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The Neuer Kurs: 1890-1898The 1890's was defined in German foreign policy by naval expansion under Emperor Wilhelm II, he had served in the Dutch-German War in 1888, and saw how underwhelmingly powered the German Navy really was. Their admirals were under skilled, their sailors under trained, and their ships were old and rusty. Wilhelm took it upon himself to oversee the massive overhaul of the German Navy, and undertook the substantial effort required to do so. He pushed for the funding to create a new class of battleships which he named the Friedrich III-class after his deceased father. The ships were built in Germany's northern harbors, but also saw that Denmark stood as a massive gap between the German ports, and also saw as Britain continued to build on its world-class navy. Although both of these facts alarmed him, he saw little in his power in the 1890's to change these facts. To such ends he also oversaw the expansion and revitalization of the German Army, which was seen by many to have begun lagging behind the British and French Armies.
But as Germany's foreign policy continued to morph, Wilhelm II moved to unite the country domestically following the end of the Bismarck era and the rapid industrialization of Germany that continued on until the end of the 19th century. Wilhelm saw that Germany was becoming disunited and knew that if Germany were to pursue international glory, it would need to clean up its case at home. In 1889 Germany was marred in domestics with a series of nationwide strikes, Bismarck had requested that Wilhelm authorize the use of the German Army to suppress the strikes and the Social Democratic Party of Germany who supported it. Wilhelm stated that "I do not wish to stain my reign with the blood of my subjects." It is because of this, coupled with the Dutch-German War's failure, that caused Wilhelm II to get Bismarck fired as Chancellor in 1889. Thus Leo von Caprivi was appointed Chancellor in 1890 and began getting to work to employ Germany's Neuer Kurs (New Course) in policy - overseeing the liberalization of international trade, the mending of labor relations with unions and the SPD, and the bettering of relations with Britain.
But now Caprivi had to deal with a balance of political powers among the major forces of the German Empire: the SPD and unions, the Conservatives and pro-colonials, the Progressives and National Liberals, the Catholic Center Party, and the growing influences of the military and businessmen. Von Caprivi knew that to try to appease one group would only displease another and so worked to gain widespread political support in the Reichstag before he worked on domestic reforms. He worked to end the strikes of 1889 by leading delegations between workers and business, signed the Anglo-German Agreement in July 1890 with Britain which allowed Germany control over the Helgoland and Britain control over Zanzibar, and repealing multiple laws under Bismarck which eased tensions with the Catholics. Although the Conservatives and protectionists were angered, Caprivi gained enough support to continue being Chancellor and work on domestic reforms.
In 1892 Caprivi passed an educational bill through the Reichstag which allowed for denominational school boards which gained him more support from the Progressives and National Liberals. He successfully helped the Centre Party to re-integrate into the Reichstag and federal German government at-large, gaining their parliamentary support. He passed several military bills between 1892 and 1894 which earned him the support of a small denomination of Conservatives by increasing the size of the Navy and continuing German conscription, but Caprivi continued to isolate the agrarian protectionist populations. He focused in 1894 on labor reform, allowing for collective bargaining to be used to represent workers in disputes and allowing the SPD to gain more support. He also put work into the 1894 St. Petersburg Agreement which opened up trade with Russia and eventually lead to the flocking of German agrarians to the German Reich Party, which was conservative, protectionist and agrarian. Eventually foreign tensions were eased, but the German Reich Party continued to gain ground in Germany after the Conservative Party began to look weak in the face of the pro-von Caprivi coalition that had formed in the Reichstag. But as the Reich Party began to grow in power, von Caprivi knew he had to introduce electoral reform to keep the Chancellorship.
The Social Democratic Party of Germany was part of a coalition of parties that supported von Caprivi's reforms, but they would continuously receive a plurality of the popular vote in federal elections and never receiving an appropriate number of seats. This was due to the fact that the electoral shape of Germany's seats was biased towards Conservatives and the more established parties like the Liberals. So in 1894, the Electoral Representation Act passed the Reichstag which allowed for a non-partisan electoral commission to form representative districts. Thus, despite the power gained by 1894 by the German Reich Party, when the election came along, the pro-von Caprivi coalition remained in power, with significant gains for the SDP and Progressives being made. But the Conservatives remained a strong force against von Caprivi, and he eventually was forced to concede acts in 1895 and 1896 would tightened trade laws with Britain and Russia. But as an economic recession, a part of the Long Depression of the late 19th century hit in the Panic of 1896, von Caprivi passed several reform laws which strengthened Germany's foreign trade and eventually reformed the stock exchange in Frankfurt to prevent another recession.
Between 1897 and 1898, von Caprivi's last two years in office, he continued to control substantial popular and legislative support in Germany, accomplishing numerous new domestic reforms in education and internal trade. But as his health deteriorated, he begun to lessen his role in politics, and eventually resigned on October 26, 1898 after eight productive years in office. His Neuer Kurs turned Germany around as a foreign power and in domestic stability, leaving von Caprivi with a substantial legacy. He had overseen an era which saw the rise of the German Chancellor as primary leader of the German government, especially in foreign affairs, which saw him gain more and more power from the Emperor, who began to retain a much more military and symbolic role in German society. Von Caprivi died on February 6, 1899, which caused the German Emperor Wilhelm II to order a national day of mourning and remembrance for the dead former-Chancellor. Von Caprivi was given a state funeral on February 20, 1899, and attended in Berlin by thousands of his supporters, along with numerous MdR's from both the pro- and anti-Caprivi coalitions of the Reichstag.
The "Calm" Before the Storm: 1899-1909
In the fifteen years after the death of Chancellor von Caprivi and the beginning of World War I, a series of international events occurred which set the stage for one of the biggest wars in history. First on July 29, 1900, 56 year-old King of Italy, Umberto I is assassinated by Italian-born anarchist Gaetano Bresci. Umberto was highly disliked by the far-left forces of Italy, especially by anarchists, and was frowned upon for his support of the Bava-Beccaris massacre in Milan in May 1898, which was a crackdown on a series of riots and strikes in the city. While Germany was being led in a progressive direction, Germany's greatest historical ally was being ruled by a Conservative ruler who had little regard for civil liberties and oversaw a period of social upheaval as socialist ideas and colonial sentiment spread and clashed throughout the country. In pursuit of a colonial empire Umberto I had ordered the First Italo-Ethiopian War in 1895 which turned out to be disastrous for the poorly prepared Italian Army.
Umberto I was succeeded by his 30 year-old son Victor Emmanuel III, who, unlike his father, was much more of a reformer and had a commitment to constitutional freedoms. Originally leaving much of his duties as ruler of Italy to his Prime Ministers, Victor Emmanuel III grew out of his shyness and worked with his cabinets to help Italy. He would often clash with his early Prime Ministers and would eventually garner more foreign policy power for himself, while being respectful of the powers of Parliament and the Prime Minister. But his early reign saw a battle over parliamentary and monarchical power go on, eventually resulting in the ability to nominate the Prime Minister of Italy being taken away from the King in 1904. Eventually the King accepted his place in the government and began to work with the Prime Minister to reform Italy and its policies.
Then came the Boxer Rebellion, when in 1899 the Righteous Harmony Society of China rose up against the pro-Western government and the Western powers who had gained more and more control over China's domestic affairs. China's Qing Dynasty gave in to the anti-Western and anti-Christian sentiment and declared war on the Western powers with the support of the conservatives in her court in June 1900, forcing the foreign legations of multiple Western countries to retreat to the Legation Quarter of Peking and wait for foreign support. The International Legation was besieged for 55 days while the Chinese government sought for war and peace with the Westerners. Eventually those pro-war and pro-peace factions on the Chinese side broke out into fighting, and opened the stage for the foreign intervention by Western powers.
The Eight-Nation Alliance landed in China in 1900 with 20,000 soldiers from Britain, Austria-Hungary, Japan, France, Germany, the United States, Russia, and Italy breaking the Chinese siege of the International Legation after several failed prior foreign expeditions. Westerners gained control over the Taku Forts in mid-June and opened up the path for the intervention to run through Tianjin and eventually Peking. After the Legation was
Relieved in August of 1900, Peking was captured, the Chinese Army had been destroyed, the Boxers defeated and the Emperor captured. While the two sides worked out an international agreement to end the rebellion, Russia invaded Manchuria and swept the Chinese out of the area like a Spring breeze. The resulting Boxer Protocol, signed on September 7, 1901 between the Eight-Nation Alliance and the Qing Dynasty. The Protocol forced China to ban all anti-foreigner organizations, to recognize foreign control over the International Legation, resulted in the destruction of the Taku Forts in Tianjin, and included the paying of a 450 million tael (67 million pound) indemnity to the Western powers. Germany was personally apologized to by the Qing Emperor for the assassination of German diplomat Baron Clemens von Ketteler.
Meanwhile, in the aftermath of the Spanish-American War of 1898, Spain began a serious decline as a major world power and the United States began to take a place among the Great Powers of the world. As they became a power of consequence under the Presidency of William McKinley and his successor, Theodore Roosevelt, the United States amplified its growing prowess with the Great White Fleet, which travelled the world between 1907 and 1909. Germany and Britain fought for its favor in the early 1900s as they knew any war between the two could be decided at sea and in the Atlantic, which would give a huge advantage to the side with the United States. But even as they tilted towards better relations with Britain, Germany's assets remained a constant reminder of what the other side had to offer and had against them, and so the United States continued in its policy of making no foreign alliances with either Britain or Germany.
But another world power grew as the new century dawned, the Japanese Empire which had been growing in power since the Meiji Restoration began in 1868. Their homeland developed into an industrial powerhouse which required much foreign trade but was defended by an increasingly powerful army and navy. In 1894-1895 the Japanese fought a war with China which would give them control over Korea, Taiwan and the Yellow Sea. The Japanese sought to establish themselves as the masters of a new Asia for Asians and by Asians and to expel the influence of Western Powers on a more successful level than the Boxers. On February 8, 1904 Japan declared war on Russia in their next step to continental domination, while Russia wanted control of an all-year port in the Pacific, Japan wanted complete control over Korea and Manchuria, along with the credit of defeating a European power, and so war was declared.As the war began many considered Russia to be the likely victor, after all Russia was a massive, European country fighting against a small Asian country who had little to its credit besides beating China. But the Japanese began to win land battles, especially at the Yalu River in April 1904, and Nanshan in May. Port Arthur, the port which this war was originally being fought for, was captured on January 2, 1905 after a five-month siege, and in the few small naval battles that occurred around this time the Japanese had come out slightly as the victors. Eventually between February 20-March 10 1905, the Japanese slaughtered the Russian Army at the Battle of Mukden in central Manchuria, winning them Manchuria and driving the Russian Army into a retreat. Then after the Russian Pacific Fleet was put out of action, the combined Russian fleets navigated the world to the East to fight the Japanese, and on the night of May 27-28 passed through the Straits of Tsushima. After the Japanese discovered the Russians as they attempted to slip through quietly, the decisive battle of the war was fought. Seven of the eight Russian battleships were destroyed, with 14 other Russian ships sunk and seven more captured and six disarmed. The Japanese had only lost three torpedo boats in the battle, and this forced the intervention of the United States President Theodore Roosevelt, who brought the two to the peace table in Kittery, Maine at the Portsmouth Naval Yards.
This was a huge turn around in world powers in the Pacific, Japan was now a considerable power in the Pacific, Russia was humiliated, and the world's view of Asians was turned on its head. The Russian Revolution of 1905 began soon afterwards with the Soviet revolutionaries supported by Vladimir Lenin and other communist and anarchists. Eventually the revolution lead to massive Russian general strikes and even a revolution in the Russian territory of Poland that brought about great social and political upheaval. In 1906, Tsar Nicholas II approved the Russian Constitution of 1906, which officially established Russia as a constitutional monarchy with the State Duma as its new legislature. Eventually the Russian government prevailed and the new constitution allowed for a federal election to be held soon afterwards. The Socialist revolutionaries mostly went underground again, and failed to gain a large number of seats in the 1906 election. But as Nicholas II continued to garner power and dismissed three legislatures by the end of 1907, when he received a conservative assembly, he drew the ire of revolutionaries, setting the stage for 1917.
Lastly, on October 5, 1908 the semi-autonomous Turkish province of Bulgaria declared its independence from the Ottoman Turkish Empire in the Bulgarian traditional capital of Tranovo. Prince Ferdinand of Bulgaria was declared Tsar of this new Kingdom in the aftermath of the Young Turk Revolution which had required the Sultan of the Empire to enact a new Constitution for the Ottoman Empire. The result was that Austria-Hungary annexed Bosnia-Herzegovina, which violated the Treaty of Berlin of 1878 that had ended the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878, and then by the Greek annexation of Crete, both of which required an amending of the treaty in 1909. This marked a downturn in the power of the Ottoman Empire, which would ultimately ignite into war in 1912, igniting the European powder keg.
The Powder Keg Ignites: 1910-1914
In 1911 Italy and Turkey went to war, although both nations were allies of Germany, the Germans could do little to stop this slug fest. After a series of Italian victories occurred in Libya, the Battle of Rhodes in May 1912 ended the war, and a peace was negotiated by Germany that ended the war on October 18, 1912. The Ottomans were forced to cede their territories in Libya to Italy, as well as the Dodecanese Islands in the Aegean Sea, which humiliated the Ottomans, and seemed like the perfect moment to strike for the Balkan League. The Balkan League, made up of Bulgaria, Serbia, Montenegro, and Greece, declared war on the Ottoman on October 8, 1912, beginning "the war to begin the war to end all wars" as it would become known.
The Ottomans were fighting for the life of their empire in 1912 and raised an army of 340,000 soldiers to defeat the Balkan League, who put together a combined force of 750,000 soldiers into their armies. But as the Ottoman supply and support lines were stretched to their maximum extent in the fighting, the defense of Ottoman Europe did not go well. They were being easily defeated by the Greeks in Macedonia, the Bulgarians in Thrace, and the Serbs continued to defeat the Ottomans in Kosovo. At the Battle of Kirk Kilisse on October 24, 1912, the Bulgarians destroyed the Ottoman Army and earned them the control of Thrace in Europe, and further humiliated them in the fall at the Battle of Lule Burgas. Eventually with the Bulgarian-Serbian siege of Adrianople November 1912-March 1913, the Ottoman's historical center of victory in the days of the Byzantines fell to their enemies and Thrace lost. Eventually after several losses to the Bulgarians and Greeks at sea, the Ottomans' attempts to win at sea were dashed, and so they requested German support for their Army. Germany had again turned a blind eye to Ottoman losses, and ultimately pleaded for the Ottomans to sue for peace.
The Peace of London ended the war on May 30, 1913 with the majority of the Ottoman territory in the Balkans being ceded to the Balkan nations to divide it up amongst themselves. But then as the Bulgarians sought the land they were guaranteed by the Treaty of San Stefano in 1878, they wished for the largest chunk of the Ottoman lands, but the Greeks, Serbs and Montenegrins refused this. The result was Greece's gain of Greek Macedonia, Serbia's attempts to seize the remainder of Macedonia, and substantial gains for Montenegro, which had put relatively little into the Balkan War. After Bulgaria was angered by this, the Bulgarians went for all-or-nothing and declared war upon their former allies in the Balkan League. This war seemed able to go either way as Bulgaria's post-First Balkan War Army consisted of over 500,000 soldiers, almost as big as the other Balkan countries combined.The Second Balkan War went poorly for the Bulgarians; they were defeated by the Greeks at Kilkis-Lahanas and Doiran, and by the Serbs and Montenegrins at Bregalnica, which drew in the intervention of Romania. Eventually the pressure built on Bulgaria enough that it seemed that the empire would simply collapse under the weight of enemy armies. They requested the intervention of either Russia or Germany into the war, but Russia refused and Germany would only offer its help in diplomatically ending the conflict. Luckily Germany managed to talk the Ottomans into not entering the war, but did request that they mobilize in the case that they needed to intervene. By late July the Balkan League had invaded parts of the Kingdom of Bulgaria itself, forcing the Bulgarians to sue for peace. Germany was now used along with Russia in the negotiations, which resulted in the signing of the Treaty of Bucharest on August 10, 1913. Bulgaria was forced to give up some border areas to Romania, the rest of Macedonia to Serbia, and other minor gains in territory for Greece. Germany had offered the Bulgarians support financially after the war, securing Bulgaria as an ally in the future war to come. But more importantly, Serbia now felt confident in its ability to fight and win a war, and more importantly to pursue its goals of a single Yugoslav nation.
World War I
On June 28, 1914, Prince Charles was traveling through Sarajevo with his wife Zita of Bourbon-Parma after his uncle Franz Ferdinand rejected a visit to the opening of a hospital. Gavrilo Princip, a 19 year-old Yugoslav nationalist attempted to assassinate Charles with a bomb to further the goals of the Black Hand organization in making Serbia independent of the influence of Austria-Hungary. Ultimately he and his friends failed to kill Charles with a bomb, and later when Charles' car stalled along a Sarajevo street, he attempted a second assassination with a gun which mortally wounded both Charles and Zita, but was arrested soon after. Ultimately Princep and his comrades were arrested tried, and as Princep was not old enough to be given the death penalty, was sentenced to 20 years in prison, where he ultimately died of tuberculosis.
In July 1914 the Austria-Hungarian Empire issued an ultimatum to the Serbian government, demanding they hand over the members of the Black Hand to them, apologize for the assassination, and accept an investigation into the events. But rather than submit to foreign will, the Serbs said no and were then backed diplomatically by the Russian Empire. Austria-Hungary was backed by Germany and Italy, and Serbia and Russia then were backed by France and eventually, Britain. Both sides began to prepare and mobilize for a war that now seemed inevitable. Though many people had their assumptions about the war that was to come, no one could imagine the scale and extent that the war would be fought for and to. Thus on July 28, 1914 Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia and from that point on all bets were off for the war to end all wars.
See: World War I
With the end of World War I the entirety of world politics was flipped on its head. Now facing staggering reparation payments, the economies of Britain and France tanked, paving the way for significant political changes around the world. After World War I, a khaki election was held in Britain on December 14, the first of such elections in the history of Britain without Ireland. Many Brits disavowed David Lloyd George's National Liberal government, and instead voted in the Labour Party into government for the first time. The Labour government made William Adamson Prime Minister, and he subsequently chose a largely Labour cabinet. The French held a legislative election on November 16 and 30 in 1919, ending with the French Section of the Workers' International gaining power from the center-right National Bloc, which had run the nation during World War I. This became the first time the FSOTWI became the dominant party of France, even though it had only existed for 14 years by this point. The Social Democratic Party of Germany, meanwhile, continued to remain in power after the war, winning a majority in the Reichstag in the 1919 federal election.
However, in Russia things were going in a far less electoral direction as the Bolsheviks under Vladimir Lenin began to impose the will of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union across Eastern Europe. While they did not achieve much success in the new nations Germany was creating across Eastern Europe, they did built up an iron fist in Russia, Central Asia and the Caucasus. The Ottomans, in their own period of political turmoil, turned a blind eye as the Red Army under Leon Trotsky seized the Caucasus countries. The USSR established control over the area and organized several new socialist republics: Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. These joined the Russian Soviet Socialist Republic in the union, while the forces of the Red Army also attempted to win back control over Finland. However, as Finland was also supported directly by the Germans, whose support allowed the Finns to defeat the Red Army in their war of independence between 1918 and 1921. Finland, also made out of Germany's eastern land that it took from Russia, stood well by itself, but the Germans intervened simply to make sure that the Russians were defeated. These joined Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Belarus, Poland, and the Ukraine as new nations Germany created out of former Russian land.
The "Roaring" Twenties
With France and Britain's economies in tatters after the war, the French scrambled to make their payments while the British government made an attempt to keep the economy balanced with the reparation payments. The British were able to ease the weight of the payments by using their empire's vast colonial wealth, while France's economy buckled under the weight of payments. France, unlike Britain, had had its own homeland seized after the war, Provence was taken from France and made into a Central Power-controlled protectorate. The Treaty of Versailles promised the area back once France fully repaid its reparations. However, as the French government moved to pay these reparations, they also struggled greatly and their currency was forced into a state of hyper-inflation. This made the payments harder to make, and made the Franc essentially worthless. Much of the blame for this economic failure was placed on the ruling center-left government of France, which tried to push the country into a democratic socialist direction. However, the forces of the right, particularly the far-right, began to react as hyperinflation took place, and the main force of the right soon became the Mouvement Franciste.
The Mouvement Franciste was lead by originally Charles Maurras, a counter-revolutionary and far-right political theorist who established the organization in 1919 as a political organization of French veterans from World War I. In 1921 it became a major political force after Benito Mussolini, an Italian political theorist, issued his Fascist Manifesto, which the party adopted. Mussolini was eventually arrested by the Italian Police for his militant actions in trying to rally far-right forces in Italy. However, his ideology, which also became known as national socialism, was made to fuse Mussolini's socialist ideas with his nationalist tendencies after serving in the Italian Army in World War I. Maurras was able to rally his own forces in France, establish the Mouvement Franciste as a strong political force in the country, and then lead them in October 1922 in the March on Paris.
This political movement started on October 22, 1922, when members of the party began to rally far-right forces from across France to stage a coup. On October 24, Maurras stated in a speech to a crowd of 12,000 in Nancy that "we have but one intention: to rule France." In this speech, which became known as the October Declaration, he also called for the people of France to seize back their country and take it back from the socialist government. With this speech the forces the Mouvement Francaise, backed by some of the more radical members of the military, seized power in France. On October 29, 1922, Maurras arrived triumphantly in Paris, with a crowd of 60,000 greeting him as he was driven into the city on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. He called for a snap election from the government, which was granted and held on April 6, 1923. In this election, the combined forces of the military and the far-right militants under Maurras made sure that the election went the way of the Mouvement Franciste. With this legislative success, 374 of 581 seats in France's Chamber of Deputies, and Maurras himself was elected in a constituency near Paris. He was then nominated for Prime Minister, which the President then approved and allowed for the Mouvement Franciste to take control of the government. Eventually Alexander Millerand, President of France, was forced to give up more and more power to Maurras, who was named Le Chef ("the leader/chief") in 1924.
The 1920's became known eventually as the "Roaring Twenties," which was meant to be both a satiric term on the relative militancy of a time after a large war, and a reference to the differing levels of peacefulness within countries. Other far-right forces attempted to manifest in other European countries like Germany and Italy, but failed to establish themselves as major political forces. Following Mussolini's arrest in Italy in 1921, the Italian government began a crack-down on the country's far-right forces. The size of the Army was decreased as to go along with a period of economic prosperity to create a feeling of ease and low tensions in the country. Meanwhile, however, in Germany, especially in Bavaria, far-right forces fed off of the nationalism that was rampant in the victorious country along with the suspicions of the SDP government. The premier of these groups was a burgeoning political party based in Bavaria called the National Socialist German Workers' Party. Lead by Karl Harrer and Anton Drexler, this party began to build up a steady following, and with modest support it was able to evade the German government's crack-down on extremist political parties.
But on November 8, 1923, the NSDAP, lead by their new leader, an Austrian-born anti-semite orator, Adolf Hitler, the group launched the Beer Hall Putsch. This small rebellion in Munich, Bavaria, was an attempt to overthrow the local government of the city and to spark a far-right revolt in Bavaria. The NSDAP, supported by its paramilitary wing, the Sturmabteilung or SA, seized control of several government offices in the city, but failed ultimately to gain complete control of the city. Lasting for a whole week, eventually the rebellion was crushed when the Government of Bavaria brought in a force of 4,500 German soldiers under Oberstleutnant (Lieutenant Colonel) Fedor von Bock. As is became clear that support for the NSDAP would not come from around Bavaria, they slowly surrendered their gains in the city, and the party's leader, Adolf Hitler, was captured on November 15. With the failure of the Beer Hall Putsch, the federal German government reacted by declaring paramilitary action and certain far-right organizations, including the NSDAP, illegal. Hitler, along with his fellow party leaders Ernest Röhm and Rudolf Hess, were tried in federal court for their treason, and the trials became symbolic for the the defeat of far-right forces in post-World War I Germany. Ultimately the party's leadership, including Hitler, Röhm, and Hess, were sentenced to death and with their death died a movement.
Internal peace did not last in the land of Germany's allies either. In June 1923, the Austro-Hungarian Crisis , a four-year civil war in Austria-Hungary lead to the replacement of the Austro-Hungarian Empire with the United States of Greater Austria. This new country was lead by now King Ferdinand II of Austria, who now held an entirely ceremonious role in his country, with much of the power being transferred to the office of Prime Minister, who presided over a bicameral legislature, made up of the lower house, the Council of People, and the upper house, the Council of States. The new state brought about peace in the war-torn nation as the government moved in to aid the ailing parts of the country. Meanwhile, in the Ottoman Empire, the Republican People's Party, lead by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, took hold of the country's legislature in a 1920 election. Ataturk came to power in the backdrop of tragedy, as the military had become part of a genocide of the Armenian people. The massacre, the first to ever be called "genocide," lead to the death of 1,500,000 people. In the end, a nation already sickened of fighting and death elected Ataturk, who promised in his campaign to rebuild the Empire economically and to bring peace to the divided nation. He was opposed by the Turkish National Party, a far-right party that not only denied the existence of the genocide, but also wished to see the country further divided along national lines. In the end the RPP won out in elections and Ataturk was declared the first Prime Minister of the Ottoman Empire after a series of political reforms in 1919.