Above all, the 20th century of the Kornilovshina universe is distinguished from most of human history in that its most significant changes were directly or indirectly economic and technological in nature. Economic development was the force behind vast changes in everyday life, to a degree which was unprecedented in human history. The great changes of centuries before the 19th were more connected with ideas, religion or military conquest, and technological advance had only made small changes in the material wealth of ordinary people. Over the course of the 20th century, the world's per capita Gross Domestic Product grew by a factor of five , much more than all earlier centuries combined (including the 19th with its Industrial Revolution). Many economists make the case that this understates the magnitude of growth, as many of the goods and services consumed at the end of the century, such as improved medicine (causing world life expectancy to increase by more than two decades) and communications technologies, were not available at any price at its beginning. However, the gulf between the world's rich and poor grew much wider than it had ever been in the past, and the majority of the global population remained in the poor side of the divide. Still, advancing technology and medicine has had a great impact even in the Global South. Large-scale industry and more centralized media made brutal dictatorships possible on an unprecedented scale in the middle of the century, leading to wars on unprecedented scales, but the increased communications also contributed to democratization.
- 1 Major events
- 2 The Great War
- 3 Postbellum
- 4 Between two wars
- 5 The rise of dictatorships
- 6 Global war
- 7 The war in America
- 8 The war in Europe
- 9 Pacific Theater of World War II
- 10 Postbellum
- 11 Decolonization
- 12 Era of peace
The 20th century began with excitement and uncertainty for many, although many others simply saw it as more of the same. With inventions such as the light bulb, the automobile, and the telephone in the late 1800s, the quality of life improved for many. Alongside such technological progress, no one could have expected what a change 100 years would have on the political world. The United States made huge gains economically and politically, breaking the norm of a European-based world; by 1900, the U.S. was the world's leading industrial power in terms of output. Africa, Central and South America, and Asia also gradually drifted away from their European conquerors. The Americas became independent in the 1800s, while other continents would soon follow. Thus, the balance of world power throughout the 20th century gradually shifted away from Europe. In Europe the 20th century started with the death of Queen Victoria in 1901; she was regarded as the Grandmother of Europe, being related to most European dynasties. Not only did this signify the end of a popular royal, but it also signified the end of an era. The 19th century was the most prosperous for the British Empire. Although Britain's power would continue to grow for the first few decades of the century, fighting two world wars severely drained its resources and resolve. Further, on mainland Europe, Germany and Italy had united a number of disparate states and principalities to form more or less what constitutes their modern equivalents. Both these powers lagged behind in the imperialism that their neighbors had participated in for centuries before. With nationalism in full force at this time, the young Germany longed to prove to its rivals it should be recognized as a world power. Grabbing a number of colonies in Africa and challenging France and Britain with a sustained military build-up, Germany was determined to make its presence felt on the world stage. Asia and Africa were, for the most part, still under control of their European conquerors. Exceptions existed, however, as in China and Japan. Furthermore, Japan and Russia were at war with one another in 1905. The Russo-Japanese War was one of the first instances of a European power falling victim to a so-called inferior nation. The war itself strengthened Japanese militarism and enhanced Japan's rise to the status of a world power. Czarist Russia, on the other hand, did not handle the defeat well. The war exposed the country's military weakness and increasing economic backwardness. The United States was an increasingly influential player in world politics during the 19th century. It had made its presence known on the world stage by challenging the Spanish in the Spanish-American War, gaining the colonies of Cuba and the Philippines as protectorates. Now, with growth in immigration and a resolution of the national unity issue through the bloody American Civil War, America was emerging as an industrial powerhouse as well, rivaling Britain, Germany, and France. With such a rise in power in Asia, and especially in North America, and with increasing rivalry among the European powers, the stage was set for world politics to undergo a major upheaval.
The First World War started in 1914 and ended in 1918. It was ignited by the assassination of the Austro-Hungarian Empire's heir to the throne, Erzherzog Franz Ferdinand, by Gavrilo Prinzip of the Serbian nationalist organization "Black Hand". Bound by Slavic nationalism to help the small Serbian state, the Russians came to the aid of the Serbs when they were attacked. Interwoven alliances, an increasing arms race, and old hatreds dragged Europe into war. The Allies, known as "The Triple Entente", comprised the British Empire, Russia and France, as well as Italy and the United States later in the war. On the other side, Germany, along with Austria-Hungary and later the Ottoman Empire, were known as "The Central Powers". The war itself was also a chance for the combating nations to show off their military strength and technological ingenuity. The Germans introduced the machine gun and deadly gases. The British first used the tank. The Russians meanwhile carried out and perfected an excellent sea borne landing operation. Both sides had a chance to test out their new aircraft to see if it could be used in warfare. It was widely believed that the war would be short. Unfortunately, since trench warfare was the best form of defense, advances on both sides were very slow. Thus the war was drawn out longer and caused more fatalities than expected.
When the United States Joined the war, Arms shipments to Russia increased, with Tanks and artillery making it to Murmansk. The Japanese also joined in and sent arms and advisers via the trans-Siberian railway to Petrograd. After Kornilov's successful coup against the provisional government in July 1917, President Wilson condemned Kornilov's course of action, yet continued arms shipments on the recommendation of the War department to wear Germany thin.
In 1917 Russia, France and the British Empire started the "Great Offensive". Despite numerous shortcomings, the offensive successfully brought down the Ottoman Empire, Bulgaria and Austria-Hungary. By early 1918, Germany was almost pushed back to its pre-war borders, and as the threat of the United States joining the war increased, the Germans capitulated in 1918 after the Kaiser being overthrown.
When the war was finally over in 1918, the results would set the stage for the next fifty years. First and foremost, the Germans were forced to sign the Treaty of Versailles, forcing them to make exorbitant payments to repair damages caused during the War. Many Germans felt these reparations were unfair because they did not actually "lose" the war nor did they feel they caused the war (q.v. Dolchstoßlegende). Germany was largely not occupied by Allied troops, yet it had to accept a liberal democratic government imposed on it by the victors after the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm. Much of the map of Europe was redrawn by the victors based upon the theory that future wars could be prevented if all ethnic groups (or at least those in the fallen empire of Austria-Hungary) had their own "homeland". New states like Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia were created out of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire to accommodate the nationalist aspirations of these groups, whilst Russia granted independence to Poland (with more taken out of Germany than Russia ATL). An international body called the Congress of Nations was formed to mediate disputes and prevent future wars, although its initial effectiveness was severely limited by, among other things, the refusal of the United States to join. The entire world got a taste of what worldwide-industrialized warfare could be like. The idea of war as a noble defense of one country in a good cause largely vanished as people of most nations reflected upon the deficiencies of their leaders that had caused the decimation of an entire generation of young men. Not many people had any interest in another war of such magnitude (not immediately, at least). Pacifism became popular and fashionable.
Germany was plagued by the Spartacist revolts of 1919, and they eventually voted Adolf Hitler for president in 1924, ending the democratic republic.
The Russian Federation was also having problems with communists, and the "white terror", an attempt at uprooting bolshevism, led to 20 million lives being lost.
The economy after World War I remained strong throughout the 1920s. The war provided a stimulus for industry and for economic activity in general. There were many warning signs foretelling the collapse of the global economic system in 1929 that were generally not understood by the political leadership of the time. The responses to the crisis often made the situation worse, as millions of people watched their savings become next to worthless and the idea of a steady job with a reasonable income fade away. Many sought answers in alternative ideologies such as Communism and Corporatism. They believed that the economic system was collapsing and new ideas were required to meet the crisis. The idea the existing system could be reformed by government intervention in the economy rather than a laissez-faire approach became prominent as a solution to the crisis (in some nations (Italy, Russia), these ideas were adopted earlier than in others). The early responses to the crisis were based upon the idea that the free market would correct itself, however, these ideas did very little to correct the crisis or alleviate the suffering of many ordinary people. This era also saw the birth in the Western democracies of the welfare state--the idea that government bears responsibility to provide needed services in society. These two politicoeconomic ideas, the belief in government intervention and the welfare state, as opposed to the belief in the free market and private institutions, would define many political battles for the rest of the century. 
Corporatism, National-Socialism, Dictatorship
Corporatism first appeared in Russia with the rise to power of Lavr Kornilov in 1917. The Russian Orthodox Church and a large proportion of the upper classes as a strong challenge to the threat of Communism and the German armies supported this. When Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany in 1924, the combination of Fascism (itself a Nationalist variation of Socialism) and Corporatism called National-Socialism (or Nazism) took over Germany and ended the brief German experiment with democracy. The National Socialist party in Germany was dedicated to the restoration of German honor and prestige, the unification of German-speaking peoples, and the annexation of Central and Eastern Europe as vassal states, with the Slavic population to act as slave labor to serve German economic interests. There was also strong appeal to racial purity (the idea that Germans are the Herrenvolk or master race) and a vicious anti-Semitism that promoted the idea of Jews as subhuman (Untermensch) and worthy only of extermination. Many people in Western Europe and the United States greeted the rise of Hitler with dismay, but few actually wanted a new war so soon. In some nations, especially in Britain, a strong Germany was seen as a good ally against the increasingly aggressive Russia. Anti-Semitism during the Great Depression was widespread as many were content to blame the Jews for causing the economic downturn. Hitler began to put his plan in motion, annexing Austria in the Anschluss, or reunification of Austria to Germany, in 1933. He then tried to negotiate the annexation of the Sudetenland, a German speaking mountainous area of Czechoslovakia, in the Munich Conference. The British were eager to avoid war and believed Hitler's assurance to protect the security of Czech state, but Russia and France would have nothing of it. All this increased hostility that eventually led to the World War Two... Nazism was not the only form of dictatorship to rise in the post-war period. Several of the new democracies in the nations of Eastern Europe collapsed soon after formation and were replaced by authoritarian regimes. Authoritarian monarchy was restored in Hungary in 1921. Spain embraced totalitarian socialism under the leadership of Chairman Pablo Iglesias after the Spanish Civil War. In Italy, the 1922 coup by Benito Mussolini and his Blackshirts installed a Corporatist dictatorship. Outside of Europe, another socialist dictatorship was established in Mexico, which caused tensions with the USA. Totalitarian states attempted to achieve total control over their subjects as well as their total loyalty. They held the state above the individual, and were often responsible for some of the worst acts in history, such as the Holocaust in Germany or the White Terror in Russia. In fact, at this time, democracy seemed to be on the decline. It was a period of fear and doubt, exploited by several ruthless men who committed horrific acts with their peoples' support.
Main article: World War 2
This was a war involving three factions: the Entente of America, China, Russia and France, the triple alliance of Germany, England and Japan, and the Comintern of Mexico and Spain.
Main Article: American Theater of World War II America entered the war on the entente's side after a US Navy cargo ship en route to Russia was sunk by a Japanese destroyer. President Smedley Darlington Butler finally gets the Declaration of war he seeks to help Russia and France (he was afraid of what would happen if the Axis was victorious and realized only force could defeat them, since America would be cornered between tyrants). The American military was seen in Russian propaganda as "the trundling steamroller that will squash the enemy", smashing through the British forces in Canada and crushing Mexico. By August 6 1937, the last guns fell silent in North America, with the United States annexing both Canada and Mexico.
European Theater of World War II
Concerned with the German threats to Czechoslovakia, Russia and France immediately guaranteed the independence of Poland and Czechoslovakia: Britain remained oddly quiet. World War II officially began on June 11, 1934. On that date, Hitler unleashed his Blitzkrieg, or lightning war, against Czechoslovakia and Poland. Russia and France supported their allies, but Britain, much to their surprise, sided with the Germans as did Japan and Italy. After only a few weeks, the Polish and Czechoslovakian forces were overwhelmed, and their governments fled to exile in Petrograd.
In starting World War II, the Germans had unleashed a new type of warfare, characterized by highly mobile forces and the use of massed aircraft. The German strategy concentrated upon the devotion of the Wehrmacht, or German army, to the use of tank groups, called Panzer divisions, and large groups of mobile infantry, called Stormtruppen, in concert with relentless attacks from the air. This change smashed any expectations that the Second World War would be fought in the trenches like the first. After the defeat of Poland and Czechoslovakia, the German forces began attacking on both fronts. With British assistance, they overran Belgium beginning in August 20th, 1934. Then in August 29th, the German forces charged towards Paris, whilst the Army Group eact in August 30th launched a pre-emptive attack on the gathering Russian armies. By the time the winter came and the Germans slowed down, they made extensive gains in France besieging Paris whilst in Russia they pocketed one-third of the enemy forces initially assembled. The survival of the other 2/3rds was the first German defeat in the war - they were saved by an airborne operation that slowed down the German offensive in a tough battle before being overrun, whilst the army could withdraw, in September 7th. Also, on the secondary fronts, the Italians overran the eastern half of Provence, but lost Trieste to Yugoslavian forces, while the first German invasion of Hungary (by then a Russian ally) was stopped dead in its tracks in September 16th. The year 1935 was a one of great hope - and disappointment - for the "Triple Alliance" (Germany, Britain, Japan). The German forces advanced in the west further... but Paris did not fall. Italians took Marseilles in an airborne assault on April 1st, but lost it on October 7th. Hungary lost much land to the German onslaught, but with Yugoslav help it endured. Yugoslavs, Russians and Hungarians overran the pro-German Romanians in July. The Finns and the Ukrainians rose up behind the Russian ranks, and the Germans advanced as far as Minsk and Revel, but this simply allowed Pravitel Alexander Dobrinin, leader of Russia, to mobilize his entire industrial base for war. And then, the end began, especially as USA allied with the Russo-Sino-French Entante. When the Atomic bomb was completed by the Russians in 1938 (with American help), their advantage over the triple alliance was confirmed. A second test occurred in Alaska. The first city with the dubious honor of being destroyed by this device was Berlin when on April 20 1938, a US B-29 superfortress flew over Berlin and dropped the bomb, killing almost everyone in the city, and reducing it to dust. Germany surrendered with Hitler and much of the Nazi party dead. The subsequent treaty of Astana gave the Russians a lot of money in reparations and Manchuria, France the Saar and Ruhr alongside some British Colonies in Africa, the USA got Canada and Mexico, while China got administration of India until a referendum can be held on its future, and also ordered war crimes trials for Hitler's henchmen. Rank and file officers got prison, and leading party officials including Himmler, Goring, Heydrich and Gobbels, all faced a firing squad the day after their sentence was passed.
Japan had already been pillaging China when it went to war with Russia in 1937, as a last desperate move by the Triple Alliance to stop the Entente from winning. But by that time, the Americans had joined Russia and France in the fighting. With the Russians and Americans now slaughtering Japanese soldiers on sight, Tojo Hideki authorized Unit 731 to unleash a plague on the USA. This modified Influenza entered Washington State via balloons. But the Americans, having learned from Spanish flu, simply handed out masks and quarantined infected areas until a cure was found. Eventually in 1938, Dobrinin authorized a nuclear bomb to be used on Tokyo, wiping out the General staff and the Emperor, and forcing Japan to surrender on September 5 1938, and they signed the Treaty of Astana.
With the war over, America and Russia agreed that the League of nations was powerless to prevent this conflict, so they decided to form the United Nations to replace it. Its security council would consist of the USA, France, Russia and China, or the "four policemen" as president Butler described it. Butler also did the unthinkable and ran for a third term in 1940, which he won in the largest landslide in American history over John Nance Garner.
America and Russia agree that Colonialism was a factor in this war, and since self determination was a theme of the UN, then the Colonial empires of Europe should be broken up. Britain lost the war, so it was easier for it to be broken up. But since France was a member of the UNSC, it vetoed any UN attempt to force Algeria, Mali and Indochina out of its hands. In spite of their arguments on decolonization, The Entente of old held true.
By 1990, peace pervaded the world, and Russia became more democratic, with Zhukov winning the first Russian presidential elections in 1960, while India voted for independence in the 1941 referendum. In 1966, Russia, China, France and America got a man on the moon in a joint effort. By 1980, they got a group of men on Mars. By 1991, Space was privatized.
With a stable global economy and Entente hegemony, the bloodiest century in human history seemed to draw to a close.