In the context of the history of the 20th century, the interwar period was the period between the end of the First World War in November 1918 and the beginning of the Second World War in September 1939.
Despite the relatively short period of time, this period represented an era of significant changes worldwide. Petroleum and associated mechanisation expanded dramatically leading to the Roaring Twenties, a period of economic prosperity and growth for the middle class in North America, Europe and many other parts of the world. Automobiles, electric lighting, radio broadcasts and more became commonplace among populations in the developed world. The indulgences of this era subsequently were followed by the Great Depression, an unprecedented worldwide economic downturn which severely damaged many of the world's largest economies.
The Roaring Twenties refers to the decade of the 1920s in Western society and Western culture. It was a period of economic prosperity with a distinctive cultural edge in the United States and Western Europe, particularly in major cities such as Berlin, Chicago, London, Los Angeles, New York City, Paris, and Sydney. In France, the decade was known as the "années folles", emphasizing the era's social, artistic and cultural dynamism. Jazz blossomed, the flapper redefined the modern look for British and American women, and Art Deco peaked. Not everything roared: in the wake of the hyper-emotional patriotism of World War I, Warren G. Harding "brought back normalcy" to the politics of the United States. This period saw the large-scale development and use of automobiles, telephones, motion pictures, radio, and electrical appliances. Aviation became a business. Nations saw rapid industrial and economic growth, accelerated consumer demand, and significant changes in lifestyle and culture. The media focused on celebrities, especially sports heroes and movie stars, as cities rooted for their home teams and filled the new palatial cinemas and gigantic sports stadiums. In most major democratic states, women won the right to vote. The right to vote made a huge impact on society.
The middle class is a class of people in the middle of a social hierarchy. The very definition of the term "middle class" is highly political and vigorously contested by various schools of political and economic philosophy. Modern social theorists - and especially economists - have defined and re-defined the term "middle class" in order to serve their particular political ends. The definitions of the term "middle class" therefore are the result of the more- or less-scientific methods used when delineating the parameters of what is and isn't "middle class".
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression that took place mostly during the 1930s, beginning in the United States. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations; in most countries it started in 1929 and lasted until the late-1930s. It was the longest, deepest, and most widespread depression of the 20th century. In the 21st century, the Great Depression is commonly used as an example of how intensely the world's economy can decline.
Politically, this era coincided with the rise of communism, starting in Russia with the October Revolution and Russian Civil War, at the end of World War I, and ended with the rise of fascism, particularly in Germany and in Italy. China was in the midst of long period of instability and civil war between the Kuomintang and the Communist Party of China. The Empires of Britain, France and others faced challenges as imperialism was increasingly viewed negatively in Europe, and independence movements in British India, French Indochina, Ireland and other regions gained momentum.
In political and social sciences, communism is the philosophical, social, political, and economic ideology and movement whose ultimate goal is the establishment of the communist society, which is a socioeconomic order structured upon the common ownership of the means of production and the absence of social classes, money, and the state.
The October Revolution, officially known in Soviet historiography as the Great October Socialist Revolution and commonly referred to as the October Uprising, the October Coup, the Bolshevik Revolution, the Bolshevik Coup or the Red October, was a revolution in Russia led by the Bolshevik Party of Vladimir Lenin that was instrumental in the larger Russian Revolution of 1917. It took place with an armed insurrection in Petrograd on 7 November 1917.
The Russian Civil War was a multi-party war in the former Russian Empire immediately after the two Russian Revolutions of 1917, as many factions vied to determine Russia's political future. The two largest combatant groups were the Red Army, fighting for the Bolshevik form of socialism led by Vladimir Lenin, and the loosely allied forces known as the White Army, which included diverse interests favouring political monarchism, economic capitalism and alternative forms of socialism, each with democratic and anti-democratic variants. In addition, rival militant socialists and non-ideological Green armies fought against both the Bolsheviks and the Whites. Eight foreign nations intervened against the Red Army, notably the former Allied military forces from the World War and the pro-German armies. The Red Army eventually defeated the White Armed Forces of South Russia in Ukraine and the army led by Admiral Aleksandr Kolchak to the east in Siberia in 1919. The remains of the White forces commanded by Pyotr Nikolayevich Wrangel were beaten in Crimea and evacuated in late 1920. Lesser battles of the war continued on the periphery for two more years, and minor skirmishes with the remnants of the White forces in the Far East continued well into 1923. The war ended in 1923 in the sense that Bolshevik communist control of the newly formed Soviet Union was now assured, although armed national resistance in Central Asia was not completely crushed until 1934. There were an estimated 7,000,000–12,000,000 casualties during the war, mostly civilians. The Russian Civil War has been described by some as the greatest national catastrophe that Europe had yet seen.
The Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian and German empires were dismantled, while the Ottoman and German colonies were redistributed among the Allies, chiefly the United Kingdom and France. The western parts of the Russian Empire, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland became independent nations in their own right, while Bessarabia (modern-day Moldova) chose to reunify with Romania.
The Ottoman Empire, historically known in Western Europe as the Turkish Empire or simply Turkey, was a state that controlled much of Southeast Europe, Western Asia and North Africa between the 14th and early 20th centuries. It was founded at the end of the 13th century in northwestern Anatolia in the town of Söğüt by the Oghuz Turkish tribal leader Osman I. After 1354, the Ottomans crossed into Europe, and with the conquest of the Balkans, the Ottoman beylik was transformed into a transcontinental empire. The Ottomans ended the Byzantine Empire with the 1453 conquest of Constantinople by Mehmed the Conqueror.
Austria-Hungary, often referred to as the Austro-Hungarian Empire or the Dual Monarchy, was a constitutional monarchy in Central and Eastern Europe from 1867 to 1918. It was formed by giving a new constitution to the Austrian Empire, which devolved powers on Austria (Cisleithania) and Hungary (Transleithania) and placed them on an equal footing. It broke apart into several states at the end of World War I.
Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central and Western Europe, lying between the Baltic and North Seas to the north, and the Alps to the south. It borders Denmark to the north, Poland and the Czech Republic to the east, Austria and Switzerland to the south, France to the southwest, and Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands to the west.
The Russian communists managed to regain control of the other East Slavic states, Central Asia, and the Caucasus, forming the Soviet Union. Ireland was partitioned between the independent Irish Free State and the British-controlled Northern Ireland. In the Middle East, Egypt and Iraq gained independence. During the Great Depression, Latin American countries nationalised many foreign companies (mostly American) in a bid to strengthen their own economies. The territorial ambitions of the Soviets, Japan, Italy, and Germany led to the expansion of their empires, setting the stage for the subsequent World War.
The Soviet Union, officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), was a socialist state in Eurasia that existed from 1922 to 1991. Nominally a union of multiple national Soviet republics, its government and economy were highly centralized. The country was a one-party state, governed by the Communist Party with Moscow as its capital in its largest republic, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. Other major urban centres were Leningrad, Kiev, Minsk, Alma-Ata, and Novosibirsk. It spanned over 10,000 kilometres east to west across 11 time zones, and over 7,200 kilometres north to south. It had five climate zones: tundra, taiga, steppes, desert and mountains.
The partition of Ireland divided the island of Ireland into two distinct jurisdictions, Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland. It took place on 3 May 1921 under the Government of Ireland Act 1920. Today the former is still known as Northern Ireland and forms part of the United Kingdom, while the latter is now a sovereign state also named Ireland and sometimes called the Republic of Ireland.
The Irish Free State was a state established in 1922 under the Anglo-Irish Treaty of December 1921. That treaty ended the three-year Irish War of Independence between the forces of the self-proclaimed Irish Republic, the Irish Republican Army (IRA), and British Crown forces.
The Interwar Period is commonly accepted to have ended in September 1939, with the invasion of Poland and the beginning of World War II.However, in Asia, it is also considered to have ended with the Marco Polo Bridge Incident and the beginning of the Second Sino-Japanese War.
The Invasion of Poland, known in Poland as the September Campaign or the 1939 Defensive War, and in Germany as the Poland Campaign (Polenfeldzug), was an invasion of Poland by Germany that marked the beginning of World War II. The German invasion began on 1 September 1939, one week after the signing of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact between Germany and the Soviet Union. The Soviets invaded Poland on 17 September following the Molotov–Tōgō agreement that terminated the Soviet and Japanese Battles of Khalkhin Gol in the east on 16 September. The campaign ended on 6 October with Germany and the Soviet Union dividing and annexing the whole of Poland under the terms of the German–Soviet Frontier Treaty.
World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.
The Marco Polo Bridge Incident, also known by Lugou Bridge Incident or Double-Seven Incident, was a battle between the Republic of China's National Revolutionary Army and the Imperial Japanese Army. It is widely considered to have been the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945).
Following the Armistice of Compiègne on November 11th, 1918 that ended World War I, the years 1918–24 were marked by turmoil as the Russian Civil War continued to rage on, and Eastern Europe struggled to recover from the devastation of the First World War and the destabilising effects of not just the collapse of the Russian Empire, but the destruction of the German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the Ottoman Empire, as well. There were numerous new nations in Eastern Europe, some small in size, such as Lithuania or Latvia, and some large and vast, such as Poland and Yugoslavia. The United States gained dominance in world finance. Thus, when Germany could no longer afford war reparations to Britain, France and other former members of the Entente, the Americans came up with the Dawes Plan and Wall Street invested heavily in Germany, which repaid its reparations to nations that, in turn, used the dollars to pay off their war debts to Washington. By the middle of the decade, prosperity was widespread, with the second half of the decade known as the Roaring Twenties.
The important stages of interwar diplomacy and international relations included resolutions of wartime issues, such as reparations owed by Germany and boundaries; American involvement in European finances and disarmament projects; the expectations and failures of the League of Nations;the relationships of the new countries to the old; the distrustful relations of the Soviet Union to the capitalist world; peace and disarmament efforts; responses to the Great Depression starting in 1929; the collapse of world trade; the collapse of democratic regimes one by one; the growth of efforts at economic autarky; Japanese aggressiveness toward China, occupying large amounts of Chinese land, as well as border disputes between the Soviet Union and Japan, leading to multiple clashes along the Soviet and Japanese occupied Manchurian border; Fascist diplomacy, including the aggressive moves by Mussolini's Italy and Hitler's Germany; the Spanish Civil War; Italy's invasion and occupation of Abyssinia (Ethiopia) in the Horn of Africa; the appeasement of Germany's expansionist moves against the German-speaking nation of Austria, the region inhabited by ethnic Germans called the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia, the remilitarisation of the League of Nations demilitarised zone of the German Rhineland region, and the last, desperate stages of rearmament as the Second World War increasingly loomed.
Disarmament was a very popular public policy. However, the League of Nations played little role in this effort, with the United States and Britain taking the lead. U.S. Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes sponsored the Washington Naval Conference of 1921 in determining how many capital ships each major country was allowed. The new allocations were actually followed and there were no naval races in the 1920s. Britain played a leading role in the 1927 Geneva Naval Conference and the 1930 London Conference that led to the London Naval Treaty, which added cruisers and submarines to the list of ship allocations. However the refusal of Japan, Germany, Italy and the USSR to go along with this led to the meaningless Second London Naval Treaty of 1936. Naval disarmament had collapsed and the issue became rearming for a war against Germany and Japan.
The Roaring Twenties highlighted novel and highly visible social and cultural trends and innovations. These trends, made possible by sustained economic prosperity, were most visible in major cities like New York, Chicago, Paris, Berlin, and London. The Jazz Age began and Art Deco peaked.For women, knee-length skirts and dresses became socially acceptable, as did bobbed hair with a Marcel wave. The young women who pioneered these trends were called "flappers". Not all was new: “normalcy” returned to politics in the wake of hyper-emotional wartime passions in the United States, France, and Germany. The leftist revolutions in Finland, Poland, Germany, Austria, Hungary, and Spain were defeated by conservatives, but succeeded in Russia, which became the base for Soviet Communism. In Italy the fascists came to power under Mussolini after threatening a March on Rome in 1922.
Most independent countries enacted women's suffrage in the interwar era, including Canada in 1917 (though Quebec held out longer), Britain in 1918, and the United States in 1920. There were a few major countries that held out until after the Second World War (such as France, Switzerland and Portugal).Leslie Hume argues:
In Europe, according to Derek Aldcroft and Steven Morewood, "Nearly all countries registered some economic progress in the 1920s and most of them managed to regain or surpass their pre-war income and production levels by the end of the decade." The Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and Greece did especially well, while Eastern Europe did poorly, due to the First World War and Russian Civil War.In advanced economies the prosperity reached middle class households and many in the working class. with radio, automobiles, telephones, and electric lighting and appliances. There was unprecedented industrial growth, accelerated consumer demand and aspirations, and significant changes in lifestyle and culture. The media began to focus on celebrities, especially sports heroes and movie stars. Major cities built large sports stadiums for the fans, in addition to palatial cinemas. The mechanisation of agriculture continued apace, producing on expansion of output that lowered prices, and made many farm workers redundant. Often they moved to nearby industrial towns and cities.
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression that took place after 1929. The timing varied across nations; in most countries it started in 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s.It was the longest, deepest, and most widespread depression of the 20th century. The depression originated in the United States and became worldwide news with the stock market crash of October 29, 1929 (known as Black Tuesday). Between 1929 and 1932, worldwide GDP fell by an estimated 15%. By comparison, worldwide GDP fell by less than 1% from 2008 to 2009 during the Great Recession. Some economies started to recover by the mid-1930s. However, in many countries, the negative effects of the Great Depression lasted until the beginning of World War II.
The Great Depression had devastating effects in countries both rich and poor. Personal income, tax revenue, profits, and prices dropped, while international trade plunged by more than 50%. Unemployment in the U.S. rose to 25% and in some countries rose as high as 33%.Prices fell sharply, especially for mining and agricultural commodities. Business profits fell sharply as well, with a sharp reduction in new business starts.
Cities all around the world were hit hard, especially those dependent on heavy industry. Construction was virtually halted in many countries. Farming communities and rural areas suffered as crop prices fell by about 60%.Facing plummeting demand with few alternative sources of jobs, areas dependent on primary sector industries such as mining and logging suffered the most.
The Weimar Republic in Germany gave way to two episodes of political and economic turmoil, the first culminated in the German hyperinflation of 1923 and the failed Beer Hall Putsch of that same year. The second convulsion, brought on by the worldwide depression and Germany's disastrous monetary policies, resulted in the further rise of Nazism.In Asia, Japan became an ever more assertive power, especially with regard to China.
Democracy and prosperity largely went together in the 1920s. Economic disaster led to a distrust in the effectiveness of democracy and its collapse in much of Europe, including the Baltic and Balkan countries, Poland, Spain, and Portugal. Powerful expansionary dictatorships emerged in Italy, Japan, and Germany.
While communism was tightly contained in the isolated Soviet Union, fascism took control of Italy in 1922; as the Great Depression worsened, fascism emerged victorious in Germany, and played a major role in numerous countries in Europe, and several in Latin America.Fascist parties sprang up, attuned to local right-wing traditions, but also possessing common features that typically included extreme militaristic nationalism, a desire for economic self-containment, threats and aggression toward neighbouring countries, oppression of minorities, a ridicule of democracy while using its techniques to mobilise an angry middle-class base, and a disgust with cultural liberalism. Fascists believed in power, violence, male superiority, and a "natural" hierarchy, often led by dictators such as Benito Mussolini or Adolf Hitler. Fascism in power meant that liberalism and human rights were discarded, and individual pursuits and values were subordinated to what the party decided was best.
To one degree or another, Spain had been unstable politically for centuries, and in 1936-39 was wracked by one of the bloodiest civil wars of the 20th century. The real importance comes from outside countries. In Spain the conservative and Catholic elements and the army revolted against the newly elected government, and full-scale civil war erupted. Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany gave munitions and strong military units to the rebel Nationalists, led by General Francisco Franco. The Republican (or "Loyalist") government, was on the defensive, but it received significant help from the Soviet Union. Led by Great Britain and France, and including the United States, most countries remained neutral and refused to provide armaments to either side. The powerful fear was that this localised conflict would escalate into a European conflagration that no one wanted.
The Spanish Civil War was marked by numerous small battles and sieges, and many atrocities, until the Nationalists won in 1939 by overwhelming the Republican forces. The Soviet Union provided armaments but never enough to equip the heterogeneous government militias and the "International Brigades" of outside far-left volunteers. The civil war did not escalate into a larger conflict, but did become a worldwide ideological battleground that pitted all the Communists and many socialists and liberals against Catholics, conservatives and fascists. Worldwide there was a decline in pacifism and a growing sense that another great war was imminent, and that it would be worth fighting for.
The changing world order that the war had brought about, in particular the growth of the United States and Japan as naval powers, and the rise of independence movements in India and Ireland, caused a major reassessment of British imperial policy.Forced to choose between alignment with the United States or Japan, Britain opted not to renew its Japanese alliance and instead signed the 1922 Washington Naval Treaty, where Britain accepted naval parity with the United States. The issue of the empire's security was a serious concern in Britain, as it was vital to the British pride, its finance, and its trade-oriented economy.
India strongly supported the Empire in the First World War. It expected a reward, but failed to get home rule as the British Raj kept control in British hands and feared another rebellion like that of 1857. The Government of India Act 1919 failed to satisfy demand for independence. Mounting tension, particularly in the Punjab region, culminated in the Amritsar Massacre in 1919. Nationalism surged and centred in the Congress Party led by Mohandas Gandhi.In Britain public opinion was divided over the morality of the massacre, between those who saw it as having saved India from anarchy, and those who viewed it with revulsion.
Egypt had been under de facto British control since the 1880s, despite its nominal ownership by the Ottoman Empire. In 1922, it was granted formal independence, though it continued to be a client state following British guidance. Egypt joined the League of Nations. Egypt's King Faud and his son King Farouk, and their conservative allies, stayed in power with lavish lifestyles thanks to an informal alliance with Britain who would protect them from both secular and Muslim radicalism.Iraq, a British mandate since 1920, gained official independence in 1932 when King Faisal agreed to British terms of a military alliance and an assured flow of oil.
In Palestine, Britain was presented with the problem of mediating between the Arabs and increasing numbers of Jews. The 1917 Balfour Declaration, which had been incorporated into the terms of the mandate, stated that a national home for the Jewish people would be established in Palestine, and Jewish immigration allowed up to a limit that would be determined by the mandatory power. This led to increasing conflict with the Arab population, who openly revolted in 1936. As the threat of war with Germany increased during the 1930s, Britain judged the support of Arabs as more important than the establishment of a Jewish homeland, and shifted to a pro-Arab stance, limiting Jewish immigration and in turn triggering a Jewish insurgency.
The Dominions (Canada, Newfoundland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Ireland) were self-governing and gained semi-independence in the World War, while Britain still controlled foreign policy and defence. The right of the Dominions to set their own foreign policy was recognised in 1923 and formalised by the 1931 Statute of Westminster. Ireland effectively broke all ties with Britain in 1937, leaving the Commonwealth and becoming an independent republic.
French census statistics from 1931 show an imperial population, outside of France itself, of 64.3 million people living on 11.9 million square kilometres. Of the total population, 39.1 million lived in Africa and 24.5 million lived in Asia; 700,000 lived in the Caribbean area or islands in the South Pacific. The largest colonies were Indochina with 21.5 million (in five separate colonies), Algeria with 6.6 million, Morocco, with 5.4 million, and West Africa with 14.6 million in nine colonies. The total includes 1.9 million Europeans, and 350,000 "assimilated" natives.
The Berber independence leader Abd el-Krim (1882-1963) organised armed resistance against the Spanish and French for control of Morocco. The Spanish had faced unrest off and on from the 1890s, but in 1921, Spanish forces were massacred at the Battle of Annual. El-Krim founded an independent Rif Republic that operated until 1926, but had no international recognition. Eventually, France and Spain agreed to end the revolt. They sent in 200,000 soldiers, forcing el-Krim to surrender in 1926; he was exiled in the Pacific until 1947. Morocco calmed down, and became the base from which Spanish Nationalists would launch their rebellion against the Spanish Republic in 1936.
The humiliating peace terms in the Treaty of Versailles provoked bitter indignation throughout Germany, and seriously weakened the new democratic regime. The Treaty stripped Germany of all of its overseas colonies, of Alsace and Lorraine, and of predominantly Polish districts. The Allied armies occupied industrial sectors in western Germany including the Rhineland, and Germany was not allowed to have a real army, navy, or air force. Reparations were demanded, especially by France, involving shipments of raw materials, as well as annual payments.
When Germany defaulted on its reparation payments, French and Belgian troops occupied the heavily industrialised Ruhr district (January 1923). The German government encouraged the population of the Ruhr to passive resistance: shops would not sell goods to the foreign soldiers, coal mines would not dig for the foreign troops, trams in which members of the occupation army had taken seat would be left abandoned in the middle of the street. The German government printed vast quantities of paper money, causing hyperinflation, which also damaged the French economy. The passive resistance proved effective, insofar as the occupation became a loss-making deal for the French government. But the hyperinflation caused many prudent savers to lose all the money they had saved. Weimar added new internal enemies every year, as anti-democratic Nazis, Nationalists, and Communists battled each other in the streets. See 1920s German inflation.
Germany was the first state to establish diplomatic relations with the new Soviet Union. Under the Treaty of Rapallo, Germany accorded the Soviet Union de jure recognition, and the two signatories mutually agreed to cancel all pre-war debts and renounced war claims. In October 1925 the Treaty of Locarno was signed by Germany, France, Belgium, Britain, and Italy; it recognised Germany's borders with France and Belgium. Moreover, Britain, Italy, and Belgium undertook to assist France in the case that German troops marched into the demilitarised Rhineland. Locarno paved the way for Germany's admission to the League of Nations in 1926.
Hitler came to power in January 1933, and inaugurated an aggressive power designed to give Germany economic and political domination across central Europe. He did not attempt to recover the lost colonies. Until August 1939, the Nazis denounced Communists and the Soviet Union as the greatest enemy, along with the Jews.
Hitler's diplomatic strategy in the 1930s was to make seemingly reasonable demands, threatening war if they were not met. When opponents tried to appease him, he accepted the gains that were offered, then went to the next target. That aggressive strategy worked as Germany pulled out of the League of Nations, rejected the Versailles Treaty, and began to rearm. Retaking the Saar Basin in the aftermath of a plebiscite that favoured returning to Germany, Hitler's Germany remilitarised the Rhineland, formed an alliance with Mussolini's Italy, and sent massive military aid to Franco in the Spanish Civil War. Germany seized Austria, considered to be a German state, in 1938, and took over Czechoslovakia after the Munich Agreement with Britain and France. Forming a peace pact with the Soviet Union in August 1939, Germany invaded Poland after their refusal to cede Danzig in September 1939. Britain and France declared war and World War II began – somewhat sooner than the Nazis expected or were ready for.
After establishing the "Rome-Berlin Axis" with Benito Mussolini, and signing the Anti-Comintern Pact with Japan – which was joined by Italy a year later in 1937 – Hitler felt able to take the offensive in foreign policy. On 12 March 1938, German troops marched into Austria, where an attempted Nazi coup had been unsuccessful in 1934. When Austrian-born Hitler entered Vienna, he was greeted by loud cheers. Four weeks later, 99% of Austrians voted in favour of the annexation (Anschluss) of their country Austria to the German Reich. After Austria, Hitler turned to Czechoslovakia, where the 3.5 million-strong Sudeten German minority was demanding equal rights and self-government.
At the Munich Conference of September 1938, Hitler, the Italian leader Benito Mussolini, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, and French Prime Minister Édouard Daladier agreed upon the cession of Sudeten territory to the German Reich by Czechoslovakia. Hitler thereupon declared that all of German Reich's territorial claims had been fulfilled. However, hardly six months after the Munich Agreement, in March 1939, Hitler used the smouldering quarrel between Slovaks and Czechs as a pretext for taking over the rest of Czechoslovakia as the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. In the same month, he secured the return of Memel from Lithuania to Germany. Chamberlain was forced to acknowledge that his policy of appeasement towards Hitler had failed.
In 1922, the leader of the Italian Fascist movement, Benito Mussolini, was appointed Prime Minister of Italy after the March on Rome. Mussolini resolved the question of sovereignty over the Dodecanese at the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne after the , which formalised Italian administration of both Libya and the Dodecanese Islands, in return for a payment to Turkey, the successor state to the Ottoman Empire, though he failed in an attempt to extract a mandate of a portion of Iraq from Britain.
The month following the ratification of the Treaty of Lausanne, Mussolini ordered the invasion of the Greek island of Corfu after the Corfu incident. The Italian press supported the move, noting that Corfu had been a Venetian possession for four hundred years. The matter was taken by Greece to the League of Nations, where Mussolini was convinced by Britain to evacuate Italian troops, in return for reparations from Greece. The confrontation led Britain and Italy to resolve the question of Jubaland in 1924, which was merged into Italian Somaliland.
During the late 1920s, imperial expansion became an increasingly favoured theme in Mussolini's speeches.Amongst Mussolini's aims were that Italy had to become the dominant power in the Mediterranean that would be able to challenge France or Britain, as well as attain access to the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Mussolini alleged that Italy required uncontested access to the world's oceans and shipping lanes to ensure its national sovereignty. This was elaborated on in a document he later drew up in 1939 called "The March to the Oceans", and included in the official records of a meeting of the Grand Council of Fascism. This text asserted that maritime position determined a nation's independence: countries with free access to the high seas were independent; while those who lacked this, were not. Italy, which only had access to an inland sea without French and British acquiescence, was only a "semi-independent nation", and alleged to be a "prisoner in the Mediterranean":
The bars of this prison are Corsica, Tunisia, Malta, and Cyprus. The guards of this prison are Gibraltar and Suez. Corsica is a pistol pointed at the heart of Italy; Tunisia at Sicily. Malta and Cyprus constitute a threat to all our positions in the eastern and western Mediterrean. Greece, Turkey, and Egypt have been ready to form a chain with Great Britain and to complete the politico-military encirclement of Italy. Thus Greece, Turkey, and Egypt must be considered vital enemies of Italy's expansion ... The aim of Italian policy, which cannot have, and does not have continental objectives of a European territorial nature except Albania, is first of all to break the bars of this prison ... Once the bars are broken, Italian policy can only have one motto – to march to the oceans.
In the Balkans, the Fascist regime claimed Dalmatia and held ambitions over Albania, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, and Greece based on the precedent of previous Roman dominance in these regions.Dalmatia and Slovenia were to be directly annexed into Italy while the remainder of the Balkans was to be transformed into Italian client states. The regime also sought to establish protective patron-client relationships with Austria, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria.
In both 1932 and 1935, Italy demanded a League of Nations mandate of the former German Cameroon and a free hand in Ethiopia from France in return for Italian support against Germany (see Stresa Front).This was refused by French Prime Minister Édouard Herriot, who was not yet sufficiently worried about the prospect of a German resurgence. The failed resolution of the Abyssinia Crisis led to the Second Italo-Ethiopian War, in which Italy annexed Ethiopia to its empire.
Italy's stance towards Spain shifted between the 1920s and the 1930s. The Fascist regime in the 1920s held deep antagonism towards Spain due to Miguel Primo de Rivera's pro-French foreign policy. In 1926, Mussolini began aiding the Catalan separatist movement, which was led by Francesc Macià, against the Spanish government.With the rise of the left-wing Republican government replacing the Spanish monarchy, Spanish monarchists and fascists repeatedly approached Italy for aid in overthrowing the Republican government, in which Italy agreed to support them in order to establish a pro-Italian government in Spain. In July 1936, Francisco Franco of the Nationalist faction in the Spanish Civil War requested Italian support against the ruling Republican faction, and guaranteed that, if Italy supported the Nationalists, "future relations would be more than friendly" and that Italian support "would have permitted the influence of Rome to prevail over that of Berlin in the future politics of Spain". Italy intervened in the civil war with the intention of occupying the Balearic Islands and creating a client state in Spain. Italy sought the control of the Balearic Islands due to its strategic position – Italy could use the islands as a base to disrupt the lines of communication between France and its North African colonies and between British Gibraltar and Malta. After the victory by Franco and the Nationalists in the war, Allied intelligence was informed that Italy was pressuring Spain to permit an Italian occupation of the Balearic Islands.
After the United Kingdom signed the Anglo-Italian Easter Accords in 1938, Mussolini and Foreign Minister Galleazo Ciano issued demands for concessions in the Mediterranean by France, particularly regarding Djibouti, Tunisia and the French-run Suez Canal.Three weeks later, Mussolini told Ciano that he intended for an Italian takeover of Albania. Mussolini professed that Italy would only be able to "breathe easily" if it had acquired a contiguous colonial domain in Africa from the Atlantic to the Indian Oceans, and when ten million Italians had settled in them. In 1938, Italy demanded a sphere of influence in the Suez Canal in Egypt, specifically demanding that the French-dominated Suez Canal Company accept an Italian representative on its board of directors. Italy opposed the French monopoly over the Suez Canal because, under the French-dominated Suez Canal Company, all merchant traffic to the Italian East Africa colony was forced to pay tolls on entering the canal.
Albanian Prime Minister and President Ahmet Zogu, who had, in 1928, proclaimed himself King of Albania, failed to create a stable state.Albanian society was deeply divided by religion and language, with a border dispute with Greece and an undeveloped, rural economy. In 1939, Italy invaded and annexed Albania as a separate kingdom in personal union with the Italian crown. Italy had long built strong links with the Albanian leadership and considered it firmly within its sphere of influence. Mussolini wanted a spectacular success over a smaller neighbour to match Germany's annexation of Austria and Czechoslovakia. Italian King Victor Emmanuel III took the Albanian crown, and a fascist government under Shefqet Vërlaci was established.
The Great Depression destabilised Romania. The early 1930s were marked by social unrest, high unemployment, and strikes. In several instances, the Romanian government violently repressed strikes and riots, notably the 1929 miners' strike in Valea Jiului and the strike in the Griviţa railroad workshops. In the mid-1930s, the Romanian economy recovered and the industry grew significantly, although about 80% of Romanians were still employed in agriculture. French economic and political influence was predominant in the early 1920s but then Germany became more dominant, especially in the 1930s.
The Japanese modelled their industrial economy closely on the most advanced European models. They started with textiles, railways, and shipping, expanding to electricity and machinery. The most serious weakness was a shortage of raw materials. Industry ran short of copper, and coal became a net importer. A deep flaw in the aggressive military strategy was a heavy dependence on imports including 100 percent of the aluminium, 85 percent of the iron ore, and especially 79 percent of the oil supplies. It was one thing to go to war with China or Russia, but quite another to be in conflict with the key suppliers, especially the United States, Britain, and the Netherlands, which supply the oil and iron.
Japan joined the Allies of the First World War in order to make territorial gains. Together, with the British Empire, it divided up Germany's territories scattered in the Pacific and on the China coast; they did not amount to very much. The other Allies pushed back hard against Japan's efforts to dominate China through the Twenty-One Demands of 1915. Its occupation of Siberia proved unproductive. Japan's wartime diplomacy and limited military action had produced few results, and at the Paris Versailles peace conference. at the end of the war, Japan frustrated in its ambitions. At the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, its demands for racial parity, and an increasing diplomatic isolation. The 1902 alliance with Britain was not renewed in 1922 because of heavy pressure on Britain from Canada and the United States. In the 1920s Japanese diplomacy was rooted in an largely liberal democratic political system, and favoured internationalism. By 1930, however, Japan was rapidly reversing itself, rejecting democracy at home, as the Army seized more and more power, and rejecting internationalism and liberalism. By the late 1930s it had joined the Axis military alliance with Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy.
In 1930, the London disarmament conference angered the Japanese Army and Navy. Japan's navy demanded parity with the United States and Britain, but was rejected and the conference kept the 1921 ratios. Japan was required to scrap a capital ship. Extremists assassinated Japan's prime minister and the military took more power, leading to the rapid decline in democracy.
In September 1931, the Japanese Army—acting on its own without government approval—seized control of Manchuria, an anarchic area that China had not controlled in decades. It created the puppet government of Manchukuo. Britain and France effectively control the League of Nations, which issued the Lytton Report in 1932, saying that Japan had genuine grievances, but it acted illegally in seizing the entire province. Japan quit the League, Britain took no action. The US Secretary of State announces that it would not recognise Japan's conquest as legitimate. Germany welcomed Japan's actions.
The civilian government in Tokyo tried to minimise the Army's aggression in Manchuria, and announced it was withdrawing. On the contrary, the Army completed the conquest of Manchuria, and the civilian cabinet resigned. The political parties were divided on the issue of military expansion. The new Prime Minister Inukai Tsuyoshi tried to negotiate with China, but was assassinated in the May 15 Incident in 1932, which ushered in an era of nationalism led by the Imperial Japanese Army and supported by other right-wing societies. The IJA's nationalism ended civilian rule in Japan until after 1945.
The Army, however, was itself divided into cliques and factions with different strategic viewpoints. One faction saw The Soviet Union is the main enemy, the other sought to build a mighty empire based in Manchuria and northern China. The Navy, while smaller and less influential, was also factionalised. Large-scale warfare, known as the Second Sino-Japanese War, began in August 1937, with naval and infantry attacks focused on Shanghai, which quickly spread to other major cities. There were numerous large-scale atrocities against Chinese civilians, such as the Nanjing Massacre in December 1937, with mass murder and mass rape. By 1939 military lines had stabilised, with Japan in control of almost all of the major Chinese cities and industrial areas. A puppet government was set up.In the U.S., government and public opinion—even including those who were isolationist regarding Europe—was resolutely opposed to Japan and gave strong support to China. Meanwhile, the Japanese Army fared badly in large battles with Soviet forces in Mongolia at the Battles of Khalkhin Gol in summer 1939. The USSR was too powerful. Tokyo and Moscow signed a nonaggression treaty in April 1941, as the militarists turned their attention to the European colonies to the south which had urgently needed oil fields.
The Great Depression posed a great challenge to the region. The collapse of the world economy meant that the demand for raw materials drastically declined, undermining many of the economies of Latin America. Intellectuals and government leaders in Latin America turned their backs on the older economic policies and turned toward import substitution industrialisation. The goal was to create self-sufficient economies, which would have their own industrial sectors and large middle classes and which would be immune to the ups and downs of the global economy. Despite the potential threats to United States commercial interests, the Roosevelt administration (1933–1945) understood that the United States could not wholly oppose import substitution. Roosevelt implemented a Good Neighbour policy and allowed the nationalisation of some American companies in Latin America. Mexican President Lázaro Cárdenas nationalised American oil companies, out of which he created Pemex. Cárdenas also oversaw the redistribution of a quantity of land, fulfilling the hopes of many since the start of the Mexican Revolution. The Platt Amendment was also repealed, freeing Cuba from legal and official interference of the United States in its politics. The Second World War also brought the United States and most Latin American nations together, with Argentina the main hold out.
During the Interwar period United States policy makers continued to be concerned over German influence in Latin America.Some analyst grossly exaggerated the influence of Germans in South America even after the First World War when German influence somewhat declined. As the influence of United States grew all-over the Americas Germany concentrated its foreign policy efforts in the Southern Cone countries where US influence was weaker and larger German communities were at place.
The contrary ideals of indigenismo and hispanismo held sway among intellectuals in Spanish-speaking America during the interwar period. In Argentina the gaucho genre flourished. A rejection of "Western universalist" influences were in vogue across Latin America.This last tendency was in part inspired by the translation into Spanish of the book Decline of the West in 1923.
Sports became increasingly popular, drawing enthusiastic fans to large stadiums.The International Olympic Committee (IOC) worked to encourage Olympic ideals and participation. Following the 1922 Latin American Games in Rio de Janeiro, the IOC helped to establish national Olympic committees and prepare for future competition. In Brazil, however, sporting and political rivalries slowed progress as opposing factions fought for control of international sport. The 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris and the 1928 Summer Olympics games in Amsterdam saw greatly increased participation from Latin American athletes.
English and Scottish engineers had brought futebol (soccer) to Brazil in the late 19th century. The International Committee of the YMCA of North America and the Playground Association of America played major roles in training coaches.Across the globe after 1912, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) played the chief role in the transformation of association football into a global game, working with national and regional organisations, and setting up the rules and customs, and establishing championships such as the World Cup.
The interwar period ended in September 1939 with the German invasion of Poland and the start of World War II.
Fascism is a form of radical, right-wing, authoritarian ultranationalism, characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition, and strong regimentation of society and of the economy, which came to prominence in early 20th-century Europe. The first fascist movements emerged in Italy during World War I before it spread to other European countries. Opposed to liberalism, Marxism, and anarchism, fascism is placed on the far-right within the traditional left–right spectrum.
The 1930s was a decade of the Gregorian calendar that began on January 1, 1930, and ended on December 31, 1939.
The Axis powers, also known as "Rome–Berlin–Tokyo Axis", were the nations that fought in World War II against the Allies. The Axis powers agreed on their opposition to the Allies, but did not completely coordinate their activity.
Appeasement in an international context is a diplomatic policy of making political or material concessions to an aggressive power in order to avoid conflict. The term is most often applied to the foreign policy of the British governments of Prime Ministers Ramsay MacDonald, Stanley Baldwin and Neville Chamberlain towards Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy between 1935 and 1939.
The Pact of Steel, known formally as the Pact of Friendship and Alliance between Germany and Italy, was a military and political alliance between Italy and Germany.
The events preceding World War II in Europe are closely tied to the rise of fascism and communism.
Among the causes of World War II were, to a greater extent, the political takeover in 1933 of Germany by Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party and its aggressive foreign policy, and to a lesser extent, Italian Fascism in the 1920s, and Japanese militarism preceding an invasion of China in the 1930s. The immediate cause was Germany invading Poland on September 1, 1939, and Britain and France declaring war on Germany on September 3, 1939.
This timeline of events preceding World War II covers the events of the interwar period (1918–1939) after World War I that affected or led to World War II.
The history of Fascist ideology is long and involves many sources. Fascists took inspiration from sources as ancient as the Spartans for their focus on national purity and their emphasis on rule by an elite minority. Fascism has also been connected to the ideals of Plato, though there are key differences between the two. Fascism styled itself as the ideological successor to Rome, particularly the Roman Empire. The Enlightenment-era concept of a "high and noble" Aryan culture as opposed to a "parasitic" Semitic culture was core to Nazi racial views. From the same era, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel's view on the absolute authority of the state also strongly influenced Fascist thinking. The French Revolution was a major influence insofar as the Nazis saw themselves as fighting back against many of the ideas which it brought to prominence, especially liberalism, liberal democracy and racial equality, whereas on the other hand Fascism drew heavily on the revolutionary ideal of nationalism. Common themes among fascist movements include; nationalism, hierarchy and elitism, militarism, quasi-religion, masculinity and voluntarism. Other aspects of fascism such as its "myth of decadence", anti‐egalitarianism and totalitarianism can be seen to originate from these ideas. These fundamental aspects however, can be attributed to a concept known as "Palingenetic ultranationalism", a theory proposed by Roger Griffin, that fascism is essentially populist ultranationalism sacralized through the myth of national rebirth and regeneration.
The economics of fascism refers to the economic policies implemented by fascist governments. Historians and other scholars disagree on the question of whether a specifically fascist type of economic policy can be said to exist. Baker argues that there is an identifiable economic system in fascism that is distinct from those advocated by other ideologies, comprising essential characteristics that fascist nations shared. Payne, Paxton, Sternhell et al. argue that while fascist economies share some similarities, there is no distinctive form of fascist economic organization. Feldman and Mason argue that fascism is distinguished by an absence of coherent economic ideology and an absence of serious economic thinking. They state that the decisions taken by fascist leaders cannot be explained within a logical economic framework.
Italian Fascism, also known as Classical Fascism or simply Fascism, is the original fascist ideology as developed in Italy. The ideology is associated with a series of three political parties led by Benito Mussolini, namely the Fascist Revolutionary Party (PFR) founded in 1915, the succeeding National Fascist Party (PNF) which was renamed at the Third Fascist Congress on 7–10 November 1921 and ruled the Kingdom of Italy from 1922 until 1943 and the Republican Fascist Party that ruled the Italian Social Republic from 1943 to 1945. Italian Fascism is also associated with the post-war Italian Social Movement and subsequent Italian neo-fascist movements.
Both during and after his presidential terms and continuing today, there has been much criticism of Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882–1945). Critics have questioned not only his policies and positions, but also charged him with centralizing power in his own hands by controlling both the government and the Democratic Party. Many denounced his breaking the no-third-term tradition in 1940.
The National Fascist Party was an Italian political party, created by Benito Mussolini as the political expression of fascism. The party ruled Italy from 1922 when Fascists took power with the March on Rome to 1943, when Mussolini was deposed by the Grand Council of Fascism.
Fascism in Europe was composed of numerous ideologies present during the 20th century which all developed their own differences from each other. Fascism was born in Italy, but subsequently several movements across Europe which took influence from the Italian faction emerged. The first foundations of fascism can be seen in the Italian Regency of Carnaro, many of the politics and aesthetics were taken from Gabriele D'Annunzio's rule and subsequently used by Mussolini and his Italian Fasci of Combat which he founded five months prior in 1919. Despite members referring to themselves as "fascists" the ideology of fascism wouldn't fully develop until in 1921 when Mussolini transformed his movement into the National Fascist Party which then in 1923 incorporated the Italian Nationalist Association. The INA was a nationalist movement that established fascist tropes, colored shirt uniforms for example, and also received the support of important proto-fascists like D'Annunzio and Enrico Corradini.
The Italian colonial empire, known as the Italian Empire between 1936 and 1943, comprised the colonies, protectorates, concessions, dependencies and trust territories of the Kingdom of Italy. The genesis of the Italian colonial empire was the purchase in 1869 of Assab Bay on the Red Sea by an Italian navigation company which intended to establish a coaling station at the time the Suez Canal was being opened to navigation. This was taken over by the Italian government in 1882, becoming modern Italy's first overseas territory.
Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was an Italian politician and journalist who was the leader of the National Fascist Party. He ruled Italy as Prime Minister from 1922 to 1943; he constitutionally led the country until 1925, when he dropped the pretense of democracy and established a dictatorship.
The European interwar economy began when the countries in Western Europe were struggling to recover from the devastation caused by the First World War, while also dealing with economic depression and the rise of fascism. Economic prosperity in the United States during the first half of the period was brought to an end with the onset of the Great Depression in 1929.
International relations (1919–1939) covers the main interactions shaping world history in this era, with emphasis on diplomacy and economic relations. The coverage here follows Diplomatic history of World War I and precedes Diplomatic history of World War II. The important stages of interwar diplomacy and international relations included resolutions of wartime issues, such as reparations owed by Germany and boundaries; American involvement in European finances and disarmament projects; the expectations and failures of the League of Nations; the relationships of the new countries to the old; the distrustful relations of the Soviet Union to the capitalist world; peace and disarmament efforts; responses to the Great Depression starting in 1929; the collapse of world trade; the collapse of democratic regimes one by one; the growth of economic autarky; Japanese aggressiveness toward China; Fascist diplomacy, including the aggressive moves by Mussolini's Italy and Hitler's Germany; the Spanish Civil War; the appeasement of Germany's expansionist moves toward the Rhineland, Austria, and Czechoslovakia, and the last, desperate stages of rearmament as another world war increasingly loomed.
Fascist Italy is the era of National Fascist Party government from 1922 to 1943 with Benito Mussolini as head of government of the Kingdom of Italy. The fascists imposed totalitarian rule and crushed political and intellectual opposition, while promoting economic modernization, traditional social values and a rapprochement with the Roman Catholic Church. According to Payne (1996), "[the] Fascist government passed through several relatively distinct phases". The first phase (1923–1925) was nominally a continuation of the parliamentary system, albeit with a "legally-organized executive dictatorship". Then came the second phase, "the construction of the Fascist dictatorship proper, from 1925 to 1929". The third phase, with less activism, was 1929 to 1934. The fourth phase, 1935–1940, was characterized by an aggressive foreign policy: war against Ethiopia, which was launched from Eritrea and Somaliland; confrontations with the League of Nations, leading to sanctions; growing economic autarky; and the signing of the Pact of Steel. The war itself (1940–1943) was the fifth phase with its disasters and defeats, while the rump Salò Government under German control was the final stage (1943–1945).
Interwar France covers the political, economic, diplomatic, cultural and social history of France, 1919-1939. France suffered heavily during the war, terms of lives lost, disabled veterans, ruined agricultural and industrial areas occupied by Germany, and heavy borrowing from the United States, Britain, and the French people. Postwar reconstruction went rapidly. The long history of political warfare along religious lines was finally ended. Parisian culture was world-famous in the 1920s, with expatriate artists, musicians and writers from across the globe contributing their cosmopolitanism, such as jazz music. The French empire was in flourishing condition, especially in North Africa, and in sub- Sahara Africa. Although the official goal was complete assimilation, few natives were actually assimilated. A main concern was having Germany pay for the war damage through reparations payments, and guaranteeing that Germany, with its much larger population, would never be a military threat in the future. Efforts to set up military alliances worked poorly. Relations remained very tense with Germany until 1924, when they stabilized thanks to large American bank loans. However after 1929 the German economy was very badly hit by the Great Depression, and its political scene descended into chaos and violence. The Nazis under Hitler took control in early 1933, and aggressively rearmed. Paris was bitterly divided between pacifism and rearmament, so it supported London's efforts to appease Hitler.