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1930s In The News


this section is divided into 2 parts:


Events & Newsmakers
Top stories, sports and
names in the news

The Great Depression
From the 1929 stock market
crash to the New Deal


Events & Newsmakers

the dust bowl
Between 1932 and 1935, a combination of poor farming techniques and the worst drought in American history created the dust bowl.

Healthy soil is held together by the roots of the plants and trees growing in it. Midwestern farm lands were overplanted and overgrazed, which destroyed this vital root system. The soil grew dry, turned to dust and began to erode away. The problem was made worse by the drought and prairie winds, which often reached 50 MPH.

Black blizzards buried everything in sight. In April 1935, the Black Sunday dust storms rolled across the plains like black smoke. People wore dust masks, slept with wet cloths over their faces and drove with their car headlights on during the day.

-----Many people who were caught in the worst dust storms died of suffocation. Pneumonia and other respiratory ailments were common. Farming operations were halted and many cattle died. Ultimately, the dust storms blew 300,000 square miles of soil away.

Midwestern families abandoned their farms and made their way to California, which was known as the "land of milk and honey." These migrants were called Okies, whether they came from Oklahoma or not. They lived in cardboard shacks, tents and Farm Security Administration (FSA) camps. They did seasonal work when they could find it, which wasn't often. Sometimes the FSA assisted them in purchasing tiny plots of land and building homes.


Germany: the Nazi party
takes control

before the 1930s
After World War I, the Treaty of Versailles penalized Germany for her actions during the war. This destroyed Germany's economy, self-image and sense of national pride. The country needed a leader who could make her the world power she had once been.

In 1919, a former corporal named Adolf Hitler joined the German Workers' Party. By 1923, he had attained a position of leadership within the group, which had changed its name to the National Socialist German Workers' Party, or Nazi party. A failed takeover attempt in 1923 landed Hitler in prison, and made the Nazi party the laughingstock of Europe. This was only a temporary 1930, the Nazi party had exploited the growing despair of the German people to become the second-largest party in the country.

Nazi party seizes power
In 1932, the Nazi party became the largest political party in Germany. In 1933, Hitler became Chancellor, and the Nazi party was officially in control of the German government. They called their new regime the Third Reich, meaning "third empire." After President Von Hindenburg died in 1934, Hitler proclaimed himself "fuhrer" ("absolute ruler").

military buildup
The Treaty of Versailles had placed harsh restrictions on German military activity. Hitler openly violated this treaty when he expanded the army, reinstated the draft, admitted to a buildup of troops and weapons in Russia, and sent troops into the demilitarized Rhineland zone.

fiercely patriotic
For the downtrodden German people, Hitler was the ticket to an improved self-image. His passion and charisma inspired a degree of loyalty that had never been seen before. Faithful followers attended annual party rallies at Nuremburg, and children learned the ways of the party as members of the Hitler Youth.

the Master Race

concentration camps
After coming to power in 1933, Hitler wasted no time in setting up a system of prisons and forced labor camps, known as concentration camps. At first, they were used to hold political dissidents and enemies of the Reich, including trade unionists, clergymen and Jehovah's Witnesses.

Aryan supremacy
Hitler believed that the Nordic race was the supreme race. By 1935, he was obsessed with the idea of creating a pure, Aryan "Master Race."

He classified certain groups as racially and biologically inferior. People who were disabled, mentally retarded, emotionally disturbed, elderly, homosexual, unemployed or ethnic (Jewish, Slavic, blacks, gypsies) were designated as "life unworthy of living," and were tucked away in asylums and concentration camps. In the camps, each group was identified by the colored patches, buttons and armbands they were forced to wear.

Jewish persecution
Hitler had a strong hatred for the Jewish people. Throughout the 1930s, they were persecuted and stripped of their civil rights in an attempt to force them to emigrate.

The 1935 Nuremburg Laws defined a Jew as anyone whose grandparents were Jewish. This was the first step in the persecution process. By the end of the decade, Jews couldn't hold certain jobs, own businesses or property, rent homes or go out after curfew.

Kristallnacht: night of broken glass
In 1938, a German embassy secretary was murdered by a Jew in Paris. The Nazi party used this event as an excuse for a night of government-sponsored violence against Jewish businesses, shops, homes and synagogues. There was a great deal of looting, burning and vandalism.

Jews emigrate
Jewish people fled Germany in three phases: 1) in 1933, when the Nazi party first took control, 2) in 1935, when the Nuremburg Laws began to take away their civil rights, and 3) in 1938, after the violence of Kristallnacht. Between 1933 and 1940, nearly 432,000 Jews emigrated to other countries. Most went to France, Belgium and the Netherlands.

continue to page 2:
The Great Depression

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