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Interwar Period

Interwar Period

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Published by: antoniodemora on Jan 25, 2011
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INTERWAR PERIOD
INTRODUCTION
This period of history was marked by turmoil, as Europe struggled to recover fromthe devastation of the First World War. In United States the first half of this periodwas one of considerable prosperity (the
Roaring Twenties
), but this changeddramatically with the onset of the
Great Depression
in 1929.The convulsion, brought on by the worldwide depression, resulted in the rise of 
Fascism in Italy
and
Nazism in Germany
. It was at this time that the WeimarRepublic in Germany gave way to episodes of political and economic turmoil.In Asia,
Japan
became an ever more assertive power, especially with regards toChina.The interwar period was marked by a radical change in the international order, awayfrom the balance of power that had dominated pre-World War I Europe. One maininstitution meant to bring stability was the
League of Nations
(
Sociedad deNaciones
), created after the First World War with the intention of maintaining worldsecurity and peace and encouraging economic growth between member countries.The League was undermined by the bellicosity of Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, andMussolini's Italy, and by the non-participation of the United States, leading many toquestion its effectiveness and legitimacy.A series of international crises strained the League to its limits, the earliest beingthe invasion of Manchuria by Japan, and the crisis of 1935/36 in which Italy invadedAbyssinia, one of the only free African nations at that time. The League tried toenforce economic sanctions upon Italy, but to no avail. The incident highlightedFrench and British weakness, exemplified by their reluctance to alienate Italy andlose her as their ally. The limited actions taken by the Western powers pushedMussolini's Italy towards alliance with Hitler's Germany anyway. The Abyssinian warshowed Hitler how weak the League was and encouraged his participation in theSpanish Civil War. He also remilitarized the Rhineland in flagrant disregard of theTreaty of Versailles. This was the first in a series of provocative acts culminating inthe invasion of Poland in September 1939 and the beginning of the Second WorldWar.
 
THE ROARING TWENTIES AND THE GREATDEPRESSION:
After the WWI, the economy boomed and America began the age of 
consumerism
: many Americans bought cars, radios, fridges etc. Major cities suchas New York and Chicago grew rapidly and the building of 
skyscrapers
like theEmpire State Building, which was completed in 1931, seemed to show the self-confidence of American society. The emphasis on having fun and spending moneyhas led to the 1920s being called the
Roaring Twenties
.However, for many Americans, the 1920s was a decade of 
poverty
. Generally,groups such as African-Americans, women and farmers did not enjoy theprosperity of the Roaring Twenties. More than 60 per cent of Americans lived justabove the poverty line. Life was particularly hard for African-Americans in theDeep South states where the majority of black people endured a combination of povertyand racism.When the
Wall Street
stock market crashed in October 29, 1929 (
Black Tuesday 
),the world economy was plunged into the Great Depression. By the winter of 1932, America was in the depths of the greatest economic depression in itshistory. The number of 
unemployed
people reached upwards of 13 million andmany people lived in primitive conditions close to
famine
.
Cause
s of the Great Depression:
There were too many goods being made and not enough people to buy them.
Farmers had produced too much food in the 1920s, so prices for their producebecame steadily lower.
Too much speculation on the stock market - the middle class had a lot to loseand they had spent a lot on what amounted to pieces of paper.
The Wall Street Crash of October 1929 was a massive psychological blow.
America had lent huge sums of money to European countries. When the stockmarket collapsed, they suddenly recalled those loans. This had a devastatingimpact on the European economy.
The collapse of European banks caused a general world financial crisis.
Effects
of the Depression:
Unemployment: 13 million people were out of work.
Industrial production dropped by 45 per cent.
House-building fell by 80 per cent.
The entire American banking system collapse and 5000 banks went out of business.
Starvationlack of nutrition.
 
ROOSVELT’S
NEW DEAL
In 1932 the Democratic leader, Franklin D Roosevelt, became the new president of the United States.While Republican President Herbert Hoover was personally blamed for failing todeal with the consequences of the Wall Street Crash of October 1929, theDemocratic candidate, Franklin D Roosevelt promised, "A
new deal 
for the Americanpeople."Following a landslide election victory, Roosevelt faced the enormous task of restoringconfidence in a shattered economy.As he entered the White House, the scale of the problem he faced was immense. Bythe winter of 1932-1933, the country seemed to have reached rock bottom.Roosevelt's personal solution, the New Deal was the largest, most expensivegovernment programme in the history of the American presidency. However,historians do not necessarily agree as to whether the New Deal was a success or afailure.Successes:
Roosevelt restored confidence in the American people.
Millions of people were given work in government projects.
A lot of valuable work was carried out by the in building schools, roads andhospitals.
Roosevelt rescued the banking system from collapse and saved capitalism.Failures:
There was a new recession - the 'Roosevelt recession' in 1937.
Unemployment was not conquered by the New Deal.
Many of the jobs created by the New Deal were only temporary.
The New Deal was the most costly government programme in American Historyand some of its projects could be accused of wasting money.

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