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'The Devil's Decade' - How far do you agree with this assessment of the 1930s?

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Introduction

' The Devil's Decade' How far do you agree with this assessment of the 1930s? The 'Devil's Decade' casts a depressive and dark image of the 1930s and identifies it as a time of depression and struggle; when the evil overcame the good. The 1930s were also known as ' The Wasted Years' and ' The Great Depression' and such labels seem appropriate due to the fact that in the 1930s, a substancial section of the population existed in conditions of chronic poverty, poor-housing and ill-health; for many suffering was a day-to-day experience. However, although the popular image of the 1930s is that it was the ' Devil's Decade', due to the research of revisionist historians, challenges to this traditional view have been made. It has been found that if one focuses upon the growth of Britain's economy and the acheivements of the nation, a new light is shed on the ' Gloomy Decade' and a remarkable degree of economic and social advance of new industries, economic growth, properous suburbs and a rising standard of living for those in work can be seen. Such revisionist views strongly contradict those of the traditionalists who left no room for optimism or praise in their views. Therefore, one needs to examine both sides of the argument to understand whether the 1930s could be seen as it was a time of prosperity and growth in Britain and could ...read more.

Middle

Traditionalist also seem to have overlooked the fact that although Britain did suffer from high unemployment in the 1930s, it was not as badly affected as countries such as Germany and the US that saw unemployment levels of 7 million and 13 million. The whole world was suffering from depression and when Britain is put in to perspective on a global basis, it is clear to see that if Britain was in the hands of the devil, the devil's grip was not secure enough to prevent Britain from escaping and acheiving many amazing economic advances. For the unemployed in the North, living standards were terrible with 25 per cent of all households living at or below subsistence levels. Many families lived in overcrowed, squalid and cramped housing and it was common for families of 8 or more to be co-existing in just two rooms. Many had a main diet of bread, jam, milk, tea and margarine and missed out on essentials such as meat, fruit and vegetables as they could not afford them and had to constantly economise. As Cramped lifestyle also meant that diseases could spread faster and due to poor diet, illness was made inevitable. Malnutrition caused many shocking cases such as being a direct cause in 1938 of the death of 3,200 women in childbirth and causing an increase of rickets in school children. ...read more.

Conclusion

When the traditional views are revised, it is clear to see that this was not the case. Yes, there was mass unemployment and poverty in Britain in the 1930s but it was only a posed as a great problem in the early thirties and not all areas of Britain were affected. The South saw substancial advances in industry and as a result many benefits were obtained. It can also be concluded that the thirties was not the ' Devil's Decade', rather the ' Dawn of Affluence', as the thirties saw much progress and hope for the future. By the end of the 1930s, Britain had improved measures in housing, electricity, medicine, leisure, transport, social serivices and health. The government have been seen in two lights, as cruel, lathargic politicans who only harmed their people or as intelligent politicans who made decisions that saved the country from further economic depression. One cannot be certain which view is correct, as both are predictions or assumptions made by traditionalist and revisionists. Whether or not one agrees with the statement that the thirties were the ' Devil's Decade' or that the thirties were the ' Dawn of Affluence', one thing is certain, the thirties can definately been known as the ' Decade of Contrasts'; a period of paradox. ...read more.

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