Chapter 24

A Time of Uncertainty

In This Chapter

• Problems in Europe

• The Depression and its effects

• The rise of totalitarian regimes in Europe

• Political developments around the world

• Cultural trends

The period after World War I was not a time of peace and prosperity. It was a time of uncertainty in politics and culture. European dominance on the world stage was declining and the world was left searching for somethingto put in its place.

Problems with Peace?

The provisions of the Treaty of Versailles, which secured the peace after World War I, were one cause for uncertainty. The treaty caused many borderdisputes in eastern Europe. The League of Nations, created to foster peace and cooperation, was ineffective, partially because President Wilson was unable to convince the United States Senate to join. The Senate even refused to ratify the Treaty of Versailles to officially end the war with Germany. Not until 1921 did the United States sign a separate treaty with Germany. Regardless of the ineffectual nature of the League of Nations, it did create a standard for future international cooperation in the twentieth century.

What in the World

As if things hadn’t been bad enough for the world populationafter the horrors of World War I, from 1918 to 1919 a Spanish influenza pandemic killed an estimated 50 to 100 million people worldwide. No region of the world was left untouched. The disease even spread to the Arctic and remote islands of the Pacific. This great medical holocaust easily compareswith the Black Death of the Middle Ages.

Germany was also dissatisfied with the terms of the peace. France had insisted on harsh terms and strict enforcement, which put Germany in an economicallytough spot. The German government needed to pay 33 billion dollars in war reparations by April 1921. A year after the deadline, the German governmentannounced to France that it could not pay. In response, the French sent troops to occupy the Ruhr Valley—Germany’s chief industrial and miningcenter—intending to collect reparations from the operation of the mines. Of course, the German workers of the Ruhr Valley did not care for this and went on strike. In order to pay the workers to return to work, the German government printed more paper currency. This was a bad move by the German government; inflation skyrocketed and the German mark became next to worthless.

To correct this situation, in August 1924, U.S. financier Charles Dawes suggested that the amount of the reparations and the annual payments be reduced. The Dawes Plan also granted a 200 million dollar loan to the German government to help it recover economically. This loan brought American investments to Germany and for a time, from 1924 to 1929, the nation of Germany enjoyed some economic stability.

To improve their deteriorated relations, Germany and France drafted the Treaty of Locarno in 1925, aided by the cooperative relationship between the foreign ministers of Germany and France, Gustav Streseman and Aristide Briand. This treaty guaranteedthe western borders of France and Belgium and paved the way for Germany to join the League of Nations. Many viewed this treaty as a new era of peace in Europe.

The Kellogg-Briand Pact, drafted in 1928, also reassured many that a new era of peace had begun. Signed by 63 nations, this pact renounced war as an instrument of national policy and called upon the countries that signed it to reduce their military forces. Of course, there was no way to enforce the pact, and few countries wanted to risk national security by reducing their armed forces, so in the end it was a fairly worthless agreement. But it made people feel good about peace.

A Bit Depressed

But just when things seemed to being going well, the Great Depression, which lasted most of the 1930s, dragged America, Europe, and the world into economic and social despair. Many factors created this economic disaster; the individual economies of several Western nations suffered economic downturns during the late 1920s. But the major contributing event was the U.S. stock market crash of October 1929.

When the U.S market crashed, American investors withdrew their investments from European markets. As a result, by 1931, industrial production had slowed considerably,causing unemployment to rise. As unemployment rose, consumer demand fell, since no one had money to spend. A vicious cycle took hold. By far the worst year was 1932, with 25 percent of British workers and 40 percent of German workers out of work. The governments of the West scrambled to make things better, but the traditionaleconomic solutions did not work. Governments took control of economies, creating even stronger central governments. Communism also became popular; after all, Marx had predicted that capitalism would fall from overproduction.

There were also many political changes, some of which led to another world war. In Germany, the Weimar Republic, the democratic government created after World War I, did not cope well with the Depression. President Paul von Hindenburg did not have the leadership qualities to end unemployment and inflation. Eventually, his inabilities pushed middle class Germans into supporting parties that did not support the republic.

At the beginning of the Depression, France was the strongest nation on the European continent. The French economy only experienced a light economic depression around 1932. But the French government changed six times in two years, which suggested some problems. By 1936, a coalition of communists, socialists, and radicals formed the Popular Front government, which ruled France. This government gave workers40-hour work weeks, vacations, and collective bargaining abilities. They never did solve the problem of the Depression, but in reality they didn’t really have to. It worked its way out of the French economy.

Great Britain, like Germany, experienced many problems because of the Depression. The Labour Party that was in power was unable to find an economic solution and fell from power in 1931. The Conservatives were able to lead Great Britain through the worst stages of the Depression.

English economist John Maynard Keynes suggested that government should create a variety of public works projects; pumping wages into the private sector would create a larger demand for products, which would pull a nation out of economic depression. The Conservatives in Britain largely ignored Keynes, but the policy caught on with President Franklin Roosevelt in the United States.

When Roosevelt was elected president in 1932, he had a hard job to take on. In 1933, more than 15 million workers were unemployed. Using Keynesian economics, Roosevelt conceived the New Deal, which created many public works projects. Additionally, he began the U.S. welfare system in 1935 with the Social Security Act, which guaranteed pensions and unemployment insurance to all Americans. Despite these changes, in 1938 there were still more than 11 million American workers unemployed.Roosevelt had not been able to solve the economic problem of the Depression.

The Rise of Short Men Who Mean Business

By 1939 in Europe, only France and Great Britain remained democratic nations; most of the other European countries fell into nationalistic dictatorships and totalitarianism.Totalitarian governments controlled the political, economic, social, intellectual, and cultural lives of the people. They wanted everyone’s hearts and minds. To do this, totalitarian governments used propaganda and modern communications. Usually, these governments had a single leader or party in control. No competition was permitted. These leaders believed that they understood the collective will of the people, so they could bypass individual liberties for the benefit of the people.

Mussolini and Fascism in Italy

The Italian Fascist state started its development in the 1920s. Benito Mussolini preached the gospel of the glory of the state over the individual, strong centralized government, and the state suppression of opposition, playing on the middle class fears of a communist takeover of Italy. He created a political group called the League of Combat to spread his message. In 1920, Mussolini formed the Blackshirts, who not only vocalized his message but made it physical, attacking various offices and newspapersof socialist parties. When his original message was not enough, Mussolini used the lack of territory in the peace settlement of World War I as a rallying cry.

By 1922, Mussolini had enough support to make demands for power. He threatenedto march on Rome with his Blackshirts if he was not given political power in the Italian government. The king of Italy, Victor Emmanual III, gave in to his demands and made Mussolini the prime minister of Italy. With political power in hand, Mussolini created a dictatorship and outlawed all political parties except, of course, the Fascists. Then he used the secret police and mass media to control the Italian people. Mussolini even created a boy scout-type group to promote Fascist values of discipline and war in the young people. His power over Italy was assured for the decades of the 1920s and 1930s.

What in the World

Mussolini was not the best studentwhen he was in school. He was a rebellious student who was once expelled for stabbinga fellow pupil. Mussolini did end up graduating, and later went back to school for a short while; this time as an elementary school teacher.

The Rise of Stalin

After World War I, Lenin saw the decline of the war-communism system he had created in Russia. In 1920 and 1922, famine hit the Soviets, with more than 5 million dying as a result. Industry collapsed, too. So in March 1921, Lenin started the New Economic Policy, or NEP, a modified version of the capitalist system. Peasants and small businessescould sell openly under the NEP. The economy of the Soviets stabilized; economicdisaster had been stopped.


War-communism was a policy developed by Russian communistsduring World War I in which the government controlled the banks and most industries, seized the grain of the peasants,and centralized government administration.

When Lenin died in 1924, there was a struggle for political power. Trotsky, who had helped the revolution so much, wanted to end Lenin’s NEP in lieu of rapid industrializationand spreading communism to the world. Another group led by Joseph Stalin wanted to focus on domestic needs and thought that rapid industrialization was not the answer. In the end, Stalin, who as party general secretary appointed regional and local party officials, gained control of the party. In 1929, he established a dictatorship and expelled Trotsky from the party. Later Trotsky was murdered.

What in the World

Trotsky had many difficult years after he fell out of favor in Soviet Russia. At the end of his life, he lived in exile in Mexico City. But Stalin, paranoid of Trotsky’s politicalabilities, sent several assassins to kill Trotsky. On August 20, 1940, one assassin finally succeeded in passing Trotsky’s bodyguards and struck him in the head with an ice axe. (Ouch!) Trotsky died the next day of a brain hemorrhage.

What in the World

Joseph Stalin’s real name was Joseph Dzhugashvilli. He adopted the name Stalin because it means “man of steel.” Stalin wanted his name to show his frame of mind.

With dictatorial powers in hand, Stalin ended the NEP in favor of his Five-Year Plans. These economicgoals for five-year periods were created to gradually transform the Soviet Union from an agriculturalto an industrial nation. The first of Stalin’s Five-Year Plans called for capital equipment. As a result, steel and oil production increased. But Stalin’s first plan cost the Soviet Union. Living conditions in the cities decreased and wages declined more than 40 percent. Also, the brutality of the collectivization of the farms, another part of the plan, was disheartening to the Soviet people. During this period, 26 million small farms were turned into 250,000 collectivized farms. People were forced off of their small farms resulting in a famine during the years of 1932 and 1933 in which more than 10 million peasant farmers died. Stalin also purged the party of old Bolsheviks; more than 8 million people were arrested and sent to Siberia or executed. It was not the best of times for the Soviet Union.

Authoritarian Governments in Eastern Europe

Other authoritarian states emerged in eastern Europe in the countries of Austria, Poland, Yugoslavia, Romania, Bulgaria, and Hungary. Why? Because the parliamentarysystems failed to work. There was no tradition of democracy among the illiterate peasants of these regions, and the middle classes feared communism and were willing to support authoritarian governments to prevent it. So during the 1920s and 1930s, these states came into being and tried to maintain the old order.

General Franco in Spain

The same pattern also occurred in Spain. Popular with the people, General Francisco Franco led a revolution against the democratic government of Spain in 1936. The result was a Spanish civil war. Germany and Italy supported Franco in his military endeavors to control Spain while the Spanish republican government was helped by the Soviet Union. In the end, General Franco captured Madrid, the capital of Spain, in 1939 and established a dictatorship. Franco supported the old order of Spain, so he remained a favorite with large landowners and businesses, who didn’t seem to mind losing civil liberties.

The Rise of Hitler

Germany also saw the rise of a totalitarian regime during the 1930s, which began with the leader Adolf Hitler. Hitler was born in Austria in 1889 and later moved to Vienna to live as an artist. His artwork was rejected by the Vienna Academy of Arts, which turned his attention to politics. During his stay in Vienna, Hitler developed his basic ideas of politics, racism, anti-Semitism, extreme nationalism, propaganda, and terror.

After serving as a corporal in World War I in 1919, he joined the German Worker’s Party. By 1921, Hitler was in control of the party and renamed it the National Socialist German Worker’s Party, or Nazi for short. In 1923, he organized an uprisingagainst the government in Munich called the Beer Hall Putsch.

The revolt was put down and Hitler was put in prison for a time, during which he wrote a thousand page book on his views called Mein Kampf, or My Struggle. Drawing on Social Darwinism, Hitler believed that superior nations had the right to gain livingspace just as superior individuals had the right to acquire leadership over others. He also put forth his anti-communist, anti-Semitic, and nationalist ideas including the Final Solution. This solution called for the extermination of the Jewish race to permit the Aryan race to be perfected.

The Rise of the Nazis

Regardless of Hitler’s scary potential, the German authorities freed him. Hitler then spent the last of the 1920s and early 1930s leading the Nazi Party to power by legal means. By 1932, the Nazi Party had expanded to all of Germany and was the largest party in the Reichstag.

When the Depression came to Germany, Hitler used it to acquire more popularity through promises of nationalism and militarism. Eventually, the German elite started to look to the Nazis to save Germany from economic disaster, while the middle class looked to the Nazis to save Germany from the communists.

In 1933, President Hindenburg agreed to allow Hitler to become German Chancellor and create a new German government. With the Enabling Act of 1933, the German government was allowed to ignore the constitution and its guaranteed freedoms for four years. With this Hitler had a legal basis for his political actions.

Hitler Takes Total Control

Once Hitler was appointed dictator of Germany, a totalitarian state emerged. The Nazi Party purged all German institutions of Jews and democratic elements. Opposition to the Nazis was dealt with harshly, and opponents were placed in concentration camps. Trade unions and political parties were dissolved. Public officials and soldiers were required to take an oath of loyalty to Hitler as their fuhrer, or leader.

Hitler wanted more than just control over Nazi Germany. He envisioned Germany as the dominant Aryan state that would be the center of an empire like that of ancient Rome. Thus, Hitler gave Nazi Germany the title the Third Reich, believing that it followed third in line after Charlemagne’s Holy Roman Empire of the ninth century and the German empire of the nineteenth century.

Notable Quotable

"I was a little shocked at the faces, especially those of the women, when Hitler finally appeared on the balcony for a moment. … They looked up at him as if he were a Messiah, their faces transformed into somethingpositively inhuman.”

—William Shirer, Berlin Diary, 1934


Concentration camps are camps where minority groups, political prisoners, and prisoners of war are detained under very harsh and brutal conditions. During World War II, the Nazis used these camps to try to exterminate the minority Jewish population of Europe.

To end the Depression in Germany, Hitler created massive public works projects and started to rearm the German military. His economic policies were a success and by 1937 only a few Germans remained unemployed. Because of the success of his economic policies, the German people accepted his extreme nationalism. Churches, universities, and schools were brought under Nazi control. Mass public demonstrationsand spectacles were put on by the Nazis as a show of power. The Hitler Youth taught Nazi ideals to young Germans. And finally women were encouragedto be wives and mothers and not work, while men were warriors who had to breed to create a pure Aryan race.

At the heart of Hitler’s extreme nationalism was anti-Semitism. In 1935, new racial laws were enacted called the Nuremburg Laws, excluding Jews from citizenship and requiring all Jews to be registered and labeled with the government. Then on November 9, 1938, on the night known asKristallnacht, or night of shattered glass, Nazis burned synagogues and businesses across Germany. In addition, 30,000 Jewish men were sent to concentrationcamps. Afterward Jews were barred from public buildings and transportation and they were not allowed to be in the retail industry. Finally, Jews were strongly urged to leave the country. This was just the beginning of the persecution of the Jews in Germany.

To keep power, Hitler used terror methods. Hitler’s bodyguard, known as the SS or Guard Squadrons, kept a close eye on all German institutions for Hitler. Henrich Himmler, the commander of the SS, controlled the secret and regular police with his position. He also oversaw the use of concentration camps, execution squads, and death camps.

Turmoil in the Middle East

During World War I, Great Britain supported the Arab nationalist movement throughout the Middle East. After the war, France and Great Britain created mandatesof former territories of the Ottoman Empire. The mandates were supervised by the League of Nations. Great Britain had been given the right to govern Iraq and Jordan, while France had the right to Syria and Lebanon. But the European powers never respected Arab nationalism or the people’s will when drawing up the lines in the sand.

End of the Ottomans

Beginning in the eighteenth century, the Ottoman Empire lost territory and power in the Middle East. As a result, in 1876 Turkish reformers took control of the government.They adopted a constitution and legislative assembly to create a democratic state. Finally Sultan Abdulhamid II, wanting to remain in power, stepped in and suspendedthe constitutional reforms.

In due time, a group called the Young Turks organized politically and restored the constitution in 1908. They then deposed the sultan in 1909. Allied with Germany during the war, the Turks committed genocide on the Christian Armenians in the empire. By 1918, they had killed more than 1 million Armenians.

After the war, the Ottoman Empire came to an end, with France and Great Britain dividing a majority of the empire’s territories up. The Greeks saw a chance for expansionand invaded the region of Turkey, but Colonel Mustafa Kemel organized the remnants of the Ottoman army and drove the Greeks from Turkey. Afterward he declared the former Ottoman territory of Turkey to be the Turkish Republic. He was promptly elected its first president.

Kemal became known as Ataturk or “father Turk.” He pushed for the modernization of Turkey and put the democratic system in its place. Opposition to his rule and policieswas suppressed. Ataturk instituted public education using a European model and made his people adopt European names. Like Stalin, he developed a five-year industrializationplan.

Ataturk especially wanted a strictly secular state, so he tried to break the power of the Islamic religion by forbidding Islamic men from wearing a fez and Islamic women from wearing a veil. He also enacted new laws that gave women rights including voting. Finally Ataturk permitted all Turkish citizens the right to convert to other religions. So with Ataturk came some good things but also some questionable things.

Arab Nationalism

In the 1920s, Ibn Saud emerged as a leader to unite the population of the Arabian Peninsula. He created the kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932. At first, Saudi Arabia’s source of income was tourism, in the form of pilgrimages to Mecca and Medina. In the 1930s with the search for oil by U.S. businesses, there was a shift, which became a complete change in 1938 when Standard Oil found oil in the Persian Gulf. The oil industry brought an economic boom to Saudi Arabia that increased the stability and power of Ibn Saud.

The Arab nationalist did have another problem besides that of the European powers. In 1917 with the Balfour Declaration, the British declared their support for the creation of a Palestinian homeland for the Jews. The problem with the declaration was that 98 percent of the population of Palestine was Muslim. During the 1930s, Jews began to migrate to Palestine creating tensions in the region. By 1939, almost 500,000 Jews had come to Palestine. Conflict was inevitable between the Jewish and Muslim populations.

Introducing Iran

In the region of Persia, the Qajar dynasty had ruled from 1794 to 1921, but had not been very successful at solving many of the problems that Persia faced. With the discoveryof oil in 1908, foreigners flocked to Persia for economic gain. Then in 1921, Reza Khan led a military uprising against the dynasty and took control of Persia. He proclaimed himself the Shah, or king, and used his power to try and modernize Persia, Western style.

The Shah wanted educational, military, and governmental institutions to fit the Western mold. As a result, he forbade women to wear a veil in public, although he tolerated other Islamic beliefs. In 1935, Persia became known as the nation of Iran. As time went by, the Shah allied Iran closely with Nazi Germany to rid himself of the influence of Great Britain and the Soviet Union. During World War II, British troops occupied Iran because of that fact. The Shah resigned in protest of the occupationand his son Mohammad Reza Pahlavi took the title of Shah.

Making Progress in India

The European colonial system stood firm in most of the world after World War I. Some African states thought they might gain independence from the European nations, but most black Africans had their dreams dashed when Germany’s colonies were given as mandates to Great Britain and France. There were small independence movements across Africa, but they were not organized enough to be successful until after World War II.

Unlike Africa, the Indian independence movement gained steam after World War I. Gandhi had been active in the nationalist movement before World War I. His form of nonviolent protest and civil disobedience attracted a great deal of attention to the Indian nationalist cause. Gandhi was arrested several times and spent several years in prison. After World War I, the British government was willing to give the Indian nationalists some concessions. With the Government of India Acts, Indians were given a greater role in the governing process with two houses of parliament in which two-thirds of the members could be elected. In addition, more than 5 million Indians were extended the right to vote.

Notable Quotable

"Non-violence for me is not a mere experiment. It is part of my life. ... For me it is both a means and an end and I am more than ever convinced that in the complex situation that faces India, there is no other way of gaining real freedom.”

—Mahatma Gandhi, 1933

For Gandhi when he was released from prison in 1930, the Government of India Act was not enough. So in protest against the salt tax, which forbade Indians from harvesting their own salt, Gandhi walked to the sea in protest. This was referred to as the “Salt March.” When he reached the sea, he picked up a pinch of salt and was promptly arrested by British authorities and put in prison again. To some it appeared that Indian nationalist movement had come to an end. But Jawaharla Nehru, son of Motilal Nehru, former leader of the Indian National Congress, stepped forward to lead the movement. Like Gandhi, he was an intellectual who studied law in Great Britain. Unlike Gandhi, Nehru’s leadership and movement was secular and modern, while Gandhi’s had been religious and traditional.

The Indian nationalist movement was now divided between religious and secular and also Muslim and Hindu, making the situation very complex. In 1930, the Muslim League called for a separate state from India in the northwest of the country called Pakistan. Conflicts between Hindus and Muslims grew.

Political Developments in Asia

During the early twentieth century, communism lacked appeal to the people of Asia, mostly because Asia was more agricultural than industrial. So in 1919, the Communist International, or Comintern for short, started to train people to spread revolutionary ideas from its base in Moscow. By the late 1920s, Asia had become well versed in communist ideology and many saw that it could work with an agriculturally based nation. As a result, in Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh—who was educated in the West and trained in Moscow—organized a movement that was a combination of nationalismand communism to fight for independence from the French.

Political Developments in China

The communist movement also made an impact in China. In 1921, the Chinese Communist Party, or CCP, was founded in Shanghai. This party joined forces with the Nationalist Party of Sun Yat-sen in 1923, and they worked together to drive warlords and imperialists from China. In 1925, Sun Yat-sen died, and his successor, Chiang Kai-shek, did not like the idea of working with communists. So in April 1927, Chiang ordered the Shanghai Massacre, in which the CCP was attacked and put on the run. Afterward, Chiang was able to form a Chinese republic with the capital at Nanjing.

After the Shanghai Massacre, most of the CCP went into hiding. One CCP member, Mao Zedong, led party members who fled to the Jiangxi Province. Mao believed that peasants could lead a revolution in China rather than workers. By 1931, inspired by his leadership and ideas, most of the members of the CCP assembled around Mao. As a result in 1933, Chiang sent troops to confront this threat.

At first surrounded, the People’s Liberation Army broke Chiang’s lines and, with 90,000 members, began the 6,000-mile Long March to reach the last surviving Communist base in north China. Without sufficient supplies, the Long March killed a majority of the army; by the end, only 9,000 members of the army were left alive. Mao was one of the survivors and emerged as sole leader of the CCP.

After the communist escape to north China, Chiang focused his attention on creating a republican government. Land reform and the modernization of industry were high on his agenda. Chiang tried to combine traditional Confucian values with Western innovations, calling it the “New Life Movement.” He was able to improve the highwayand railroad systems, national banks, and educational system. In contrast with his efforts for reform, Chiang censored free expression, which alienated intellectuals and political moderates. He also had a huge problem. Japan was occupying Chinese territory in Manchuria and appeared to be ready to strike at the Chinese capital.

Militarism in Japan

During the 1930s, militarism was on the rise in Japan. The nation had become prosperousduring the Meiji Restoration. Zaibatsu, or large corporations, controlled the Japanese economy. With the aid of government, they also controlled much of Japanese life. But the Depression that affected Europe had come to Japan and led to an economic downturn. Many workers wanted to return to the traditional ways, while others wanted to dominate Asia. These two movements eventually combined.

Japan needed raw materials and foreign markets for its growing industrial economy. Militants pushed for the seizure of the territories of Formosa, Korea, and southern Manchuria. Eventually this expansion led to a conflict of interest between the United States and Japan in the Pacific Rim. By 1938, the militant faction completely dominatedthe Japanese government. They put Japan on wartime status and instituted a draft. Additionally, the militants disbanded labor unions and placed all industries under government control. Finally, the military leaders tried to purge Western values from Japanese culture.

The Banana Republics

During the nineteenth century, most of the Latin American nations had gained their independence. By the twentieth century, their economies were based on the export of foods and raw materials to the industrialized nations of the West. During the 1920s, the United States replaced Great Britain as the largest investor in Latin America, financing and running the export production companies. In some cases, because of their incredible economic influence, these American investors guided Latin American governmental policies. The term “banana republics” came from this period of economiccontrol.

As a result of the heavy handedness of U.S. investors, Latin Americans began to view the United States as imperialists. They weren’t far from the mark, as the majority of the profits went to benefit U.S. industries and political power. In addition, when popularwill threatened their interests, the United States intervened in Latin American domestic politics, sometimes militarily.


An oligarchy is a government ruled by only an elite and powerfulfew.

When the Great Depression hit the United States, the economies of the Latin American nations slowed. Most of the nations, which had some form of republicangovernment at the beginning of the twentieth century, were then taken over by oligarchies controlledby large landowners or military leaders.

Cultural Changes in the 1920s and 1930s

In the 1920s and 1930s, several mass cultural trends affected the majority of the world. With the invention of the wireless radio waves by Marconi in the early twentiethcentury, radio became a source of news and entertainment for the public. Motion pictures, invented in the 1890s, also became an important media source throughout industrialized culture. By 1939, a majority of the industrialized world was attending at least one film a week. Of course people had more time to listen to the radio and see movies with the eight-hour workday and weekends off. In addition, the public went to more sporting events and traveled more with the use of trains, buses, and cars.

After the slaughter of World War I, the trends in art and literature tended to gravitatetoward despair and uncertainty. Abstract expressionism became more popular, with a fascination with the absurd and the unconscious; the psychological ideas of Sigmund Freud seemed to spur it on. A movement called Dadaism took hold of the artistic world with its view that life had no purpose and was insane. Surrealism pioneeredby Salvador Dali also gained in popularity with its reality beyond the material world. Trends in literature after World War I also seemed to deal with the harshness and confusion of existence with James Joyce, Scott Fitzgerald, and Herman Hesse.

The Least You Need to Know

• The terms of the Treaty of Versailles caused tensions in western and eastern Europe.

• The Great Depression of the 1930s affected nations to varying degrees.

• Many totalitarian states were created during the 1920s and 1930s in response to economic and social issues.

• Japan became a militaristic state during the 1930s, bringing it into conflict with the United States.

• Mass culture was influenced by the radio and motion pictures while art and literatureexhibited despair and uncertainty in the wake of World War I.

If you find an error or have any questions, please email us at Thank you!