Visual History of the World




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The World Wars and Interwar Period 



The first half of the 20th century saw the world entangled in two global wars, conducted with an unprecedented brutality. The First World War developed from a purely European affair into a conflict involving the colonies and the United States. It altered Europe's political landscape and shifted the power balance worldwide. In World War II, the nations of Europe, Asia, the Americas, and Africa were drawn into the conflict through the aggressive policies of an ambitious Nazi Germany. The war was conducted with the most up-to-date weapons technology and cost the lives of more than 55 million people. The Holocaust, the systematic annihilation of the European Jews, represented an unparalleled moral catastrophe for modern civilization.


Pablo Picasso "Weeping Woman", 1937




Spain and Portugal 



In Portugal and Spain, strong right-wing authoritarian movements gained influence in the 1930s. While a dictatorial system was quickly established in Portugal, a bloody and devastating civil war with international involvement raged in Spain between leftist and rightist forces from 1936 to 1939. The victorious General Franco erected a brutal and long-lasting military dictatorship in Spain.


Portugal: The Salazar Regime

In the 1930s, Premier Salazar used the political turmoil of the postwar period to build up a dictatorial system, which remained largely uninvolved in world politics.


3 Portugal supported the Entente in World War I, even sending a poorly-prepared division which was destroyed on the Western Front, but domestically chaotic conditions had reigned since the founding of the republic in 1910.

3 Traditional fishing on the Atlantic coast of Portugal,
photography 1930s

The government changed hands 44 times before the republic finally collapsed in 2 May 1926 following a military coup.

The new head of government, General Antonio de Fragoso Carmona, named 4 Antonio de Oliveira Salazar as his finance minister in 1928. Salazar succeeded in the rapid economic consolidation of the state.

2 Military parade in 1928 on the
anniversary of the May 28 1926 coup

4 Antonio de Oliveira Salazar

Salazar founded the fascist Uniao Nacional in 1930, which under his leadership shaped politics in Portugal well beyond World War II.

In 1932 he became prime minister and in 1933 institutionalized the "New State" (Estado Novo) through a new constitution and a dictatorial government on a corporative basis, which economically bound employers and employees in a 6, 7 state-controlled, hierarchical political system and society.

6 Mounted members of the state-controlled
paramilitary organization "Legion
Portuguese," 1936

7 Parade of the state-controlled
youth organization "Mocidade," 1936

In international affairs, Salazar supported the insurgents under General Francisco Franco during the 1 Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939, and after Franco's victory, the two countries signed a nonaggression pact.

Salazar at first pursued a neutral course in World War II but in 1943 joined the Allies and allowed the stationing of air force and naval units on the Portuguese 5 Azores Islands.

1 Spanish civil war, the front at
Malaga, 1936

5 Portuguese backup troops embark and are
sent to the Azores, 1941



António de Oliveira Salazar

prime minister of Portugal

born April 28, 1889, Vimieiro, Port.
died July 27, 1970, Lisbon

Portuguese economist, who served as prime minister of Portugal for 36 years (1932Ė68).

Salazar, the son of an estate manager at Santa Comba Dão, was educated at the seminary at Viseu and at the University of Coimbra. He graduated from there in law in 1914 and became a professor specializing in economics at Coimbra. He helped form the Catholic Centre Party in 1921 and was elected to the Cortes (parliament), but he resigned after one session and returned to the university. In May 1926, after the army had overthrown Portugalís parliamentary government, Salazar was offered the cabinet post of minister of finance, but he could not obtain his own conditions. In 1928 General António Oscar de Fragoso Carmona, as president, offered him the finance ministry with complete control over the governmentís income and expenditures, and this time Salazar accepted. As finance minister, he reversed the century-old tradition of deficits and made budgetary surpluses the hallmark of his regime. The surpluses were invested in a series of development plans.

Gaining in power, Salazar was named prime minister by Carmona on July 5, 1932, and thus became the strong man of Portugal. He drafted a new constitution that reorganized Portugalís political system along authoritarian lines. Salazarís rule was strongly influenced by Catholic, papal, and nationalist thought. Salazar called his new order in Portugal the New State (Estado Novo). The National Assembly was composed solely of government supporters, and Salazar chose his own ministers, whose work he closely supervised. Political freedoms in Portugal were thus curtailed, military police repressed dissidents, and attention was concentrated on economic recovery.

Owing to the crises occasioned by the Spanish Civil War and World War II, Salazar served as minister of war (1936Ė44) and minister of foreign affairs (1936Ė47) in addition to holding the office of prime minister. He was friendly with Francisco Franco and recognized the Nationalist government in Spain in 1938, but he kept Portugal neutral in World War II and led the country into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 1949. After World War II, Portugalís railways, road transport, and merchant navy were reequipped, and a national airline was instituted. Electrification was planned for the whole country, and rural schools were developed. However, Salazarís insistence on maintaining Portugalís colonies in Africa could only be sustained with difficulty at a time when the other European colonial empires in Africa were being dismantled.

Salazar suffered a stroke in September 1968 and was unable to continue his duties. He was replaced as prime minister by Marcello Caetano, a change that the disabled Salazar was never told had taken place. He died two years later. Salazar lived a life of frugal simplicity, shunning publicity, rarely making public appearances, and never leaving Portugal.

Encyclopaedia Britannica



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