Fighting on the Western front had destroyed much of northern France. The French had suffered huge casualties. Survivors felt battered and insecure.

After the war, political divisions and financial scandals continued to plague the Third Republic. Several parties—from conservatives to communists—competed for power. During the postwar years, France was again ruled by a series of coalition governments that created temporary alliances among rival political parties.

Postwar Fears in the United States

In contrast, the United States emerged from World War I in good shape. A late entrant into the war, it had suffered relatively few casualties and little loss of property. However, the United States did experience some domestic unrest. Fear of radicals and the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia set off a “Red Scare” in 1919 and 1920. Police rounded up suspected foreign-born radicals, and a number were expelled from the United States.

The “Red Scare” fed growing demands to limit immigration. Millions of immigrants from southern and eastern Europe had poured into the United States between 1890 and 1914. Some native-born Americans sought to exclude these newcomers, whose cultures differed from those of earlier settlers from northern Europe. In response, Congress passed laws limiting immigration from Europe. Earlier laws had already excluded or limited Chinese and Japanese immigration.

Cartoon of a fuzzy caterpillar labeled communism inching over a leaf labeled capital, which covers a bunch of grapes labeled with law, order, talent, rights, education, worth, respect, business, peace.

Analyze Political Cartoons

This political cartoon's original caption was “Communism. A Destructive Worm.” What message is the cartoonist conveying in this cartoon?

International Relations

In addition to problems at home, the three democracies faced a difficult international situation. The peace settlements that ended World War I caused friction, especially in Germany and among some ethnic groups in Eastern Europe.

Allies Disagree Over Direction

France's chief concern after the war was securing its borders against Germany. The French remembered the German invasions of 1870 and 1914. To prevent a third invasion, France built massive fortifications called the Maginot Line (ma zhee NOH) along its border with Germany. The Maginot Line offered a sense of security—a false one. The line would be of little use when Germany invaded again in 1940.

In its quest for security, France also strengthened its military and sought alliances with other countries, including the Soviet Union. It insisted on strict enforcement of the Versailles treaty and complete payment of reparations. France's goal was to keep the German economy weak.

Britain was more interested in protecting its overseas empire and rebuilding trade than in punishing Germany. British leaders strongly supported the limits on German naval power. Still, during the postwar period, many British leaders began to think that the Treaty of Versailles had been too harsh on Germany, and they called for easing its terms. They feared that if Germany became too weak, the Soviet Union and France would become too powerful.

Searching for Peace

During the 1920s and 1930s, many people worked for peace. Hopes soared in 1925 when representatives from seven European nations signed a series of treaties at Locarno, Switzerland. These treaties settled Germany's disputed borders with France, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, and Poland.

The Locarno treaties became the symbol of a new era of peace. “France and Germany Ban War Forever,” trumpeted a New York Times headline.

The hopeful “spirit of Locarno” was echoed in Kellogg-Briand Pact, signed in 1928. Almost every independent nation signed this agreement, promising to “renounce war as an instrument of national policy.”

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Table of Contents

World History Topic 1 Origins of Civilization (Prehistory–300 B.C.) Topic 2 The Ancient Middle East and Egypt (3200 B.C.–500 B.C.) Topic 3 Ancient India and China (2600 B.C.–A.D. 550) Topic 4 The Americas (Prehistory–A.D. 1570) Topic 5 Ancient Greece (1750 B.C.–133 B.C.) Topic 6 Ancient Rome and the Origins of Christianity (509 B.C.-A.D. 476) Topic 7 Medieval Christian Europe (330–1450) Topic 8 The Muslim World and Africa (730 B.C.-A.D. 1500) Topic 9 Civilizations of Asia (500–1650) Topic 10 The Renaissance and Reformation (1300–1650) Topic 11 New Global Connections (1415–1796) Topic 12 Absolutism and Revolution Topic 13 The Industrial Revolution Topic 14 Nationalism and the Spread of Democracy (1790–1914) Topic 15 The Age of Imperialism (1800–1914) Topic 16 World War I and the Russian Revolution (1914–1924) Topic 17 The World Between the Wars (1910–1939) Topic 18 World War II (1930–1945) Topic 19 The Cold War Era (1945–1991) Topic 20 New Nations Emerge (1945–Present) Topic 21 The World Today (1980-Present) United States Constitution Primary Sources 21st Century Skills Atlas Glossary Index Acknowledgments