The Interbellum nearly always refers to the period between the end of World War I and the beginning of World War II. It was a period consisting of a lot of happenings such as the roaring twenties, memorable presidents and the creations of alliances that still impact the world today.
THE ROARING TWENTIES
The decade that culture and politics started to change. It was the time America changed into a mass-culture and for the first time, more Americans lived in cities than on farms. The nation’s wealth doubled between 1920 and 1929, and this economic growth swept many Americans into a ‘consumer society.’ People listened to the same music, did the same dances and started using the same street language. American greatest memorable cultural history was created, such as Scott Fitzgerald’s books that people still read today. Many Americans were uncomfortable with this new, urban mass culture. However, for a small handful of young people in the nation’s big cities, the 1920s were roaring indeed. (Interwar Period)
THE GREAT DEPRESSION
America was also vastly impacted by The great depression from 1930’s-end to 1940’s commonly known as the economic depression followed by the stock market crash at Wall Street (1929). (Great Depression) Unemployment rose and product prices fell, America was in a state. (Wall Street Crash 1929)
Iowa-born mining engineer Herbert Clark Hoover, America’s 31st president, was elected president in 1928, the year the U.S. economy fell into the Great Depression. Although his predecessors’ policies undoubtedly contributed to the crisis, which lasted over a decade, Hoover bore much of the blame in the minds of the American people. Hoover failed to recognize the severity of the situation and never really addressed it, he was also viewed insensitive and callous towards his desperate people. Finally, H. Hoover was easily defeated in the 1932 presidential election by Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt. (U.S. presidents)
FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT
Franklin D. Roosevelt, the only American president in history to be elected four times and also known as: ‘The voice of hope’, was in his second term as governor of New York when he was elected as the nation’s 32nd president in 1932. Roosevelt immediately acted to restore public confidence when the people struggled with the great depression. He created the ‘bank holiday’ and spoke directly to the public in a series of radio broadcasts or and public chats. His New Deal redefined the government and changed the lives of people. Reelected in 1936, 1940 and 1944, Roosevelt led the United States from isolationism to victory over Nazi Germany and its allies in World War II. He leaded the successful wartime alliance between Britain, the Soviet Union and the United States and helped lay the groundwork for the post-war peace organization that would become the United Nations. (U.S. presidents)
FIGURE 1. THE PERIOD OF TIME (INTERWAR PERIOD)
WORLD WAR II
The second world war started on September 1st, 1939 with the invasion of Poland by Germany and the declaration of war on Germany by France and the United Kingdom. In 1940, Japan took over Indochina, which was a colony of Holland. As a response, Holland, Britain and the US stopped their oil supports. However, the Americans did more, more, they placed an embargo on Japan by prohibiting exports of steel, iron and aviation fuel to Japan. (Why did Japan attack?)
HIROHITO, JAPAN AND THE PEARL HARBOR ATTACK
On year later, Hirohito, emperor of Japan, agreed with the decision of his government to battle America. (staff, 2009) On the morning of December 7, 1941, the Japanese launched a surprise air attack on the U.S Naval Base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. After just two hours of bombing, more than 2,400 Americans were dead, 21 ships were either damaged or had sunk and more than 188 US aircrafts were destroyed. Only from this moment on the United States officially joined the second world war, making it one of the major events of world war II for the United States. The attack on Pearl Harbor so outraged the US that they abandoned its policy of isolationism and declared war on Japan the following day. (Rosenberg, 2014)
Hirohito was emperor of Japan from 1926 until 1989.The emperor was seen as divine by the Japanese. His role in Japan’s government in the second world war remains highly controversial, he supported war against China and even attempted a cooperation with Britain the US. However, he had no choice but the approve on the attack of Pearl Harbor.
Towards the end of 1941, Japan seized the opportunity to take oil resources from Southeast Asia. The US wanted to stop the Japanese expansion but the American people didn’t want to go to war to stop it. The US demanded that Japan withdrew from China and Indochina.
The United States, Great Britain, France and another 47 smaller countries siding together became known as the Allies. The heads of the Allies were China, Great Britain, the Soviet Union and the United states became known as the ‘Big Four’. During the war, they conferred several times and worked out the outlines of the war. President Roosevelt and prime minister Winston Churchill agreed to concentrate on Germany first, because they considered Germany the greater enemy. The Allies fought to stabilize Europe and to destroy Nazism. (World War II)
THE YALTA CONFERENCE
A major event in the history of the second world war is the Yalta conference. It took place in Yalta, a Russian resort town in the Crimea from February 4 to 11, 1945. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin met up to make some important decisions regarding de future progress of the war and the post-war period. (historians, 2014)
The key points of the conference were:
1. World organization
2. Declaration of a free Europe
3. Division of Germany (The big three, U.S., Soviet Union and Great Britain)
4. Occupation zone for the French and control for the Germans
5. Recovery after the Nazi period
6. The biggest war criminals must be punished.
7. The issue in Poland. After the liberation, Poland gets a new government making it a Democracy
8. The issue in Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia also gets a new government and a temporary parliament, shaped by the Anti-Fascist Assembly of the National Liberation. They are not yet allowed to perform legal actions.
9. Italy ‘ Yugoslavia ‘ Italy ‘ Austria front.
10. Relations between Yugoslavia and Bulgaria.
11. The issue in South-East Europe.
12. The issue in Iran
13. Meeting of the big Three
14. The issue in Japan
THE END OF THE SECOND WORLD WAR
The war ended in Europe with the surrender of Germany on May 8, 1945, but it wasn’t completely over yet. On August 1945, the US starts to bomb Japan again, starting with Hiroshima. On September 2, 1945, Japan formally surrenders, making it officially the end of the second world war. (world war II: timeline, 2014)
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE INTERBELLUM AND WORLD WAR II ON MODERN AMERICA
One of the biggest influences from the interwar period is the American modernism. An artistic and cultural movement which started in the 20th century. The core period of modernism was between World War I and World War II, but the movement has continued into the 21st century, and has a big influence on modern art and literature. Nowadays modernism serves as foundation for many economical, sociological and political concepts. American modernism evoked the desire for experiments and challenges in many different ways. Modernism impacted art, music and literature. Modernist art showed the emotional state of the audience, which was the foundation of the formation of the American identity nowadays.
Artists were attracted by the idea of ‘creative destruction’. In order to make something new, the old has to be abandoned. The most influential artists are Georgia O’Keeffe, and Aaron Douglas. O’Keeffe is known for how she challenges the boundaries of the modern American artistic style. On the literary front, the best known and influential authors would be F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. Both are very famous for their works, and they still inspire writers nowadays. (Boundless) Next to literature and art, modernism focused on music as well, jazz was invented in the 1920s and has influenced a lot of music styles. (Salinger, 2011)
WORLD WAR II
The impact that World War II had on the world was big, and in the United States there were some major changes because of the war. The war helped save the US out of economical problems. After the war, the US became the most powerful country in the world. While many other countries were in debt because of the war, the US came out as a world power. Another major impact came with the labor shortages, men went off to war, and more women entered the work force. A popular icon was Rosie the Riveter, representing female Americans working in factories with the famous slogan ‘We can do it!’. The role of women has changed a lot because of the world war. (The American Family in World War 2)
The war had an emotional impact on the US as well, during the war, the US gathered soldiers from all over America to fight in Europe. This had a great effect on the emotional state of the soldiers and the people back home in the US. Another result of the war is the forming of the United Nations, in which the US also joined. The purpose was to keep peace in the world. (The United Nations)