History Revision notes - International Relations: Why did WW2 break out? 1929-1939

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International Relations: Why did WW2 break out? 1929-1939

History revision notes – International Relations topic

What was the Wall Street crash? - In the 1920’s, many Americans bought and sold shares and it seemed an easy and safe way to make money. However form September 1929, there was an increase in shares being sold and share prices began to fall.

What was the Great Depression – The modern world had never experienced an economic crisis as severe as the ‘Great depression’. The term was first used in USA to describe the economic collapse, which by 1931, had shattered the US economy and the Americans’ faith in the future. Europe and the rest of the world were also badly hit.

Effects of the Wall Street crash - The Wall Street crash had many effects on the relations of different countries. There were a lot of terrible effects on the worst effected countries including Poland, Austria and Germany.

The effects on the relationship between the countries ranged from them turning against each other to hyperinflation. The Wall Street crash badly effected France compared to some of the other countries since France created strict rules on products being imported into their country. This damaged France’s relation with other countries since the other countries did the same with French products.

Causes of the Depression

  1. As early as 1926, there were signs that the boom was under threat - this was seen in the collapse of land prices in Florida.
  2. Eventually, there were too many goods being made and not enough people to buy them.
  3. Farmers had produced too much food in the 1920s, so prices for their produce became steadily lower.
  4. There were too many small banks - these banks did not have enough funds to cope with the sudden rush to take out savings, which happened in the autumn of 1929.
  5. Too much speculation on the stock market - the middle class had a lot to lose and they had spent a lot on what amounted to pieces of paper.
  6. The Wall Street Crash of October 1929 was a massive psychological blow.
  7. America had lent huge sums of money to European countries. When the stock market collapsed, they suddenly recalled those loans. This had a devastating impact on the European economy.
  8. The collapse of European banks caused a general world financial crisis.

Effects of the Depression

  1. Unemployment - 13 million people were out of work.
  2. Industrial production dropped by 45 per cent between 1929 and 1932.
  3. House-building fell by 80 per cent between 1929 and 1932.
  4. The entire American banking system reached the brink of collapse.
  5. From 1929 to 1932, 5,000 banks went out of business.
  6. Although many people went hungry, the number of recorded deaths from starvation during the Depression was 110, although many other illnesses and deaths were probably related to a lack of nutrition.

The Manchurian Crisis (1931)

Effects of Great Depression on Japan - Japan suffered more than most countries in the Great Depression. It was a small country with no raw materials, except silk, and its economic well-being depended upon exporting silk abroad, to pay for imports of essential resources such as coal, rubber and iron for its industries. By 1929 the Japanese population had risen to over 65 million and it was having difficulties finding jobs for these people. As the American economy also collapsed in 1929, they put tariffs (taxes) on Japanese goods to protect their own industries. This caused the Japanese economy to suffer terribly more. By 1931, half of Japan’s factories had closed and millions were unemployed.

The Japanese Army’s solution – Japan had a very powerful army and its army leaders had great influence. Japan controlled Korea and the railway that ran into it. They wanted to expand the railway north into Manchuria, which had coal and iron deposits, but belonged to China. The Japanese army wanted to invade Manchuria using the excuse that China damaged the railway; however the government did not approve of this military action.

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The Mukden Incident – On 18th September 1931, part of the railway near Mukden was destroyed by a bomb. The Japanese claimed that Chinese soldiers had sabotaged the Manchurian railway in Korea, which Japan controlled, and therefore said they had been ‘forced’ to invade Manchuria to ‘protect’ Japan’s interests. Japan attacked and by February 1932, had brutally conquered Manchuria. 

Meanwhile, in January-March 1932, Japan attacked and captured the city of Shanghai in China itself.

The League’s reaction - In March 1932, the Chinese nationalist leader appealed to the league and asked USA for help, however USA protested and the League did very little to help.

Reasons why ...

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