withdrew and the government fell. By 1933 France had 5 different governments and the monarch parties rioted in february 1934 against the Third Republic because they disliked the parliamentary democracy existing. The riot occurred because a scandal linked some government officials to Serge Stavisky.Stavisky made the people to believe that the Third Republic was corrupt, thus the socialist believing that the monarchs wanted to create a dictatorship and so the socialists created a coalition called Popular Front. In 1936, Popular Font was led by Leon Blum who created popular social reforms such as 40-hour workweek and paid vacation but the business leaders objected them as so did many others, thus it fell in the late 1930’s and France was left heavily divided.

A troubled Era in Eastern Europe

In contrast to Western Europe, Eastern Europe countries were not as industrialized (about 10% worked in industries) and Land reforms were made to give land to the peasant, which did not benefit the countries considering the farms were small and not well equipped. New nations like Czechoslovakia, Austria and Poland were independent after the war and adopted to democratic institutions, even though they had been going on with authoritarian regimes for centuries and were not used to democracy. When the people’s economy started to gradually weaken, many of them started to turn to radical leaders which would then create dictatorship.

Austria : They lacked raw materials and foreign trade, thus they loaned money during the 1920’s to invest on industries which collapsed because of the great depression. Between 1929-1932, manufacturing fell by 40% and unemployment grew. While the economy was getting worse manu upper and middle class citizens started fearing socialist and communists to take power, thus in 1933 the Austrian Chancellor, Engelbert Dollfuss suspended the parliament, dissolved all the opposed political parties, ended the labor movement and declared Dictatorship in response to that fear.

Hungary : In the 1920’s and 1930’s Hungary had an elected parliament, however the landowning aristocrats dominated the government. Peasant were denied the right to vote, Hungarian leaders resisted to pass any land reforms and during the great depression the extreme right gained power and set up a dictatorship with the government's support from nationalists and conservatives.

Poland : In 1921 the polish constitution guaranteed a democratic form of government, which provided a two house parliament and universal suffrage. However, several political parties were at battle for power and one gained after the other, thus the government could never have a ruler for long and thus the countries issues were never solved. In result the people turned to General Joseph Pilsudski, who revolted in 1926 and after a few days made the government fall. Pilsudski imprisoned the critics of his regime, dissolved the parliament and created a dictatorship.

Czechoslovakia : They introduced land reform and built industries, however there was a difficulty in maintaining a democratic government considering the country had a majority of different ethnic groups like the germans in Sudetenland (northern part), Slovaks and Magyars. The government tried to control the ethnic differences like giving the germans the right to use german in school, but the ethnic groups still kept fighting to gain self rights in the 1930’s.

The revolution in Turkey

Nationalism was growing in in the middle east, Africa, Asia and Latin America from the WWI. In 1919 as a surprise to Mohandas Gandhi, almost every indian abstained from economy from a complete day and people were using the principle from the peace conference to gain self-rule from the British which gandhi wanted them to but failed. The paris peace conference broke up the Ottoman Empire as well and in 1919 the Greeks seized the already private land of the Turks in Asia minor. The Sultan resisted to fight back the greeks but the nationalists like Mustafa Kemal expelled the greeks out in 1922. From between 1915-1922 many armenians were executed and during WWI, the sultan caused a genocide with millions of armenian being killed. The ones that managed to flee, moved to US. In 1922 the Ottoman Empire was abolished but then Kemal became the president of the Republic of Turkey, where he made major social and political changes. His plan was to make Turkey a strong industrial nation, free from foreign activities. He based the constitution and the legal system on European models, which reduced the power of the Islamic clergy and he also introduced western style alphabets and calendar as well as the metric system of measurement. To make Turkey look modern, Kemla expelled the the fez, a hat worn by the Ottoman Empires. Kemal also introduced surnames and gave himself the name “Ataturk”. When it comes to the women, they won the right to vote and work in offices and the laws discouraged segregating women in public places. Even though many enjoyed the modern style, some people believed all of these changes would destroy traditional values.

Unrest in the Middle East

France and Britain had the Ottoman Empire as their mandates and were unwilling to give up control in those areas, considering that the middle east was filled with rich oil fields. Even though there were nationalist uprising, France continued keeping its mandates in Syria and Lebanon. The British mandate, Iraq gained its independence in 19130 and later joined the League of Nations. Egypt, which was the British protectorate since 1882, gained independence in 1923, however Britain kept troops in Egypt to protect the Suez Canal. Britain continued to have complete control in Transjordan. In 1920’s and 1930’s, the British mandate in Palestine was one of the sources causing tension between the arab and jew nationalists, considering the Balfour Declaration in 1917 which encouraged Zionist and which meant that Britain would view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for Jews. An Austrian Jew Theodor Herzl was the founder of the Zionist organisation for creation of a homeland for Jews. However, Palestine was 98% arab and Britain supported the idea of an independent arab nation, thus causing more tension.

Another source of tension was Iran, which during the age of Imperialism was under the spheres of Influence of Britain and Russia. In similarity to Turkey, the Iranian nationalists found a leader army officer Reza Khan, which seized power and called himself with the surname Reza Shah Pahlavi. He introduced reforms to industrialize and modernize Iran, while Britain and Russia competed over Iranian affairs.

India on the road to independence

The Indians were promised self-rule from the British at some point, but this promise did not satisfy the Indians, thus the British parliament passed a law in which the nationalists could be imprisoned without a trial, thus creating more revolts. In 1919, the British official Reginald Dyer banned the public meeting in Amritsar, but the people resisted, thus 379 Indians died and thousands were injured. This massacre outraged many Indians as well as British people in a world wide perspective. In result the British passed the Indian act in 1919, which gave the Indians control over the local matters, but not the taxations, justice and foreign policy, thus the Congress party demanded more control. In the postwar, Gandhi, who was a British lawyer led the Congress party. He started to demand rights for the Indians in South Africa. Through nonviolence he wanted to expel the British goods, start of the spinning industries and “march the sea”, where the Indians threw away the Sea salt as a way of revolting against British manufacturing. Gandhi changed his clothing from western to dhito, he was called the Mahatma (great soul). However he was not completely nonviolent, considering many riots against the British accrued as well as tension between the muslim and Hindu nationalists. In 1935, Britain wanted to give more power to the Indians but Gandhi and his part still refused until India was independent.

Turmoil in China

The Manchu Dynasty was overthrown through the 1911 revolution led by Sun Yat-sen who was the president for one month until a general expelled him. Warlords battled to gain power over the countrysides, Sun led patriots to Kuomintang where he found his young officer Chiang Kai-Shek who after two years of Sun’s death led the Kuomintang army creating the republic of china in 1928 through Sun’s “Three principles of the people”. The chinese Communist party was a political organization founded in 1921 encouraged their members to join the Kuomintang army in hoped to later gain control over the much powerful and larger army. Chiang rebelled and in 1927 killed most of them and the ones who joined the army and the rest were forced to hide. Mao Zedong was one of the hidden soldiers who started building his part in a mountain region in southeastern China and started creating his army through helping peasants and creating tension by speaking bad about the western imperialism in China. Soon he started to gain territories with his army. In 1934, Chiang struck against Mao and launched the four “Extermination campaigns”. 90,000 communist troops went on a 9,600 kilometer “Long March” to Shensi and only 7,000 survived. While Chiang was fighting with all the communists and Mao’s army seized having a future, Japan was expanding into the asian Mainland.

  • 1979 Pinyin system = spelling system

  • Traditional spelling is Wade-Giles system used except when it comes to names and places

Nationalism in Africa

African troops worked for the British and French armies and believed by doing so they would gain political freedom, but they did not when the peace settlement awarded the former german colonies in Africa as mandates to Britain, France and Belgium. Europe held on tight to Africa and African people continued opposing colonization. In Morocco and Algeria, nationalists fought against French control. Riots against the British colonies occurred as well, like the “Aba womens riots”Women in Nigeria rebelled against the high taxes and the British resisted resulting with 50 women dying. In 1920’s and 1930’s People like Jomo Kenyatta and Leopold Senghor wrote books about the british ruling over Africa and disrupting their culture.

Development in Latin America

WWI only affected Latin America economically, considering the long wartime demanded raw materials. Between 1910-1920 Latin America's exports almost tripled three times but the exports fell in the postwar. Chile exported nitrate, used to make explosives. European investments in Latin America fell when US made Britain the largest investor in the region. Latin America got angry and it caused nationalistic tensions, while the US was growing economically. Exports fell really hard and Anti-americanism grew in Latin America and between 1929 and 1932 export values fell down to 65%. In 1920’s US continued investing its policy and military in Latin America but towards the end the policy started to change. US had to give up the Roosevelt Corollary, which was used to justify sending troops into Latin America, thus US had to give a friendlier approach by “Good Neighbor Policy”. US had to also cancel the Platt Amendment limiting Cuban sovereignty and it also withdrew troops it had in Haiti. Latin America came to the realization that it had to stop depending on exports and focus on industries to become independent. Nationalist feeling in Mexico led to seized oilfield owned by Britain, US and Netherlands in mexico and nationalized them in 1938, which means that it went under the control of the government. The foreign owners protested and eventually Mexico paid to the seized foreign companies.

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