Recovery and Prosperity,
THE GREAT WAR HAD BEEN FOUGHT to “make the world safe for democracy.” It was also the “war to end all wars.” To some perceptive individuals in 1919, these were hollow utopian slogans that concealed the approach of the grim reaper to harvest the bitter seeds of resentment and hatred sown and watered at the Paris Peace Conference. Looking back after a second and more destructive world war, it is tempting to view the events of the 1920s and 1930s with the clarity of historical determinism. But if one views the events of the 1920s without the benefit of hindsight, it is possible to sympathize with those who chose to see the Great War as a brief and unfortunate interruption in the forward march of civilization. The Great Depression would abruptly end the “Roaring Twenties” and reveal how fragile were the foundations of the return to “normalcy.” But a look at international relations and the internal affairs of the major European states reveals a collection of mixed signals.
The most obvious outcome of the Great War was the passing of the ancient empires of Germany, Russia, Austria-Hungary, and Turkey. With the departure of those antique dynasties, and with them a host of lesser princely houses, a new era appeared to be dawning, when, as President Woodrow Wilson had foretold in 1917, those who submitted to authority would have “a voice in their own government.” Where in 1914 there had been seventeen monarchies and three republics, in 1919 there were thirteen monarchies and thirteen republics. Germany, Austria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Turkey were all proclaimed republics. In Russia, the autocratic rule of the Tsar was replaced by what Lenin called “democratic centralism,” a Soviet republic that was soon revealed as more autocratic than tsarist Russia. In nearly every country, a communist party emerged from the old social democratic and trade union movements to challenge what communists termed “bourgeois democracy.” The various communist parties were connected with one another in an organization called the Communist, or Third, International (the Cominterm), which seemed, poten
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Publication information: Book title: Twentieth-Century Europe: A Brief History. Edition: 2nd. Contributors: Michael D. Richards - Editor, Paul R. Waibel - Editor. Publisher: Harlan Davidson. Place of publication: Wheeling, IL. Publication year: 2005. Page number: 85.
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