Portal:1920s

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The 1920s Portal

The 1920s was a decade that began on January 1, 1920 and ended on December 31, 1929. It is sometimes referred to as the Roaring Twenties or the Jazz Age, when speaking about the United States, Canada, or the United Kingdom. In Europe the decade is sometimes referred to as the "Golden Age Twenties" because of the economic boom following World War I.

Since the end of the 20th century, the economic strength during the 1920s has drawn close comparison with the 1950s and 1990s, especially in the United States of America. These three decades are regarded as periods of economic prosperity, which lasted throughout nearly each entire decade. Each of the three decades followed a tremendous event that occurred in the previous decade (World War I and Spanish flu in the 1910s, World War II in the 1940s, and the end of the Cold War in the late 1980s). The 1920s marked the first time in the United States that the population in the cities surpassed the population of rural areas. This was due to rapid urbanization starting in the 1920s.

However, not all countries enjoyed this prosperity. The Weimar Republic, like many other European countries, had to face a severe economic downturn in the opening years of the decade, because of the enormous debt caused by the war as well as the Treaty of Versailles. Such a crisis would culminate with a devaluation of the Mark in 1923, eventually leading to severe economic problems and, in the long term, favour the rise of the Nazi Party.

The 1920s were characterized by the rise of radical political movements, especially in regions that were once part of empires. Communism began attracting larger amounts of support following the success of the October Revolution and the Bolsheviks' determination to win the subsequent Russian Civil War. To move the backward economy of Russia towards a more developed economy in which socialism would become possible, the Bolsheviks adopted a policy of mixed economics, from 1921 to 1928, and also created the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics at the end of 1922. The 1920s also experienced the rise of the far right and fascism in Europe and elsewhere, being perceived as a solution to prevent the spread of Communism. The knotty economic problems also favoured the rise of dictators in Eastern Europe and the Balkans, such as Józef Piłsudski in the Second Polish Republic and Peter and Alexander Karađorđević in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. The devastating Wall Street Crash in October 1929 drew a line under the prosperous 1920s.

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Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia
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Haile Selassie I was Ethiopia's regent from 1916 to 1930 and Emperor of Ethiopia from 1930 to 1974. The heir to a dynasty that traced its origins to the 13th century, and from there by tradition back to King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, he is a defining figure in both Ethiopian and African history. Selassie is revered as the religious symbol for God incarnate among the Rastafari movement, whose name comes from Ras (literally "Head," an Ethiopian title equivalent to Duke), and Tafari Makonnen, Selassie's pre-coronation name.

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Painting of George V in coronation robes, c. 1911
George V (1865–1936) was King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and Emperor of India, from 6 May 1910 through World War I until his death in 1936. He was the first British monarch of the House of Windsor, which he created from the British branch of the German House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. From the age of twelve George served in the Royal Navy, but upon the unexpected death of his elder brother, Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avondale, he became heir to the throne and married his brother's fiancée, Mary of Teck. Although they occasionally toured the British Empire, George lived what later biographers would consider a dull life because of its conventionality. George became King-Emperor in 1910 on the death of his father, King Edward VII. During World War I he relinquished all German titles and styles on behalf of his relatives who were British subjects, and changed the name of the royal house from Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to Windsor. During his reign, the Statute of Westminster separated the crown so that George ruled the dominions as separate kingdoms, preparing the way for the future development of the Commonwealth of Nations. His reign also witnessed the rise of socialism, communism, fascism, Irish republicanism, and the first Labour ministry.

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