Political Experiments of the 1920s12 minutes read

TERMS 

Normalcy- normalcy is a term which describes the state of life before 1914. Many politicians wanted to bring back a sense of normalcy back to their countries after WW1 but what had been “normal” in economic and social life before 1914 could not be reestablished.

Great Depression- The Great Depression was a  a worldwide economic downturn that began with the collapse of the New York Stock Exchange in 1929. During the Great Depression unemployment rates soared and many people starved.

Weimar Republic- A democratic German republic that came to power in 1918 embodying the hopes of German liberals. It lasted from the end of WW1 and Hitler’s coming to power in 1933.

Sinn Fein- is an Irish republican political party. In 1922 Sinn Fein helped Ireland achieve its independence.

Popular Front- the Popular Front was a government of all left wing parties that took power in France in 1936 to enact social and economic reforms.

War Communism- War Communism refers to a policy adopted by the Bolsheviks during the Russian Revolution to seize the banks, heavy industry, railroads, and farms.

New Economic Policy- The New Economic Policy was a program introduced by Lenin in 1921 which permitted private economic enterprises except in banking, heavy industry, transportation, and international commerce. The NEP was designed to please the peasants whom Lenin believed held the key to a successful revolution. The NEP helped free enterprise and helped establish secure food supply to cities.

The Third International/Comintern

Collectivization- Collectivization refers to a policy during the Soviet Union. The goal of collectivization was to consolidate the individual land and labour in to collective farms for the good of the state.

Great Purges- The Great Purges in the Soviet Union was the arrest ad expulsion of thousands of Russians and Ukrainians during 1934-1940. Began as a result of the assassination of Sergei Kirov in December of 1934.

Fascism- Fascism is a system of extreme right wing dictatorial government. A key part of fascism is extreme nationalism. Both Italy and Germany were fascist states during the 1930s until the end of WWII.

Benito Mussolini- Benito Mussolini (1922-1945) was the leader of the National Fascist Party of Italy from 1922 to 1945. He ruled constitutionally until 1925 when he dropped the democratic government and set up a legal dictatorship.

Black Shirt March- The Black Shirt March was a march which Italian fascist Benito Mussolini and the National Fascist Party came to power in Italy in 1922.

Lateran Accord, 1929- was an agreement between Benito Mussolini and the Roman Catholic Church. In February of 1929 the Roman Catholic Church and Benito Mussolini made peace with each other. Ever since the armies of the Italian unification had seized papal lands in the 1860s, the church had a contentious relationship with the state.

The Ruhr Invasion- The Ruhr Invasion was the French invasion of the German territory of the Ruhr in order to secure the payment of WW1 reparations. The German response of passive economic resistance produced cataclysmic inflation.

Nazis/SA- Nazis or National Socialists are followers of the German Nazi Party and State.  The SA or Sturmabteilung were members of the Nazi party who helped secure the power of the National Socialists in Germany. They would disrupt meetings of opposing parties and would intimidate non-supporters.

Article 48- Article 48 was a law written in the constitution of the Weimar Republic which under certain circumstances the president could rule by decree. The constitution thus permitted the possibility of presidential dictatorship.

Adolf Hitler – Mein KampfMein Kampf (My Struggle) is an autobiographical manifesto published by Adolf Hitler in 1926. It was a strategy dictated by Adolf Hitler during his period of imprisonment in 1923, outlining his political views.

Storm Troopers – Ernest Röhm- Ernst Röhm (1887-1934) was a German officer who was a cofounder of the Sturmabteilung or SA. He was a member of the Nazi party but was executed on Adolf Hitler and Heinrich Himmler’s orders as a potential rival.

Gustave Stressemann Gustave Stressemann (1878-1929) was a German politician and Foreign Minister of the Weimar Republic from 1923-1929.

 

The Dawes Plan- the Dawes Plan was an attempt in 1924 to solve the war reparations problem which encompassed international politics following World War I and the Treaty of Versailles. The plan was for the Allies to pay 2.6 billion dollars of War Debt to the United States. The United States would give Germany 2.5 Billion dollars in loans in which Germany would pay 2.0 Billion to the Allies.

Locarno Agreements- the Locarno Agreements were an attempt to normalize relations with Germany after WWI.

The Young Plan- the Young Plan was a a replacement of the Dawes Plan that ran out in 1929. The Young Plan lowered the cost of reparation payments, put a term on how long they must be made, and removed Germany entirely from outside supervision and control.

Kristallnacht- Kristallnacht was increased persecution of German Jews in 1938. In November of 1938, under orders from the Nazi Party, thousands of Jewish stores and synagogues were burned or destroyed. The Kristallnacht meaning “crystal night” because of the broken glass that littered German streets after the looting and destruction of Jewish homes, businesses and synagogues.

Nazi Economic Policy- Nazi economic policies supported private property and private capitalism but subordinated all significant economic enterprise and decisions about prices and investment.

Thomas Masaryk- Thomas Masaryk (1850-1937) was a Czechoslovak politician who was a devout supporter of Czechoslovakian independence. After WWI he became the founder and first President of Czechoslovakia.

Bela Kun- Bela Kun (1886-1938) was a Hungarian revolutionary who led the Hungarian Soviet Republic in 1919.

Admiral Miklos Horthy- Miklos Horthy (1868-1957) was a Hungarian Admiral who served as regent of the Kingdom of Hungary between WWI and WWII. Worthy led a conservative nationalist government.

QUESTIONSBulletin points or outline notes.

1. What caused the Great Depression? Why was it more severe and why did it last longer than previous economic downturns? Could it have been avoided?

Causes of Great Depression

*Stock Market Crash of 1929

*Bank Failures

*Margin Buying

*Decline in consumer demand

*American Economic Policy with Europe

*Poor agricultural conditions

 

The economic depression of 1929 was more severe and lasted much longer than previous economic downturns because it it affected a greater percentage of the of the population than any other economic downturn had before. The Great depression persisted throughout the 1930s. The Great Depression may have been avoided, but also at this time the concept of Margin buying and the large percentage of the population which was buying shares in the stock market both helped lead to the Great depression.

2. How did Stalin achieve supreme power in the Soviet Union? Why did he decide that Russia had to industrialize rapidly? Why did this require the collectivization of agriculture? Was the policy a success? How did it affect the Russian people? Why did Stalin carry out the purges?

Stalin came fom a poor family and had not, unlike previous Bolshevik leaders, sent time in western Europe. He was much less intellectual and he was much more brutal. Stalin was no a brilliant writer or an effective public speaker, but he was a master of the crucial details of party structure. He used his power over admission to the party and promotion to select those he trusted. Stalin collectivized farms and agriculture in Russia so that the country could have a reliable source of food to fuel it’s industrial economy. The policy of collectivization was a success for cities in Russia because it gave them a stable source of food but as a result many people in rural areas died from starvation. Farmers who had once owned the land, now had to give a majority of their crop production to the state. As a result of the mass purges and collectivization in Russia, many Russian citizens died. Stalin carried out the mass purges because he was paranoid. Anyone in power or who had an education, could be arrested and sent to Siberia if Stalin or the Checka suspected them of being an enemy of the state. Stalin employed scare tactics to seize power in Russia.

3. Why was Italy dissatisfied and unstable after WWI? How did Mussolini achieve power? What were the characteristics of the Fascist state?

Post WWI Italian politics were in shambles. The Italian Parliament had virtually ceased to function during the war, and many Italians were disillusioned with their leaders, whom they believed had failed to win Italy its fair share and the Treaty of Versailles. Between 1919 and 1921, Italy experienced considerable internal turmoil. There were industrial strikes, workers occupied factories, peasants seized uncultivated land from large estates, and the national parliament could not do much for the state of the country. The first of Mussolini’s supporters were WWI Italian veterans many of whom believed the Paris peace conference had cheated Italy of territory it rightfully deserved. Initially Mussolini was attracted to socialism, but soon his political views shifted. Mussolini was an opportunist and he changed his ideas and principle to suit every new occasion. On November 23, 1922 King Victor Emmanuel III and Parliament commissioned him to restore order and granted Mussolini dictatorial authority for one year. In Fascist Italy, Fascists ran the police force, and fascist terrorist groups became a government militia. Many Italians tolerated and even admired Mussolini, for they believed he had saved them from Bolshevism. Anyone who dared to oppose Mussolini were exiled or killed.

 

4. Why did the Weimar Republic collapse in Germany? How did Hitler come to power? Which groups in Germany supported Hitler and why were they pro-Nazi? How did he consolidate his power? Why was anti-Semitism central to Nazi policy?

The Weimar Republic, which took its name from the city in which its constitution was written in August of 1919, embodied the hopes of German liberals. The Weimar Republic was ruled by the Social democrats, a party which came to power after the abdication of Kaiser William II. The Weimar Republic was a young democracy which had it’s flaws. In the constitution of the Weimar Republic, there was a law that gave the chancellor dictatorial leadership in times that threatened the nation. Hitler came to power by luck and by exploiting the one law in the constitution that allowed the chancellor to rule by dictatorship in times that threatened the state. Hitler came to power when Germany was at its weakest. There was mass inflation and political turmoil. Hitler wanted to get rid of democracy because it was not working in Germany. In the early 1930s, Germany had 37 different political parties. With the help of the Sturmabteilung (SA), and other political figures, Hitler eventually came to power. Anti-Semitism was central to Nazi policy because Hitler had a grand vision of an aryan race. He thought that if he could genetically select certain traits, Germany as a whole would benefit.

5. What was fascism? How and why did the fascists obtain power in Italy? To whom did they appeal? What were the differences between the fascist dictatorship of Mussolini and the communist dictatorship of Stalin? What was the status of women under these regimes?

Fascism is extreme nationalism combined with some facets socialism. The Fascists obtained power in Italy by intimidating other political groups. They formed local squads of terrorists who disrupted Socialist Party meetings, beat up socialist leaders, and intimidating socialist supporters. By early 1922, intimidation and won fascist control of local governments across most of northern Italy, and in 1921, Italian voters sent Mussolini and thirty-four of his followers to the national Chamber of Deputies. In Russia, Stalin was a paranoid leader who exiled or executed anyone suspected of plotting against him. Stalin is known for killing millions of his own countrymen in the mass purges. Mussolini also employed intimidation to maintain his power but not the the same extent of killing millions of his own people. Mussolini did kill political prisoners but not to the same extent. In Russia, women had equal roles to that of men. Women were seen as equal and they were put into Russian high command as well. Women were also seen as child bearers who contributed to the good of the state by having many children. In Italy the role of women changed from being a tool of procreation to managing the family economy both agriculturally and industrially. During WWII women’s roles were to raise children and work in factories while the men waged war.

While Mussolini was in power, abortion was banned. The Fascists established Mother’s day and made childbearing a honorable deed for the good of the state.

6. What characteristics did the authoritarian regimes in the Soviet Union, Italy, and Germany have in common? What role did terror play in each?

All of the authoritarian regimes in the Soviet Union, Italy, and Germany believed that if united under nationalism and a strong central government they could be successful states. They all spread propaganda through their country to help support the cause of the state. All of these powers also gave more rights to women. They made childbearing an honorable deed for the good of the state. All of the countries spread nationalism as a tool to get support for the country. These nations also industrialized rapidly before WWII.  In all of the nations, terror played a large role in the rise to power of their authoritative leaders. Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini all killed or exiled their competitors. They used terror as a tool to intimidate their countrymen and keep power over them.

7. Why did liberal democracy fail in the successor states of Eastern Europe?

Democracy failed in the successor states of Eastern Europe because they were weaker countries with young, untested democracies and inexperienced politicians. Parliamentary governments failed in most of the easter European states set up after the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. These young successor states laced the economic base and the history of a democracy to be successful. The new states were no financially independent. The Eastern European states were poor, rural, and unindustrialized. Each of the Eastern European states had at least one minority ethnic groups living within their new arbitrary borders. The combination of an economic depression, miscalculated borders, and weak democracy led to the failure of Eastern European states after WWI.

Sources 

Kagan, Donald, Steven Ozment E., Frank Turner M., and A. Frankforter Daniel. The Western Heritage. Combined Volume. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2004. Print.

Kagan, Donald, Steven E. Ozment, and Frank M. Turner. The Western Heritage: Since 1300. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2007. Print.

Ramírez, Susan E., Peter N. Stearns, Samuel S. Wineburg, and Steven A. Goldberg.Holt World History: Human Legacy. Austin, TX: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 2008. Print.

 

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