Unit #9: Depression & Dictators: A Global Depression
  Learning Target: I can ANALYZE the causes of the Great Depression and its influence on the rise of totalitarian dictators. 

I know I know it when: I can DESCRIBE how Stalin, Mussolini, Franco, and Hitler took, consolidated, and maintained power.

I am learning this because: It has been said that "Freedom is never more that one generation away from extinction.
Therefore we must learn how tyrants and dictators can rise to power and deny people their freedoms if they are left unchecked.  

Class Notes: A Global Depression Class Notes

Directions: Please follow the directions in the box below to complete the assignment.  Be sure to complete the assignment and carefully check your work before submitting your assignment for a grade. 

Part 1: A Global Depression

1.   The end of the 1920's brought with it a global economic depression.  The 1929 Stock Market Crash would lead America and the rest of the world into dark and challenging economic times.  Countries on
      both sides of the Atlantic struggled to improve economic conditions.  This Global Depression hit Germany especially hard as they attempted to rebuild from the terms of the Treaty of Versailles and World
      War I. These challenges would prove to be fertile ground for the rise of Fascist Dictators in Spain, Italy, and Germany.   
      Take a moment to download the A Global Depression Student Assignment.  Be sure to click File > Save As Google Slides before you begin

2.  Now, read the following passages about the Global Depression in your A Global Depression Student Assignment.  Use your highlighter tool inside your
    A Global Depression Student Assignment. Use your highlighter or bold tool to identify the most important information in the text.   Answer the questions at the end
    of each section in your A Global Depression Student Assignment.  Do not forget to complete the "Interactive" questions.



Part 1: The United States After World War I

By the late 1920s, European nations were rebuilding war-torn economies. They were aided by loans from the more prosperous United States. Only the United States and Japan came out of the war in better financial shape than before. In the United States, Americans seemed confident that the country would continue on the road to even greater economic prosperity. One sign of this was the booming stock market. Yet the American economy had serious weaknesses that were soon to bring about the most severe economic downturn the world had yet known.

Part 1 Questions:

1. How did Europe find money to rebuild following World War I?


2. What were the only two nations that came out of World War I in better financial shape than before the war?

3. What was one sign of American economic prosperity following World War I?



Part 2: Europe After World War I

The Challenges of New Democracies

In both human suffering and economic terms, the cost of World War I was immense. The Great War left every major European country nearly bankrupt. In addition, Europe’s domination in world affairs declined after the war.

The War’s end saw the sudden rise of new democracies. From 1914 to 1918, Europe’s last absolute rulers had been overthrown. The first of the new governments was formed in Russia in 1917. The Provisional Government, as it was called, hoped to establish constitutional and democratic rule. However, within months it had fallen to a Communist dictatorship. Even so, for the first time, most European nations had democratic governments.

Many citizens of the new democracies had little experience with representative government. For generations, kings and emperors had ruled Germany and the new nations formed from Austria-Hungary. Even in France and Italy, whose parliaments had existed before World War I, the large number of political parties made effective government difficult. Some countries had a dozen or more political groups. In these countries, it was almost impossible for one party to win enough support to govern effectively. When no single party won a majority, a coalition government, or temporary alliance of several parties, was needed to form a parliamentary majority. Because the parties disagreed on so many policies, coalitions seldom lasted very long. Frequent changes in government made it hard for democratic countries to develop strong leadership and move toward long-term goals. The weaknesses of a coalition government became a major problem in times of crisis. Voters in several countries were then willing to sacrifice democratic government for strong, authoritarian leadership.


The Weimar Republic

Germany’s new democratic government was set up in 1919. Known as the Weimar (WY•MAHR) Republic, it was named after the city where the national assembly met. The Weimar Republic had serious weaknesses from the start. First, Germany backed a strong democratic tradition. Furthermore, postwar Germany had several major political parties and many minor ones. Worst of all, millions of Germans blamed the Weimar government, not their wartime leaders, for the country’s defeat and postwar humiliation caused by the Versailles Treaty.

Germany also faced enormous economic problems that had begun during the war. Unlike Britain and France, Germany had not greatly increased its wartime taxes. To pay the expenses of the war, the Germans had simply printed money. After Germany’s defeat, this paper money steadily lost its value. Burdened with heavy reparations payments to the Allies and with other economic problems, Germany printed even more money. As a result, the value of the mark, as Germany’s currency was called, fell sharply. Severe inflation set in. Germans needed more and more money to buy even the most basic goods. For example, in Berlin a loaf of bread cost less than a mark in 1918, more than 160 marks in 1922, and some 200 billion marks by late 1923. People took wheelbarrows full of money to buy food. As a result, many Germans questioned the value of their new democratic government.

Germany recovered from the 1923 inflation thanks largely to the work of an international committee. The committee was headed by Charles Dawes, an American banker. The Dawes Plan provided for a $200 million loan from American banks to stabilize German currency and strengthen its economy. The plan also set a more realistic schedule for Germany’s reparations payments.

Put into effect in 1924, the Dawes Plan helped slow inflation. As the German economy began to recover, it attracted more loans and investments from the United States. By 1929, German factories were producing as much as they had before the war.

As prosperity began to return, France and Germany attempted to improve relations. They signed a treaty promising that France and Germany would never again make war against each other. Germany also agreed to respect the existing borders of France and Belgium. It then was admitted to the League of Nations.

In 1928, the hopes raised by the "spirit of Locarno" led to the Kellogg-Briand peace pact. Frank Kellogg, the U.S. Secretary of State, arranged this agreement with France’s Briand. Almost every country in the world, including the Soviet Union, signed. They pledged "to renounce war as an instrument of national policy." Unfortunately, the treaty had no means to enforce its provisions. The League of

Nations, the obvious choice as enforcer, had no armed forces. The refusal of the United States to join the League also weakened it. Nonetheless, the peace agreements seemed a good start.


Part 2 Questions:

1. What were two consequences for European nations as a result of World War I?


2. Why was it difficult for some nations in Europe to establish new democracies?


3. What is a "coalition government?"


4. What was the "Weimar Republic?"


5. How did inflation effect the German people following World War I?


6. What was the Kellogg-Briand Peace Pact?


7. Get Interactive! https://youtu.be/C8T-NO2HQQo


Watch the short video below about the Weimar Republic. Make a list of at least 3 facts you learned.





Part 3: The Great Depression

In the late 1920s, American economic prosperity largely sustained the world economy. If the U.S. economy weakened, the whole world’s economic system might collapse. In 1929, it did. Despite prosperity, several weaknesses in the U.S. economy caused serious problems. These included uneven distribution of wealth, overproduction by business and agriculture, and the fact that many Americans were buying less.

By 1929, American factories were turning out nearly half of the world’s industrial goods. The rising productivity led to enormous profits. However, this new wealth was not evenly distributed. The richest 5 percent of the population received 33 percent of all personal income in 1929. Yet 60 percent of all American families earned less than $2,000 a year. Thus, most families were too poor to buy the goods

being produced. Unable to sell all their goods, store owners eventually cut back their orders from factories. Factories in turn reduced production and laid off workers. A downward economic spiral began. As more workers lost their jobs, families bought even fewer goods. In turn, factories made further cuts in production and laid off more workers.

During the 1920s, overproduction affected American farmers as well. Scientific farming methods and new farm machinery had dramatically increased crop yields. American farmers were producing more food. Meanwhile, they faced new competition from farmers in Australia, Latin America, and Europe. As a result, a worldwide surplus of agricultural products drove prices and profits down. Unable to sell their crops at a profit, many farmers could not pay off the bank loans that kept them in business. Their unpaid debts weakened banks and forced some to close. The danger signs of overproduction by factories and farms should have warned people against gambling on the stock market. Yet no one heeded the warning.


In 1929, New York City’s Wall Street was the financial capital of the world. Banks and investment companies lined its sidewalks. At Wall Street’s New York Stock Exchange, optimism about the booming U.S. economy showed in soaring prices for stocks. To get in on the boom, many middle-income people began buying stocks on margin. This meant that they paid a small percentage of a stock’s price as a down payment and borrowed the rest from a stockbroker. The system worked well as long as stock prices were rising. However, if they fell, investors had no money to pay off the loan.

In September 1929, some investors began to think that stock prices were unnaturally high. They started selling their stocks, believing the prices would soon go down. By Thursday, October 24, the gradual lowering of stock prices had become an all-out slide downward. A panic resulted. Everyone wanted to sell stocks, and no one wanted to buy. Prices plunged to a new low on Tuesday, October 29. A record 16 million stocks were sold. Then the market collapsed.

People could not pay the money they owed on margin purchases. Stocks they had bought at high prices were now worthless. Within months of the crash, unemployment rates began to rise as industrial production, prices, and wages declined. A long business slump, which would come to be called the Great Depression, followed. The stock market crash alone did not cause the Great Depression, but it quickened the collapse of the economy and made the Depression more difficult. By 1932, factory production had been cut in half. Thousands of businesses failed, and banks closed. Around 9 million people lost the money in their savings accounts when banks had no money to pay them. Many farmers lost their lands when they could not make mortgage payments. By 1933, one-fourth of all American workers had no jobs.


Part 3 Questions:

1. By the end of the 1920’s, how did the U.S. economy effect the rest of the World’s economy?


2. What were the major weaknesses within the U.S. economy at the end of the 1920’s?


3. How did wealth distribution in the United States lead to an economic downturn by the end of the 1920’s?


4. Explain each step that led to the Stock Market Crash of 1929.


5. By 1933, how many Americans were out of work?


6. Get Interactive! https://youtu.be/ehy2jEeNuWk


Watch the short video below about the 1929 Stock Market Crash. Make a list of at least three facts.





Part 4: A Global Depression

The collapse of the American economy sent shock waves around the world. Worried American bankers demanded repayment of their overseas loans, and American investors withdrew their money from Europe. The American market for European goods dropped sharply as the U.S. Congress placed high tariffs on imported goods so that American dollars would stay in the United States and pay

for American goods. This policy backfired. Conditions worsened for the United States. Many countries that depended on exporting goods to the United States also suffered. Moreover, when the United States raised tariffs, it set off a chain reaction.  Other nations imposed their own higher tariffs. World trade dropped by 65 percent. This contributed further to the economic downturn. Unemployment rates soared.

Because of war debts and dependence on American loans and investments, Germany and Austria were particularly hard hit. In 1931, Austria’s largest bank failed. In Asia, both farmers and urban workers suffered as the value of exports fell by half between 1929 and 1931. The crash was felt heavily in Latin America as well. As European and U.S. demand for such Latin American products as sugar, beef, and copper dropped, prices collapsed.


Part 4 Questions:

1. Explain how the collapse of the American economy sent shockwaves around the world.



2. Which European nations were affected the most by economic conditions in the United States? Why was this the case?




Part 5: The World Attempts to Fix the Global Depression

The Depression confronted democracies with a serious challenge to their economic and political systems. Each country met the crisis in its own way. The Depression hit Britain severely. To meet the emergency, British voters elected a multiparty coalition known as the

National Government. It passed high protective tariffs, increased taxes, and regulated the currency. It also lowered interest rates to encourage industrial growth. These measures brought about a slow but steady recovery. By 1937, unemployment had been cut in half, and production had risen above 1929 levels. Britain avoided political extremes and preserved democracy.

France had a more selfsufficient economy. In 1930, it was still heavily agricultural and less dependent on foreign trade. Nevertheless, by 1935, one million French workers were unemployed. The economic crisis contributed to political instability. In 1933, five coalition governments formed and fell. Many political leaders were frightened by the growth of antidemocratic forces both in France and in other parts of Europe. So in 1936, moderates, Socialists, and Communists formed a coalition. The Popular Front, as it was called, passed a series of reforms to help the workers. Unfortunately, price increases quickly offset wage gains. Unemployment remained high. Yet France also preserved democratic government.

In 1932, in the first presidential election after the Depression had begun, U.S. voters elected Franklin D. Roosevelt. His confident manner appealed to millions of Americans who felt bewildered by the Depression. On March 4, 1933, the new president sought to restore Americans’ faith in their nation.  Roosevelt immediately began a program of government reform that he called the New Deal. Large public works projects helped to provide jobs for the unemployed. New government agencies gave financial help to businesses and farms. Large amounts of public money were spent on welfare and relief programs. Roosevelt and his advisers believed that government spending would create jobs and start a recovery. Regulations were imposed to reform the stock market and the banking system. The New Deal did eventually reform the American economic system.  Roosevelt’s leadership preserved the country’s faith in its democratic political system. It also established him as a leader of democracy in a world threatened by ruthless dictators.

Part 5 Questions:

1. Explain how Great Britain responded to the Global Depression.


2. Explain how France responded to the Global Depression.


3. Explain how the United States responded to the Great Depression.


4. Get Interactive! https://youtu.be/iipnhLTdh-0

Listen to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s First Fire Side Chat speaking to the American people about the Bank


Answer the following questions:

- What does FDR say led to the Banking Crisis?

- How did FDR reassure the public after the Banking Crisis?

















2.  Be prepared to discuss the passage with the class.

Part 2: Submit your work for a grade

 1.   Once you have completed your A Global Depression Student Assignment, use the Google Form below to submit your work for a grade.  Be sure to check
       your answers using the A Global Depression Student Assignment.

 2.    Carefully check your answer and submit your work for a grade.  You must have answered the questions to do well on this submission. 

      Submit Assignment

3.    Good Job!

  World History with Mr. Gigliotti | Valley Forge High School | Parma Hts., OH | gigliottip@parmacityschools.org