Between Two Fires

I The Postwar World

A.  Changing Patterns of Life- WWI was a way of dividing the old and the new.  This was a time for change and of great change.  This was a time to break tradition and experiment with new styles, politics and culture.

    1.  New Trends in Culture and Style

        a.  Women can vote in the USA (1920) and soon other Western Nations would follow.

        b. Skirts grew shorter and liquor abundant.

        c.  Sports- Ruth, Tilden, Lindbergh

    2.  The Impact of Technology- Life was to be made easier after the hardships of war.

        a.  Automobile- This provided use of transportation but more importantly it allowed for people to live outside cities (suburbs). It also allowed for recreation that was not close to home. People could now leave and come back within a short period of time.

        b.  Radio-This provided a means of quality low budget entertainment. It was something people cling too and a family could bond with as they listen to news, soap operas, sports and music.

B.  A Revolution of Ideas

    1.  Physics- Einstein's Theory of Relativity revolutionized the age and started the Atomic age in following years.  Atomic energy would soon harness atoms in the atomic bomb as with provide a stable source of electricity, which would improve agricultural and industrial services.

    2.  Psychology- Freud allowed for people to delve in to their own well being and understand some of the complexities of life.

C.  Upheaval in the Arts

    1.  Literature- WWI had destroyed some of the illusions of the middle class. Therefore many of its writers broke ranks with tradition and wrote of the current times and what it was like to experience war first hand.  They would range from the plight of man during war through his prosperity of the 1920's to the excesses in luxuries and lastly conclude with his greed and the denigration of man that would result in the depression.

    2.  Painting

        a.  Cubism- Abstract art that employs geometric shapes

        b.  Surrealism- Art with dream like images and unnatural combinations of shapes and objects.

    3.  Music and Dance- The age went from traditional classical to now jazz and swing.  Dance was also evident as it went from traditional waltzes to swing dance with fast moves and relaxed clothing. 

    4.  Architecture- This was a technically more advanced age in building. Architects would now incorporate design and art motifs into their buildings and constructs. 

    5.  Popular Culture- Jazz, sports, recreation, movies, radio and the like were now as much a part of life as anything. They were common now and people were to enjoy them and its luxuries. 

II The Western Democracies

A.  The United States

    1.  Cutting Foreign Ties- The American public did not want to get involved in anymore world affairs even though it had come to center stage as a rising superpower.  The newly elected Republican Congress and Senate rejected most of the treaties signed on by Wilson (Democrat).

    2.  Economic Boom- Unlike Europe, the USA came out of the war with a dynamic economy. Whereas Europe had to rebuild and cope with fatigue, the USA had an economic structure already in place. There were needs for new purchases after rationing for war. In addition there were huge war loans owed to the USA that were being paid off. This insurgence of money only spurred on growth all that much more.  As a result of prosperity, more people began to invest their money into stocks and other means of investment. This created a bull market.

    3.  Crash and Depression- On 10-29-29, the stock market came tumbling down.  Inflation soared and investment fell to the wayside. The USA was hit with a depression. The same kind of depression the world had felt since the war.  Banks had failed and wages plummeted.  Schools shut down to lack of resources.  Sanitation went uncontrolled.  There were drastic correction being placed on the American economic system.

    4.  The New Deal- With the election of FDR in 1932, the US government went under construction. FDR wanted to stimulate the economy with out hurting its people. They had an insurgence of government works projects that would employ large numbers of people.

    5.  Foreign Affairs- Keeping with the idea of staying out of foreign affairs, the USA decided to reduce the number of output in military services and constructions.

B.  Great Britain

    1.  General Strikes- Equipment was old and outdated. Employees were dissatisfied with working conditions.  Wages remained stagnant.  Inflation was high.  On 5-4-26 a general strike was called. Workers from all over Great Britain chose to stay home in efforts of improving conditions.  The government declared a state of emergency.  In the end however, Parliament won out. General strikes were deemed illegal.

    2.  Rise of the Labour Party- Despite the failure of the strikes, a new political fraction was formed. The Labour Party was a coalition of British workers uniting together to advance the workers cause. 

    3.  From Empire to Commonwealth- Great Britain could no longer afford to keep its colonial territories. However its domination and cultural influence would still remain, Great Britain would relinquish many of its holdings around the world. It was reduced from an Empire to that of every other nation- a Commonwealth.

C.  France- They would suffer the harshest blows of all after the war. Prime agricultural farmland was destroyed. Infrastructure was destroyed and half of the male population of ages 18-32 were killed in combat.

    1.  Troubled Years- High unemployment and soaring inflation rocked France following the war.  The government, who has been noted for its failings in the past, was on the verge of bankruptcy and its war debt was staggering.  French infrastructure could not be built and industry would take way to the survival of the fittest.

    2.  Popular Front- This was a socialist controlled government, which lasted only a year (1934). It had passed many of the much-needed reforms to rebuild France.

    3.  Foreign Policy- Not wanting to endure another war, France built up fortifications (Maginot Line) around the country.  These bunkers were to protect people from any German attacks.  These underlying trenches were along the German border and could sustain life for many months.  France failed to protect the border of Belgium of whom the Germans conquered and attacked France.

III Fascist Dictatorships

A.  Rise of Fascism in Italy- The war left Italy with great debt and little to show for it. It was promised vast territories and gained very little.  Mussolini was an ardent nationalist and wanted to up-rise with the people of Italy.  Fascism is the glorification of the state, a single party system with a strong ruler and aggressive form of nationalism- willing to conquer all.

B.  Mussolini's Road to Power- Supported the strikes and strikers. He called for a change in the government-; one that would directly benefit Italy and its people.  He offered "a little something"  for everyone.  He pledged to restore Italy to its former greatness.  He and his Blackshirts (allies) would physically as well as verbally blast opponents and drive them from office.  He grew bolder and bolder, eventually taking office himself.

C. Mussolini's Dictatorship- In 1924, the electorate under the threat of fear, elected a solely Fascist ticket.  Mussolini reorganized the state and established a corporate state.  He ordered that syndicates be comprised so that all may be intertwined in the government.   Fascists purged those who went against them. 

D.  Weimar Republic- The German republic drafted and passed a new constitution that established a democratic regime.

    1.  Reparations- $35 billion was owed to its opponents.  France went so far as to try and take over German mines to insure payment; only strikes resulted.

    2.  Inflation- To meet its growing expenses more money was printed, thus inflation ensued. 

E.  Rise of Nazism- This was a group of Brownshirts (young streetwise individuals) under the subsequent leadership of Adolf Hitler.  The Brownshirts talked of the German plight and the end result of WWI was at the hands of the Jews and challenged the Weimer Republics authority.  During the height of inflation, Hitler barnstormed a beer hall with armed brownshirts and hailed that the revolution has begun. With unfathomed oratory he persuaded the German people to follow his lead.  While spending time in jail for his nuisance, he wrote Mein Kampf. This was a story of Hitler's struggle in society and how Germans must up-rise and take back their nation from Jews and the Communists.  He also declared that Germans were the master race and should lead the free world.  After years of endless speeches, people began to believe what Hitler was saying and the President (Hindenburg) appointed him as Chancellor. The rise of Nazism was entirely legal and met with little conflict.

F.  Hitler in Power- His goal was a totalitarian state.  He banned all parties except for the Nazi party.  He placed certain constitutional freedoms (speech, assembly, religion and press) on hold.  He also placed labor unions under Nazi leadership.  However his main assault was on that of the Jewish community. In 1935, the Nuremberg laws stripped Jews of their citizenship and right to hold public office.  The laws were designed to destroy the Jewish faith and community.  Hitler's secret police (Gestapo) routinely beat and destroyed Jews, their homes and businesses.  Soon thereafter, Jews were sent to concentration camps. This was designed to exploit the Jews community with harsh working conditions and no pay. Later these would turn into death camps.  Taking on the title of "Der Fuhrer" or leader he called his government the Third Reich.  He boasted this empire would last a thousand years or more.  He went about restoring the German military and infrastructure, all the while calculating how he would take over Europe. 

IV The Soviet Union- Russia had endured the most brutalities of this age. They suffered a loss of 21 million people (disease, war).

A.  Lenin in Power- In the heat of survival, the communists who were led by Lenin introduced war communism. Under this policy of nationalization ensued. The government required all those from 16-50 to work.  They formed a huge and inefficient bureaucracy.  He called for a new economic policy.  Major industries would be totally controlled by the government.  He also change the national title of Russia to USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics).  He gave each Russian State its own territory broken down by nationality so that the Russian Empire would not be lost. He also gave them each their own bureaucracy. 

B.  Trotsky and Stalin- Who would vie for power after Lenin's death.  Trotsky was in line for power as he was closely associated with Lenin in the revolution.  He spoke with great power and eloquence.  Stalin on the other hand was skilled administrator.  Whereas Trotsky believed in perpetual revolution, Stalin wanted to build the ultimate socialist republic.  Ultimately, Stalin as an administrator gained control of the bureaucracy and the USSR.  He later would expel Trotsky and assassinate him in 1940 in Mexico City.

C.  The Five Year Plan

    1.  Collective Farming- Farming under the control of many and serving the state.  This would defeat the purpose of the peasant freedom. When they would speak out and go against Stalin they would find themselves sent to Siberia and eventually never heard from again.  Stalin would also seize some agricultural goods to starve peasants who spoke against him.

    2.  Results- This new system made the USSR an industrial powerhouse as all materials were to be given to the state. The problem was the loss of life in the process.

D.  Stalin's Dictatorship (1920's-1953)

    1.  Secret Police

    2.  Purges

    3.  The Arts- To glorify Soviet heroes as means of nationalism.  Stalin would also jam and ban all foreign publications.

    4.  Comintern- This is to distribute the communist message through out the world and its implications.