The black shirts were Benito Mussolini's band of thugs, who used force to
intimidate all opposition to the Italian Fascist Party.
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
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.
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.
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.
Adolf Hitler's secret police, the Gestapo terrorized the German citizens,
spying on them and often arresting and executing suspects without a warrant or
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
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
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
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.
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
The Nazi Party, short for the National Socialist German Workers Party,
controlled Germany completely, under Hitler, from 1933 until the end of World
. The Nazi's strove to return Germany to
glory, rectify the problem of unemployment, and expel German-Jews from society.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.