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 economic collapse, the farms become dry and the Dust Bowl spreads through America; The Battle of Wuhan during the Second Sino-Japanese War; Aviator Amelia Earhart becomes a national 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, effectively ending commercial airship travel; Mohandas Gandhi walks to the Indian Ocean in the 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
Categories: Births – Deaths – Architecture
Establishments – Disestablishments

The 1930s, or the Thirties, was the decade that started on January 1, 1930 and ended on December 31, 1939. It was the fourth decade of the 20th century.

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. In response, authoritarian regimes emerged in several countries in Europe, in particular the Third Reich in Germany. Weaker states such as Ethiopia, China, and Poland were invaded by expansionist world powers, ultimately leading to World War II by the decade's end. The decade also saw a proliferation in new technologies, including intercontinental aviation, radio, and film.


Politics and wars


The Colombian Army countering a Peruvian attack during the Colombia–Peru War
Japanese marines at Guangdong in the Battle of Wuhan in 1938 during the Second Sino-Japanese War.
  • Colombia–Peru War (1 September 1932 – 24 May 1933) - fought between the Republic of Colombia and the Republic of Peru.
  • Chaco War (15 June 1932 – 10 June 1935) - the war was fought between Bolivia and Paraguay over the disputed territory of Gran Chaco resulting in an overall Paraguayan victory in 1935. An agreement dividing the territory was made in 1938, officially ending outstanding differences and bringing an official "peace" to the conflict.
  • Second Sino-Japanese War (7 July 1937 – 9 September 1945) - fought between the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan. The Second Sino-Japanese War was the largest Asian war in the twentieth century.[1] It also made up more than 50% of the casualties in the Pacific War.
  • World War II outbreaks on September 1, 1939.

Internal conflicts

Major political changes

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 National Socialist German Worker's Party (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 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 (The Night of Broken Glass) held between the 9 to 10 November 1938 and carried out by the Hitler Youth, the Gestapo and the SS during which the Jewish population living in Nazi Germany and Austria were attacked - 91 Jews were murdered and 25,000 to 30,000 were arrested and placed in concentration camps. 267 synagogues were destroyed and thousands of homes and businesses were ransacked. Kristallnacht also served as a pretext and a means 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 German-populated territories in Europe. From 1935 to 1936, Germany receives the Saar, remilitarizes the Rhineland. Italy initially opposes Germany's aims on Austria but the two countries resolve their differences in 1936 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 Sudetenland followed after negotiations which resulted in the Munich Agreement of 1938. The Italian invasion of Albania in 1939 succeeds in turning the Kingdom of Albania to an Italian protectorate. The vacant throne was claimed by Victor Emmanuel III of Italy.[3] Germany receives the Memel territory from Lithuania, occupies Czechoslovakia, and finally invades the Second Polish Republic. The final event resulting in the outbreak of World War II.
  • Multiple countries in the Americas including Canada, Cuba, and the United States controversially deny asylum to hundreds of Jewish German refugees on the MS St. Louis who are fleeing Germany in 1939 which under the Nazi regime was pursuing a racist agenda of anti-Semitic persecution. In the end, no country accepted the refugees and the ship returns to Germany with most of its passengers on board, while some commit suicide based on the prospect of returning to Nazi-run Germany.

United States

New Deal: President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Tennessee Valley Authority Act, 18 May 1933


Decolonization and independence

  • Mohandas Gandhi lead the non-violent Satyagraha movement in the Declaration of the Independence of India and the Salt March in March 1930.


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



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.


Amelia Earhart in 1935.
  • Canada and other countries under the British Empire sign the Statute of Westminster in 1931 establishing effective parliamentary independence of Canada from the parliament of the United Kingdom.
  • United States Marine Corps general Smedley Butler confesses to the U.S. Congress in 1934 that a group of industrialists contacted him, requesting his aid to overthrow the U.S. government of Roosevelt and establish what he claimed would be a fascist regime in the United States.
  • Newfoundland voluntarily returns to British colonial rule in 1934 amid its economic crisis during the Great Depression with the creation of the Commission of Government, a non-elected body.
  • Canadian Prime Minister W. L. Mackenzie King meets with German Führer Adolf Hitler in 1937 in Berlin. King is the only North American head of government to meet with Hitler.
  • Amelia Earhart receives major attention in the 1930s as the first woman pilot to conduct major air flights. Her disappearance for unknown reasons in 1937 while on flight prompted search efforts which failed.
  • Southern Great Plains devastated by decades-long Dust Bowl
  • In 1932 the Cipher Bureau broke the German Enigma cipher and overcame the ever-growing structural and operating complexities of the evolving Enigma machine with plugboard, the main German cipher device during World War II.
  • Board of Temperance Strategy established in U.S. to fight repeal of prohibition
  • Getúlio Vargas became the President of Brazil after the 1930 coup d'état.


Mohandas Gandhi on the Salt March in 1930.
  • Major international media attention follows Mohandas Gandhi's peaceful resistance movement against the British colonial rule in India.
  • Chinese Communist Party leader Mao Zedong forms the small enclave state called the Chinese Soviet Republic in 1931.
  • The Gandhi–Irwin Pact is signed by Mohandas Gandhi and Viceroy of India, Lord Irwin on March 5, 1931. Gandhi agrees to end the campaign of civil disobedience being carried out by the Indian National Congress (INC) in exchange for Irwin accepting the INC to participate in roundtable talks on British colonial policy in India.
  • The Government of India Act of 1935 is passed in the British Raj, separating Burma into a separate British colony and increasing political autonomy of the princely states in India.
  • Mao Zedong's Chinese communists begin a large retreat from advancing nationalist forces, called the Long March beginning in October 1934 and ending in October 1936 resulting in the collapse of the Chinese Soviet Republic.
  • Colonial India's Muslim League leader Muhammed Ali Jinnah delivers his "Day of Deliverance" speech on December 2, 1939, calling upon Muslims to begin to engage in civil disobedience against the British colonial government starting on December 12. Jinnah demands redress and resolution to tensions and violence occurring between Muslims and Hindus in India. Jinnah's actions are not supported by the largely Hindu-dominated Indian National Congress whom he had previously closely allied with. The decision is seen as part of an agenda by Jinnah to support the eventual creation of an independent Muslim state called Pakistan from British Empire.



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]


Many technological advances occurred in the 1930s, including:

Popular culture


  • Radio becomes dominant mass media in industrial nations.




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.


  • 1936 Berlin Olympics
  • First Jules Rimet Cup hosted in Uruguay in 1930


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

Literature and art

Visual arts

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, Expressionism, Symbolist and modernist painting in various guises characterized the art scene in Paris and elsewhere.


World leaders

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.

Sports figures


Joe Louis American world heavyweight boxing champion.
Jesse Owens shook racial stereotypes both with Nazis and segregationists in the USA at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

United States


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

Painters and sculptors



See also

  • 1930s in television
  • 1930s in literature
  • 30s in the 30s - Shanghai - Cotton's - November 20, 2010


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



  1. ^ Bix, Herbert P. "The Showa Emperor's 'Monologue' and the Problem of War Responsibility", Journal of Japanese Studies, Vol. 18, No. 2. (Summer, 1992), pp. 295–363.
  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. pp. p1353. ISBN 0-8240-7029-1. http://books.google.com/?id=gYDN-UfehEEC&pg=PA1353&dq=albania+%22Italian+protectorate%22. 
  4. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica article on Manchukuo
  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. http://www.nationalparkstraveler.com/2008/09/park-history-spirit-civilian-conservation-corps. Retrieved 2010-09-04. 
  8. ^ http://www.allmusic.com/artist/p91178
  9. ^ http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll

External links

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