World War I was a highly anticipated war, instigated and intensified by numerous factors, including militarism, convoluted alliances, industrialization and production of weapons capable of destruction on an unprecedented scale, and nationalism among the powerful countries of Europe. The spark that set the war off was the assassination of Austrian-Hungarian Archduke Franz Ferdinand by the Black Hand, a Serbian nationalist group looking to forward their cause towards a pan-Slavic nation. The complex alliances of the time eventually led to intense trench warfare between the Allies (Great Britain, France, Russia, The United States and Italy) and the Central Powers (Germany and Austria-Hungary). The war ended with over 15 million casualties because of the use of weapons like machine guns, heavy artillery, poison gas, and barbed wire. The war was settled by the Treaty of Versailles, which forced Germany to pay enormous war reparations to the Allies, who also limited the size of Germany's military.
The Bolsheviks were a radical political minority in Russia, led by Vladimir Lenin, who reinterpreted Marxist thought and wanted to make Russia a communist state. They came to power in 1917 following a bloody revolution and the murders of the Romanov family, pulling Russia out of the first world war as they consolidated their hold on the country, despite the red shirts, a group of counterrevolutionaries backed by foreign powers. They eventually consolidated their hold, however, and then began implementing communist policy in the USSR .
Ataturk was a war hero from the first world war, where he fought at Gallipoli. When he became leader of Turkey in the interwar years, he reformed the country to modernize it, making it a secular republic and adopting western culture and political beliefs. Ataturk's reforms included improved education, women's rights, a new constitution, and land reform.
The first Soviet Five Year Plan was instated by Stalin to industrialize and collectivize the USSR so that it could function as a self-sufficient communist economy. Comparable to the Great Leap Forward in Communist China, the 5 Year Plan was not entirely successful at creating a communist society, as large-scale industrialization led to the creation of a wealthy elite that held a good deal of political power in Russia.
The Civil Disobedience Movement in India was a campaign of noncompliance with British law because the law allowed for British exploitation of Indian people. Led by Mohandas Gandhi, the movement was entirely nonviolent (a practice called satyagraha), and included demonstrations, worker's strikes, and, famously, the Salt March to protest British taxation of salt in India. The movement was eventually effective, as it, in conjugation with the Indian National Congress and the Muslim League, brought about the independence of India in 1947.
After its industrial revolution, Japan looked to expand as, being an island nation, it was not particularly resource-rich. It looked to China for land and potential agricultural and industrial production sites, and began putting imperialist pressures on the country in the first world war, with its 21 Demands. By 1931, Japan was ready to invade China, which was occupied by its civil war and was generally in a state of chaos, and so the Japanese orchestrated the Mukden Incident to justify their invasion. In the Incident, the Japanese detonated bombs near a section of railway they owned in Manchuria, and then launched their full-scale invasion into Manchuria, establishing a puppet government called the Manchukuo.
Adolf Hitler was a WWI veteran who organized the Nazi Party in Germany in the interwar years. He, like Mussolini in Italy, promised to bring glory to Germany and take back what was taken from Germany in the Treaty of Versailles. The Nazis grew in power under Hitler, and the rest of Germany worried they would become too powerful. Hitler was made chancellor in Germany in attempts to pacify his party, and from that position he eliminated all political opposition and took dictatorial control of the country. Hitler's fascist regime was based in German nationalism and Aryan racial superiority, and Hitler used Jewish people and the 'ethnically inferior' as scapegoats for Germany's problems. He rebuilt the German army, ignoring the restrictions of the Treaty of Versailles, and invaded Czechoslovakia, the first in a series of expansionist endeavors he would undertake, which eventually led to the outbreak of the second world war.
Lazaro Cardenas was president of Mexico in an era of economic imperialism in the country. Comparable to Franklin D. Roosevelt, Cardenas was a populist leader who gained favor with the people when he chose to nationalize the oil industry in Mexico, much of which was in the hands of foreign investors. Cardenas' actions are an example of economic experimentation to counteract the Great Depression in the interwar years.
The second World War was much more provoked than its predecessor. Europe, having seen the extreme death and destruction brought on by modern warfare, was, for the most part, reluctant to do battle again. However, Italy and Germany were unhappy with how World War I had been settled, and new leaders rose to power there to avenge the wrongs they felt had been done to their countries. This revenge presented itself in the form of aggression and expansionist ambitions; Italy, under Mussolini, bombed Ethiopia; Germany, under Hitler, invaded the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia; and Japan, which was in effect a military dictatorship, invaded Manchuria in Northern China. The League of Nations, which had been established to maintain world peace after WWI, had no power to put a stop to their actions, and atrocities continued to be committed by the aggressors until it became clear that they would not stop without direct military interference. The Allies (Great Britain, France, the USA, and, eventually, Russia) went up against Germany, Italy, and Japan once again, and eventually triumphed. Germany was divided into districts of occupation by various Allies, and the process of rebuilding began.
he United Nations was established at the end of WWII, much as the League of Nations was at the end of WWI, to help maintain world peace in future years. However, leaders learned from their mistakes; the UN was given military capabilities so it could enforce its edicts and be more effective that the League was. Today, the UN deals with issues that surpass national borders, like those regarding human rights, the environment, and epidemic disease, among other things.
The Indian Independence Movement brought about concerns in India's Islamic minority that the country's new government would not be amenable towards its Muslim citizens, and an increasing number of Indian Muslims, led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah of the Muslim League, advocated for the establishment of Pakistan, a separate state for Muslim Indians in the Northwestern region of India. Jinnah eventually realized that goal in the Partition of India, which brought about mass immigration in India as Hindus and Muslims moved to their respective territories. The split was very opposed by people like Mohandas Gandhi, who was a proponent of singular Indian identity regardless of religious identity.
Apartheid laws were instated by the Boer Dutch settlers in South Africa and supported by British colonists there. They were a series of laws that segregated South African society based on race, forcing the black majority into cramped communities while the white minority held over 80% of all the country's land. The laws were heavily protested by activists in South Africa, notable among them Nelson Mandela, who was jailed for 27 years for his efforts. Eventually the laws were overturned in 19189, and, Mandela was freed and became the first black president of South Africa.
Israel was the end goal of many Zionists; an entirely Jewish state in Palestine. In the interwar years, control of Palestine was granted to the British, and during WWII, increasing numbers of Jewish people migrated to Palestine in hopes of creating a Jewish state there, much to the dismay of Palestine's other occupants. After WWII, a UN committee officially declared Israel its own sovereign state, and civil war broke out. Tensions still exist in the region today.
NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, was established after WWII during the Cold War division of the world into capitalists and communists. It is a military alliance that guaranteed the protection of the United States and all of its missiles against aggressors, given that the countries in the alliance are wholly capitalist.
he Korean War was a proxy war of the Cold War in which Korea, newly liberated from Japan after WWII, had issues over how to set up their new government. There was, as in Vietnam, a movement in North Korea to become communist, but the United Nations, backed by the US (with their communism containment policy) entered Korea to protect the South Koreans from the North. North Korea was backed by both Russia and China, and the war was a stalemate. It was resolved by creating two separate nations, North Korea and South Korea, where the North had a communist government and the South had a democratic one. A demilitarized zone was established between the countries, along the 38th parallel, and tensions between North and South Korea remain high to this day.
During the process of decolonization after WWII, France lost colonial control of Vietnam, which then had to set up its own government. Vietnam was led to victory in its struggle against the French by communist leader Ho Chi Minh, and much of the nation wanted to be communist. However, by this point, Cold War tensions were high, and the United States was reluctant to allow the formation of new communist states anywhere. The US, acting on its communist containment foreign policy, attempted to install a democratic government in South Vietnam, and stationed troops to take the North by force. North and South Vietnam then fought a war, considered now as a proxy conflict in the Cold War, as the USSR backed communist North Vietnam and its Viet Cong guerrilla fighters. Eventually, the US pulled its troops out of the conflict because of internal protests against the war, and Vietnam became an entirely communist state.
Fidel Castro was the communist leader of Cuba who came to power in 1959. The United States was panicked by Castro's rise to power because Cuba was a communist nation relatively close to the US, and the situation intensified later in the Cuban Missile Crisis, in which Russia stationed missiles in Cuba, within range of the United States. The Cuban Missile Crisis was the climax of the Cold War, and had it not been dissolved, there likely would have been nuclear war.
After the Allied defeat of Germany in WWII, the country was divided into spheres of occupation by various Allies. Russia was reluctant to relinquish its hold on its territories, which included East Berlin, and wanted to incorporate them into the Soviet Union as satellite states. The USSR declared travel bans from East to West Berlin, and eventually erected the Berlin Wall between the two, cutting them off from the USSR and forming a concrete barrier between communist and capitalist states. The Berlin Wall was a representation of the Cold War and the 'iron curtain' between states with communist or capitalist economic models. The wall was not taken down until 1989.