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The Search for Stability Between the World Wars. Focus Questions. What was the impact of World War I, and what problems did European countries face in the 1920’s?

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The Search for Stability

Between the World Wars

focus questions
Focus Questions
  • What was the impact of World War I, and what problems did European countries face in the 1920’s?
  • Why did many European states experience a retreat from democracy in the interwar years? What are the characteristics of totalitarian states, and to what degree were these characteristics present in Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, and Stalinist Russia?
world war i
World War I
  • Abdication of Hapsburg Emperor
  • Abdication of Hohenzollern
  • Armistice of November 11, 1918
  • Treaty of Versailles
    • Big Four
      • Wilson, Clemenceau, Lloyd George, Orlando
      • Wilson’s Fourteen Points
      • Harsh Treaty
        • German Guilt Clause
        • Reparations - 33 billion
  • League of Nations

Kaiser Wilhelm II


Emperor Franz Josef I


Czar Nicholas II






It is a fearful thing to lead this great peaceful people into war, into the most terrible and disastrous of all wars, civilization itself seeming to be in the balance. But the right is more precious than peace, and we shall fight for the things which we have always carried nearest our hearts—for democracy, for the right of those who submit to authority to have a voice in their own governments, for the rights and liberties of small nations, for a universal dominion of right by such a concert of free peoples as shall bring peace and safety to all nations and make the world itself at last free.

Woodrow Wilson


Open covenants of peace, openly arrived at, after which there shall be no private international understandings of any kind but diplomacy shall proceed always frankly and in the public view
  • Absolute freedom of navigation upon the seas
  • The removal, so far as possible, of all economic barriers and the establishment of an equality of trade conditions among all the nations
  • Adequate guarantees given and taken that national armaments will be reduced to the lowest point consistent with domestic safety.
A free, open-minded, and absolutely impartial adjustment of all colonial claims, based upon a strict observance of the principle that in determining all such questions of sovereignty the interests of the populations concerned must have equal weight with the equitable claims of the government whose title is to be determined.
  • The evacuation of all Russian territory and such a settlement of all questions affecting Russia as will secure the best and freest cooperation of the other nations of the world in obtaining for her an unhampered and unembarrassed opportunity for the independent determination of her own political development
  • Belgium, the whole world will agree, must be evacuated and restored, without any attempt to limit the sovereignty which she enjoys in common with all other free nations.
All French territory should be freed and the invaded portions restored, and the wrong done to France by Prussia in 1871 in the matter of Alsace-Lorraine
  • A readjustment of the frontiers of Italy should be effected along clearly recognizable lines of nationality.
  • The peoples of Austria-Hungary… should be accorded the freest opportunity to autonomous development.
  • Rumania, Serbia, and Montenegro should be evacuated; occupied territories restored; Serbia accorded free and secure access to the sea; and the relations of the several Balkan states to one another determined by friendly counsel along historically established lines of allegiance and nationality…
The Turkish portion of the present Ottoman Empire should be assured a secure sovereignty… and the Dardanelles should be permanently opened as a free passage to the ships and commerce of all nations under international guarantees.
  • An independent Polish state should be erected which should include the territories inhabited by indisputably Polish populations, which should be assured a free and secure access to the sea…
  • A general association of nations must be formed under specific covenants for the purpose of affording mutual guarantees of political independence and territorial integrity to great and small states alike.

Treaty of Versailles, 1919

  • Big Four
    • Wilson, Clemenceau, Lloyd George, Orlando
  • Wilson’s Fourteen Points
  • Harsh Treaty
    • German Guilt Clause
    • Reparations – 33 billion
    • Return of Alsace-Lorraine
    • Occupation of Rhineland
    • National Realignment of Europe—Polish Corridor
    • League of Nations
  • Principles
  • Differences:
    • British- Iraq, Palestine, Transjordan
    • French – Syria-Lebanon


  • The Great War and Its Impact:
  • Intellectual Disillusionment
  • The Flawed Peace
  • The Challenge to Liberal
  • Democracy

Oswald Spengler


the west between the great wars
The West Between the Great Wars
  • The Collapse of Traditional Society
  • The Emergence of Mass Society & Mass Culture
  • The Challenge to Liberal Democracy
    • Totalitarianism of the Left
    • Totalitarianism of the Right
the emergence of mass society mass culture
The Emergence of Mass Society & Mass Culture
  • Total War as the Great Leveler
  • The Collapse of Traditional Society
    • Diminishment of the Social, Political, and Cultural Elites
  • Emergence of Popular Culture
    • Technology and the Mass Media—Press, Film & Radio
    • Emphasis upon the Trivial and the Transient
    • Emphasis upon the Emotive & Lowest Common Denominator
  • Social, Political, and Cultural Conformity
working hypothesis open for debate
Working HypothesisOpen for Debate

Modern Liberal Democracies Ensure a High Level of Individual Freedom but, as Political Entities, they are Highly Susceptible to the Introduction of Tyranny

The West Between the Wars

as a Modern Case Study

intellectual assumptions of liberal democracy
Intellectual Assumptions of Liberal Democracy
  • Individual Rights – Life, Liberty and Property
  • Equality before the Law
  • Toleration
    • Freedom of Speech
    • Freedom of Press
    • Freedom of Religion
    • Freedom of Assembly
  • Representative Government through Periodic Elections
  • Emphasis upon Reason
  • Cultural Relativism
  • Theory of Progress
inherent weakness of liberal democracy
Inherent Weakness of Liberal Democracy
  • Political “Truth” & Wisdom are Products of Rational Discourse and Open Debate
  • “Checks and Balances” are Critical to Protecting Civil Liberties & Individual Rights
  • Compromise is Essential to Effective Government
  • Slow to React in Crisis – Democracy as an inherently “messy” process
  • Predicated Upon an Educated Electorate
  • Mass Propaganda and High Speed Communications to Conquer the Heart and Mind
  • State Control of Cultural and Intellectual Life
  • Internal Intelligence and Secret Police to Ensure Conformity
  • Highly Centralized Bureaucracies to Implement the Policies of the State
  • Militant Nationalism with Racial Overtones
  • Strong Military as Instrument of National Will -- Given to Territorial Expansion
  • Scapgoating to Identify Common Enemy

“Jew” “Bolshevik” “Capitalist” “Communist”

  • Ideology of the State as Secular Substitute for Traditional Religion
russian revolution
Russian Revolution
  • Russo-Japanese War 1904-05
  • Bloody Sunday, 1905
  • Effects of War and loss of support for Nicholas II – Role of Rasputin
  • March Revolution of 1917
    • Duma Establishes Provisional Government
    • Nicholas Abdicates
  • Problems of the Provisional Government
russian revolution1
Russian Revolution
  • Kerensky’s Effort to Consolidate Power
  • Rise of the Bolsheviks
    • Lenin and Trotsky
    • Elite Marxists
    • Party of Workers and Peasants
    • Opposed to War
    • November Revolution – Bolsheviks to Power
  • Treaty of Brest-Litvosk – March 1918
russian revolution2
Russian Revolution
  • Civil War
    • Reds and Whites
    • Civil War Concluded by 1920
  • Dictatorship of the Proletariat
    • Highly Centralized in Moscow
    • Politburo
    • Secretariat of the Communist Party
  • Lenin’s New Economic Policy (NEP)
  • 1922 – Creation of Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
  • Succession to Lenin – 1924
  • Trotsky, Bukharin, Stalin
  • 1928 –Josef Stalin Consolidates Power
totalitarianism on the left stalin and the soviet union
Totalitarianism on the LeftStalin and the Soviet Union
  • Dictatorship of the Proletariat
    • Lenin & His Policies
    • Stalin Consolidates Power
      • The Five Year Plans
        • Transforms Country from Agricultural to Industrial Power
        • Emphasis upon Capital Goods and Heavy Industry
      • Collectivization of Agriculture
        • Elimination of the kulaks
        • By 1934 26 million farmsreduced to 250,000 units
      • The Great Purges 0f 1936-1938

Joseph Stalin

“Morning of Our Motherland”

totalitarianism on the right mussolini and fascism in italy
Totalitarianism on the RightMussolini and Fascism in Italy
  • Benito Mussolini & the Rise of the Fascists
    • Disillusionment with the War
    • Middle class fear of Socialist and Communists
    • “Blackshirts” organized as paramilitary group
    • October 1922 March on Rome
    • Mussolini made Prime Minister by King Victor Emmanuel
    • Facist Party Consolidates Power by 1926