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Modern history

The world between the wars 1919–1939

Fighting during the Spanish Civil War, 1936–39Fighting during the Spanish Civil War, 1936–39 The years between the two world wars were far from peaceful. Germany, Italy and Japan emerged dissatisfied with the peace treaties they were forced to sign after World War I and began to fight for their own interests. The world’s economy collapsed in 1929–31, while civil war broke out in Spain. Both the USA and the new Soviet Union opted out of world affairs—as far as they were able. Eventually the world was at war again, after first Japan and then Germany invaded other countries in the late 1930s.


Demonstration against the TreatyDemonstration against the Treaty

The Treaty of Versailles

The Ottoman Empire, Austria, Hungary and other nations of the Central Powers all signed separate armistice agreements. As a result of the war, the German, Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires were broken up and their ruling dynasties overthrown. In 1919 Germany signed a peace treaty with the Allied powers, called the Treaty of Versailles. The treaty forced Germany to pay 132 billion Marks (about £284 billion today) to other European nations. In Germany, bitterness about the treaty—and the economic and social chaos caused by the war—made it easier for Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party to gather support and win power in 1933.

The Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building and the Rockefeller Center in New York, together with the Golden Gate Bridge in California, were all built as part of special programmes to provide jobs for workers during the Great Depression.

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