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World in Crisis
The period from 1900 to the beginning of the Second Great European War and the Second Pacific War is known as the "Decade of Crisis". Nationalism and imperialism clashed as territories and influence were contested across the six inhabited continents.
The Atacama War, less commonly known as the War of the Pacific, was a war between Chile against Bolivia which supported by Argentina. that was fought over a mineral-rich territory near the Pacific Ocean. Many of the battles took place in the nearby Atacama Desert, hence the name. The war's roots were in the breakup of the nation of Columbia way back in 1838, as the border between Bolivia and Chile was never specified, and both nations claimed that the Atacama was theirs. In 1894, Bolivia opened a railroad that sprawled across the Atacama, and forced the Chileans to pay an extra large tax to use it. This angered Chile as much of its economy relied on trade with Chile. When words a naval buildup near the coast by Bolivia reached Chilean leaders in 1901, they had heard enough. Chile invaded a week later.The war ended in 1905, and Chile had defeated Bolivia. The Americans had helped Chile, and Chile became the United States' main ally in the Pacific. The three defeated nations - Bolivia, Argentina, and Peru (Peru entered in 1903) would join together in an alliance, with the goal of eventually getting back territorial losses in the war. Chile, worried about a counterstrike in the coming years, joined an alliance with Venezuela and Brazil. The battle lines in South America were drawn, and war would break out in 1916.
1902 Geneva Conference
The Scramble for Africa was at its peak in 1902, with the European nations in it racing for colonies. This worried the League of European Nations, who feared wars would break out over the "Dark Continent". In August of 1902, a conference in Geneva was held and representatives from each member state appeared. League Secretary-General, Eugene Ruffy, proposed spheres of influence in Africa for the scrambling nations, which were Germany, Britain, France, Italy, the Iberian Union, and Belgium. The representatives, however, only argued over the spheres. Each had a "grand plan", and all of them would be derailed if the spheres would be set. They also claimed that the spheres would give the other nations too much land, while in reality all of them wanted what they claimed was "too much land". The representatives continued to squabble, and the conference was finally ended in early September. The nations had agreed on nothing, and had also lost their confidence in the League. Victor I of Germany is alleged to have said that "the League can hold talks, but they can't hold conversations."
Years Before the War
Tensions in Asia
The First Pacific War was still fresh in minds of every Asian country who fought in it, especially in Korea's mind, who had lost half of her territory to its main enemy, Japan. In 1904, the naval Chinese War occurred, when the GAA (Great Asian Alliance) fought with the European fleets trying to enter the waters around China. China was desperately trying to prevent outside influence from entering, but when it became clear during the First Pacific War that Japan and the United States were more technologically advanced, the Qing allowed some Western influences, but none involving the military. However, the Chinese War was the last straw for the people of China, who saw that to keep up with its enemies in the upcoming wars it needed to advance. In 1911, the Qing was overthrown, and the Republic of China was established. The new republic was only strong in the east, however, and the warlords reigned supreme in the western regions.
After the first war, the belligerents attempted to make a De-Militarized Zone (DMZ) along the 38th Parallel as the border between Korea and Japan. However, this couldn't work as sometimes patrols would cross over the border. Eventually, two lines of outposts and bases were established along the outside of the DMZ; the northern side would be for Korea, and the southern side would be for Japan. This created more disputes, as in 1912 Korea claimed that the city of Chemulpo (Incheon) belong to her and not Japan. US President Theodore Roosevelt said that the city belonged to Japan. When Korea refused this, the US began to ship men and supplies over to Japan-occupied Korea. The first US international military base, the Washington, was established near the 38th Parallel. The GAA responded with a mobilization of troops. In 1913, after much negotiations, Korea relented and the city was undoubtedly in Japanese hands.
European Balance of Power
From 1881 to 1915, the nations of Europe began to develop a policy as of imperialism, with the goal of expanding their empires across the large continents of Africa and Asia. This was combined with nationalism, and obviously nations began to dispute over territory in the continents. Cultures in the Balkans were forced to belong to either the Austrian-Hungarian Empire or the Ottoman Empire, and once of the ideas of nationalism spread there, it was mass chaos. In 1912, mass uprisings began in the Balkans against the two empires, hoping for a unified Yugoslav states. However, this was refused by the two powers, resulting in mass riots, uprisings, and rebellions. In 1914, the Governor of the Serb Province, Hans Ferdinand, was assassinated by members of a Yugoslav militia. The Austrian government responded with total military control, earning the sympathy for the Yugoslavs by Russia. This tension brought Europe closer to war.
In order to be able fight with more power, alliances were made between the nations of Europe. In 1882, Germany and Austria-Hungary signed a treaty which created the Dual Alliance. In 1900, both Great Britain, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Italy joined it, and the name was switched to the Great Alliance. This made the rulers of the remaining nations worried that the balance of power in Europe might have shifted toward the Alliance. So in 1902, the leaders of France, Russia, the Iberian Union, and the Republic of Italy met in the Paris Conference. The nations formed the Paris Entente, nearly equaling the balance of power. The two alliances could not agree on anything, which resulted in the European League of Nations being split in half. In 1906, the League was disbanded, as nothing was solved in the Palace of Nations. To get the upper hand on each other, a naval arms race developed. The race only added to the tension in Europe.
Results of the First Great War
The First Great War, which began in 1914 (South American theater) and ended in 1928 (also South American theater). The war is result of combining the three major conflicts occurring at the time: the Second Pacific War, the Third Great European War, and the South American War. Every war (except the Second Pacific War) had an alliance win, and the winning alliance received great amounts of money from the losers. Economic growth was found in the victorious.
The Losers of the War
The nations that lost the war suffered from mass debts to the nations that defeated them, which made the economies plummit, even during the Roaring Twenties, which was period of great economic growth. Territories were wrestled away and given to the winners, and the culture of the new territories of clashed with the one that controlled it. This all gave way to revolutions, and most of them were either Socialist, Communist, or Fascist.
The first nation to give way was the Philippines. In 1918, revolutionary Crisanto Evangelista formed the Philippine Red Army and began an uprising against the occupying American forces. Aided by the Chinese, the Red Army eventually forced the Americans off the islands, and the People's Republic of the Philippines was declared. Soon China followed the Philippines' example, and in 1920 the Republic of China was overthrown by communist revolutionaries led by Mao Zedong. In 1921, Mao would lead campaigns into Mongolia and Taiwan, bringing them under the control of the communists.
The Roaring Twenties
The period after the end of the First Great War is known as the Roaring Twenties, a period of great economic growth for nations mainly in Europe and North America, though it was also felt in places such as Brazil and Japan. Several cultural and social movements during this time has also given it the name the "Jazz Age".
The "Social Reformation"
The Social Reformation was a cultural and social movement that had rocked North America. The war had mauled an entire generation of young men and created a bleak moment for society, which led to many nations in North America wanting to end the war. The Socialist Party of America, led by Eugene V. Debs, promised just that and Debs won presidency in 1921 over incumbent Woodrow Wilson of the Democratic Party. Debs had won over the support of trade unionists, progressive social reformers, populist farmers, and immigrant communities. Under the watch of Debs, the economy soared with more products being manufactured and the prices dropped. In Winnipeg, the Socialist Party of Winnipeg was created, and presidential candidate J.S. Woodsworth was elected in 1914. The Socialist Party soon became the most popular party in the country, and still is today.
Feminism became widespread in the 1920s, and promoted women's rights across the world, as well as suffrage for women. With leader's such as Alice Paul and Lucy Burns, the United States allowed woman's suffrage in 1923, becoming the third country in the world to do so (after Great Britain and Finland). Other feminist goals were met later in the decade or during the Second Great War.
The Lost Generation disappeared, replaced with a youth culture who had forgotten the horrors of the war. With products costing less money, more consumer goods were purchased, many of them considered luxuries during the past decades. Radios were popular, with people able to here news from all across the nation. Black-and-white films became increasingly popular, switching from silent movies to talkies. In nations that were defeated in the war, many patriotic films were made, and were used by socialist, communist, and fascist movements to draw support for themselves.
China Leads the Way
In China in 1924, with all territories rebelling against the communists pacified, Honorable Premier Mao Zedong began the first of the People's Republic Economic Plans, also known as "Great Jumps". In eastern China, Zedong began a period of rapid industrialization, with large government-run factories, steel mills, and other industrial things. Transition from rural to urban (central China to the coast) increased, with the percent of people working in industries skyrocketing. Manchuria was also developed, and soon oil, petroleum, and natural gas was being pumped from the ground. Factory output soared, and steel and iron were being made at shorter times and there were more of it.Agriculture was also changed. The government collected farmers and their families and brought them large government farms. The families set up homes around the farm, and many "farmvilles" were created. The farmers worked everyday, and made sure the crops would come out perfect. With the first harvest at the end of 1924, large amount of crops were collected, the largest being grain. With the end of the first plan in 1929, China had become an economic powerhouse and an industrial giant.
China's progress had inspired other nations to make their own plans as well, and, especially in Indochina, had made the Chinese government less frowned upon. The Filipinos began their own plan in 1926, mainly copying most of the Chinese plan. When the plan ended in 1930, the Philippines, even though not having as much success as the Chinese, became the main power of the Southeastern Asia. As President Evangelista of the Philippines said, "Our nation and China has made great progress. We are now one of the powers of Asia and the world."
The war had brought great bitterness to the people of the nations who were defeated. Nationalist groups popped up in those nations, and claimed they could bring the nations back to the former glory, and end the massive hyperinflation, debts, and the overall feeling of defeat. The first nations to fall to the national groups were Argentina and Italy. The South American War was still going on during the 1920s, and Argentina was one of the hardest hit nations, being attacked by powerful Brazil and Chile. In 1924, President Hipolito Yrigoyen was deposed in a military coup led by General Jose Felix Uriburu, and soon the government took control of all of the nation. Uriburu promised he would win the war for Argentina, but by the war's end in 1928, he could not do this and Argentina suffered massively. Two months after the end of the war, Uriburu was overthrown, and Colonel Juan Peron became president of the nation.
In Italy in 1925, Benito Mussolini, a former military lieutenant, former the Unione fascista d'Italia (Fascist Union of Italy), drawing supporters from the population of Italy all around the country. Mussolini planned to take control of the nation with a coup against King Joachim VII, but the king had gotten the nation back on track and transformed the nation into a parliamentary democracy, decreasing the king's power. Mussolini decided instead to become Prime Minister of the nation. But because the king had gotten his act together, the people no longer supported nationalist and extremist groups. Mussolini's supported lessened for the next five years until 1930, when the Great Depression began.
The results for France after the war were disastrous: a lot of eastern territory was lost; the military was demobilized and and downsized to a fraction of other nations' militaries; and massive reparations had to be paid to Great Britain and Germany. The end result was turmoil, especially in an economic sense, with massive hyperinflation and high unemployment. The French people needed someone to rally around, and two people were found: Alexander Millerand, an Independent Socialist, or Charles de Gaulle, of the Parti Nationale socialiste de France (National Socialist Party of France). In a close, heated election for President in 1924, Millerand won by just 54%, and would serve for up to the next seven years. De Gaulle knew, however, as the years went on he would gain more supporters.
The great economic growth during the 1920s had to come to an end at some point. The end occurred on June 12, 1930, when the two largest stock markets in the world, the New York and Frankfurt, crashed. The New York crashed first, with the Frankfurt falling an hour later. Thousands of dollars were lost, and this crippled the nations who were defeated in the First Great War, because they had to pay debts and loans, and without any money they could not do it. The result was the great depression, which traumatized the world until the beginning of the Second Great War in 1941.
The Rise of National Groups
Many of the nationalist groups formed during the 1920s were saved by the Great Depression, which they used to their advantage by blaming the current government for the defeat and that their group could save their nation and bring it back to prosperity. In 1931, de Gaulle used his "Steel Guard" to scare people away opposition and force people into voting for him for President. He was elected, and transformed France into a dictatorship. The government took control of everything, and the French people had to agree with de Gaulle. During the 1930s, hundreds of people "disappeared" and were sent to re-education camps in the Pyrenees or Atlantic islands. De Gaulle ruled with an iron fist.
In 1935, Mussolini managed to win the posistion of Prime Minister in Italy. He immediately set up shop in Rome and his own secret police, the Polizia italiana Guardia (Italian Police Guard), began a reign of terror throughout the country, removing any people who disagree with him and place them in concentration camps in Libya. The one person who did not support Mussolini was King Joachim VII, and eventually was going to have him replaced. In 1937, Joachim mysteriously died in a fire at the palace, and his nine-year-old son was placed on the throne. This meant that a regency had to be established, and Mussolini placed supporters of him in it. It is disputed if the first was caused by communists, like Mussolini said, or Mussolini himself. With the king gone, Mussolini had free reign to do whatever he wanted.
Trouble in North America
The New York Stock Market crash was the largest stock market crash in American history. Businesses struggled, and millions were unemployed. Shipments of food and supplies to Pacific territories were ended due to the growing crisis, which caused the islands to rebel, which led to the military stomping down on them by 1936. Republican President Herbert Hoover failed to successfully deal with theses problems, which resulted in his reelection bid failing, and Socialist candidate George A. Nelson was elected. Unlike Socialist parties in other countries, Nelson supported democratic socialism. Nelson began large construction projects, such as building roads, bridges, and highways. Thousands gathered to work in these projects, lowering unemployment. Nelson also attempted to raise agricultural production, and allowed tenant farmers and sharecropping farmers to survive.
Canadian President William Lyon Mackenzie King's boy-hood motto was "Help those who cannot help themselves." He lived up to it by employing thousands of Canadians in large building projects as well, including the Trans-Canadian Highway, which would unite western Canada to eastern Canada by road, as well as by the Canadian Pacific Railway. Construction began in 1933, and was completed in 1940. Projects also took place in the Great Lakes, where ports in Toronto, Ottawa, and Thunder Bay were improved upon. While many found work in these jobs, those who did not were supported by the Canadian government until they could. Winnipeg also began programs to help restore the nations economy, including the "Triangle Road" which connected Winnipeg City, Clearwater, and Beaver to one another by one massive highway.
Ever since the creation of the GAA in the 1870s, China and the Russian Empire were close allies until the late 1920s and 1930s. While the Russian Empire experienced small economic growth during the 1920s, China experienced a huge one, and during the Great Depression, Russia experienced an economic downfall during the Great Depression, while China still prospered. This angered the people of Russia, who believed that a socialist or communist would serve them better than their current, democratic constitutional monarchy. In 1934, the Communist Party of the Russian Empire was created, led by military general/politician Joseph Stalin. Mass riots broke out, and troubled current Prime Minister. The Central Asian territories seceded and announced their intention to become communist and join China. The response was an invasion by the Russian Army. China then mobilized their army to protect their "communist brothers". An official state of war was announced August 20, 1935.On September 6, Russian and Chinese armies met at the Battle of Almaty, where a bloody battle ensued, with 20,000 casualties in just one week. Both had some of the largest armies on the planet, and were willing to have casualties. On September 20, Chinese forces withdrew from the city, allowing Russia to have the control of the city. On November 13, however, Chinese forces, now much stronger, had smash through Russian defenses and breached the city. The fight for the city, the most important one in Central Asia, would continue to be a back-and-forth battle throughout the entire war.
Effect on Asia
Southeastern Asian countries, all of which were communist, sent supplies and men to the Chinese to help them fight the "Capitalist Menace". In 1931, China, the Philippines, and the southeast Asian countries formed the Shanghai Co-Prosperity Alliance, which formed an economic alliance between the nations. Now with each nation sending their military to the war zone, the Alliance was now an economic one and a military one. The Chinese government recognized this during the war, all the nations agreed to continue it throughout the upcoming decades.
Japan, the other major power in the continent of Asia, had always competed with China and Russia for control of the resources in Manchuria and Korea. Now that China and Russia were completely focused on fighting each other, this gave Japan the opportunity to lower their guard just a bit, and other projects were allowed, instead of projects just focused on military. The great architectural feat, the Great Tower of Seoul, was completed in 1939, and is now considered one of the greatest architectural creations. Japan was also the only power in Asia that could completely shift the balance between China and Russia in the war. Japan did not want to do this, as they wanted to "Let China and Russia claw each other to death. Japan will then come in and pick up the pieces," as in the words of Minister of War Hideki Tojo.
The Nationalists Get Bolder
The Nationalist groups, now in firm control of their countries (France, Italy, and Argentina), began to get bolder. In 1936, President de Gaulle began his Re-armament Plans, which would expand the French military beyond what the Treaty of Munich allowed them to have. Only 100,000 men were allowed; by 1940 the French would have over 8,000,000 soldiers at the ready; only 36 ships were allowed; by 1940 the French had over 120 ships. Argentina and Italy would also begin re-armament campaigns, reaching French levels. In 1938, the re-armament was exposed to the world by French army defectors, but the Allies, fearful of the three nations awesome power, did nothing, and the nations continued to get more powerful. In 1939, the three nations formed the Axis Powers, which that going to war with one was going to war with all free.
Expansion and Appeasement
With strong confidence and great military power, the Axis soon began to expand, feeling that the Allies would do nothing to stop them. Italy would make the most expansion, first expanding in several Greek islands strategically positioned at the entrance of the Tyrenian Sea. Mussolini had promised to create a New Roman Empire, and followed up on these claims by invading Ethiopia from its colony in Libya. These two invasions made the nations question the ability of the Organization of Nations, which resulted in the secession from several nations, and the Organization was disbanded in 1939. France and Italy then began to eye Belgium and the Territory of Lyon. When Germany and Great Britain were reluctant to give these places up, Italy and France threatened war. This resulted in the Vienna Conference.
The Vienna Conference was held from November 1 to November 2. In attendance was Charles de Gaulle, Benito Mussolini, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, and German Chancellor Franz von Papen. De Gaulle stated that southwestern Belgium was majority French and wanted to return to France, and de Gaulle also demanded the return of Lyon, which he declared was "wrongly ripped away from France" after the First Great War. Chamberlain and Papen, hoping to appease France and not provoke war, agreed and signed the Vienna Pact, which allowed France to move in and occupy the two territories.
Chamberlain returned back to London and declared "Peace in our time". However, a month after the Pact was signed, France broke the pact by invading the rest of Belgium and they also invaded the Netherlands. The powerful French military easily defeated the small opposing armies. The had broke the pact because it was agreed that no more expansion would take place, France had broken this, so the Allies began mobilizing their troops.
In a cold, clear morning of August 1, 1940, a Republic of Italy patrol reported a a massive Kingdom of Italy buildup just to the south of the border. The military was immediately sent out to the border, but the Kingdomers had already attacked, smashing through the Republic defenses. It became obvious that the Kingdom's military was far more powerful than the Republic's, so the Republic asked for assistance from the Allies. War was declared on the Axis, beginning the war.