The twentieth century from 1901-1939.


Throughout the world, amid the twentieth century, underlying changes were occurring. The First World War was fought, the world experienced the Great Depression, there was a rise of imperialism, belief of anarchism, plead of socialism, expansion of fascism, growth of nationalism and fear of communism. By 1914 all major European powers are at war, it became a global war involving 32 nations. Twenty-eight of these nations were known as the Allies, including Great Britain, France, Russia, Italy, Australia and the United States, opposed the coalition known as the Central Powers, consisting of Germany, Austria-Hungary, Turkey, and Bulgaria. The war, which was won by the Allies, resulted in civilians in the vast war zones suffering from disease, malnutrition, and often actual starvation, destruction of their towns and cities, and appalling injuries and death. The world had become a divided planet. The conclusion of WWI led to the conferences at Versailles and the peace treaties that emerged from the conference included Saint-Germain, Trianon, Neuilly, and Sèvres. These treaties were on the whole inadequately enforced by the victorious powers, leading to the resurgence of militarism and aggressive nationalism in Germany and to social disorder throughout much of Europe. The economic impact of WWI leads the world into the Great Depression. During the Depression support of fascism grew to generate enough conflict for the basis of WWII.


One ideology that had arisen, between 1894 and 1914, was the belief of anarchism. Anarchists believed that if there was no law or government then man would be free to live how God had intended. They believed they could solve the evil in the world through violence. Around the 1900’s the world was terrified of anarchism. However anarchism did not last as long as fascism or communism. Anarchism died out as the working class drifted toward socialist or unionist movement. Socialists sought to redistribute the wealth equally, so that everybody had enough. Even though its goals were similar to anarchism, its approach was completely different, socialism was more an organised movement, rather than the assassinating methods of the anarchists. Nevertheless by 1910 the main issue was no longer the social revolution but the onset of war. As nationalism grew, the socialist working class were willing to join their countrymen from upper and middle classes in going to war.


The immediate cause of the war between Austria-Hungary and Serbia was the assassination on June 28, 1914, at Sarajevo in Bosnia, of Archduke Francis Ferdinand, heir-presumptive to the Austrian and Hungarian thrones, by Gavrilo Princip, a Serb nationalist. The underlying causes of World War I were the spirit of intense nationalism that spread throughout Europe at the end of the 19th and into the 20th century, the political and economic rivalry among the nations, and the establishment and maintenance in Europe after 1871 of large armaments and of two hostile military alliances. These fundamental changes in society and variations of nation’s policies were apparent at the establishment of WWI. The French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars had spread throughout most of Europe the idea of political democracy, with the resulting idea that people of the same ethnic origin, language, and political ideals had the right to independent states. Several peoples who desired national autonomy were made subject to local dynasties or to other nations. Notable examples were the German people, whom the Congress of Vienna left divided into numerous duchies, principalities, and kingdoms; Italy was also left divided into many parts, some of which were under foreign control; and the Flemish- and French-speaking Belgians of the Austrian Netherlands, whom the congress placed under Dutch rule. Revolutions and strong nationalistic movements during the 19th century succeeded in abolishing much of the reactionary and anti-nationalist work of the congress. At the close of the century, however, the problem of nationalism was still unresolved in some areas of Europe, resulting in tensions both within the regions involved and between various European nations.


The spirit of nationalism was also evident in economic conflict. The Industrial Revolution, which took place in Great Britain at the end of the 18th century, followed into France in the early 19th century, and then in Germany after 1870, caused an immense increase in the manufacturing in each country and a consequent need for foreign markets. The major field