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Organizing Topic The Interwar Period Standard(s) of Learning

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Organizing Topic

The Interwar Period

Standard(s) of Learning

WHII.11 The student will demonstrate knowledge of political, economic, social, and cultural developments during the Interwar Period by

a) describing the League of Nations and the mandate system;

b) citing causes and assessing the impact of worldwide depression in the 1930s;

c) examining events related to the rise, aggression, and human costs of dictatorial regimes in the Soviet Union, Germany, Italy, and Japan, and identifying their major leaders, i.e., Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Hirohito, and Hideki Tojo.

Essential Understandings, Knowledge, and Skills

Correlation to

Instructional Materials

Skills (to be incorporated into instruction throughout the academic year)

Identify, analyze, and interpret primary and secondary sources to make generalizations about events and life in world history.

Use maps, globes, artifacts, and pictures to analyze the physical and cultural landscapes of the world and to interpret the past.

Identify and compare contemporary political boundaries with the location of civilizations, empires, and kingdoms.

Analyze trends in human migration and cultural interaction.


Explain that after World War I, international organizations and agreements were established to avoid future conflicts.

Describe the League of Nations and the reasons it failed, using the following information as a guide:

  • International cooperative organization

  • Established to prevent future wars

  • United States not a member

  • Failure because it did not have power to enforce its decisions

Explain the mandate system, using the following information as a guide:

  • During World War I, Great Britain and France agreed to divide large portions of the Ottoman Empire in the Middle East between themselves.

  • After the war, the “mandate system” gave Great Britain and France control over the lands that became Iraq, Transjordan, and Palestine (British controlled), and Syria and Lebanon (French controlled).

  • The division of the Ottoman Empire through the mandate system planted the seeds for future conflicts in the Middle East.

Explain that a period of uneven prosperity in the decade following World War I (the 1920s) was followed by worldwide depression in the 1930s. Depression weakened Western democracies, making it difficult for them to challenge the threat of totalitarianism.

Summarize the following causes of the worldwide depression following World War I:

  • German reparations

  • Expansion of production capacities and dominance of the United States in the global economy

  • High protective tariffs

  • Excessive expansion of credit

  • Stock Market Crash of 1929

Summarize the impact of the worldwide depression following World War I, using the following information as a guide:

  • High unemployment in industrial countries

  • Bank failures and collapse of credit

  • Collapse of prices in world trade
  • Nazi Party’s growing importance in Germany; Nazi Party’s blame of European Jews for economic collapse

Explain that economic disruptions following World War I led to unstable political conditions. Worldwide depression in the 1930s provided opportunities for the rise of dictators in the Soviet Union, Germany, Italy, and Japan.

Explain that a communist dictatorship was established by Vladimir Lenin and continued by Joseph Stalin in the Soviet Union.

Describe the U.S.S.R. under Joseph Stalin during the Interwar Period, using the following information as a guide:

  • Entrenchment of communism

  • Stalin’s policies: Five-year plans, collectivization of farms, state industrialization, secret police

  • Great Purge

Explain that the Treaty of Versailles worsened economic and political conditions in Europe and led to the rise of totalitarian regimes in Italy and Germany.

Describe Germany under Adolf Hitler during the Interwar Period, using the following information as a guide:

  • Inflation and depression

  • Democratic government weakened

  • Anti-Semitism

  • Extreme nationalism

  • National Socialism (Nazism)

  • German occupation of nearby countries

Describe Italy under Benito Mussolini during the Interwar Period, using the following information as a guide:

  • Rise of fascism

  • Ambition to restore the glory of Rome

  • Invasion of Ethiopia

Explain that Japan emerged as a world power after World War I and conducted aggressive imperialistic policies in Asia.

Describe Japan under Hirohito and Hideki Tojo during the Interwar Period, using the following information as a guide:

  • Militarism

  • Industrialization of Japan, leading to drive for raw materials

  • Invasion of Korea, Manchuria, and the rest of China

Sample Resources

Below is an annotated list of Internet resources for this organizing topic. Copyright restrictions may exist for the material on some Web sites. Please note and abide by any such restrictions.

“America from the Great Depression to World War II.” American Memory. The Library of Congress. http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/fsowhome.html. This site provides access to photographs from the Great Depression Era.

“Benito Mussolini: What Is Fascism, 1932.” Modern History Sourcebook. http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/mussolini-fascism.html. This site contains information on Benito Mussolini and Fascism.

Boemeke, Manfred F., Gerald D. Feldman, and Elisabeth Glaser, ed. “The Treaty of Versailles: A Reassessment after 75 Years.” The University of Virginia. http://www.people.virginia.edu/~sas4u/versailles.htm. This site offers an outline of the major themes of a 1998 book on the Treaty of Versailles, edited by Boemeke, et al., and published by Cambridge University Press. The site also contains related Web links related to the Treaty of Versailles.

DeLong, J. Bradford. “The Great Crash and the Great Slump.” Slouching Towards Utopia?: The Economic History of the Twentieth Century. The University of California at Berkeley. http://econ161.berkeley.edu/TCEH/Slouch_Crash14.html. This site contains information on the Great Depression.

“Emperor Hirohito (1901-1989).” People and Events. Public Broadcasting Service. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/macarthur/peopleevents/pandeAMEX97.html. This site contains information on Emperor Hirohito.

“A German View of the Treaty of Versailles.” John Jay College of Criminal Justice. http://web.jjay.cuny.edu/~jobrien/reference/ob94.html. This site contains an article by Brockdorff-Rantzau, German Foreign Ministeron, representing the German view of the Treaty of Versailles.

Hitler: The Rise of Evil. Columbia Broadcasting Service (CBS). http://cbs.com/specials/rise_of_evil. This site contains information on Adolf Hitler.

“Joseph Stalin.” BBC. http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/stalin_joseph.shtml. This site contains information on Joseph Stalin.

League of Nations Photo Archive. Indiana University. http://www.indiana.edu/~league/photos.htm. This site contains photos and other information on the League of Nations.

“League of Nations Statistical and Disarmament Documents.” Government Publications and Maps. Northwestern University. http://www.library.northwestern.edu/govpub/collections/league/background.html. This site contains information on the League of Nations.

“The Razor.” The Axis Power Leaders and Their Influence. University of South Dakota. http://www.usd.edu/honors/HWB/hwb_u/tojo2.html. This site contains information on Hideki Tojo.

Songs of the Great Depression. College of Staten Island Library. http://www.library.csi.cuny.edu/dept/history/lavender/cherries.html. This site contains the lyrics of three songs of the Great Depression Era.

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