World Between 1919-23

Society Becomes More Open

Ideas and ways of life led to a new kind of individual freedom during the 1920s. The war had allowed women to take on new roles. They got right to vote.

The Automobile Alters Society

Increased auto use by the average family led to lifestyle changes.

Airplanes Transform Travel

The war also brought spectacular improvements in air-craft. By 1918, planes could fly hundreds of miles.

Radio Reaches Millions

 Marconi conducted his first successful experiments with radio in 1895. The advantages of wireless communication in battle were so great that all countries gave radio research a high priority.

Movies Revolutionize Popular Entertainment

In the 1920s, motion pictures were a major industry. Many countries, from Cuba to Japan, produced movies. However, in the Los Angeles suburb of Hollywood, where 90 percent of all films were made, movies were entertainment. In the late 1920s, the addition of sound transformed movies.

Europe After the War

The Great War left every major European country nearly bankrupt. Only the United States and Japan came out of the war in better financial shape than before.

The World from 1919-23

  1. Turkish nationalism: Turkey was unhappy with the Treaty of Sevres (1920), as it had lost a lot of territory Greece. This led to rise of nationalism and Mustapha Kemal forced Greece out of occupied territories.
  2. Italian unhappiness with peace treaties: It was promised much more when it was persuaded to join the Allied Powers in 1915. When Mussolini came to power in 1922, Italy seized Fiume from Yugoslavia. Then Corfu Incident happened in 1923 (mediated by League of Nations).
  3. US war debt to Europe: US had benefited a lot from the World War I. It had sold lots of arms and extended loans to the Allied powers. Britain, France, and other Allied nations expected that US would provide them some concession on the loans. But US demanded full repayment of the war debt.
  4. Question of German Reparations: Britain and France were under economic stress. They had to pay back US and commit reconstruction. On the other side Germans were devastated to pay the war damages. They expected a lenient treatment and reconsideration. Britain was in favor of easing the terms of payment while France was against it.
  5. Russian Civil War (1918-20): After the Bolsheviks came to power, they tried to export the communist revolution to the rest of the world by sending their agents to support communists in other countries. The Western nations and Japan sent forces to fight Bolsheviks in the Russian Civil War, which was being fought between Bolsheviks and other groups (known as Whites).

Attempts after the World War I to improve International relations

League of Nations: It was setup in 1920 to preserve world peace via resolution of disputes through negotiations. The principle of Collective Security entailed use of military and economic sanctions against an aggressor nation.

Anglo-Russian Trade treaty (1921): After the Russian Civil War (1918-20), there was an atmosphere of reconciliation between Britain and Russia. The communist revolution had failed in rest of Europe, the Western powers had failed to defeat Bolsheviks in Russian civil war and Russia was exhausted from the civil war. It now desired investment and reconciliation with British.

Washington Conference (1921-22): The Washington Conference was held by US to check increasing Japanese influence in the Far East. During the World War I, Japan fought on the side of Allied Powers and it had seized Kiachow Island and Shantung Province of China. After this conference it was agreed that Japan would withdraw from the Kiachow Island and the Shantung province of China. In return, Japan was allowed to retain the German Pacific islands. Neutrality of China was guaranteed by US, Japan, Britain and France. As a result of this conference, Japan became a new recognised power.

Genoa Conference (1922): It was called by Britain to solve the following problems:

  • France-Germany hostility: Germany was threatening to stop payment of war reparations to France.
  • War debt to US: Britain and France were finding it difficult to pay back.
  • Britain wanted establishment of diplomatic ties Russia.

Result: The Genoa Conference failed because France demanded full reparations from Germany. Also, US demanded full payment of all the loans.

Impact of the Genoa Conference:

  1. Germany and Russia signed a separate agreement (Rapallo Agreement 1922) through which they canceled any war reparations they had to pay each other.
  2. France occupied Ruhr in 1923 and seized goods worth 40 million pounds.

Dawes Plan (1924):

This plan was aimed at solving the problems of French occupation of the Ruhr and the consequent galloping inflation & huge depreciation of German Frank. US took lead here and under the Dawes Plan it was agreed that Germany pay annually whatever she could afford until she became prosperous enough. But there was no decrease in total amount Germany was required to pay. Germany also got US loan to rebuild its economy. Also, France agreed to withdraw from the Ruhr.

Locarno Treaties (1925):

The main players involved were Britain, France, Germany and Italy. The minor players were Poland, Belgium and Czechoslovakia. Under these treaties the signatory nations agreed to recognize the frontiers set by the peace treaties after World War I. This meant that the nations promised to not attack each other and if one of the nation attacked then the other nations would come to rescue of the victim against the aggressor.


  1. Germany was allowed to enter the League of Nations in 1926. There was economic prosperity in Europe and an environment of friendship.
  2. Locarno Spirit was an illusion because so much depended on economic prosperity which when evaporated in 1929, the old hostilities resurfaced.

Kellogg-Briand Pact (1928):

It was a US-France led initiative and was joined by 65 nations who signed an agreement denouncing war as an instrument of national policy. But there was no mention of sanctions against an aggressor. Japan soon attacked Manchuria in 1931.

Young Plan (1929):

German reparations: amount was decreased to 2000 million pounds from 6600 million (to be paid over 59 years). The reason for the Young Plan piloted by US was that the Dawes Plan had left the total amount to be paid by Germany unchanged and Germany wanted a decrease in the amount. Also, France was more ready to negotiate due to the Locarno Spirit.

New Democracies Are Unstable

The dynasties of the Hohen-zollerns in Germany, the Hapsburgs in Austria-Hungary, the Romanovs in Russia, and the Ottomans in Turkey all ended. The Provisional Governments hoped to establish constitutional and democratic rule. But many fell to Communist dictatorship. The weaknesses of a coalition government became a major problem in times of crisis. Voters in several countries were then willing to sacrifice democracy for strong, totalitarian leadership.

Weimar Republic Is Weak Germany’s new democratic government was set up in 1919 (Weimar Republic). It had many weaknesses, First, Germany had weak democratic tradition. Secondly, post-war Germany had several political parties. Worst of all, millions of Germans blamed the Weimar government, not their wartime leaders, for the country’s defeat and post-war humiliation.

To pay the expenses of the war, the Germans simply printed money. Severe inflation set in. Consequently, people with fixed incomes saw their life savings become worthless.

Germany recovered from the 1923 inflation thanks largely to the work of Dawes Plan provided for a $200 million loan from American banks to stabilize German currency and strengthen its economy.

In 1925, France and Germany agreed that they would never again make war against each other. By 1929, German factories were producing as much as they had before the war. Germany also agreed to respect the existing borders of France and Belgium. It then was admitted to the League of Nations.

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