1. What drove U.S. isolationalism?
2. Why did the U.S. not join the League of Nations?
3. How did war debts and reparations set the stage for
U.S. Foreign Policy after WWI
Americans worried about being dragged
into another foreign conflict. “We ask only to
live our own way, in friendship and sympathy
with all, in alliance with none,” declared
Senator Hiram W. Johnson in 1922. Such
sentiments led the United States to follow a
policy of partial isolationalism, or withdrawal
from world affairs, in the 1920s and 1930s.
Legacy of WWI
More than 8 million people, including more than
112,000 Americans died fighting in the Great War.
U.S. government increased in size and authority.
(Espionage and Sedition Act)
“Safe for Democracy” questioned.
Isolationalists did not want to cut off the United States
completely from the affairs of the rest of the world. They
merely wanted to avoid what Thomas Jefferson had called
“entangling alliances” that could drag the United States into
another war. Isolationalism led the United States to shun
membership in international organizations like the League
of Nations set up after World War I.
Please refer to article “Entangling Alliances”.
Senator William E. Borah of Idaho argues against
joining the League of Nations
“The whole scheme of the League of
Nations has just one ultimate power and that is
military force-the same power and the same
principle which every dictator has relied upon
in his efforts against the people when the
people were seeking greater liberty and greater
freedom, the same power which George III and
Wilhelm II made the basis of their infamous
designs….Let us leave these things-the lives of
our people, the liberty of our whole nation-in
the keeping and under the control of those
people who have brought this Republic to its
present place of prestige and power.”
By the end of WWI the Allies owed the U.S. more than
$10 billion. David Lloyd George, the British prime minister
argued against paying war debts when he stated:
“The United States did not from first to last make any
sacrifice or contribution remotely comparable to those of
her European Associates, in life, limb, money, material or
trade, towards the victory which she shared with them”.
1. What is his argument against paying war debts?
2. Do you agree with his statement? Explain.
The only way the Allies could pay their war
debts to the United States was to collect
reparations from Germany. Germany owed
$32 billion. The Germans bitterly condemned
the reparations as too harsh. The German
government responded by printing paper
money, which resulted in massive inflation and
causing the value of the German mark to
Ernest Hemingway described the extreme differences
in prices between France and Germany, an effect of
severe inflation in Germany:
“We changed some French money in the railway
station at Kehl. For 10 francs I received 670 marks. Ten
francs amounted to about 90 cents in Canadian
money. That 90 cents in lasted Mrs. Hemingway and
me for a day of heavy spending and at the end of the
day we had 120 marks left!...Kehl’s best hotel, which is
a very well turned-out place, served a five-course meal
for 120 marks, which amounts to 15 cents in our
Reparations and the Rise of Hitler
With his country near financial collapse, one
particularly embittered German WWI veteran sought
someone to blame. Adolf Hitler had survived a poison
gas attack during the war and remained convinced that
politicians, not the German army, were responsible for
Germany losing the war.
1. Fascism in Italy
Benito Mussolini helped form the Fascist Party in 1921
to combat Communism. The Fascist believed that a
military-dominated government should control all aspects of
In 1922, Mussolini with the help of the Blackshirts
(fascist army) marched on Rome and demanded power.
Mussolini was appointed by the King prime minister and
gave him dictatorial powers. He limited freedom of speech,
arrested political opponents, and restricted voting rights.
Fascism is a political movement that promotes an
extreme form of nationalism and militarism. It also
includes a denial of individual rights and dictatorial one-
party rule. “Fascism conceives of the State as an absolute
in comparison with which all individuals or groups are
relative, only to be conceived of in their relation to the
1. Which political and cultural characteristics helped make
Fascism an authoritarian system?
2. What characteristics of fascism might make it attractive to
people during times of crisis such as the Great Depression?
2. Invasion of Ethiopia
Mussolini promised to make Italy an imperial
power again. He then invaded Ethiopia. The
Ethiopian army proved no match for Italy’s airplanes
and machine guns. The U.S. reacted by passing the
neutrality acts. This lack of support led to Ethiopia’s
Stalin in the Soviet Union
1. Stalin’s creation of a Totalitarian government under
2. The Great Purge
Stalin’s creation of a Totalitarian
government under Communism.
After the death of Vladimir Lenin and driven by
ambition Stalin emerged as the Soviet Union’s main
leader in 1924. Stalin turned the Soviet Union into a
totalitarian state-a country where the government has
The Great Purge
Stalin sent over 15 million people to labor
camps after they refused to give up their land
which was turned into state-run farms. He then
used his Red Army to crush all opposition.
Stalin began a campaign to purge all perceived
enemies from the Communist party and the
Red Army. He was responsible for over 30
million deaths in the Soviet Union.
In what ways was Soviet leader Stalin a
Fear of Totalitarian
George Orwell illustrated the horrors of a
totalitarian government in his novel, 1984. The novel
depicts a world in which personal freedom and privacy
have vanished. It is a world made possible through
modern technology. Even citizens’ homes have
television cameras that constantly survey their
Hitler in Germany
1. Hitler’s Agenda and the Third Reich
1. Hitler’s Agenda
Hitler was elected chancellor of
Germany in 1932. He quickly violated
the Treaty of Versailles by building up
his military. Hitler states “The buildup
of the armed forces is the most
important precondition for…political
power.” He wanted to use this power
for the conquest of new Lebensraum
(space for expansion) in the East
(Eastern Europe and Russia). Hitler also
believed that the Aryan race was the
most superior race in the world.
Hatred of Jews, or anti-Semitism, was a key part of Nazi
ideology. Although Jews were less than 1 percent of the
population, the Nazis used them as scapegoats for all
Germany’s troubles since the war. Beginning in 1933, the
Nazis passed laws depriving Jews of most of their rights. On
the night of November 9, 1938, the Nazi mobs attacked Jews
in their homes and on the streets and destroyed thousands
of Jewish-owned buildings. This rampage signaled the start
of the process of eliminating Jews from German life.
1. Hitler’s Aggression in
In March 1936
Austria and send
troops into the
Rhineland which was
prohibited by the
Treaty of Versailles.
Hitler then turned to the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia,
where more than 3 million German speaking people lived. Hitler
demanded that Czechoslovakia turn over the region to Germany.
Czechoslovakia refused Hitler’s demand.
Munich Conference and Appeasement
Hitler and Mussolini joined
British prime minister Neville
Chamberlain and French
premier Edouard Daladier in
Munich, Germany in
September 1938. The four
leaders at the Munich
Conference signed a pact giving
Germany control of the
Why were some politicians
against appeasing Hitler?
Eight Results of Appeasement
Historians have said that appeasement:
1. let Hitler grow stronger.
2. gave Britain time to re-arm.
3. humiliated Britain – no country in central Europe ever trusted Britain again.
4. abandoned millions of people to the Nazis.
5. caused the war, by encouraging Hitler to think he could do anything.
6. gave Britain the morale high ground – when war came, Britons knew they
had done everything possible to keep the peace.
7. would never have stopped Hitler, who was determined to go to war.
8. was a fine attempt to prevent the deaths of millions of people in a war.
Close to War!!!
In March 1939 Adolf Hitler’s armies occupied all of
Czechoslovakia. Hilter then demanded to annex the
Polish port city of Danzig but the Poles refused. That
same year, Italian troops invaded Albania on April 7th.
The Axis Powers
In 1936, Germany
and Italy formed a
known as the Axis
Powers. Japan later
joined the alliance.
Several months later after the Munich Conference Hitler
takes over the rest of Czechoslovakia in March, 1939. He
then demands the Polish port city of Danzig.
Recognizing the growing threat to European security, Britain
and France announced that they would go to war if
Germany attacked Poland.
That same year, Italian troops invaded Albania on April 7th.
On September 1, 1939 Germany attacks Poland and two
days later the British and French declare war on Germany.
People would have been
even more shocked if
they had known at the
time that, in addition,
the two countries had
made a number of a
'secret protocol' agreeing
to 'spheres of influence'
in Finland, Estonia,
Poland. It amounted to
an agreement to invade
and divide the countries
of eastern Europe
between them ... with
Poland first on the list.
Stalin and Hitler agreed not to attack each other. This
shocking development came about in part because of a secret
clause in the pact in which the two nations agreed to divide
Poland between them.