After WW1 people hoped for a better future.
In the years between the wars, people's early hopes for a better world changed with the miseries of the 'Great Depression' and the growing fear of war with Germany. More
A League of Nations was created to promote peace.
The League of Nations was created in January 1920. The first members were Britain, France, Italy and Japan. The US senate failed to ratify (agree) the treaty, so the US never joined. In 1926, Germany joined the League, after a pact in 1925 agreeing its borders with France and Belgium. At its peak (1934-5) the League had 58 members. More
The formation of the USSR saw a growing fear of communism
The Communist Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, formed in 1922 following the Russian Civil War, saw the development of a state in which land and goods were collectively owned, and state controlled. The Comintern, an international Communist organization, founded in Moscow in 1919, said it would cause communist revolutions all over the world. More
The 1920s saw the rise of fascism in Europe, first in Italy and then in Germany.
These fascist regimes, seen by some as an answer to communism, emphasised the importance of national unity. There was a focus on masculinity, youth and aggression and the idea of racial superiority. They believed that individual needs were subordinate to the needs of society as a whole, as defined and controlled by one absolute leader. More
In Britain, the 1920s were years of relative prosperity.
The 1920s were sometimes known as the Jazz Age. It was a time when people, particularly the young, were coming to terms with the consequences of war, whilst pushing for greater freedom to live their lives in a different way from previous generations. More
It was also a time of social change with the collapse of traditional values.
Young people in the 20s wanted to have fun and put all the sorrow of the war behind them. The light-hearted, devil-may-care attitude of rich young people, who attended drunken cocktail parties and nightclubs unchaperoned, shocked the older generation. The frivolity, however, began to decline with the depression and darkening political climate of the 1930s. More
Women could now vote and were enjoying more freedom.
In 1918, women over 30 obtained the vote. In 1928, the right to vote was extended to everyone over 21 years of age. Women were becoming more involved in business and politics, although their numbers were still very small. More
Families became smaller and spent more time together.
Shorter working hours meant family members saw more of each other. Play and education were a reality for poor children for the first time and homelife became more important, including set meal times. Despite women having more freedom, the ideal was still to marry and raise a family. More
New methods of communication changed people's listening habits.
The period saw the first public radio broadcasts and the formation of the British Broadcasting Company (BBC). By the late 1930s, most people listened to the radio and some homes had a telephone. The quality of sound recording and gramophones (record players) improved and, in 1925, John Logie Baird invented the first working television system, although TV was not to become widespread until the postwar era. More
Access to electricity was causing a domestic revolution.
The rapid electrification of urban areas saw a whole range of new electrical appliances for the home. These gadgets were advertised as 'domestic helpers' that would make the home cleaner and safer and reduce the need for servants. However, with more gadgets came higher expectations regarding cleanliness and food preparation, and an increase in the tasks necessary to maintain the household. More
Fashion became more affordable and women's clothes changed greatly.
Cheaper materials saw fashionable clothes becoming available to more people. Female clothes became looser and more shapeless in fit. The chest was flattened and the waist disappeared. From 1926, for a brief period, skirts got shorter - to the knee - shocking the older generation. Hair became shorter and shorter. The 1930s saw a longer, more tailored look. More
Overall people were fitter and better fed than before, with the exception of the unemployed.
Britain had serious unemployment in the 1920s and poverty still ruined the lives of many people. This caused a lot of unrest that led to the General Strike of 1926 and the rise in popularity of the Labour party. More
In 1929, the Wall Street Crash led to a great depression and high unemploment.
In 1929, the American stock market plummeted (an event known as the Wall Street Crash). The effects were felt around the world, and led to the Great Depression, which lasted throughout most of the 1930s. More
In 1932, three million people in Britain were unemployed.
This meant that a quarter of the workforce was out of work. There was hunger and unrest. In 1936, men from Jarrow, Tyneside, marched all the way to London to try to find jobs and show up the problems of the unemployed. Things only improved slowly until WW2. More
Even so, many rich people still lived on a very grand scale.
The rich still had servants, and often owned both a town and a country house. They still expected to be treated with respect. They would order their groceries by telephone and dress for dinner. However, a new middle class was emerging that would see great changes. More
Cinemas became popular, showing the new 'talking movies'.
In 1927, Warner Brothers produced the first talking movie, The Jazz Singer. Before this, all films had been silent. The first all-colour, all-talking movie 'On with the Show' was produced in 1929. People queued to see the latest releases. More
Art Deco introduced new styles and a new material, Bakelite, saw the start of the plastic revolution.
Art Deco was the style of design and architecture that marked the era. Its influence was reflected in everything from car design to domestic objects. A new mouldable material, Bakelite (the first synthetic plastic), came onto the market and Bakelite became known as "The Material of a Thousand Uses". It was used for radios, clocks, jewellery, door handles and light switches. The plastic era had begun. More
New modes and models of transport continued to develop.
The Period saw the first Transatlantic aircraft flights. In the 1920s, great airships carried commercial passengers from city to city in comfort and style. By 1939, the motor-bus was replacing trams for public transport. Great liners crossed the Atlantic and firms like Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Sunbeam and Daimler were making luxury cars. The most popular car, however, remained the Ford. Over 4 million were sold worldwide by 1921. More
Members of British colonies began to resist British rule and Ireland became an independent country.
The Irish War of Independence (1919-1921) saw Ireland gain independence in 1922, followed by the Irish Civil War (1922-23). In 1931, the Statute of Westminister created the "Commonwealth of Nations" consisting of Canada, New Zealand, Australia, the Irish Free State, and South Africa. These nations were given autonomy but were linked to Britain through trade. More
Uncontrolled building saw legislation for the first Green Belts.
During the 1930s, there was rapid building of private houses. This resulted in uncontrolled ribbon development along main roads into the countryside. These soon became filled in, with the expanding city engulfing the once individual communities. Green Belt policy was pioneered in the 1930s, after pressure from conservation organizations to protect the countryside. More
In the 1930s, Hitler became absolute ruler in Germany
In the early 1930s, the Nazi party gained in strength. Adolph Hitler became Chancellor in 1933 and, on the death of Hindenburg, in August 1934, the sole leader of Germany. With Hitler's rise to power also came the suppression of civil liberties and press freedom, a boycott on Jewish businesses and the rebuilding of Germany's military power.
Germany began a policy of expansionism that would lead to war.
Hitler wanted to form a single German nation state. He began with the Rhineland, then the forced unification with Austria, and then the annexation of the Sudeten region in Bohemia (an area of Czechoslavakia that had a big German population). Concerned leaders met at Munich in 1938, and Hitler promised to take no more aggressive actions. More
Politicians looked for a peaceful settlement with Germany
In Britain, very few people believed that any country would voluntarily return to the horrors of war. Some felt that the Treaty of Versailles had treated Germany harshly. The land that Hitler had taken so far was all of German heritage and many thought this would be the limit of German expansionism. Returning from Munich, Neville Chamberlain announced: "I believe it is peace for our time". More
Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia and the count down to war began.
In 1939, Germany seized the rest of Czechoslovakia and war was inevitable. British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, responded to the occupation by giving a guarantee to Poland that Britain would go to war against Germany if Germany attacked Poland. In the tense days before WW2, people began to realise the possible consequences of a war in which civilians could be heavily targeted. More
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