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Shadow of the Dictators: TimeFrame AD 1925-1950

de Time-Life Books

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1920's, 1930's, 1940's. Great depression, China, India, World War II, Africa, Great Britain, Cold War, France, Germany, Hitler, Italy, Japan, Mussolini, Nanjing (Nanking), religion, Soviet Union, Stalin, effects of World War I, more.
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We so quickly forget, or the memories are dimmed with distraction, that the world was once dominated by ideologies of race-hatred fed by dictators who were themselves above (and below) all principles -- of either a secular or sacred nature.

On Black Thursday, October 24, 1927, a panic gripped Wall Street. The U.S. President Herbert Hoover responded by announcing that "The fundamental business of the country is on a sound and prosperous basis." {1}

While the Cause of the Great Depression is still debated, there is no question that thousands of investors were borrowing heavily to acquire stock. {1; investment bankers were marketing new "products" for investors, including hedge funds, credit default swaps, and mortgage-backed securities). With the collapse of financial confidence in worthless investments, some of the largest companies slid into bankruptcy, and the collapse affected millions of workers who were laid off.

By 1933, 13 million Americans were unemployed, with no safety nets. The Great Plains was turned into a Dust Bowl and a mass migration of starving farmer to cities increased the burdens of the urban destitute.

One of the few industrial nations to escape the Great Depression was Stalin's isolationist Soviet Union. However, its citizens were suffering from the deprivations resulting from the First Five-Year Plan. Political extremism flourished everywhere.

A mounting tide of outrage against Wall Street manipulation and un-policed capitalist excesses spread around the world. Fascism became the medicine the oligarchs used to cure the protests. Workers and miners were attacked and killed by police in running battles. {13}

1. Storm Clouds over Europe.

"On June 13, 1934 Adolf Hitler flew to Venice on his first foreign visit as chancellor of Germany." He wanted to counter an alliance between France and the USSR, by making treaty with Benito Mussolini, whose popularity was at an all-time high. The Duce and Der Fuhrer thought of themselves as embodiments of the States which they had seized, fabricating heroic images, and killing their opponents. The bad character and vision of these thugs is recounted. They out-did each other in making demands of others' liberties.

Japan seemed to be heading toward parliamentary democracy until in the early 1930's, the Depression brought economic ruin. In 1931, Imperial Army officers provoked an incident and seized Manchuria from China. They assassinated parliamentary opponents, and dedicated themselves to "bushido". Japan launched a full-scale attack on China in 1935. By 1940, Japan joined with Germany and Italy in a tripartite pact -- basically dividing up the world.{39}

In 1936, a civil war erupted in Spain. the ideologies dividing Europe were now formally opposed. Hitler and Mussolini sent troops and weapons in to support the Falangists led by Francisco Franco, who in turn sought to unite the army with the Church against the Republican government. None of Europe's democratic governments responded to the pleas of the Spanish Republic. {41} However, the USSR sent aircraft, tanks, and "comrades". By 1939, almost 1 million Spaniards were dead, and the nation was shattered by the conflict, under Franco's control. {41}

The dishonorable school-boy tricks of Hitler concerning Alsace, the Rhineland, Sudentenland, Czechoslavakia, and Poland -- lies, extreme distortion, infantile petulance, bullying -- are all exampled. The secret protocol signed with Stalin for the division of Poland is documented. The Germans set the stage for war, while Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain was assured he could boast of achieving "peace in our time" with the Munich Pact. {42}

In Germany, generals who had witnessed and suffered trench warfare in WWI, had devised the use of mobile armor and air power. Blitzkrieg. On September 1, 1939, even the weather over Poland was ideal for this new form of warfare - clear, sunny skies baked the ground hard for tank treads and kept the rivers low. The Junker Sturzkamfer (Stuka) attacked. From the East, the USSR invaded. Poland lasted less than a month.

The real story, however, is not in the details of the battles. It is the fact that with all the noise and accusations -- the lies and race-baiting -- it did not matter whether the State had been taken over by fascists or by communists. Both were bad. Both accuse the other of the things they are doing. Both Hitler and Mussolini had argued virulently for internationalist "people's causes" and parties, but then went on the demonize communists. Comrade Vladimir Lenin died in 1924 having become the self-appointed Czar he spent his exile life ridiculing. Stalin disposed of his rival, Leon Trotsky, by charging him with political divisiveness he himself instigated.{53}

2. The World at War.

The way the war unfolded. Noting how close the contest was for so long. Includes all theatres.

Essay on the Jewish "return to the Promised Land". Pictures of Theodor Herzl and review of his important work.

3. Independence for India.

Begins with the demonstration of April 13, 1919 involving some 10,000 people in the province of Punjab. For three days, Amritsar had been the scene of violence against British residents and property. Five British officials had been killed and a missionary attacked. General Reginald Dyer, called upon to restore order, forbade public meetings. However, nationalists were not satisfied. Peaceful protestors remained in jails and the promise to grant independence on the conclusion of the Great War was inexplicably delayed. General Dyer understood that his orders were not being obeyed. He set out for theJallionawala Bagh with two armored cars and fifty riflemen. They took up kneeling firing positions. The crowd was clearly unarmed. Without any warning, the General ordered the troops to open fire.{107} 379 people were killed.

An illustrated essay on the "Domestic Revolution" - showing how the game-changer in human life is not ideological, but material. "Electricity" provided the household with "the perfect servant" -- clean, silent, economical. Between the two world wars, households were flooded with appliances and consumers bought them without fear of being shocked or poisoned. Ironically, "the amount of time spent on housework by women actually increased between 1930 and 1950". {129} The "perfect servant" turns out to be a relentless taskmaster.

4. The Struggle for China.

Concludes with an essay on "The Coming of the Cold War", and the TimeFrame comparative timelines for the periods and regions. ( )
  keylawk | May 15, 2011 |
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1920's, 1930's, 1940's. Great depression, China, India, World War II, Africa, Great Britain, Cold War, France, Germany, Hitler, Italy, Japan, Mussolini, Nanjing (Nanking), religion, Soviet Union, Stalin, effects of World War I, more.

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