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World History Era 8

A Half-Century of Crisis and Achievement, 1900-1945

Standard 1: Reform, revolution, and social change in the world economy of the early century

Standard 2: The causes and global consequences of World War I

Standard 3: The search for peace and stability in the 1920s and 1930s

Standard 4: The causes and global consequences of World War II

Standard 5: Major global trends from 1900 to the end of World War II

On a winter’s day in 1903 the “Kitty Hawk,” Orville and Wilbur Wright’s experimental flying machine, lifted off the ground for twelve seconds. In the decades that followed air travel was perfected, and all the physical barriers that had obstructed long-distance communication among human groups virtually disappeared. Oceans, deserts, and mountain ranges no longer mattered much when people living thousands of miles apart were determined to meet, talk, negotiate, or do business. For the first time in history the north polar region became a crossroads of international travel as air pilots sought the shortest routes between countries of the Northern Hemisphere. Radio and, at mid-century, television revolutionized communication in another way. Long-distance messages no longer had to be transported from one point to another by boat or train or even transmitted along wires or cables. Now messages, whether designed to inform, entertain, persuade, or deceive, could be broadcast from a single point to millions of listeners or watchers simultaneously.

These and other technological wonders both expressed and contributed to the growing complexity and unpredictability of human affairs. In some ways peoples of the world became more tightly knit than ever before. Global economic integration moved ahead. Literacy spread more widely. Research and knowledge networks reached round the world. However, in other respects division and conflict multiplied. Economic and territorial rivalries among nations became harsher. Laboratories and factories turned out more lethal weapons and in greater quantities than ever before. People rose up against autocratic governments on every continent. Among the turbulent trends of the era, two developments seem most prominent.

The 20th-Century’s Thirty Years: The powers of destruction that centuries of accumulated technical and scientific skill gave to human beings became horrifyingly apparent in the two global wars of the 20th century. In the Thirty Years War of the 1600s, one of Europe’s most destructive contests, more than 4 million people may have died. The wars of 1914-1945, by contrast, took 45 million lives. Since World War I sowed copious seeds of the second conflict, the complex links of cause and effect over the entire period make a compelling subject for the World History student. Though both wars engulfed Europe, the globe is the proper context for understanding them. Air power, especially in World War II, meant that no country’s borders were safe, whatever the distances involved. Campaigns were fought from the mid-Pacific to West Africa and from Siberia to the North Atlantic. Combatants came from many lands, including thousands from European colonial possessions. The century’s first five decades were not, however, all violence and gloom. In the midst of war and world depression heroism and ingenuity abounded. Age-old diseases were conquered or brought under control. Democracy endured in many states despite recurrent crises, and governments responded with remarkable efficiency to the demands of war-time management and welfare.

Revolution and Protest: Human aspirations toward democratic government, national independence, and social justice were first expressed on a large scale in human affairs in the 1750-1914 era. These aspirations continued to inspire revolutions throughout the first half of the 20th century. The most dramatic political changes occurred in Russia, China, Mexico, and Turkey. In all these places jarring shifts and disturbances in economic life, both local and international, were at the root of the political crises. In all of them, moreover, contests quickly developed between the advocates of liberal, parliamentary democracy and those who championed an authoritarian or single-party state as the most efficient instrument of political and economic transformation. Apart from revolutions, relatively peaceful movements of protest and dissent forced a broadening of the democratic base, including voting rights for women, in a number of countries. The European colonial empires saw few violent risings between 1900 and 1945. There was, however, no colonial “golden age.” Resistance, protest, and calls for reform, drawing heavily on the liberal and nationalist ideals that the Western powers proclaimed, dogged imperial regimes all across Africa and Asia.

Why Study This Era?

  • Exploration of the first half of the 20th century is of special importance if students are to understand the responsibilities they face at the close of the millennium. The two world wars were destructive beyond anything human society had every experienced. If students are to grasp both the toll of such violence and the price that has sometimes been paid in the quest for peace, they must understand the causes and costs of these world-altering struggles.
  • In this era the ideologies of communism and fascism, both rooted in the 19th century, were put into practice on a large scale in Russia, Italy, Germany, and Japan. Both movements challenged liberal democratic traditions and involved elaborate forms of authoritarian repression. The fascist cause was discredited in 1945, communism by the early 1990s. Even so, assessing the progress of our own democratic values and institutions in this century requires parallel study of these two alternative political visions. What did they promise? How did they work as social and economic experiments? In what conditions might they find new adherents in the future?
  • Active citizens must continually re-examine the role of the United States in contemporary world affairs. Between 1900 and 1945 this country rose to international leadership; at the end of the period it stood astride the globe. How did we attain such a position? How has it changed since mid-century? Any informed judgment of our foreign policies and programs requires an understanding of our place among nations since the beginning of the century.
  • In both scientific and cultural life this era ushered in the “modern.” The scientific theories as well as aesthetic and literary movements that humanity found so exhilarating and disturbing in the first half of the century continue to have an immense impact on how we see the world around us.
Each standard was developed with historical thinking standards in mind. The relevant historical thinking standards are linked in the brackets, [ ], below.

Standard 1

Reform, revolution, and social change in the world economy of the early century.

Standard 1A

The student understands the world industrial economy emerging in the early 20th century.

GRADE LEVELTHEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
7-12 Compare the industrial power of Great Britain, France, Germany, Japan, and the United States in the early 20th century. [Utilize visual and mathematical data]
5-12 Analyze the impact of industrial development on the culture and working lives of middle- and working-class people in Europe, Japan, and the United States. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]
7-12 Explain leading ideas of liberalism, social reformism, conservatism, and socialism as competing ideologies in the early 20th-century world. [Examine the influence of ideas]
9-12 Explain how entrepreneurs, scientists, technicians, and urban workers in Africa, Asia, and Latin America participated in world trade and industrialization. [Employ quantitative analysis]
9-12 Analyze why European colonial territories and Latin American countries continued to maintain largely agricultural and mining economies in the early 20th century. [Identify issues and problems in the past]

Standard 1B

The student understands the causes and consequences of important resistance and revolutionary movements of the early 20th century.

GRADE LEVELTHEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
9-12 Analyze the degree to which the South African (Anglo-Boer) War was an example of “total war.” [Interrogate historical data]
7-12 Explain the causes of the Russian rebellion of 1905 and assess its impact on reform in the succeeding decade. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]
9-12 Analyze the efforts of the revolutionary government of the Young Turks to reform Ottoman government and society. [Interrogate historical data]
5-12 Analyze the significance of the Mexican Revolution as the first 20th-century movement in which peasants played a prominent role. [Appreciate historical perspectives]
7-12 Assess the promise and failure of China’s 1911 republican revolution to address the country’s political, economic, and social problems. [Compare and contrast differing values and institutions]

Standard 2

The Causes and global consequences of World War I.

Standard 2A

The student understands the causes of World War I.

GRADE LEVELTHEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
7-12 Analyze the relative importance of economic and political rivalries, ethnic and ideological conflicts, militarism, and imperialism as underlying causes of the war. [Analyze multiple causation]
9-12 Analyze the degree to which class and other social conflicts in Europe contributed to the outbreak of war. [Analyze multiple causation]
7-12 Evaluate ways in which popular faith in science, technology, and material progress affected attitudes toward war among European states. [Formulate historical questions]
5-12 Analyze the precipitating causes of the war and the factors that produced military stalemate. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]

Standard 2B

The student understands the global scope, outcome, and human costs of the war.

GRADE LEVELTHEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
5-12 Describe the major turning points of the war and the principal theaters of conflict in Europe, the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia, and the South Pacific. [Interrogate historical data]
9-12 Analyze the role of nationalism and propaganda in mobilizing civilian populations in support of “total war.” [Examine the influence of ideas]
5-12 Explain how massive industrial production and innovations in military technology affected strategy, tactics, and the scale and duration of the war. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]
9-12 Explain how colonial peoples contributed to the war effort of both the Allies and the Central Powers by providing military forces and supplies. [Evaluate the implementation of a decision]
7-12 Analyze how the Russian Revolution and the entry of the United States affected the course and outcome of the war. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]
5-12 Assess the short-term demographic, social, economic, and environmental consequences of the war’s unprecedented violence and destruction. [Formulate historical questions]

Standard 2C

The student understands the causes and consequences of the Russian Revolution of 1917.

GRADE LEVELTHEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
5-12 Explain the causes of the Russian Revolution of 1917 and analyze why the revolutionary government progressed from moderate to radical. [Analyze multiple causation]
9-12 Explain Leninist political ideology and how the Bolsheviks adapted Marxist ideas to conditions peculiar to Russia. [Interrogate historical data]
7-12 Assess the effects of the New Economic Policy on Soviet society, economy, and government. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]
5-12 Describe the rise of Joseph Stalin to power in the Soviet Union and analyze ways in which collectivization and the first Five-Year Plan disrupted and transformed Soviet society in the 1920s and 1930s. [Evaluate the implementation of a decision]
9-12 Analyze the challenges that revolutionary Russia posed to Western governments and explain the impact of the Bolshevik victory on world labor movements. [Interrogate historical data]

Standard 3

The search for peace and stability in the 1920s and 1930s.

Standard 3A

The student understands postwar efforts to achieve lasting peace and social and economic recovery.

GRADE LEVELTHEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
5-12 Describe the conflicting aims and aspirations of the conferees at Versailles and analyze the responses of major powers to the terms of the settlement. [Consider multiple perspectives]
9-12 Explain how the collapse of the German, Hapsburg, and Ottoman empires and the creation of new states affected international relations in Europe and the Middle East. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]
5-12 Explain how the League of Nations was founded and assess its promise and limitations as a vehicle for achieving lasting peace. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]
7-12 Analyze the objectives and achievements of women’s political movements in the context of World War I and its aftermath. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]
9-12 Analyze how the governments of Britain, France, Germany, and Italy responded to the economic and political challenges of the postwar decade. [Interrogate historical data]
7-12 Assess the effects of United States isolationist policies on world politics and international relations in the 1920s. [Evaluate the implementation of a decision]

Standard 3B

The student understands economic, social, and political transformations in Africa, Asia, and Latin America in the 1920s and 1930s.

GRADE LEVELTHEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
7-12 Analyze the struggle between the Kuomintang and the Communist Party for dominance in China in the context of political fragmentation, economic transformation, and Japanese and European imperialism. [Interrogate historical data]
7-12 Analyze how militarism and fascism succeeded in derailing parliamentary democracy in Japan. [Interrogate historical data]
5-12 Explain how the mandate system altered patterns of European colonial rule in Africa and the Middle East. [Evaluate the implementation of a decision]
7-12 Explain aims and policies of European colonial regimes in India, Africa, and Southeast Asia and assess the impact of colonial policies on indigenous societies and economies. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]
9-12 Analyze how social and economic conditions of colonial rule, as well as ideals of liberal democracy and national autonomy, contributed to the rise of nationalist movements in India, Africa, and Southeast Asia. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]
5-12 Analyze how the World War I settlement contributed to the rise of both pan-Arabism and nationalist struggles for independence in the Middle East. [Formulate historical questions]
9-12 Assess the challenges to democratic government in Latin America in the context of class divisions, economic dependency, and United States intervention. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]

Standard 3C

The student understands the interplay between scientific or technological innovations and new patterns of social and cultural life between 1900 and 1940.

GRADE LEVELTHEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
7-12 Explain the impact of the work of Einstein, Freud, Curie, and other scientists on traditional views of nature, the cosmos, and the psyche. [Explain the importance of the individual]
9-12 Describe major medical successes in the treatment of infectious diseases and analyze the causes and social costs of the world influenza pandemic of 1918-1919. [Employ quantitative data]
5-12 Explain ways in which the airplane, automobile, and modern railway affected world commerce, international migration, and work and leisure habits. [Interrogate historical data]
7-12 Analyze the social and cultural dimensions of mass consumption of goods such as automobiles, bicycles, refrigerators, radios, and synthetic fabrics in various parts of the world. [Support interpretations with historical evidence]
9-12 Analyze ways in which new forms of communication affected the relationship of government to citizens and bolstered the power of new authoritarian regimes. [Formulate historical questions]

Standard 3D

The student understands the interplay of new artistic and literary movements with changes in social and cultural life in various parts of the world in the post-war decades.

GRADE LEVELTHEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
7-12 Evaluate the impact of World War I and its aftermath on literature, art, and intellectual life in Europe and the United States. [Draw upon visual and literary sources]
9-12 Evaluate the meaning and social impact of innovative movements in literature, architecture and the fine arts, such as Cubism, Surrealism, Expressionism, Socialist Realism, and jazz. [Draw upon visual, literary, and musical sources]
7-12 Evaluate the impact of innovative movements in Western art and literature on other regions of the world and the influence of African and Asian art forms on Europe. [Draw comparisons across regions]
5-12 Analyze how new media--newspapers, magazines, commercial advertising, film, and radio--contributed to the rise of mass culture around the world. [Obtain historical data from a variety of sources]

Standard 3E

The student understands the causes and global consequences of the Great Depression.

GRADE LEVELTHEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
9-12 Analyze the financial, economic, and social causes of the Depression and why it spread to most parts of the world. [Analyze multiple causation]
5-12 Assess the human costs of the Depression, and compare its impact on economy and society in different countries and economic regions of the world. [Compare and contrast differing values, behaviors, and institutions]
9-12 Analyze ways in which the Depression affected colonial peoples of Africa and Asia and how it contributed to the growth of nationalist movements. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]
7-12 Analyze how the Depression contributed to the growth of socialist and communist movements and how it affected capitalist economic theory and practice in leading industrial powers in Western countries. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]
5-12 Describe how governments, businesses, social groups, families, and individuals endeavored to cope with the hardships of world depression. [Employ quantitative analyses]

Standard 4

The causes and global consequences of World War II.

Standard 4A

The student understands the causes of World War II.

GRADE LEVELTHEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
5-12 Explain the ideologies of fascism and Nazism and analyze how fascist and authoritarian regimes seized power and gained mass support in Italy, Germany, Spain, and Japan. [Analyze multiple causation]
7-12 Analyze the relative importance of the legacy of World War I, the depression, ethnic and ideological conflicts, imperialism, and traditional political or economic rivalries as underlying causes of World War II. [Analyze multiple causation]
5-12 Explain German, Italian, and Japanese military conquests and drives for empire in the 1930s. [Evaluate major debates among historians]
7-12 Analyze the consequences of Britain, France, the United States, and other Western democracies’ failure to effectively oppose fascist aggression. [Evaluate major debates among historians]
7-12 Analyze the precipitating causes of the war and the reasons for early German and Japanese victories. [Analyze multiple causation]
9-12 Analyze the motives and consequences of the Soviet nonaggression pacts with Germany and Japan. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]

Standard 4B

The student understands the global scope, outcome, and human costs of the war.

GRADE LEVELTHEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
5-12 Explain the major turning points of the war, and describe the principal theaters of conflict in Western Europe, Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union, North Africa, Asia, and the Pacific. [Interrogate historical data]
5-12 Assess how the political and diplomatic leadership of such individuals as Churchill, Roosevelt, Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin affected the outcome of the war. [Explain the importance of the individual]
5-12 Analyze how and why the Nazi regime perpetrated a “war against the Jews” and describe the devastation suffered by Jews and other groups in the Nazi Holocaust. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]
9-12 Compare World Wars I and II in terms of the impact of industrial production, political goals, national mobilization, technological innovations, and scientific research on strategies, tactics, and levels of destruction. [Marshal evidence of antecedent circumstances]
9-12 Assess the consequences of World War II as a total war. [Formulate historical questions]

Standard 5

Major global trends from 1900 to the end of World War II.

Standard 5A

The student understands major global trends from 1900 to the end of World War II.

GRADE LEVELTHEREFORE, THE STUDENT IS ABLE TO
5-12 Describe major shifts in world geopolitics between 1900 and 1945 and explain the growing role of the United States in international affairs. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]
7-12 Assess the nature and extent of Western military, political, and economic power in the world in 1945 compared with 1900. [Interrogate historical data]
7-12 Compare the ideologies, policies, and governing methods of 20th-century totalitarian regimes with those of contemporary democracies and absolutist states of earlier centuries. [Draw comparisons across eras]
9-12 Compare the ideologies, policies, and governing methods of 20th-century totalitarian regimes with those of contemporary democracies and absolutist states of earlier centuries. [Draw comparisons across eras]
9-12 Analyze why mass consumer economies developed in some industrialized countries of the world but not in others. [Employ quantitative analysis]
5-12 Explain how new technologies and scientific breakthroughs both benefited and imperiled humankind. [Formulate historical questions]
7-12 Analyze ways in which secular ideologies such as nationalism, fascism, communism, and materialism challenged or were challenged by established religions and ethical systems. [Compare and contrast different sets of ideas, values, and institutions]
7-12 Assess the relative importance of such factors as world war, depression, nationalist ideology, labor organizations, communism, and liberal democratic ideals in the emergence of movements for national self-rule or sovereignty in Africa and Asia. [Formulate historical questions]
7-12 Identify patterns of social and cultural continuity in various societies, and analyze ways in which peoples maintained traditions, sustained basic loyalties, and resisted external challenges in this era of recurrent world crises. [Explain historical continuity and change]