Post-World War I Recovery: Crash Course European History #36

Hi I’m John Green and this is Crash Course
European History. So, Europe has made it through World War I, we did it everybody! It was easier
for us than it was for them. But now we have to ask the question: how does
a society recover from catastrophe? Well, in some ways, Europe made it look easy.
It was the “Roaring Twenties” and a more modern consumer economy arrived featuring
electricity and telephones in homes and nightclubsAnd all these revolutions in human connectivity
and technology meant lots of economic growth and new opportunities and also of course many
people carping about how good it was in the old days, back when the lord of the manor
house made all your decisions and you died of plague at 27. [Intro]
To be clear, all was certainly not well: families tended to thousands of veterans who were “shell
shocked,” a term coined to refer to the post-traumatic mental health crises caused
by war. Millions more former soldiers were disabled.
Soldiers struggled to build families and find jobs, especially because parts of the economy
had trouble converting from massive production of weaponry to the less urgent provisioning
of goods for civilian life. And former soldiers also had to deal with
the fact that in many countries (notable exceptions were France and Italy), women received the
vote and entered the labor force, and were now earning their own money. Let’s go to
the Thought Bubble. 1. The ongoing growth of industrialization
meant there were jobs in new and revived sectors: 2. the production of small household goods
like electric irons, or phonographs, or radios, 3. larger items such as automobiles, and civilian
transport such as subways, trams, and trains. 4. Construction of urban housing, which had
been neglected during the war, also boomed. 5. And some towns and entire cities like Warsaw,
along with roads and rail lines, needed massive repair if not complete rebuilding. 6. Nothing spurs the economy quite like rebuilding
infrastructure that you just blew up. 7. Meanwhile, technology was rapidly increasing
industrial productivity. 8. European industrialists were beginning
to follow U.S. innovation in practices like the assembly line. 9. They also created early multinational corporations. 10. Managers of businesses studied the bodily
movements of workers performing industrial tasks 11. in order to make the most efficient use
of human energy in relationship to machines. 12. One French assembly line worker reported
“In my dreams I was a machine.” 13. In multinational enterprises, business
people set up branches of their companies in other parts of the world, 14. for instance in areas where raw material
such as cocoa or palm oil were plentiful 15. and where labor for processing or industrial
production was cheaper. 16. Many scholars see these new multinational
corporations as a different, but also abusive, form of empire.
Thanks Thought Bubble. Technology increasingly affected farmwork
as well, providing expensive innovations like motorized machinery and chemical fertilizers.
and in both industry and agriculture, technology was making some jobs obsolete even while creating
new ones, as it had before the war–and the benefits were distributed very unevenly, which
continues to be the case with industrial and technological expansion.
But there were also upsides. Like, for instance, dancing. Young people went to dance halls
and films, which then as now was an art form with mass appeal.
And people’s lives were filled with lively music, rollicking dances like the Charleston,
and screwball comedies like those made by Charlie Chaplin. Where possible young people
flocked to beaches in the summer and bicycled in groups of friends on weekends now that
many people’s work days had been cut to six or even five and ½ days per week.
Oh! All that time for leisure. I wonder if in the future, people will be like, “y’all
used to work five days a week?” That’s crazy!
And there were so many other changes too. Changes in women’s fashion led to shorter
skirts and silk stockings. Manuals about birth control methods continued the trend of bringing
down the birthrate, although there was a brief upturn just after the war. There was also
a new emphasis on physical exercise for both men and women, as group fitness drills proliferated–as
did sports teams, which often now wore uniforms in much the same way that armies did. Because
sports teams are basically armies. OPEN GLOBE It’s an AFC Wimbledon scarf! One thing you
might not know about me is that I sponsor a third-tier English soccer team called AFC
Wimbledon. So much about football and many other sports
is very clearly a metaphor for military action. I mean, defending and attacking, for instance.
But also ideas of holding and capturing territory, and wearing certain colors to show which side
you’re on. And another commonality between sports and
war is the belief that your team is right and good and just, and the other team is evil,
even if actually the other team is basically identical. But this isn’t Crash Course history of sports…yet.
So, back to war. World War I lingered in many ways. Battlefield
tourism arose for people to grieve where their loved ones had fallen. Inflation, which during
the war had ruined so many, became an even more serious problem. I’ve said it before
and I’ll say it again, inflation is the most underrated historical force.
In Germany, for instance, increasingly large quantities of money were being printed to
pay their war reparations as agreed to in the Treaty of Versailles(1918), and also to
pay workers. And that led to runaway hyperinflation beginning in 1921, so that by 1923 a single
turnip or potato could cost trillions of German marks. The money saved by many middle-class people
over decades became worthless, and widespread bitterness in Germany intensified, fueled
by the war guilt clause in the Treaty of Versailles. Outside of Europe, independence movements
were growing against the Western powers, with Indian lawyer Mohandas Gandhi becoming an
international celebrity for preaching civil disobedience. His message was that non-Western
people should not try to emulate Britain or the United States, whose main values were
greed and getting rich. Instead they should restore their respect
for the wisdom of the ancients as found in the Vedas and other sacred teachings. Despite
widespread and ongoing protests, however, India would not gain its independence until
1947, however, showing how desperately Britain sought to hold on to its lucrative colonies.
In Italy meanwhile, Mussolini was rising to power. WOW, that is a properlit intense facial
expression. I can’t tell if he’s about to hypnotize
me or order my assassination. Right, so you’ll recall that Britain and
France had promised Italy territory in exchange for joining World War I, a promise that was
only minimally kept. And then an economic downturn right after the war as wartime industries
shuttered further crushed Italian hopes and household budgets. Enter Benito Mussolini.
He was an Italian journalist who put himself at the head of an unofficial army of unemployed
men and former veterans with the promise of making Italy great again as in the days of
the ancient, triumphant Roman legions. In 1922, Mussolini’s black-shirted troops
marched on Rome (although Mussolini himself hid out until the march was successful). The
troops demanded that the king appoint Mussolini to head the government, which the King did.
Mussolini headed the Fascist Party, which had a minimalist platform but the electoral
advantage of its own army. The party’s platform consisted of the idea
that the state was supreme and that a citizen’s duty was to submit to the will of the state
(think Rousseau’s “general will”). The party took its name from the fasces of Roman
times: an axe with a handle made up of tied sticks representing the unity and boundedness
of the individual to the core power of the state.
Black shirts beat up and even murdered opponents in the Italian Parliament; they also entrapped
union members, torturing them and forcing castor oil down their throats, which causes
diarrhea. And as for women, they were forbidden to have good jobs and eventually were limited
to work only as household servants or agricultural workers. Assigning women a servile role in society
was supposed to allow men to feel like men again with their superior wages. And also
to create a dependence upon men and their wages.
As fascism thrived in Italy, the new eastern and central European nations, which had been
carved out in the Peace of Paris, faced the challenge of creating governments. These governments
would have to rebuild devastated areas, jump-start economies, and deal with complicated issues
of ethnicity, and the latter was the most difficult, because after centuries of migration
and intermarriage, ethnicity and nationality had become exceedingly complex.
But President Wilson had called for “nationality” or ethnicity to be the determining factor
in the formation of new nations in his Fourteen Points. So from Poland to Turkey, brutal expulsions
of ethnic minorities occurred right after the war, an event called by one diplomat “the
great unmixing of populations.” And amid this ongoing chaos, new governments
often confiscated the massive landholdings (sometimes hundreds of thousands of acres)
from the nobility and distributed them to peasants. Those peasants then had to borrow
funds for new machinery and chemical fertilizer if they were gonna thrive in the modern agricultural
market place, which in some cases worked out well and in other cases ended up impoverishing
those farmers. But Germany was the war’s most wounded nation.
The Weimar Republic, which replaced the monarchy in 1919, struggled against monarchists on
the one hand and radical political parties, including Communists, on the other hand. Forces
from both right and left worked to undermine each other as well as the Weimar republic
itself. And complicating everything was the lingering
culture of violence that was left over from the war. Uprisings and putsches–that is,
an attempt to overthrow the government–abounded. In November 1923, World War I veteran Adolf
Hitler attempted one from a beer hall in Munich with the help of wartime military hero General
Erich Ludendorff. “The national revolution has begun,” Hitler yelled as he shot a pistol
in the air and called up his ragged crew of followers. That putsch failed, like most big
ideas born in bars, but it did help Hitler rise to national prominence.
Hitler was the chief speaker for a militant party of veterans, unemployed men, and discontents
called the National Socialist Workers Party, or Nazis. Now, initially many of these beleaguered
supporters hated the rich for their wealth–thus the name “socialist.” But it’s important
to understand they were not Communists. By this time, Communists were advocating for
confiscation of wealth, while socialists had become far less revolutionary and increasingly
favored reform whether in working conditions or economic help for poor families.
But as times changed, Hitler also shifted the Party’s emphasis away from those initial
socialist ideals. He collected admission fees for the Party with his central message of
hatred for the Versailles treaty and in particular for the Jewish people. Jewish people, he claimed
repeatedly, polluted the white German race and plotted globally against the German nation.
Hitler carefully practiced his speaking, looking at himself in the mirror as he rehearsed and
tried out various poses, and gestures, and facial expressions. And he shared his approach
to propagandism in his best seller Mein Kampf, written during his short stint in prison after
the failed Beer Hall Putsch. In Mein Kampf, Hitler argued that people are
generally stupid and easy to manipulate. Tell big lies in politics, he advised, because
people will more readily believe them, since they themselves mostly tell small lies in
their everyday lives. Sales of Mein Kampf (along with the general
looting done after Nazi victories) made Hitler wealthy, in part through bookseslling-as-official-corruption:
Businessmen who wanted to deal with the Nazis first had to buy many copies of Mein Kampf.
In the 1920s, Hitler’s male followers became an increasingly militarized force of Stormtroopers
or SA (Sturmabteilung). They caused chaos in the streets and engaged in confrontations
with Communists. And one owner of a major newspaper, Alfred
Hugenberg fed to his readers false accounts that Communists were responsible for every
assassination of a political figure (of which there were several) plus every street fight
and civil disturbance. In contrast, Hugenberg’s paper credited the Nazis with restoring peace
to the streets—a major comfort to people who were weary and on edge after years of
war with other nations and also in their very own neighborhoods.
And financial backing from some business leaders and their own fundraising, including extortion
of people who needed peace to run shops, also supported the paramilitary activity of the
Nazis. Hateful political movements are often dismissed
as appealing to the least educated, poorest citizens–but while many lower-income people
did join the Nazi party, middle-class people were even more likely to join.
Many middle class Germans were also angry: They’d lost jobs in the postwar downturn
and their life savings in the great inflation. And so the Nazi party had support. They didn’t
have universal support, certainly. It was never a majority party in parliament or anything,
but it did have support. After 1925, Germany seemed to be on an economic
upswing, while it also joined the League of Nations and its diplomats achieved a drastic
reduction in its reparation payments. But the Nazis via Hugenberg’s media empire kept
the pressure on, calling every diplomatic agreement a betrayal of Germany. Then the
stock market crash of 1929 came, and it seemed like a godsend to the Nazis as men were thrown
out of work, allowing Hitler to promise to restore their masculinity and their military
vitality. This appeal to the disenfranchised insiders,
combined with dehumanizing the most vulnerable outsiders, has shaped many of the great disasters
of history. And so the next time you hear the demonization of the marginalized, remember
what Melinda Gates has written: “Outsiders are not the problem. The urge to create outsiders
is the problem.” Thanks for watching. I’ll see you next time.

100 thoughts on “Post-World War I Recovery: Crash Course European History #36

  1. A hard line political leader of the german far right party Alternative for Germany a couple years ago said basically "we have to take back or manhood. Germany has lost his manhood". Oh, how times do change so much….

  2. Remember that the "nazis" hated being called like that, referring to them like that is insulting them

    And that's absolutely great

  3. How dare you try to frame the concern of a crisis of masculinity as a Nazi-style plot?
    You are trying to brainwash the young. Aren’t you?

  4. No offense, but taking your cue from Melinda Gates (one of the richest human beings that has ever lived) about how to address inclusivity in politics (the issue of 'outsiders'), maybe isn't the best idea in the world. If her immense wealth were re-distributed, not just through what she chooses to give others in charity, affirming a sense of self worth that is literally built from value she and her husband didn't create and in my opinion are not entitled to, thus creating less of an 'outside', I think she would be singing a different tune. Would have been better to look elsewhere for inspirational anti-fascist quote imo.

  5. No offense, but that last quote is some dumb leftist propaganda. Outsiders who refuse to intergrate and adapt are the problem. Haven't had problem with any Dutch or European people in years in clubs or on the street. Haven't had problems with immigrants from former colonies that actually more or less integrated. I however had multiple less pleasant encounters with north African/ middle eastern people. They bring their own values and morals and refuse to change.

  6. Thanks for discussing the differences between socialism and communism. It's frustrating how many get the two mixed up. Especially when someone claims the NSDAP was a leftest party, I get really upset. Yeah, they pandered to the 'small man' and created jobs (by preparing for war), aristocrats and company owners were huge fans because they greatly profited by Hitler's politics. Companies like Krupp, IG Farben (today: Bayer), Daimler, VW, etc. all used forced labor in their factories. Afa even had to replace 80 workers per month due to deaths.

  7. Dear John, you know I’m going to pester you into making a Crash Course Sports series now. This is your doing, but I thank you for suggesting it because I didn’t think I needed to see that till you mentioned it.

  8. John, are we seriously using ANYTHING Margaret Sanger used as a positive on this channel? she was a racist and eugenicist. a cursory google search can confirm this. was i wrong to expect better of CCEH?

  9. 11:13 Did Hitler actually use the words "white German race"? Because "whiteness" isn't traditionally a category in German racism, which is instead focused on ethnicity. Like, the Nazis didn't consider Poles or the French or even the English to be the same "race" as Germans.

    European far-right groups have imported US-style white supremacist thinking in recent years, but that wouldn't take off until the 21st century.

  10. 2:00 Wasn't Warsaw rebuilt after WW2 not WW1, I have never come across any documentation about rebuilding and reconstruction projects on a large scale post WW1.
    Potentially after the Polish-Soviet war. But I think that maybe an error.

  11. Parliament elections in my country are just few days away and a fascist party is among the most popular parties. Looks like our people will never learn from the past :/

  12. I feel like we know enough about European History but not enough about other cultures that dedicated just as much or more to humanity.

  13. The Nazis were never socialists. They deliberately appropriated this term to appeal to the masses, as socialism was incredibly popular at the time. In reality, the socialists, communists and trade unionists were their very first victims. In its first few years, the nazi party did have a ‘left’ wing, which combined revolutionary anti-capitalist rhetoric with the usual hyper masculinity, violent repression, racism and anti-semitism, but during the Night of the Long Knives they were massacred by Hitler’s wing of the party. After this, the Nazi party went full corporate.

  14. This episode is typical of Johny's cherrypicking of history. He completely omitted the 1919 Spartacist uprising of the famed Rosa Luxembourg and Karl Leibtnickt and subsequent Freicorp put down of the revolutionary, very formative in the history of the Nazis. Central Europe was riven by communist-inspired insurrections: Eugine Leviné in Bavaria, Bela Kun in Hungary, etc. The Mexican revolution in 1917 any, of course, the October 1917 revolution in Russia. From the perspective of middle-class nationalists, there was a great threat to them. Communist threats against them lead to the formation of rival paramilitary groups: the Sturmabteilinung of the NSDAP was mirrored in the Reichsnbanner of the SPD, the Stahlhelm of the DNVP, Red Fighters Combat league of the KPD. the famous SS, Schutzstaffel (protection unit) was formed to protect Hitler and his leaders from physical attack. Political factionalism would have heightened peoples' paranoia towards leftist groups. think of the ANTIFA of today: many people in the US many feel their free speech threatened and feel justified to retaliate. So that's why John dodges this issue. Another uncomfortable fact is that some of the communist leaders that lead these uprisings were Jewish, (like Luxembourg, Levine, and Kun, who were migrants to Germany and Hungary, respectively). This would have been a contributory basis for the NSDAP's attacks on Jews. Not legitimate of course, but diminishing the fear and hostility of the wider population to Marxist revolutionaries and blaming jobless men who felt their 'masculinity' threatened is a distortion of history and I think his perspective is coloured by contemporary US political culture.

  15. 8:54 Imperialism vs. nationalism is never a comfortable conversation to have, but the fact is you can't have it both ways. Either nations do matter in which case self determination matters, or nations don't matter in which case multinational empires are okay. Wilson did as well as he could given the circumstances.

  16. That last quote really sits with me, although there's an interesting separate case of persecuting outsiders to consider. While creating new underclasses of ethnic minorities is one way of creating outsiders, it's interesting to look at how socialist revolutionary movements fall into similar patterns of persecution of outsiders, primarily by attacking the upper classes, which had purposefully designated themselves outsiders to the lower classes in order to raise themselves above.

    And I don't really know if there's any good way around that; to redistribute that stagnant wealth without it becoming an adversarial thing that will be fought to the death over and often empowers people who would prefer death to be the solution.

  17. Ngl, I would watch a History of Sports crash course series. I’m not even a sports person, but I love learning how the sports we have today came to be, and will even indulge in sports museums if given the chance.

  18. Barber: What kind of haircut am I giving you?
    Benny Mussolini: Let's go with………………………………………….Bald.

  19. Outsiders are not the problem, wanting to be an insider is the problem.
    Embrace the Outsider! Let him suck it, and he can have power, and he can give you power! Come on! Jump it off and take it now, he needs it now! Give him the blood!

  20. That bit over how the NSDAP never was a majority party in parliament (Reichstag) is false in 1933, the year the nazis took power, they gained 43% of the votes an where the majority party in the Reichstag since 1932.

  21. The time between the wars had a lot change, there was a wave of feminism along with mini sexual revaluation with young women not only in the work place but living on their own. And of course there was at the time more risque fashion, not to mention the sudden club scene. In America thanks to probation speakeasies open and unlike the bars before them let women in to drink. In England authors like Agatha Christie, G K Chesterton, Dorothy L Sayers and Joseph Jefferson Farjeon were making the whodunit mystery genre that we know to day. Later when the depression hit Roosevelt pushed what today would be called socialist program to help the people, than the war came and women turned out to work on the factory floors.

  22. This is going to be buried, but anyway… I liked the old John Green better. His videos are as much about contemporary America as the subject he's supposed to cover. Great historic accounts are those that only at a small degree reflects the time they are told/written. A good example of this is "The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire" by Gibbon. This book is 250 years old and are still read and seen as a cornerstone for our understanding of the time.
    I suspect these videos won't measure well up to time. In twenty years this perspective will be seen as very old fashioned and kind of silly. If you have the view that the Nazi thugs trashed Jewish shops because they "threatened their masculinity" you have a very Freudian view on history. The real drivers were the combination of economic crisis, the ideology of nationalism, traumatized people from WW1 and the very real threat that communism was for the vast middle class, to their economic interests and to the institutions of the nation/state that their well being depended on.
    By talking about this in the same way as some modern gender study professor would frame it just confuses the real issues. Germany in the 1920s are not like USA in the 2020s. Men did not force women out of the workforce because of "masculinity", but because of a generation of young men came back from four years in a trenches in the service of the "Fatherland" to an economy with 30% unemployment. This was in a time when the man was expected to be the breadwinner. Without work, they couldn't start a family. This would create dwindling birthrates and in time threaten the state because they needed taxpayers and soldiers in the future. A state were the population went down was seen as an unacceptable result for the state and for the people.
    Jews were prominent in the leadership in many communist movement, this was one of the reasons Jews were targeted. The other reason was that anti-semitism had very long traditions in German nationalism going back to the middle ages and Martin Luther. Another reason was that Jews often were more prosperous than many Germans. In times of economic hardship some will try to rob those who are seen as better off.
    We have to remember that the vast majority of the people supported Nazi policies in the 30s. You can't just take the popular zingers from modern discourse and use them to explain a very different time filled with people with very different experiences and ideas of what the responsibilities the state had to its people and the people to its state.

    This is a very complicated issue. It is not easy to present it in an accurate way, and Green totally misses the target. Modern ideas are modern, they don't always fit when you describe these kind of situations. I'm sure someone gives you brownie points for your wokeness, but it's the wrong perspective. We need to understand the past, not explain it away by comparing it to unrelated issues of our world of today.

  23. "Nothing spurs the economy quite like rebuilding infrastructure that you just blew up."

    Not sure if John is being sarcastic here, but this is wildly and completely ignorant when it comes to economics. This is known as the fallacy of the broken window. There is no economic gain in destroying something and then rebuilding it. The resources that went into rebuilding could have gone into actually beneficial economic activities had those destroyed buildings not been blown up in the first place.

  24. To paraphrase Andy Zaltzmann, who was paraphrasing Orwell, all sport is war minus the shooting…except for the shooting competition. And the rowing, which is fleeing the war in a small boat facing backwards so you can keep an eye on anyone who might try shooting at you.

  25. We are currently facing down what is shaping up to be the worst pandemic we've had in a long time. The inability to understand why we make outsiders, and why it is important we do, is to everyone's detriment.

  26. John, I'm not into spectator sports myself, but I really admire your dedication and support for AFC Wimbledon and I enjoy hearing your reports on it in Dear Hank & John.

  27. There is this assumption that our forefathers were savages who focused on Barbary and madness and did not write down anything they did. This is simply not true. We have an history which is rich (and mostly undocumented) and let’s us know where we come from. Most importantly, The Cradle of Human Kind is just outside of Johannesburg, South Africa. 30 Minutes from my house.😄

  28. This guy can't tell you anything a cable channel can tell you. They just do it much better. He is a propagandist. Marxist at best Communist at reality.

  29. "Mussolini wanted to make Italy great again." Now where have I heard something similar to that from a politician recently?

  30. 100% like ^ for effort. Glad that you made it.
    Yet, a however, already:
    St Adolph is in Kek green face – the mesage is … ? And Herr H practiced before a mirror ! OOH ! A Pooh fter !
    And which modern politician does not before a performance ? And which actors don't ? Same type.
    Once again another 'history' show that dares not critisize the globalist rulers. They did fund WWI & WWii after all, But, hey ! That's a minor Tragedy & Hope-less to expose facts.

  31. IDK why John mentions only the Communists as the opposite of Nazis, and ignores the SPD socialists, who were much more numerous than KPD – both in parliament, and in street clashes against the SA.

  32. My great grandfather survived the entire duration of the war and had experienced so much on the many battlefields he fought on (he served in Mesopotamia, Egypt and France), he caught malaria, got torpedoed and then lost a lung due to mustard gas in the trenches. Yet when he returned back home to Croydon, England the world he had left was not the same to the one he returned to and for the majority of the 1920s and 1930s he worked in so many random jobs just so that he could support his family. I think a big misconception about the 1920s is that it was roaring, but for the normal person on the street, especially in Europe, it wasn't – they didn't have time to party much as they had nations and lives to rebuild.

  33. Guys not only you leave out the history of Cebtral – Eastern Europe (in the whole series) but also when you mention something please do some fact checking. Warsaw has not been severely destroyed in WWI, it happened in WWII. By the way the reconstruction of Warsaw is a pretty awesome topic anyway.

  34. I had a chemistry test today about chemical bonding, periodic table and lewis dot symbol and the electrochemistry ,galvanic cell

  35. Once again, I watch what appears to be a history video, and as such, it was pretty good. But then, Mr. Green can't resist the urge to get political. Several of his characterizations of England and Italy were patently political. And I can't help but think his uplifting message at the end would never have been added if a Democrat was in the white house. I get so tired of politics. Please, please, Mr. Green, can you stick to what you obviously do so well, and spare me your politics?

  36. Why was there so little about Finland, The Baltic nations and other nations that formed after the war and had to start all over?

  37. Socialism defeated fascism (then fascists tried to abduct socialism for rhetorical popular gain), thank you!

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