Ten million deaths, a lost generation, disillusionment and despair were among the fruits of World War I. Some of the survivors turned to pacifism, while others were attracted to radical national ideologies such as fascism in Italy and Nazism in Germany. The treaties ending World War I did not assure peace as the League of Nations had little power. France, fearing Germany, formed the Little Entente with the militarily weak states of Eastern Europe. Occupying the Ruhr when Germany failed to pay reparations, France gained little other than a disastrous fall in the German mark. By 1924, the Dawes Plan established a realistic reparations schedule. The Treaty of Locarno made permanent Germany’s western borders, but not the east. Germany joined the League, and in 1928, sixty-three nations signed the Kellogg-Briand pact, renouncing war, but it lacked any enforcement provisions.

European prosperity, largely the result of American loans and investments, ended with the Great Depression. The economist John Maynard Keynes favored increased government spending and deficit financing rather than deflation and balanced budgets, but had little support. Britain’s unemployment remained at 10 percent during the 1920s and rose rapidly in the depression. France was governed, or ungoverned, by frequent coalition governments; its far-right was attracted to fascism and many on the left by Soviet Marxism. The United States’ New Deal was more successful in providing relief than in recovery, and unemployment remained high until World War II. Among most of the nations of Europe, there was a retreat from democracy, which seemed to have failed, both politically and economically.

Totalitarian governments, which required the active commitment of their citizens, came to power in Germany, Italy, and the Soviet Union. Italian fascism resulted from Italy’s losses in the Great War, economic failure, and incompetent politicians. In 1919, Benito Mussolini organized the Fascio di Combattimento. Threatening “to march on Rome,” he was chosen prime minister in 1922. Legal due process was abandoned, and rival parties were outlawed, but totalitarianism in Italy was never as effective as in Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia.

In Germany, the depression brought the political extremes to the forefront. Adolf Hitler headed the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (Nazis). A powerful orator, Hitler published his beliefs in Mein Kampf, and created a private army of storm troopers (SA), but it was not until the depression that the Nazis received wide support. Hitler became chancellor in 1933, and a compliant Reichstag passed the Enabling Act, giving him dictatorial power. In his quest to dominate Europe, Hitler rearmed Germany, abolished labor unions, and created a new terrorist police force, the SS. The Nuremberg laws excluded Jews from citizenship, and in the 1938 Kristallnacht, Jewish businesses and synagogues were burned and Jews beaten and killed.

After Lenin’s death in 1924, Joseph Stalin assumed leadership in the Soviet Union. In 1928 he announced his first five-year plan to turn the Soviet Union into an industrial society by emphasizing oil and coal production and steel manufacturing. Giant collective farms were created, and in the process 10 million lives were lost. Stalin’s opponents were sent to Siberia, sentenced to labor camps, or liquidated. With the exception of Czechoslovakia, authoritarian governments appeared in eastern Europe as well as in Portugal and Spain. In the Spanish Civil War, the fascist states aided Francisco Franco, and the Soviet Union backed the Popular Front.

Radio and movies become widely popular, as did professional sports. Automobiles and trains made travel accessible to all. Issues of sexuality became more public, and psychology became more popular. In art German Expressionism reflected the horrors of war and the corruptions of peace, Dada focused upon the absurd, and Surrealism explored the unconscious. The unconscious “stream of consciousness” technique was used in the novels of James Joyce and Virginia Woolf. The Bauhaus movement emphasized the functional in architecture. It was also the “the heroic age of physics.” The discovery of subatomic particles indicated that splitting the atom could release massive energies, and Werner Heisenberg’s “uncertainty principle” had implications far beyond the study of physics.

  1. Explain the context in which global conflict developed in the 20th century.
    1. Total war and political instability in the first half of the 20th century gave way to a polarized state order during the Cold War and eventually to efforts at transnational union.
      1. In the interwar period, fascism, extreme nationalism, racist ideologies, and the failure of appeasement resulted in the catastrophe of World War II, presenting a grave challenge to European civilization.
    2. The stresses of economic collapse and total war engendered internal conflicts within European states and created conflicting conceptions of the relationship between the individual and the state, as demonstrated in the ideological battle between and among democracy, communism, and fascism.
    3. During the 20th century, diverse intellectual and cultural movements questioned the existence of objective knowledge, the ability of reason to arrive at truth, and the role of religion in determining moral standards.
  2. Explain the causes and effects of the global economic crisis in the 1920s and 1930s.
    1. The Great Depression, caused by weaknesses in international trade and monetary theories and practices, undermined Western European democracies and fomented radical political responses throughout Europe.
      • Illustrative Examples of New economic theories and policies: Keynesianism in Britain, Cooperative social action in Scandinavia, Popular Front policies in France
      1. World War I debt, nationalistic tariff policies, overproduction, depreciated currencies, disrupted trade patterns, and speculation created weaknesses in economies worldwide.
      2. Dependence on post-World War I American investment capital led to financial collapse when, following the 1929 stock market crash, the United States cut off capital flows to Europe.
      3. Despite attempts to rethink economic theories and policies and forge political alliances, Western democracies failed to overcome the Great Depression and were weakened by extremist movements.
        • Illustrative Examples of Political alliance: National government in Britain, Popular Fronts in France and Spain
  3. Explain the factors that led to the development of fascist and totalitarian regimes in the aftermath of World War I.
    1. The ideology of fascism, with roots in the pre-World War I era, gained popularity in an environment of postwar bitterness, the rise of communism, uncertain transitions to democracy, and economic instability.
      1. Fascist dictatorships used modern technology and propaganda that rejected democratic institutions, promoted charismatic leaders, and glorified war and nationalism to attract the disillusioned.
        • Illustrative Examples of Fascist propaganda: Radio, Joseph Goebbels, Leni Riefenstahl, Architecture, Cult of personality
      2. Mussolini and Hitler rose to power by exploiting postwar bitterness and economic instability, using terror, and manipulating the fledgling and unpopular democracies in their countries.
      3. Franco’s alliance with Italian and German fascists in the Spanish Civil War – in which the Western democracies did not intervene – represented a testing ground for World War II and resulted in authoritarian rule in Spain from 1936 to the mid-1970s.
      4. After failures to establish functioning democracies, authoritarian dictatorships took power in central and eastern Europe during the interwar period.
        • Illustrative Examples of Authoritarian dictatorship in central and eastern Europe: Poland, Hungary, Romania
  4. Explain the consequences of Stalin’s economic policies and totalitarian rule in the Soviet Union.
    1. After Lenin’s death, Stalin undertook a centralized program of rapid economic modernization, often with severe repercussions for the population.
      • Illustrative Examples of the Soviet Union’s rapid economic modernization: Collectivization, Five Year Plan
    2. Stalin’s economic modernization of the Soviet Union came at a high price, including the liquidation of the kulaks (the land-owning peasantry) and other perceived enemies of the state, devastating famine in the Ukraine, purges of political rivals, and, ultimately, the creation of an oppressive political system.
      • Illustrative Examples of the Soviet Union’s oppressive political system: Great purges, Gulags, Secret police
  5. Explain how and why various political and ideological factors resulted in the catastrophe of World War II.
    1. French and British fears of another war, American isolationism, and deep distrust between Western democratic, capitalist nations and the authoritarian, communist Soviet Union allowed fascist states to rearm and expand their territory.
      • Illustrative Examples of Fascist states’ expansion allowed by European powers: Remilitarization of the Rhineland, Italian invasion of Ethiopia, Annexation of Austria, Munich Agreement and its violation, Nazi Soviet Non-Aggression Pact
    2. In the interwar period, fascism, extreme nationalism, racist ideologies, and the failure of appeasement resulted in the catastrophe of World War II, presenting a grave challenge to European civilization.
  6. Explain how and why various political and ideological factors resulted in the catastrophe of World War II.
    1. French and British fears of another war, American isolationism, and deep distrust between Western democratic, capitalist nations and the authoritarian, communist Soviet Union allowed fascist states to rearm and expand their territory.
      • Illustrative Examples of Fascist states’ expansion allowed by European powers: Remilitarization of the Rhineland, Italian invasion of Ethiopia, Annexation of Austria, Munich Agreement and its violation, Nazi Soviet Non-Aggression Pact
    2. In the interwar period, fascism, extreme nationalism, racist ideologies, and the failure of appeasement resulted in the catastrophe of World War II, presenting a grave challenge to European civilization.
  7. Explain how economic challenges and ideological beliefs influenced prior conceptions about the relationship between the individual and the state.
    1. Total war and political instability in the first half of the 20th century gave way to a polarized state order during the Cold War and eventually to efforts at transnational union.
      1. World War I, caused by a complex interaction of long- and short-term factors, resulted in immense losses and disruptions for both victors and vanquished.
      2. The conflicting goals of the peace negotiators in Paris pitted diplomatic idealism against the desire to punish Germany, producing a settlement that satis ed few.
      3. In the interwar period, fascism, extreme nationalism, racist ideologies, and the failure of appeasement resulted in the catastrophe of World War II, presenting a grave challenge to European civilization.
    2. The stresses of economic collapse and total war engendered internal conflicts within European states and created conflicting conceptions of the relationship between the individual and the state, as demonstrated in the ideological battle between and among democracy, communism, and fascism.
    3. During the 20th century, diverse intellectual and cultural movements questioned the existence of objective knowledge, the ability of reason to arrive at truth, and the role of religion in determining moral standards.
      1. Science and technology yielded impressive material benefits but also caused immense destruction and posed challenges to objective knowledge.
    4. Demographic changes, economic growth, total war, disruptions of traditional social patterns, and competing definitions of freedom and justice altered the experiences of everyday life.
      1. The 20th century was characterized by large-scale suffering brought on by warfare and genocide, but also by tremendous improvements in the standard of living.

Reading 1: Pages 796-802

An Uncertain Peace:
     The Impact of World War I
     The Search for Security
     The Hopeful Years (1924-1929)
     The Great Depression

Reading 2: Pages 802-805

The Democratic States in the West:
     Great Britain
     France
     The Scandinavian States
     The United States
     European States and the World

Reading 3: Pages 805-809

The Authoritarian and Totalitarian States:
The Retreat from Democracy: Did Europe Have Totalitarian States?
     Fascist Italy

Reading 4: Pages 809-815

The Authoritarian and Totalitarian States:
     Hitler and Nazi Germany

Reading 5: Pages 815-819

The Authoritarian and Totalitarian States:
     The Soviet Union

Reading 6: Pages 819-822

The Authoritarian and Totalitarian States:
     Authoritarianism in Eastern Europe
     Dictatorship in the Iberian Peninsula

Reading 7: Pages 822-830

The Expansion of Mass Culture and Mass Leisure:
     Radio and Movies
     Mass Leisure
Cultural and Intellectual Trends:
     Nightmares and New Visions: Art and Music
     The Search for Unconscious in Literature
     The Unconscious in Psychology: Carl Jung
     The "Heroic Age of Physics"