The German Revolution in 1918 and 1919 is a success for the Communists who create a new government in Berlin. Rosa Luxemburg becomes the new president of the German Socialist Republic.
Versailles and the End of the Great War
Concurrent with the revolution was the armistice between Germany and the Allied powers. Germany had agreed to peace based upon American President Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points. In June 1919 the Allies present a copy to the German peace delegates, who are horrified at the punitive terms. The Allies give an ultimatum: if Germany will not sign war will resume with an invasion across the Rhine. Rosa Luxemburg was faced with a terrible dilemma peace would mean economic hardship for Germany, and she had been against the war. Luxemburg made the hard decision to reject the treaty. Her speech criticizing the terms as a plot by the "French and British Bourgeois" to destroy Germany and the publishing of the Treaty's terms by the press, rallied the German people and army to defend their country.
Meanwhile, the Allies although boosted by the offensives of 1918, were facing unrest at home. The American congress demanded Wilson send American forces home, having accomplished what they had set out to do, and wanting to stay further out of "Europe's war". Britain faced massive unrest towards the war and an economy teetering on collapse. France despite the unrest pledged to continue the war alone. That summer French armies were harassed by guerrilla groups every step they took across the Rhine. The German army finally counterattacked the French at Stuttgart and forced the French armies to retreat to the frontier. The French government unwilling to endure more war on its soil renegotiated peace with Germany based on the 14 points, Germany accepted. This last phase of the war had made the army, reluctant to support the new Socialist government it's ardent supporter, since Luxemburg upheld German honor in fighting for a just peace.
The Roaring Twenties
With the end of the war Luxemburg turned to the German economy restructuring it in Socialist fashion. She had legislation passed protecting the rights of workers, the freedom of religion, and giving all German citizens the right to vote. Under her measures unemployment nearly vanished and many returning veterans from the Great War found meaningful work. She also added jobs for public works and the arts. By the end of the decade Germany had returned to the prosperity of pre-war years. Rosa also decreased the size of the army, a measure which would haunt Germany in the future. Luxemburg maintained good relations with the Soviet Union, despite some ideological differences, and also restored relations with the United States.
The Great Depression and The Rise of Fascism
Not all countries in Europe followed Germany's example. Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, took power in 1923 pledging a nationalist alternative to Germany. Fascism became also popular in France where it was driven by disillusionment by the outcome of the Great War. In 1929 the Stock Market crash on Wall Street began the Great Depression. In America the crisis lead to the election of Franklin Delano Roosevelt as president who began his New Deal programs. In France however the Action Francaise party rose to power under the leadership of Charles de Gaulle who began a series of both public works and rearmament. The growth of France's army was in direct violation of the League of Nations, which De Gaulle ignored. Both Mussolini and De Gaulle began a series of territorial expansions in Africa, France conquering Liberia and Italy taking Ethiopia. Both Fascist dictators aided Francisco Franco's rebellion in Spain, while Germany aided the Republicans. De Gaulle also used this opportunity to annex Catalonia to France. The situation reaches a crisis in 1938 when France wished to annex the French speaking portion of Belgium. Both Britain and Germany objected to this but believed they had reached an agreement with De Gaulle, giving him southern Belgium if France would not make any more territorial acquisitions. When French forces attacked and occupied Northern Belgium, Germany and Britain reluctantly declared war. France then invaded Luxemburg and Holland, overrunning the rest of the Low Countries.