THE INTER-WAR PERIOD 1926

THE INTER-WAR PERIOD 1926

The Greek, Lieutenant General Theodoros Pangalos was a soldier, politician and dictator who declared a state of emergency on the 3rd January 1926 and assumed dictatorial powers. A distinguished staff officer and an anti-royalist, Pangalos played a leading role in the September 1922 revolt that deposed King Constantine I and in the establishment of the Second Hellenic Republic. In June 1925 he had staged a bloodless coup and his assumption of power was recognised by the National Assembly which named him Prime Minister. At a rigged election on the 4th April 1926 Pangalos had himself elected President. His political and diplomatic inability soon became apparent. On the economic front Pangalos attempted to devalue the currency by ordering paper notes cut in half. He conceded too many rights to the Yugoslav trade in Thessaloniki but, worst of all, he embroiled Greece in the so-called War of the Stray Dog, harming Greece’s already strained international relations. Soon many of the officers who had helped him come to power decided that he had to be removed. On the 29th August 1926 a counter-coup led by General Georgios Kondylis deposed Pangalos and Pavlos Kountouriotis returned as president. Pangalos was imprisoned for two years in the Izzeddin Fortress, and after his release he never regained the popularity he had before the coup and never again played a role in Greek politics.
In occupied Germany the British and Belgian troops began to leave Cologne on the 31st January 1926. At the end of the Great War, French, British, Belgian and United States troops occupied the Rhineland. This was agreed as part of the Armistice signed on the 11th November 1918. The details, including zones of occupation, were worked out by the French Marshal Ferdinand Foch and the British and Belgians were allocated the city of Cologne and the surrounding areas. British troops first crossed the border into Germany on the 2nd December 1918. The occupation was originally intended to last for fifteen years with the number of Allied troops reduced in stages after five and ten years. However, some British troops stayed on in Weisbaden until the 30th June 1930.
The Treaty of Berlin was signed by Germany and the Soviet Union on the 24th April 1926, which pledged neutrality if either country was attacked by a third party within the next five years. The treaty was signed in Berlin on the 29th June 1926, and it went into effect on the same day.
In Paris on the 25th May 1926, Ukrainian nationalist leader Symon Vasilyevich Petliura was assassinated by Russian Jew Sholom Schwartzbard when he pulled out a gun and shot him five times. Petliura was a politician and journalist who had been Supreme Commander of the Ukrainian Army and the President of the Ukrainian National Republic. He led Ukraine’s struggle for independence following the fall of the Russian Empire in 1917. Following the Russian Revolution, and the outbreak of hostilities between the Ukraine and Soviet Russia, Petliura lost most of his army to the Bolsheviks and by early 1924 had settled in Paris. During his years in exile in Paris he established and edited the Ukrainian language newspaper Tryzub promoting Ukrainian culture. He was also head of government-in-exile of the Ukrainian People’s Republic. After hearing that Petliura was relocated in Paris, Schwartzbard plotted his assassination as he blamed Petliura for the loss of his family during the 1919 pogroms

Germany joined the League of Nations on the 8th September 1926 following the Locarno Conference of October 1925. The conference consisted of a series of treaties that allowed Germany to become a member of the League Council, for which it had previously applied. In 1924, the newly appointed foreign minister of Germany Gustav Stresemann adopted a new policy toward the League of Nations which previous governments had rejected. The rejection had been on the grounds that the victors of the Great War created difficulties in order to suppress the defeated Germans.

In Japan, Hirohito became the 124th Emperor on the 25th December 1926, following the death of his father Taisho. At the start of his reign, Japan was already one of the great powers. They had the ninth largest economy in the world, the third largest navy and was one of four permanent members of the League of Nations. However, the first part of Hirohito’s reign took place against a background of financial crisis and increasing military power within the government. The Imperial Japanese Army and Imperial Japanese Navy held veto power over the formation of the cabinet.

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The Inter-War Period 1925

The Inter-War Period 1925

With the economy improving in January 1925, Adolf Hitler’s opportunities for political agitation was limited. In a meeting with Heinrich Held, the Prime Minister of Bavaria, on the 4th January 1925, Hitler agreed to respect the state’s authority and promised that he would seek political power only through the democratic process. Although the NSDAP was banned in Bavaria following the failed Beer Hall Putsch the meeting paved the way for the ban on the NSDAP to be lifted on the 16th February 1925. However, after an inflammatory speech he gave on the 27th February 1925, Hitler was barred from public speaking by the Bavarian authorities, a ban that remained in place until 1927. To advance his political ambitions in spite of the ban Hitler appointed Gregor & Otto Strasser and Joseph Goebbels to organise and grow the NSDAP in northern Germany.

Adolf Hitler formally renounced his Austrian citizenship on the 7th April 1925. Whilst in prison and shortly before he was eligible for parole the Bavarian government attempted to have him deported back to Austria. The Austrian federal chancellor rejected the request on the grounds that his service in the German Army made his Austrian citizenship void.

On the 12th May 1925, retired Field Marshal Paul Von Hindenburg took office as President of Germany. Presidential elections were held in Germany on the 29th March 1925, with a second run-off on the 26th April 1925. They were the first direct elections for the President of the Reich, Germany’s head of state during the 1919-1933 Weimar Republic. Following the death of the first President, Friedrich Ebert, in February 1925, the Weimar constitution required that his successor be elected by the “whole German people”. The first President Ebert had been elected indirectly by the National Assembly. Hindenburg was elected as the second president of Germany in the second round of voting.

On the 18th July 1925 Adolf Hitler’s autobiographical manifest Mein Kampf was published. It was a blueprint of his agenda for a Third Reich and a clear exposition of the nightmare that would envelope Europe from 1939 to 1945. The book sold 9,473 copies in its first year.

During October 1925 the terms of the Treaty of Locarno were negotiated and finally signed on the1st December 1926 by Germany, France, Belgium, Britain and Italy. The treaty recognised defeated Germany’s borders with France and Belgium and that Germany would never again go to war with the other countries. However, Britain, Italy and Belgium undertook to assist France in case future German troops marched into the de-militarised Rhineland. The treaty paved the way for Germany’s admission to the League of Nations in 1926.

After his release from prison in December 1924, Adolf Hitler honed his oratorical skills and worked for the advancement of the Nazi Party. Such advance was slow throughout the years 1925 to 1929 because of a fairly stable financial period in Europe.

In Italy, Benito Mussolini gradually dismantled all democratic institutions and by 1925, he had declared himself dictator taking the title “Il Duce” (“The Leader”). To his credit, he carried out an extensive public works programme and reduced unemployment making him very popular with the people.

The Locarno Treaties were seven agreements signed in London on the 1st December 1925, and had been negotiated at Locarno in Switzerland in October 1925. The treaties settled the borders of Western Europe and normalised relations between Germany and the Allied powers. It also stated that Germany would never go to war with the other countries. Locarno divided borders in Europe into two categories. The western borders were guaranteed by Locarno treaties, and the eastern borders of Germany with Poland, which were open for revision.

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THE INTER-WAR PERIOD 1924

THE INTER-WAR PERIOD 1924

In Germany, following Adolf Hitler’s arrest and charge for high treason in November 1923, a report by the Bavarian authorities in 1924 stated that his service in the Bavarian Army came about because of an administrative error. As an Austrian citizen he should have been returned to Austria. At the outbreak of the Great War Hitler was living in Munich and voluntarily enlisted in the Bavarian Army and, therefore, he was to allowed to keep his German citizenship. He was decorated for bravery and received the Black Wound Badge whilst serving on the Western Front.

Vladimir Lenin, the architect of the Bolshevik Revolution and the first leader of the Soviet Union, died on the 21st January 1924, of a brain haemorrhage at the age of 54. Upon Lenin’s death his body was embalmed and placed in a mausoleum in the Red Square just outside the Moscow Kremlin. Petrograd was renamed Leningrad in his honour. Fellow revolutionary Joseph Stalin succeeded him as leader of the Soviet Union.

On the 1st February 1924 Britain formally extended diplomatic recognition to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR or Soviet Union). However, Anglo-Soviet relationships during the 1920’s was marked with distrust.

The trial of Adolf Hitler began in February 1924 and was conducted before the special People’s Court in Munich and Alfred Rosenberg became temporary leader of the NSDAP. On the 1st April 1924, Hitler was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment at Landsberg Prison and received friendly treatment from the prison guards. He was allowed mail from supporters and regular visits by party comrades. While at Landsberg Hitler dictated most of the first volume of Mein Kampf (My Struggle) to his deputy Rudolf Hess. The book laid out Hitler’s plans for transforming German society into one based on race. The main theory centred on Aryan superiority and Jewish inferiority. Some passages implied genocide.

In Italy, general elections were held on the 6th April 1924. They were held under the Acerbo Law which was approved by Parliament in November 1923. This law stated that the party with the largest share of the votes would automatically receive two-thirds of the seats in Parliament providing they received over 25% of the vote. The Nationalists of Benito Mussolini’s Fascist Party used intimidating tactics, resulting in a landslide victory and subsequent two-thirds majority. This was the last free election in Italy until 1946.

In Italy on the 10th June 1924, the Unitary Socialist Party leader Giacomo Matteotti was kidnapped and assassinated by Fascist Blackshirts. Mussolini ordered a cover-up in order to avert a coup which could have swept Fascism away.

The Dawes Plan was a report accepted by the Allies and Germany on the 16th August 1924. On the initiative of the British and U.S. governments a committee of experts headed by American financier, Charles G. Dawes, produced a report on the question of German reparations under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. The occupation of the Ruhr industrial area by France and Belgium contributed to the hyperinflation crisis in Germany. The plan provided for an end to the Allied occupation, and a staggered payment plan for Germany’s payment of war reparations. The plan proved to be unworkable as it was only in interim plan, and in 1929 the Young Plan was adopted to replace it.

On the 18th August 1924, France and Belgium began withdrawing their occupying troops from the Ruhr industrial area of Germany. Ten years after the August 1914 declaration of war, cultural demobilization was finally able to begin, alongside a move away from violence in international relations. The Lacarno Treaties of 1925 established redefined German borders.

Adolf Hitler was released from prison on the 20th December 1924 after he had been pardoned by the Bavarian Supreme Court despite the state prosecution’s objections. Including time spent on remand Hitler served just over one year in prison.

On the 31st December 1924, the Italian Blackshirt leaders met with Mussolini and gave him an ultimatum, crush the opposition or they would do so without him. Mussolini decided to drop all trappings of democracy.

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THE INTER-WAR PERIOD 1923

THE INTER-WAR PERIOD 1923

When, in January 1923, Germany defaulted on its reparation payments French and Belgian troops occupied the heavily industrialised Ruhr district. The humiliating peace terms of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 provoked bitter indignation throughout Germany, and seriously weakened the democratic regime. The Treaty stripped Germany of all its overseas colonies and the return of Alsace and Lorraine to France. Germany was not allowed to have a real Army, Navy or Air Force. On the 11th January 1923 France and Belgium occupied industrial sectors in West Germany and stationed troops in the Rhineland. Reparations were demanded, especially by France, involving shipments of raw materials, as well as annual payments. The German government encouraged the population of the Ruhr to passive resistance which included shops not selling goods to foreign soldiers, or coal mines not supplying the foreign troops. Trams would be left abandoned in the middle of the street if members of the occupation army sat in them. The German government printed vast quantities of paper money, causing hyper-inflation, which also damaged the French economy. The passive resistance proved effective, insofar as the occupation became a loss-making deal for the French government. By June 1923 the hyper-inflation in Germany caused many prudent savers to lose all the money they had saved. The German government also had to contend with disagreement and dissent from anti-democratic Nazis, nationalists and communists.

Signed in Switzerland on the 24th July 1923 the Treaty of Lausanne settled the boundaries of modern Turkey. The treaty was signed by Turkey and Entente powers. It marked the end of the Turkish War of Independence and replaces the earlier Treaty of Sévres.

The Corfu incident was a 1923 diplomatic and military crisis between Greece and Italy. It was triggered when an Italian general was murdered on Greek territory. The general was heading a commission to resolve a border dispute between Albania and Greece. On the 31st August 1923, Italian Prime Minister Benito Mussolini issued an ultimatum to Greece to pay reparations for the murder. When the ultimatum was not totally accepted Mussolini dispatched forces to bombard and occupy Corfu. On the 27th September 1923, the Corfu incident ended when Italian troops withdrew following the Conference of Ambassadors. The conference ruled in favour of Italian demands of reparations from Greece.

Turkey officially became a Republic on the 29th October 1923 following the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. The republic was created after the overthrow of Sultan Mehmet VI and the new Republican Parliament delivered the coup de gràce to the Ottoman state. Following the First World War, the Ottoman Empire was practically wiped out from the world stage.

In Munich during November 1923 the Beer Hall Putsch took place in which Adolf Hitler unsuccessfully led the Nazi Party (NSADP) in an attempt to overthrow the German government. By emulating Benito Mussolini’s ”March on Rome” of 1922, Hitler wanted to stage his own coup on Bavaria, followed by a challenge to the government in Berlin. Seeking the support of Munich’s effective ruler, Gustav Ritter von Kahr they found they were faced with a rival party who wished to install a nationalist dictatorship without Hitler. In 1923 Hitler enlisted the help of the Great War General Erich Ludendorff for an attempted coup to form a new government. On the 8th November 1923 Hitler’s party stormed a public meeting of 3,000 people organised by Kahr in a beer hall in Munich. Interrupting Kahr’s speech, Hitler announced that the national revolution had begun and declared a new government with Ludendorff. With drawn handgun Hitler demanded and received the support of Kahr’s rival party. Hitler and his fellow Nazi members initially succeeded in occupying the local army and police headquarters, but Kahr and his cohorts quickly withdrew their support. Neither the army nor the state police joined forces with Hitler. The following day, Hitler and his followers marched from the beer hall to the Bavarian War Ministry to overthrow the Bavarian government, but the police dispersed them. Sixteen Nazi members and four police officers were killed in the failed coup. Hitler fled but was arrested on the 11th November 1923 and charged with high treason.

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