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"'30s" and "thirties" redirect here. For decades comprising years 30–39 of other centuries, see List of decades.
Great Depression Dust Bowl Second Sino-Japanese War Amelia Earhart Salt March Hindenburg disaster Nazi Party
From left, clockwise: Dorothea Lange's photo of the homeless Florence Thompson show the effects of the Great Depression; Due to the extreme drought conditions, the farms become dry and the Dust Bowl spreads through America; The Canton Operation during the Second Sino-Japanese War; Aviator Amelia Earhart becomes an American flight icon; German dictator Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party attempted to establish a New Order of absolute Nazi German hegemony in Europe, which culminated in 1939 when Germany invaded Poland, leading to the outbreak of World War II; The Hindenburg explodes over a small New Jerseian airfield, causing 36 deaths and effectively ending commercial airship travel; Mohandas Gandhi walks to the Indian Ocean in the protest Salt March of 1930.
Millennium: 2nd millennium
Centuries: 19th century20th century21st century
Decades: 1900s 1910s 1920s1930s1940s 1950s 1960s
Years: 1930 1931 1932 1933 1934 1935 1936 1937 1938 1939
BirthsDeathsBy country

The 1930s (pronounced "nineteen-thirties", commonly abbreviated as the "Thirties") was a decade of the Gregorian calendar that began on January 1, 1930 and ended on December 31, 1939.

Brief synopsis[edit]

After the Wall Street Crash of 1929, the largest stock market crash in American history, most of the decade was consumed by an economic downfall called the Great Depression that had a traumatic effect worldwide, leading to widespread unemployment and poverty. In response, authoritarian regimes emerged in several countries in Europe and South America, in particular the Third Reich in Germany. Weaker states such as Ethiopia, China, and Poland were invaded by expansionist world powers, the last of these attacks leading to the outbreak of the Second World War a few months before the end of the decade. The 1930s also saw a proliferation of new technologies, especially in the fields of intercontinental aviation, radio, and film.

Politics and wars[edit]


The Colombian Army countering a Peruvian attack during the Colombia–Peru War
Japanese naval landing forces blasting Chinese pillbox and marching during the Canton Operation in 1938.

Internal conflicts[edit]

Major political changes[edit]

The rise of Nazism
German dictator Adolf Hitler (right) and Italian dictator Benito Mussolini (left) pursue agendas of territorial expansion for their countries in the 1930s, eventually leading to the outbreak of World War II in 1939.
  • Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party rise to power in Germany in 1933, forming a fascist regime committed to repudiating the Treaty of Versailles, persecuting and removing Jews and other minorities from German society, expanding Germany's territory, and opposing the spread of communism.
  • Hitler pulls Germany out of the League of Nations, but hosts the 1936 Summer Olympics to show his new reich to the world as well as the supposed superior athleticism of his Aryan troops/athletes.
  • Neville Chamberlain, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1937–1940), attempts the appeasement of Hitler in hope of avoiding war by allowing the dictator to annex the Sudetenland (the western regions of Czechoslovakia). Later signing the Munich Agreement and promising constituents "Peace for our time". He was ousted in favor of Winston Churchill in May 1940, after the Invasion of Norway.[2]
  • The assassination of the German diplomat Ernst vom Rath by a German-born Polish Jew triggers the Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass) which occurred between 9 and 10 November 1938, carried out by the Hitler Youth, the Gestapo, and the SS, during which much of the Jewish population living in Nazi Germany and Austria was attacked – 91 Jews were murdered, and between 25,000 and 30,000 more were arrested and sent to Nazi concentration camps. Some 267 synagogues were destroyed, and thousands of homes and businesses were ransacked. Kristallnacht also served as the pretext for the wholesale confiscation of firearms from German Jews.
  • Germany and Italy pursue territorial expansionist agendas. Germany demands the annexation of the Federal State of Austria and of other German-speaking territories in Europe. Between 1935 to 1936, Germany recovers the Saar and remilitarizes the Rhineland. Italy initially opposes Germany's aims for Austria, but in 1936 the two countries resolve their differences in the aftermath of Italy's diplomatic isolation following the start of the Second Italo-Abyssinian War, Germany becoming Italy's only remaining ally. Germany and Italy improve relations by forming an alliance against communism in 1936 with the signing of the Anti-Comintern Pact. Germany annexes Austria in the event known as the Anschluss. The annexation of the Sudetenland followed negotiations which resulted in the Munich Agreement of 1938. The Italian invasion of Albania in 1939 succeeds in turning the Kingdom of Albania into an Italian protectorate. The vacant Albanian throne was claimed by Victor Emmanuel III of Italy.[3] Germany receives the Memel territory from Lithuania, occupies what remains of Czechoslovakia, and finally invades the Second Polish Republic, the last of these events resulting in the outbreak of World War II.
  • In 1939, several countries of the Americas, including Canada, Cuba, and the United States, controversially deny asylum to hundreds of German Jewish refugees on board the MS St. Louis who are fleeing the Nazi regime's racist agenda of anti-Semitic persecution in Germany. In the end, no country accepts the refugees, and the ship returns to Germany with most of its passengers on board. Some commit suicide, rather than return to Nazi Germany.

United States

New Deal: President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Tennessee Valley Authority Act, 18 May 1933
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt is elected President of the United States in November 1932. Roosevelt initiates a widespread social welfare strategy called the "New Deal" to combat the economic and social devastation of the Great Depression. The economic agenda of the "New Deal" was a radical departure from previous laissez-faire economics.


Decolonization and independence[edit]


The German dirigible airship Hindenburg exploding in 1937.
The Dust Bowl dust storm approaches Stratford, Texas, in 1935.
  • The German dirigible airship Hindenburg explodes in the sky above Lakehurst, New Jersey, United States on May 6, 1937. 36 people are killed. The event leads to an investigation of the explosion and the disaster causes major public distrust of the use of hydrogen-inflated airships and seriously damages the reputation of the Zeppelin company.
  • The New London School in New London, Texas is destroyed by an explosion, killing in excess of 300 students and teachers (1937).
  • The New England Hurricane of 1938, which became a Category 5 hurricane before making landfall as a Category 3. The hurricane was estimated to have caused property losses estimated at US$306 million ($4.72 billion in 2010), killed between 682 and 800 people, and damaged or destroyed over 57,000 homes, including famed actress Katharine Hepburn's, who had been staying in her family's Old Saybrook, Connecticut beach home when the hurricane struck.
  • The Dust Bowl, or Dirty Thirties: a period of severe dust storms causing major ecological and agricultural damage to American and Canadian prairie lands from 1930 to 1936 (in some areas until 1940). Caused by extreme drought, coupled with decades of extensive farming without crop rotation, fallow fields, cover crops, or other techniques to prevent erosion, and heavy winds, it affected an estimated 100,000,000 acres (400,000 km2) of land (traveling as far east as New York and the Atlantic Ocean), caused mass migration (which was the inspiration for the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck), food shortages, multiple deaths and illness from sand inhalation (see History in Motion), and a severe reduction in the going wage rate.
  • The 1938 Yellow River flood pours out from Huayuankou, China in 1938, inundating 54,000 km2 (21,000 sq mi) of land, and takes an estimated 500,000 lives.


The 1930s were marked by several notable assassinations:

International issues[edit]


Soviet famine of 1932–33. Starved peasants in the streets of Kharkiv, 1933.


Hertzog of South Africa, whose National Party had won the 1929 election alone, after splitting with the Labour Party, received much of the blame for the devastating economic impact of the depression.



Mohandas Gandhi on the Salt March in 1930.



CCC workers constructing road, 1933. Over 3 million unemployed young men were taken out of the cities and placed into 2600+ work camps managed by the CCC.[7]
  • The Great Depression is considered to have begun with the stock market crash on September 4, 1929 and lasted through much of the 1930s.
  • The entire decade is marked by widespread unemployment and poverty, although deflation (i.e. falling prices) was limited to 1930-32 and 1938-39. Prices fell 7.02% in 1930, 10.06% in 1931, 9.79% in 1932, 1.41% in 1938 and 0.71% in 1939.[8]
  • Economic interventionist policies increase in popularity as a result of the Great Depression in both authoritarian and democratic countries. In the Western world, Keynesianism replaces classical economic theory.
  • In an effort to reduce unemployment the government created work projects such as the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) which was a public work relief program that operated from 1933 to 1942 to maintain National Parks and build roads. Other major government work projects included Hoover Dam which was constructed between 1931 and 1936.
  • Rapid industrialization takes place in the Soviet Union.
  • Prohibition in the United States ended in 1933. On December 5, 1933, the ratification of the Twenty-first Amendment repealed the Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
  • Drought conditions in Oklahoma and Texas caused the Dust Bowl which forced tens of thousands of families to abandon their farms and seek employment elsewhere.


Many technological advances occurred in the 1930s, including:

Popular culture[edit]


  • Radio becomes dominant mass media in industrial nations.


Main article: 1930s in music


Main article: 1930s in film

In the art of film making, the Golden Age of Hollywood entered a whole decade, after the advent of talking pictures ("talkies") in 1927 and full-color films in 1930: more than 50 classic films were made in the 1930s: most notable were Gone With The Wind and The Wizard of Oz.



The Empire State Building became the world's tallest building when completed in 1931.

Literature and art[edit]

Visual arts[edit]

Social Realism became an important art movement during the Great Depression in the United States in the 1930s. Social realism generally portrayed imagery with socio-political meaning. Other related American artistic movements of the 1930s were American scene painting and Regionalism which were generally depictions of rural America, and historical images drawn from American history. Precisionism with its depictions of industrial America was also a popular art movement during the 1930s in the USA. During the Great Depression the art of photography played an important role in the Social Realist movement. The work of Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, Margaret Bourke-White, Lewis Hine, Edward Steichen, Gordon Parks, Arthur Rothstein, Marion Post Wolcott, Doris Ulmann, Berenice Abbott, Aaron Siskind, Russell Lee, Ben Shahn (as a photographer) among several others were particularly influential.

The Works Progress Administration part of the Roosevelt Administration's New Deal sponsored the Federal Art Project, the Public Works of Art Project, and the Section of Painting and Sculpture which employed many American artists and helped them to make a living during the Great Depression.

Mexican muralism was a Mexican art movement that took place primarily in the 1930s. The movement stands out historically because of its political undertones, the majority of which of a Marxist nature, or related to a social and political situation of post-revolutionary Mexico. Also in Latin America Symbolism and Magic Realism were important movements.

In Europe during the 1930s and the Great Depression, Surrealism, late Cubism, the Bauhaus, De Stijl, Dada, German Expressionism, Symbolist and modernist painting in various guises characterized the art scene in Paris and elsewhere.


Main article: 1930–45 in fashion


World leaders[edit]

Emperor Hirohito in 1935. He was the last divine Emperor of Japan
Adolf Hitler wins a popular election and then establishes a dictatorship in Germany whose expansionist ambitions lead to the outbreak of World War II in Europe.
Franklin D. Roosevelt, as President of the United States initiates major economic reform in the United States.
Benito Mussolini, Duce of Fascist Italy from 1922 to 1943.


  • Henri, comte de Baillet-Latour, President International Olympic Committee
  • M.A. Crommelin, Secretary-general Permanent Court of Arbitration
  • Oskar Dressler, Secretary-general International Criminal Police Organization
  • Sir Herbert William Emerson, Director of Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees-High Commissioner for Refugees under the Protection of the League of Nations
  • Max Huber, President International Committee of the Red Cross
  • Thomas Frank Johnson, Secretary-general Nansen International Office for Refugees
  • Gilbert Murray, Chairman International Commission on Intellectual Co-operation
  • Fridtjof Wedel-Jarlsberg Nansen, League of Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
  • Leo S. Rowe, Director-general Organization of American States

Sports figures[edit]


Jesse Owens shook racial stereotypes both with Nazis and segregationists in the USA at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

United States[edit]


Publicity photo of Greta Garbo in Anna Karenina (1935)
Clark Gable as Rhett Butler in the trailer for Gone with the Wind (1939)
Walt Disney introduces each of the Seven Dwarfs in a scene from the original 1937 Snow White


Influential artists[edit]

Painters and sculptors[edit]



See also[edit]


The following articles contain brief timelines which list the most prominent events of the decade:



  1. ^ Bix, Herbert P. (1992). "The Showa Emperor's 'Monologue' and the Problem of War Responsibility". Journal of Japanese Studies 18 (2): 295–363. JSTOR 132824. 
  2. ^ Hunt, Lynn. "The Making of the West: Peoples and Cultures" Vol. C since 1740.Bedford/St. Martin's, 2009.
  3. ^ Zabecki, David T. (1999). World War II in Europe: an encyclopedia. New York: Garland Pub. p. 1353. ISBN 0-8240-7029-1. Retrieved 12 January 2011. 
  4. ^ "Manchukuo " Encyclopædia Britannica
  5. ^ "The first central committee of IMRO. Memoirs of d-r Hristo Tatarchev", Materials for the Macedonian liberation movement, book IX (series of the Macedonian scientific institute of IMRO, led by Bulgarian academician prof. Lyubomir Miletich), Sofia, 1928, p. 102 , поредица "Материяли за историята на македонското освободително движение" на Македонския научен институт на ВМРО, воден от българския академик проф. Любомир Милетич, книга IX, София, 1928.
  6. ^ A. L. Unger (January 1969). "Stalin's Renewal of the Leading Stratum: A Note on the Great Purge". Soviet Studies 20 (3): 321–330. doi:10.1080/09668136808410659. JSTOR 149486. 
  7. ^ "National Park History: "The Spirit of the Civilian Conservation Corps"". Nationalparkstraveler.com. Archived from the original on 5 September 2010. Retrieved 2010-09-04. 
  8. ^ "Inflation and CPI Consumer Price Index 1930-1939". 
  9. ^ Robert Johnson Biography. Allmusic
  10. ^ Del Barco, Mandalit. Revolutionary Mural To Return To L.A. After 80 Years. npr. October 26, 2010. Retrieved June 19, 2015.
  11. ^ Rondeau, Ginette La América Tropical Olvera Street Website Accessed 14 November 2014

External links[edit]