THE EUROPEAN MAINSTREAM
IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY
Of the allied victors of World War I, Britain and France sustained enormous losses in human and material resources. Only the United States, which suffered many fewer casualties, experienced a financial boom after the war. In 1929, however, the stock market crashed, and a worldwide Depression followed.
Europe between the two world wars (1918-39) enjoyed a peace made uneasy by increasing international tension. The Austro-Hungarian Empire was split into independent states—Austria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Yugoslavia, and Romania—where democracy mostly gave way to authoritarian rule. In Russia the Bolsheviks—radical Marxist revolutionaries—had seized power by 1917 and set up a dictatorship. Fearing a similar "proletarian" revolution, Benito Mussolini and the Fascists took over the Italian government in 1922. In Germany, Adolf Hitler and the National Socialists (Nazis) took advantage of the weakened Weimar Republic (1918-33) to turn the chancellorship, which Hitler had won in a legitimate election, into a dictatorship. The Nazis, in a fierce arousal of latent anti-Semitism, passed laws to deprive people of Jewish origin of their citizenship and all other rights, driving many intellectuals, writers, artists, composers, and scholars into exile. The Spanish Civil War (1936-39) and its aftermath, the totalitarian rule of Francisco Franco, practically closed that country off from the rest of the world until the mid-1970s.
Europe between the wars
These movements and events tended to isolate even neighboring areas from each other: Germany from Austria, Hungary from Austria and its Slavic neighbors, and these from Russia. England and France distanced themselves from Italy and the German-speaking countries, and the Western hemisphere