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The Interwar Years (1919-1938)

Important Terms, People, and Events

Context

Timeline

Terms

Black Shirts  -  The black shirts were Benito Mussolini's band of thugs, who used force to intimidate all opposition to the Italian Fascist Party.
Bloc National  -  The Bloc National was a coalition of rightist groups in France that came together in fear of socialist opposition to run the French government during the early years of the inter-war period. The Bloc National maintained conservatism in France to a high degree, and demanded that Germany pay its reparations in full.
Cartel des Gauches  -  After the French government's embarrassing failure to collect German reparations even after invading the Ruhr, the Bloc National was replaced by the Cartel des Gauches, a moderate socialistic coalition elected on May 11, 1924. However, the Cartel proved inept at governing, and was dissolved in 1926.
Central Purge Commission  -  During the 1930s, Joseph Stalin consolidated power in the Soviet Union by eliminating his opponents. In 1933, he created the Central Purge Commission, which publicly investigated and tried members of the Communist Party for treason. In 1933 and 1934, 1,140,000 members were expelled from the party. Between 1933 and 1938, thousands were arrested and expelled, or shot.
Collectivization  -  Stalin's agricultural program, collectivization, forced farmers to pool their lands into government-run farms. When the upper peasant class, the kulaks, protested this program, some three million of them were killed during a reign of terror in 1929 to 1930.
Dawes Plan  -  Proposed by the American, Charles Dawes, the Dawes Plan lowered the annual amount of reparations to be paid by Germany to France and Britain, and loaned Germany a sizable amount of money so that it could pay on time.
Gestapo  -  Adolf Hitler's secret police, the Gestapo terrorized the German citizens, spying on them and often arresting and executing suspects without a warrant or trial.
International Brigades  -  These groups of leftist volunteers were made up mostly of workers, who volunteered to aid the Republicans in the Spanish Civil war. They did so out of boredom, disillusionment, or a desire for adventure as often as from genuine political idealism.
Kellogg-Briand Pact  -  Developed in 1928 by United States Secretary of State Frank Kellogg and French Foreign Minister Aristide Briand to jointly denounce war, the Kellogg-Briand Pact stated that the singing parties condemned recourse to war, and denounced it as an aspect of policy. The pact was eventually ratified, often hesitantly, by 65 nations.
League of Nations  -  The League of Nations was established as the body of international cooperation after World War One, with the deterrence of war and disarmament as its primary goals. However, largely due to the refusal of the United States to join, the League never grew strong enough to pass any broad measures.
Livitinov Protocol  -  The Livitinov Protocol was adopted by the Soviet Union and four other states, in response to the Kellogg-Briand Pact. It contained similar language, denouncing war as an aspect of foreign policy.
Locarno Pacts  -  The Locarno Pacts were a series of treaties signed to assure the stability of Germany's borders and discourage Germany from lashing out at its neighbors. They represented a largely French effort to keep Germany crippled and disarmed, and led to an improvement of relations between Germany and its neighbors.
Mein Kampf  -  The book Hitler wrote while imprisoned from 1923 to 1925, Mein Kampf (My Struggle) sets forth Hitler's future policies, and expounds upon the inferiority of the Jewish people to the Aryans. The book was widely read once Hitler came to power.
Nazi  -  The Nazi Party, short for the National Socialist German Workers Party, controlled Germany completely, under Hitler, from 1933 until the end of World War Two. The Nazi's strove to return Germany to its past glory, rectify the problem of unemployment, and expel German-Jews from society.
Triple Alliance  -  Made up of the miners, railway workers, and other transport workers in England, the Triple Alliance was the most organized and powerful labor coalition; it constantly battled the Conservative government for higher wages, better conditions, and shorter hours.
Westphalian System  -  Under this system the elites of government often met in secret to determine the fate of Europe and the world. However, World War I shattered the old system along with the empires that had maintained it.

People

Leon Blum  -  Leon Blum, a Jew, and a reviled enemy of French rightists, led the Popular Front government that ruled France from 1936 to 1937. The Popular Front government was not successful in maintaining stability, but is notable for its adherence to republican principles and the wide popular participation in the government it encouraged.
Neville Chamberlain  -  Neville Chamberlain served as British prime minister from 1937 to 1940. Considered a failure in foreign affairs, he pursued the failed policy of appeasement in regard to Adolf Hitler's aggression, signing the Munich Pact.
Francisco Franco  -  Francisco Franco led the Nationalists of Spain in revolt against the Republicans. Upon his victory in 1939, Franco became an oppressive dictator, a position he maintained until 1975.
David Lloyd George  -  David Lloyd George was a talented politician and British moderate who served as prime minister during and after World War I. His exit from government in 1922 signaled the end of centrism and the beginning of extremis politics in Britain.
Gyula Gombos  -  In 1932, General Gyula Gombos came to power as prime Minister of Hungary, an office he used as a dictatorship. He was not a strong enough ruler to initiate a truly fascist state, but he was quite powerful, and quite conservative, as well as being openly anti-Semitic. Gombos set the tone for a string of conservative prime ministers who practiced open anti-Semitism, and eventually cooperated with Germany in its efforts at European domination.
Paul von Hindenburg  -  Hindenburg had the misfortune of serving as the President of Germany from 1925 to 1934. He was unable to hold off the rise of the Nazi Party, and in 1933 appointed Hitler chancellor, an action followed by a string of concessions to Hitler until Hindenburg's death in 1934.
Adolf Hitler  -  Adolf Hitler was the leader of the fascist Nazi Party that rose up to lead Germany into the Second World War. Hitler undertook measures to improve Germany's floundering economy and promised Germans a return to past glory.
Benito Mussolini  -  Mussolini became Italy's premier on October 30, 1922. He consolidated power by using force and intimidation to eliminate his opponents and create a totalitarian state. Mussolini was sympathetic to Hitler's desires for global hegemony, and would join Germany as an ally during World War Two.
Joseph Pilsudski  -  Pilsudski took advantage of Poland's weak democracy to become virtual dictator in 1926, a position he maintained until 1935. Though his method of government was questionable, Pilsudski provided a measure of stability and strength to Polish politics, which floundered after his death.
Raymond Poincare  -  Poincare was the stable political leader of France's conservatives. He served as prime minister from 1922 to 1924, and from 1926 to 1929, providing stability to the otherwise chaotic French government.
Joseph Stalin  -  Stalin became the leader of the Soviet government upon Vladimir Lenin's death. He established a totalitarian state in the Soviet Union, consolidating power and purging the party of his enemies during the 1930s, while forcing a command economy on the Soviet people.
Leon Trotsky  -  Trotsky was Stalin's chief competition for leadership of the Communist Party, presenting his theory of 'permanent world revolution' against Stalin's 'socialism in one country.' When Stalin came to power, Trotsky was expelled from the party and fled the Soviet Union. He eventually fled to Mexico, where a Stalinist agent killed him in 1940.

Events

Beer Hall Putsch  -  On November 9, 1923, Hitler and World War I hero General Ludendorf attempted a small, and somewhat comic revolution known as the Beer Hall Putsch. Hitler had jumped onto a beer hall table and proclaimed the current Weimar government overthrown. He and Ludendorf led their supporters into the street, and were promptly arrested. While this putsch was unsuccessful, it was important in predicting what was to come.
Guernica  -  During the Spanish Civil War, on April 25, 1937, the small northern town of Guernica was bombed by the Nationalists, and civilians were gunned down as they fled the scene. In this brutal massacre 1500 died and 800 were wounded, but the military targets in the town remained intact. While the casualty figures pale in comparison to later numbers, Guernica was crucial in crushing the spirit of the Republicans and convincing many that to resist the Nationalists was to open the doors to bloodbath.
Washington Conference  -  In November 1921, the United States convened the Washington Conference, attended by Britain, France, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, China, Japan, and Portugal. The Conference resulted in a naval armaments treaty that set a ratio for tonnage of capital ships (over 10,000 tons, with guns bigger than eight inches) for Great Britain, the US, Japan, France, and Italy. The ratio agreed upon, in that order, was 5:5:3:1.67:1.67. The Washington Conference and the subsequent London Naval Conference of 1930 produced the only successful armaments agreements of the inter-war years.

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