1920 1921 1922 1923 1924
| Decades: |
1900s 1910s - 1920s - 1930s 1940s
| 20th century|
The 1920s has been referred to as the "Roaring Twenties", "Tawdry Twenties", and the "Golden Twenties". Since the closing of the 20th century, the economic strength during the 1920s has drawn close associations with the 1950s and 1990s, especially in the United States. These three decades are regarded as periods of economic prosperity, which lasted throughout almost the entire decades following 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).
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 National Socialist German Workers Party.
Additionally, the decade was characterized by the rise of radical political movements, especially in regions that were once part of empires. Communism began attracting large numbers of followers following the success of the October Revolution and the Bolsheviks' determination to win the subsequent Russian Civil War. The Bolsheviks would eventually adopt a policy of mixed economics, from 1921 to 1928, and also give birth to the USSR, at the end of 1922. The twenties marked the first time in America that the population in the cities surpassed the population of rural areas. This was due to rapid urbanization starting in the 1920s.
The 1920s also experienced the rise of the far-right and fascism in Europe and elsewhere in an attempt to prevent the spread of Communism. The knotty economic problems also favoured the rise of dictatorships in Eastern Europe and the Balkans, such as Józef Piłsudski in Poland and Peter and Alexander Karađorđević of Yugoslavia. The Stock Market collapsed during October 1929 (see Black Tuesday) and drew a line under the prosperous 1920s.
- John Logie Baird invents the first working mechanical television system (1925). In 1928 he invents and demonstrates the first color television.
- Warner Brothers produces the first movie with a soundtrack Don Juan in 1926, followed by the first Part-Talkie The Jazz Singer in 1927, the first All-Talking movie Lights of New York in 1928 and the first All-Color All-Talking movie On with the Show 1929.
- Charles Lindbergh becomes the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean (May 20-May 21, 1927)
- Karl Ferdinand Braun invented the modern electronic cathode ray tube in 1897. The CRT became a commercial product in 1922.
- Record companies (such as Victor, Brunswick and Columbia) introduce an electrical recording process on their phonograph records in 1925 (that had been developed by Western Electric), resulting in a more life-like sound.
- Robert Goddard makes the first flight of a liquid-fueled rocket in 1926.
- See also Social issues of the 1920s
- Rise of radical political movements amid the economic and political turmoil after World War I and after the stock market crash such as communism and fascism.
- Kellogg-Briand Pact to end war.
- Women are given the right to vote in multiple countries in the 1920s.
- Stock market crash of 1929 devastates economies across the world and marks the beginning of the Great Depression.
- Pan-Africanist supporters of Marcus Garvey's Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA-ACL) are repressed by colonial powers in Africa. Garvey's UNIA-ACL supported the creation of a state led by black people in Africa including African-Americans.
- Prohibition of alcohol occurs in the United States in the 1920s. Organized crime related to the illegal sale of alcohol booms in the period such as by Chicago mafia leader Al Capone.
- Turkish War of Independence
- The Qajar dynasty ended under Ahmad Shah Qajar and Reza Shah Pahlavi formed the Pahlavi Dynasty, which would later become the last monarchy of Iran.
- Egypt officially becomes an independent country in 1922, through it still remains under military and political influence of the United Kingdom.
- Civil war erupts in China and in Italy.
- Polish-Soviet war.
- Major armed conflict in Ireland including Irish War of Independence (1919-1921) resulting in Ireland becoming an independent country in 1922 followed by the Irish Civil War (1922-23)
- The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (Soviet Union) is created in 1922.
- Benito Mussolini of the National Fascist Party became Italy's Prime Minister shortly thereafter creating the world's first fascist government. The Fascist government restores good relations between the Roman Catholic Church and Italy with the Lateran Pact which creates Vatican City. Later Italy pursues an expansionist agenda in Europe such as by raiding the Greek island of Corfu in 1923, pressuring Albania to submit to becoming a de facto Italian protectorate in the mid-1920s, and threatening Yugoslavia with war until the Yugoslav government agreed to allow Italians to freely immigrate into Dalmatia (a region of Yugoslavia claimed by Italian nationalists) with the Treaty of Nettuno.
- Germany suffers from economic crisis in the early 1920s and hyperinflation of currency in 1923. French military forces briefly occupy the industrial Ruhr region in Germany from 1923 to 1924 after Germany failed to be able to pay its reparations payments. The recently-formed National Socialist German Workers Party led by Adolf Hitler attempts a coup against the Bavarian and German governments in the Munich Putsch resulting in Hitler being briefly imprisoned for one year in prison where he writes Mein Kampf.
- The New Economic Policy is created by the Bolsheviks in Russia.
- The Dawes Plan, which lasted from 1924-1928
- Economic boom ended by "Black Tuesday" (October 29, 1929); the stock market crashes, leading to the Great Depression
Literature and Arts
- Virginia Woolf publishes Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, and A Room of One's Own
- George Gershwin writes Rhapsody in Blue
- T. S. Eliot publishes The Waste Land
- James Joyce publishes Ulysses
- Franz Kafka publishes The Trial
- Erich Maria Remarque publishes All Quiet on the Western Front
- Rene Magritte paints The Treachery of Images
- Hugh MacDiarmid publishes A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle
- Walter Gropius builds the Bauhaus in Dessau
- F. Scott Fitzgerald publishes This Side of Paradise, The Beautiful and Damned and The Great Gatsby
- Hermann Hesse publishes Siddhartha
- Ernest Hemingway publishes The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms
- Thornton Wilder publishes The Bridge of San Luis Rey
- Alexey Tolstoy publishes Aelita
- George Bernard Shaw publishes Back to Methuselah
- Eugene O'Neill awarded Pulitzer Prizes for Beyond the Horizon in 1920, Anna Christie in 1922, and Strange Interlude in 1928.
- Sinclair Lewis publishes Babbitt, Dodsworth, Arrowsmith, and Elmer Gantry
- Wallace Stevens publishes his first book of poetry, Harmonium
Culture and religion
- Prohibition — legal attempt to end consumption of alcohol in Canada, the USA, Norway and Finland.
- Youth culture of The Lost Generation; flappers, the Charleston, and bobbed hair
- "The Jazz Age" — jazz and jazz-influenced dance music widely popular
- F. Scott Fitzgerald publishes some of the most enduring novels characterizing the Jazz Age. This Side of Paradise, The Beautiful and Damned, and The Great Gatsby, as well as three short story collections, were all published in these years.
- Women's suffrage movement continues to make gains as women obtain full voting rights in Denmark in 1915, in the USA in 1920, and in the UK in 1918 (women over 30) and in 1928 (full enfranchisement); and women begin to enter the workplace in larger numbers
- In the US, gangsters and the rise of organized crime, often associated with bootleg liquor, in defiance of Prohibition.
- Rum rows are established to import bootleg alcoholic beverages into U.S.
- First commercial radio station in the U.S. (KDKA 1020 AM) goes on air in Pittsburgh in 1920; radio quickly becomes a popular entertainment medium
- Methodist Board of Temperance, Prohibition, and Public Morals defends alcohol prohibition in U.S.
- First feature-length motion picture with a sound track (Don Juan) is released in 1926. First part-talkie (The Jazz Singer) released in 1927, first all-talking feature (Lights of New York) released in 1928 and first all-color all-talking feature (On with the Show) released in 1929.
- Beginning of surrealist movement
- Beginning of the Art Deco movement
- Fads such as marathon dancing, mah-jongg, crossword puzzles and pole-sitting are popular
- The height of the clip joint
- The Harlem Renaissance
- The Scopes Monkey Trial (1925) which declared that John T. Scopes had violated the law by teaching evolution in schools, creating tension between the competing theories of creationism and evolution.
- Bishop James Cannon, Jr. becomes a U.S. temperance movement leader.
- The Group of Seven (artists)
- Repeal organizations organized to fight national prohibition in U.S.
- Minister Daisey Douglas Barr heads Women's Ku Klux Klan (WKKK).
- The tomb of Tutankhamun is discovered intact by Howard Carter (1922). This begins a second revival of Egyptomania.
- Edward Higgins becomes the third General ( international leader) of The Salvation Army . His term is from 1929-1934.