......The German philosopher Karl Marx invented modern socialism in the 1800s as a reaction to the working-class poverty of the Industrial Revolution. His slogan was, "Workers of the world unite!" Marx predicted that workers in the industrialized nations would one day rise up and overthrow capitalism.
......In the early 1900s, Russia was not yet an industrial nation; most of its people were poor peasants working the land. Nonetheless, a group of Russian socialists led by Vladimir Lenin thought Russia was ready for a socialist revolution. Their chance came with World War I. The war didn't go well for Russia. The army was poorly led, poorly fed, and poorly equipped, and eventually it fell apart. When soldiers were ordered to shoot women textile workers rioting for food, the soldiers opened fire on their own officers instead. As rioting spread in Russia, Nicholas II was forced to step down as tsar in 1917.
......Into this power vacuum stepped Lenin's well-organized political party, the Bolsheviks. Promising peace for soldiers, land for peasants, and better conditions for workers, the Bolsheviks took control of Russia in October 1917 and removed Russia from the war. The term "communism" has come to mean an extreme form of socialism that blends Marx's economic philosophy with Lenin's ideas about socialist revolution.
......Struggling to hold the Bolshevik (or Russian) Revolution together, Lenin executed thousands of Russians suspected of opposing communism. Among those killed were the tsar and his family. The communists banned other political parties, took over banks and industries, and set up a secret police. The Russian Empire was renamed the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, or the Soviet Union for short.
the Great Depression
......The situation for workers worsened again in the 1930s due to a worldwide economic downturn called the Great Depression. Several factors led to the Depression including damage done to European economies by World War I and the U.S. stock market crash of 1929. Businesses closed, farms stopped producing, and banks failed. People lost their jobs and their life savings, and they went hungry.
......The Great Depression contributed to the post-war crisis of meaning. Millions of men had died in the trenches of a senseless war, and now it made no sense that millions of strong, healthy men couldn't find jobs to feed their families. The old capitalist system didn't seem to be working anymore; some thought it was about to collapse. Many people, Americans included, looked for a newer approach that would give workers a better break. Some looked to the Soviet Union where communism promised a more equal society. Others looked to Italy and Germany where strong, nationalistic leaders promised a better future.
150. fascism ......In Italy, a powerful political leader emerged who pledged to end Italy's economic problems and restore Italy to greatness. He was Benito Mussolini, leader of the fascists, a political movement that opposed communism and democracy, but favored violence and war and promoted nationalism and obedience to the state. After taking power, Mussolini modernized Italian agriculture and improved the economy. To strengthen his control over Italy, he made himself dictator, took over the news media, and set up a secret police.
......Germany too was looking for a strong leader to end its economic problems. Half of the country's labor force was out of work, and inflation got so bad at one point that it took bags of money to buy a loaf of bread. An inspiring public speaker named Adolf Hitler rose to the leadership of a fascist political party called the Nazis. Hitler told Germans they must reclaim their lost territories and build a new empire in Europe. His nationalist ideas took hold in a Germany that felt humiliated by the Treaty of Versailles. With crowds wildly cheering Hitler in huge parades and rallies, the Nazi party grew in popularity until it won enough votes in national elections to make Hitler the new German leader.
......Hitler quickly moved to revive the Germany economy. In just five years, unemployment fell from six million to almost nothing, and the German standard of living rose. Encouraged by anti-communist businessmen, the German parliament voted to turn over absolute power to Hitler. Thus, Hitler used Germany's democracy to end Germany's democracy. Hitler used his absolute power to ban all political parties except the Nazis and to set up a secret police. His enemies were killed, tortured, or imprisoned.
151. mass culture
......Before the industrial era, people usually experienced their culture alone or in small gatherings. They might read a book or play music with friends. This changed when the Industrial Revolution began to manufacture culture as well as goods. By the late 1800s, mass-produced newspapers were a major cultural force as thousands of people read the same stories at the same time. Mass culture swelled in the early 20th century as the public flocked to buy movie tickets, radios, and music recordings. Sports teams formed leagues that competed nationally. Such shared experiences helped to create mass national cultures.
......Some critics were concerned that people were becoming spectators rather than participants by purchasing cultural experiences instead of making their own. Other critics warned that mass culture could be used to control the public by appealing to emotion rather than reason. This fear was realized in Nazi Germany where the state took control of radio stations and the film industry, and the government learned to skillfully use propaganda to manipulate the public through emotional appeals to nationalism and racism. (Propaganda is a systematic effort, usually by government, to spread ideas or beliefs.) In Nazi Germany, individual thought was overwhelmed by propaganda and mass public opinion.
152. totalitarian government
......For the first time, mass culture made it possible to reach everyone with the same message and to rally entire nations behind a cause. Hitler and Mussolini rallied the masses of Germany and Italy behind fascist nationalism. The Soviet Union mobilized its masses to support "the worker's revolution."
......After Lenin died in 1924, Joseph Stalin took control of the Soviet Union. He convinced Russians it was their duty to industrialize quickly. Stalin also confiscated peasants' farms and combined them into large state-run collective farms. In the process, some ten million peasants died or went to prison camps.
......Although communists and fascists had different political philosophies, they used similar methods. Both systems were led by strong, god-like dictators who symbolized the state. Citizens were expected to sacrifice their individuality to the will of the state, and many people were happy to give up personal freedom for a sense of belonging to a great cause. Both systems eliminated dissent; anyone disagreeing with the government could expect a terrifying visit from the secret police. Because these societies took nearly total control over peoples' lives, they are termed "totalitarian." Unlike liberal democracies where the state is seen as the servant of the people, the people in totalitarian societies are seen as servants of the state. Authoritarian states are similar, but the term implies somewhat less control by government.
154. the Nanking Massacre
......Back in the mid-1800s, the U.S. Navy forced Japan to open its doors to foreign trade. Shortly thereafter, America was distracted by its Civil War, and the U.S. left Japan alone for several years. This gave the Meiji government time to figure out how to respond to the threat of Western power. Japan had a long tradition of borrowing from other cultures, especially China, so it is not surprising that Japan chose to borrow industrialism from the West. With an educated urban work force, Japan's industrial revolution proceeded rapidly. By the early 1900s, Japan had a modern industrial economy.
......In 1905, Japan became the first Asian country to defeat a European power when it overcame Russia in the Russo-Japanese War. Victory gave Japan economic control in parts of Korea and the Manchuria region of China; Japan was now becoming an imperialist power, and the U.S. began to see Japan as a possible rival in the Pacific. Extreme nationalists came to power in Japan saying that foreign conquest was the only way Japan could get the resources it needed. Japan invaded Manchuria and Southeast Asia, claiming to be liberating Asia from Western imperialism. When Japanese armies took the Chinese capital of Nanking in 1937, they burned the city and massacred between 100,000 and 300,000 Chinese. In what came to be called "The Rape of Nanking," Japanese soldiers brutally raped some 20,000 Chinese women, then killed them or left them to die.
......Meanwhile in Europe, Hitler promised Germans he would destroy the Treaty of Versailles, and he began by rebuilding the German army in violation of the treaty. Britain and France complained but did nothing to stop him. In 1936, in violation of the treaty, Hitler sent troops into the Rhineland region on the German-French border. It was a risky move, but Hitler calculated that nobody would stop him, and he was right. Hitler then brought Germany and Austria together in a union also forbidden by the treaty.
......England and France were following a policy of appeasement, which means they were giving in to Hitler's demands to avoid conflict and the possibility of another terrible war. As the world watched, Hitler's army grew stronger, and each success made Hitler bolder. Next, he took the German-speaking Sudetenland region in Czechoslovakia, and six months later he conquered the whole country.
......In 1939, when Hitler's armies invaded Poland, France and England finally declared war on Germany, and World War II was underway in Europe. The alliance of France and England (later joined by Russia and the U.S.) was called the Allies. Germany, Italy (and later Japan) were the Axis powers. Many historians consider World War II to be a continuation of World War I because the two sides were similar in both wars, and German resentment of the Treaty of Versailles set the stage for the rise of Hitler.
......To overcome the stalemate of trench warfare, Hitler's military planners developed a new battle tactic called blitzkrieg or "lightning war." Blitzkrieg meant attacking quickly with a strong force of concentrated troops supported by artillery, tanks, and air power. Hitler's powerful German military used the blitzkrieg to quickly overrun Poland and five more European countries. It took the Germans only seven weeks to circle around a French defensive barrier and conquer the strong nation of France.
......With France defeated, Hitler ordered massive bombing attacks against targets in England in preparation for a planned invasion. German bombs pounded London for 57 straight nights. These were dark days for the British people; Prime Minister Winston Churchill told his country, "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat." British fighter pilots battled the Luftwaffe in the skies over England, aided by radar that could spot enemy planes approaching the English coast. The Luftwaffe destroyed large areas of British cities, but German aircraft losses became so great that Hitler had to abandon his plan to invade England. Churchill praised British airmen by saying, "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few." In winning the Battle of Britain, the British dealt Hitler his first major defeat of the war.
World War II
......The United States was still at peace. Although America was officially neutral in the war, the U.S. supplied so much war material to the European Allies that war production helped pull America out of the Depression. In the Pacific, only one barrier stood in the way of complete Japanese control of Asia: the U.S. Navy's Pacific fleet based at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The United States insisted that Japan withdraw from the territories it conquered in China and Southeast Asia, and the U.S. imposed an embargo that stopped the shipment of key resources to Japan, a move the Japanese considered virtually an act of war.
......On December 7, 1941, the quiet of a Sunday morning at Pearl Harbor was shattered when carrier-based Japanese warplanes launched a surprise attack on the U.S. fleet. In just 30 minutes, American naval power in the Pacific was crippled. Despite the successful attack, the Japanese commander warned, "I fear we have awakened a sleeping giant." The next day, President Franklin Roosevelt went before Congress and declared, "December 7th is a date which will live in infamy." The U.S. and Britain declared war on Japan. Germany and Italy declared war on the U.S. Now the war in Europe was linked to the war in the Pacific creating a truly global world war. America immediately switched to a war footing.
......Factories began operating 24-hours a day, seven days a week. Chrysler stopped making cars and started making tanks. As American men were called away to fight, American women went to work in war plants making everything from socks to ships. U.S. war production soon equaled that of Japan, Italy, and Germany combined. The Pacific Fleet recovered sufficiently from the attack at Pearl Harbor to defeat the Japanese Navy in carrier sea battles in the Coral Sea and at Midway. These victories gave the United States naval supremacy in the Pacific for the remainder of the war. The giant was awake.
158. the Holocaust
......Hitler's empire in Europe stretched from Scandinavia to North Africa, from the Atlantic Ocean to Russia. People in lands conquered by the Nazis were expected to serve the German "master race." "Inferior" people such as Russians and Gypsies were to be enslaved or eliminated. Many teachers and other educated people disappeared. But the Nazis reserved their harshest treatment for the Jews.
......Hitler's plan for the Jews was called the "Final Solution," which meant complete extermination of the Jewish people. All over Europe Jews were arrested and sent to concentration camps where they were forced to work or were systematically executed. Hitler diverted so many resources from fighting the war to killing Jews that his mass murder operation eventually contributed to Germany's defeat. Of Europe's eight million Jews, the Nazis succeeded in killing six million, an event that came to be known as the Holocaust. When the world learned about the full extent of Hitler's homicidal madness, the word genocide was invented to describe the intentional and systematic destruction of an entire racial or cultural group.
159. Hitler's invasion of Russia
......Hitler was about to make his biggest mistake of the war, the same mistake made by Napoleon over a century earlier. When Hitler couldn't conquer England, he invaded Russia, which brought the Soviet Union into the war on the side of the Allies. As the Russians retreated, they adopted the same scorched-earth policy used by the tsar's soldiers against Napoleon. The turning point in the Russian fighting, and in World War II, came in 1943 at the Battle of Stalingrad, where the Soviets captured an entire German army. The Soviets began to push the Germans back, and from then on Germany started losing the war. The Russians, however, paid a terrible price in World War II, suffering an incredible 23 million dead.
......From airfields in England, British and American bombers pounded Germany, wiping out entire cites and killing hundreds of thousands of civilians. In 1944, the Allies launched the massive Normandy Invasion of France trapping the Nazis between Allied forces approaching from the west and Russian soldiers closing in from the east. With Russian troops only a few blocks from his underground bunker in Berlin, Adolf Hitler committed suicide in April 1945. Germany surrendered one week later.
......Fierce fighting continued in the Pacific. American troops fought and won savage battles against determined Japanese forces trying desperately to hold strategic islands. American bombers began to strike inside Japan, pulverizing Japanese cities. Japan was on the verge of collapse, but it refused to surrender.
......Meanwhile, American scientists had perfected the atomic bomb. Hoping to avoid a costly invasion of the Japanese home islands, President Harry Truman ordered the atomic bomb used against Japan. The first bomb destroyed the city of Hiroshima where 200,000 people died. Three days later, a second bomb produced similar results in Nagasaki. The next day, Japan asked to end the war. Controversy still surrounds the use of atomic weapons against Japan. Critics say a demonstration of the awesome power of the bomb might have convinced Japan to surrender without using this terrible new weapon against people.
......Again, the nature of warfare had changed. Genocide and massive aerial bombing raids had made civilians, not soldiers, the primary targets of war. Of the 50 million people killed in World War II, an estimated two-thirds were civilians. The atomic bomb meant that a future world war might kill everyone.