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Britain after World War I

After the war, the General Election of 1918 saw the Liberal Party disappear. Its place was taken temporarily by the Labour Party. Although the Labour Party took office as a minority government for two short periods, power between 1922 and the Second World War was still in the hands of the Conservatives.
George V died in 1936, succeeded by his son Edward VIII. The new king was extremely popular, but after ten months he abdicated in order to marry a twice-divorced American lady, Mrs Wallis Simpson, despite the opposition of public to such marriage. He went into exile as the Duke of Windsor, and it was his brother, George VI, who ruled England during the hard but glorious years of the terrible conflict.
As already mentioned, the Treaty of Versailles included the Covenant of the League of Nations, but its activities were undermined by the isolation and lack of the cooperation by the United States, the hostility of Soviet Russia and the continuous attempts of Germany to evade its obligations.

In 1933 Japan withdrew from the League in the same year the German dictator, Adolf Hitler, announced the withdrew of Germany and, in opposition to the terms of Versailles, re-established military conscription. Italy attacked and conquered Abyssinia in 1936, and the opposition of the League was useless, only leading to Italy's withdrawal, too. In England most Conservatives were favorable to conciliation and concessions, hoping that such policy would bring Germany and Italy back to peaceful cooperation.

While a great part of Europe adopting authoritarian political systems, the British Parliament to support the rearmament of Britain when only a position of military strength could give England the potential for negotiation. It was clear, besides that Germany intended to acquire global power, in retaliation for its defeat in 1918. In Spain, too, after a brief period of democratically elected reformist government, authoritarian forces took control.

The spanish Civil War

In 1920s and 1930s Spain still had a political system based on Parliament (the Cortes), dominated by the rural elites, the Catholic Church and the Army. The latter, in 1923, had overthrown the weak constitutional monarchy of Alfonso XIII, and General Primo de Rivera became military dictator of the new republic. But De Rivera was in turn overthrown and the Republic made reforms which disestablished the Church, reduced the size of the Army and the power of the rural elite.
As a consequence there were political murders, riots and land seizures, which made Spain ungovernable. In July, 1936, the Nationalist Army Officers attempted a cup d'etat, and a civil war broke out between the Nationalists and the Republican forces. The Nationalists were supported by Germany and Italy, but the Republicans could only have volunteers support from the International Brigades.

The National Army was led by General Francisco Franco (1892-1975), whose forces were victorious. The war ended in March 1939 and Franco became the ruler of all Spain, imposing an authoritarian regime which lasted till his death. Many Europeans and American intellectuals went to Spain during the conflict as war correspondents or as volunteers.

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