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During the inter-war years there were political and economic
As a result of World War I, socialistic ideas experienced a boom as
they spread not only in Germany and the Austrian empire but also
made advances in Britain (1923) and France (1924). However, the
most popular type of government to gain influence after World War I
was the republic.
In political terms, the countries which had participated in the WW1
evolved in 2 different directions:
-Countries such as GB, France and USA continued to be democracies.
-Countries such as Germany and the Soviet Union authoritarian
dictatorships were stablished.
Although Britain stayed a monarchy, the war brought changes
in the country.
After the First World War Britain remained still with an empire
and the largest navy force in the world, however the changes
internally in Britain effected people socially, economically and
politically. Changes such as greater government intervention
and control, the rise in unemployment by around 1.5 million and
the advancement of democratic progress, all effected the British
The British government had a great deal of difficulty in
adjusting to post-war politics. David Lloyd George, the talented
Liberal prime minister, was permitted to retain his office by the
Conservative majority. At first he continued to run the
government as he had during the war, using only his closest
advisors to discuss and execute policy decisions. However,
political stability could not be maintained. In 1922, George
resigned, and the coalition of parties under him broke, leading
to a period of indecision. The next years found the British
Conservative Party struggling to prevent power from falling into
the hands of the leftist Labour Party, which in fact controlled the
government for a short time in 1924. After this short period,
Conservatives again controlled the government from 1925 to
(In 1931 the international economic fall caused a political crisis in
Britain. The king promoted the idea of a 'national coalition'
government of Labour, Conservatives and Liberals, which was
eventually formed.)

Immediately after WWI the Rightist National Bloc, with Paul
Deschanel as a president, won the elections. Deschanel later
quit after he was found naked and babbling in a public fountain.
Following WWI, France remained a parliamentary democracy
known as the Third Republic (1870 -German invasion in 1940)
(La Troisieme Republique).
Between 1920s and 1930s the United States was already a
democracy but different from the rest of democracies from the
European democracies of that period. There was a two-party
THE REPUBLICAN PARTY: supported the capitalist system
and free markets. The opposed government intervention
in the economy. Republicans generally represented the
interests of the wealthier Americans.
THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY: as well as the Republican party
they supported capitalism, although they were more
sympathetic to government intervention in the economy.
Democrats represented the interests of the middle and
working class.
In October 2nd 1919 Wilson (PRESIDENT) suffered a cerebrovascular
accident which disabled him, so he couldnt develop his presidential
office, but his vice president Thomas R. Marshall did not use the law in
force to achieve power, so Wilson was president until elections in
After 1921 Wilson continued to be an important character in American
politics, considered as the president who decided the victory of the
Triple Entente over the Central Powers in World War I. Moreover
Wilson was the key driver and promoter of the League of Nations.
(In February 3rd 1924 Wilson died in Washington D.C. )
In other countries authoritarian dictatorships were stablished. SOVIET
UNION AND GERMANY-- became totalitarian regimes
The Soviet Union was the first totalitarian state to establish
itself after World War One. In 1917, Vladimir Lenin seized power
in the Russian Revolution, establishing a single-party
dictatorship under the Bolsheviks.
Lenin died on January 21, 1924, with no clear path of
succession. The obvious choice, to many, was Leon Trotsky, who
had headed the Military Revolutionary Committee that had
carried out the Bolshevik Revolution. He was considered to be
the Communist Party's foremost Marxist theorist, but was also
considered reserved by many party members.

Trotsky's main competition for power was Joseph Stalin. Stalin

had been involved in the Communist Party since before the
Revolution. He served under Lenin as commissar for
nationalities, and in 1923 became general secretary of the
party. Lenin supported Trotsky over Stalin as his successor,
claiming Stalin was "too rude" to lead the government.
However, Stalin's position as general secretary allowed him to
manipulate the party structure and place his supporters in
crucial positions throughout the party, ultimately insuring his
The end of the war brought chaos and confusion to Germany. After the
Kaiser had left, there were many groups who thought now was the time to
make changes to the way the country was governed.
There was no strong leader to control the country. People were fighting in
the streets, and there were severe shortages of food.
Some of them in the political centre (DEMOCRATS) believed that Germany
should become a democracy. Others towards the right (NAZI) believed that
strong, military leadership was the only way to keep society safe. Those on
the far left (COMMUNIST PARTY) thought that communism was a fairer form
of government.
These differences in ideas resulted in severe conflicts throughout Germany.
Political parties on the extreme left and right resorted to violent methods to
promote their beliefs.
During the next four years there were several attempts
by extremist groups to take over the country.

-With the support of King Alfonso XIII and the army of Primo de
Rivera led a military coup in September 1923. He was appointed
Prime Minister by the King. He promised to eliminate corruption
and to regenerate Spain. In order to do this he suspended the
constitution, established military law, imposed a strict system of
censorship, and ended the turno system of alternating parties.
He was forced to resign in January 1930 because he lost the
support of the army and the rich people as he increased taxes to
-The Second Spanish Republic was proclaimed on April 14, 1931,
during the economic crisis followed by the Wall Street Crash in
1929. The Republic ended with the victory of General Franco in the
Spanish civil war.

-The Spanish Civil was a war that lasted from 1936 to 1939.
The Republicans, who were loyal to the democratic Spanish
Republic, fought againts the Nationalists, a rebel group led by
General Francisco Franco. The Nationalists won, and Franco ruled
Spain for the next 36 years, from 1939 until his death in 1975.This
victory marked the beginning of a forty-year dictatorship in Spain.



In the early 1920s Europe suffered an economic crisis caused


The fighting destroyed cities, factories, farmland and
infrastructures such as bridges, roads and ports. The
material losses did great damage to the European
economy. The war produced millions of deaths so as a
consequence of this population decreased and the
work-force was reduced.
As the conflict ended there was no need to produce
military equipment and supplies so the war economy
As the commercial trade decreased because of the end
of the war, there were not enough supplies for
customers so prices increased sharply.

In addition, in post-war Germany, this economic crises was especially severe

as the terms of the Treaty of Versailles ordered that Germany had to
pay huge amounts of money in reparations to the Allies. In 1921, as
Germany could not pay, French and Belgian troops invaded and occupied
the Ruhr to take goods and raw materials.
During 1923 Germany printed more money to pay striking workers.
Hyperinflation resulted, wiping out the value of savings.

The 'Golden Years'?

The years 1924 to 1929 became known as the 'Golden Years'

Germany became increasingly prosperous and peaceful. The USA lent
Germany huge amount of money. The economy was rebuilt,
unemployment was reduced and people began to feel secure.

The US started the 20th century as a country with enormous
potential, and finished the century as the world's only superpower. Yet
there are two ways of looking at this powerful nation in the 1920s - as
a wealthy country with a high standard of living, big cars and large
houses, or as a country with many people living in poverty and some
enduring terrible racism.
Although the USA did not enter the First World War until April 1917,
there was a brief economic recession at the start of the 1920s, but, as
the decade moved on, the economy boomed and America began the
age of consumerism.
The nations total wealth more than doubled between 1920 and 1929,
and this economic growth swept many Americans into an affluent but
unfamiliar consumer society. People from coast to coast bought the
same goods (thanks to nationwide advertising and the spread of chain
stores). For the first time, more Americans lived in cities than on
farms. Major cities such as New York and Chicago grew rapidly and
the building of skyscrapers like the Empire State Building, which was
completed in 1931, seemed to show the self-confidence of American
At the same time, many Americans wanted to enjoy themselves as
much as they could by perhaps listening to the new jazz music, or
doing the new dances such as the Charleston and the black bottom.
The emphasis on having fun and spending money has led to the
1920s being called the Roaring Twenties.
The Roaring Twenties were characterised by:
-new forms of entertainment
-increased consumption
-rapid growth in financial investments
The United States and Japan were the first countries to recover from
the crisis, since they had not been devastated by the war. The US also
helped European countries by giving them loans and selling them the
consumer goods that they lacked.
In 1920, the women's rights movement won passage of
a constitutional amendment granting women's suffrage

The 1920s was the decade that marked the beginning of the
modern music era. During the Roaring Twenties, music in
particular underwent drastic changes that accurately
represented the cultural evolution that was occurring during
that decade of the twenties. This fundamental period of
American music resulted in many important changes in song
form, dance music, popular taste, and production that still have
a resounding effect on music to this day. These changes in the
music business began with the new technologies such as radio,
phonographs, and advances in recording technology. Also, the
inventions of the radio and phonograph made music in general
much more accessible.
Until World War I, the biggest influence on dance music was
ragtime. However, during the jazz age, this next stage of
musical development , can be considered the African
Americanization of dance music. African Americans were
having a strong influence on the musical tastes of white
Americans and were developing their own sound which
appealed to both races.
Jazz music began in the early 1900s within the black community in
New Orleans. It was a new type of music that combined European
and African styles. Jazz music reached the mainstream in the
1920s when Southern African American musicians began moving
up to Chicago looking for work. The Twenties are often called the
Jazz Age as the popularization of Jazz music had an enormous
cultural effect. Jazz heavily influenced dance music in the late
Famous jazz performers and singers from the 1920s include Louis
Armstrong, Duke Ellington

As the result of the prohibition of alcohol in 1920s, many

speakeasies(BARES CLANDESTINOS) were created.
Later, it expanded into clubs that featured musicians and dancers. In
this places people could gather, listen to new music, and try out the
latest dance together. Dancing and music formed part of the popular
The "Charleston," the "Black Bottom," the "Shimmy," the "Foxtrot,"
and the "Lindy Hop" were some of the most popular dances of the

time. The most famous and recognizable dance from the twenties was
the Charleston.

The Charleston was introduced to the world in the 1923

Broadway show "Runnin' Wild." There was a song from the show
called "The Charleston" and it was done in a style similar to
Ragtime music.
The first popular blues music began appearing in the late 1900s
and early 1910s. Blues music is characterized by repeating chords
and 1920s blues focused on a twelve bar structure. Songs would
often talked about the singers personal troubles and the daily
racial. During the Twenties, blues was almost exclusively played by
black musicians and was only popular within the black community.
One of the most important blues singers of the decade was Mamie
Prior to the creation of talking films, musicals were often originated
in the theatrical Broadway area of New York City. Broadway
became a place where talented performers, composers, writers,
and musicians gathered to create new art together. It came into its
own during the 1920s and was a place where creativity and
decadence predominated. Composers like George and Ira
Gershwin, Cole Porter, and Irving Berlin developed in their creation
of musical theater.

A new film industry developed, with famous Hollywood stars such as
Greta Garbo and Charlie Chaplin emerging.
1. Charles Chaplin
2. Greta Garbo
3. 3.Douglas Fairbanks
4. Bebe Daniels
o Underworld (1927). is a 1927 crime film directed by Josef von

The Idle Class (1921) comedy film directed by Charles Chaplin.


People spent more money on cars, household appliances and luxury



People speculated, buying shares and making large profits over short
periods of time.

The most important styles which emerged in the inter-war years
- New objectivity

-Harlem Renaissance:


Cultural Events:

1920 Nineteenth Amendment is ratified Sinclair Lewis publishes Main

1925 F. Scott Fitzgerald publishes The Great Gatsby
1926 Ernest Hemingway publishes The Sun Also Rises
1927 Charles Lindbergh becomes first pilot to fly solo across Atlantic
The Jazz Singer becomes first talkie
1929 William Faulkner publishes The Sound and the Fury

Key People:

Henry Ford - Automobile pioneer who perfected assembly-line

production and invented the affordable Model T Ford
F. Scott Fitzgerald - Writer whose novels and stories depicted the
excitement and dislocation of the Jazz Age
Ernest Hemingway - Novelist whose works typified the disillusioned
voice of the postWorld War I Lost Generation

During the 1920s, the economy of the United States was booming. It was
the largest and richest economy in the world. People made fortunes by
buying stocks and shares on the United States' stockmarket. Many
borrowed money so that they could invest.
The problems that led to the crisis in the United States were: CAUSES:

-Overproduction and falling consumption:

Industry produced more than what they needed and people were
dismissed, so the people that didnt had a job, they stopped spending
their money and didnt buy those mass produced products.
Companys couldnt sell their products, so they had to declare
-The Wall Street Crash (also known as Black Tuesday, the Great Crash, or the
Stock Market Crash of 1929):
Prices kept going up, making people richer. But, too much money was
chasing too few stocks resulting in the market becoming over-heated. On 3
September 1929, stock prices reached an all-time high. Shortly, prices
began to drop, leading to panic and mass-selling. By October 1929, the
value of the market had nearly halved. This is known as the Wall Street
The effects of the crash soon spread to Europe and other parts of the world
because the United States asked other countries to repay the loans that
they had received after the war.
Suddenly everyone wanted to get their money out. Banks did not have
enough money to repay everyone or to lend to businesses. As a result
businesses went down, leading to high unemployment and wages fell. As
economies were linked together, the rest of the world suffered too.
-negative impact on international trade as many countries adopted a
protectionist measures to the economic crisis.
-Living standards declined dramatically
-In many countries there were protests against the government and against
the capitalist system that had produced the crisis.