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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 Italian dictator Benito Mussolini lead their nations into World War II in 1939; The Polish infantry marching to the front lines during the Invasion of Poland; 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: BirthsDeathsArchitecture

The 1930s, pronounced "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. It is sometimes referred to as the Dirty Thirties.

After the largest stock market crash in America's history, much of the decade was in a 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 including Ethiopia, China and Poland were subjugated by their stronger expansionist neighbours, and this ultimately led to the Second World War by the decade's end. The decade also saw a proliferation in new technologies, including intercontinental aviation and radio.


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.

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 late 1939, after the Invasion of Poland.[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 onboard, 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


The German dirigible airship Hindenburg exploding in 1937.


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.


Mohandas Gandhi on the Salt March in 1930.



Dorothea Lange, Migrant Mother, 1936. Depictions of pea pickers in California, centering on Florence Owens Thompson, age 32, a mother of seven children, in Nipomo, California, March 1936.


Many technological advances occurred in the 1930s, including:

Popular culture


  • Radio becomes dominant mass media in industrial nations.


  • "Swing" music starts becoming popular (from 1935 onward). It gradually replaces the sweet form of Jazz that had been popular for the first half of the decade.




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

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


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




  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/books?id=gYDN-UfehEEC&pg=PA1353&dq=albania+%22Italian+protectorate%22&as_brr=3&ei=LSh7SP3sMoHAigHm0uzBBA&sig=ACfU3U2Mkq1BcJPJheoiFuManvWK9W0bBw. 
  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. http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0038-5859%28196901%2920%3A3%3C321%3ASROTLS%3E2.0.CO%3B2-S. Retrieved 2007-05-29. 

External links

  • The Dirty Thirties — Images of the Great Depression in Canada
  • America in the 1930s Extensive library of projects on America in the Great Depression from American Studies at the University of Virginia
  • The 1930s Timeline year by year timeline of events in science and technology, politics and society, culture and international events with embedded audio and video. AS@UVA
  • Gardiner, Juliet, The Thirties: An Intimate History. London, Harper Press, 2010. ISBN 978-0-00-724076-0

Simple English

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: BirthsDeathsArchitecture

The 1930s was the decade that started on January 1, 1930 and ended on December 31, 1939.


Important people

World leaders

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