Quiz Topic Sheet

The 20th Century in Politics

From a political point of view, the 20th century was marked by the clash of two great ideologies: capitalism and communism. The First World War led to the collapse of several empires and the emergence of new states. The Second World War devastated Europe and gave rise to the Cold War, a period of tension and rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union.

The 20th century was also marked by decolonization, with the emergence of many new states in Africa and Asia. The struggle for civil rights was also an important theme of the 20th century, with movements such as the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa and the civil rights movement in the United States.

The twentieth century was thus a century of major political upheaval, with the emergence of new ideologies, new states and new social movements.


Some key events

1917: Russian Revolution and start of Communist rule
1933: Hitler comes to power in Germany
1945: End of the Second World War and start of the Cold War
1949: Creation of the People's Republic of China
1955: Beginning of the civil rights movement in the United States
1961: Construction of the Berlin Wall
1989: Fall of the Berlin Wall and end of the Cold War
1991: Break-up of the Soviet Union

Wars and Conflicts

World War I (1914-1918)

  • Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in Sarajevo
  • Triple Entente vs Triple Alliance
  • Treaty of Versailles and its consequences
  • Key figures : Woodrow Wilson, Georges Clemenceau, David Lloyd George, Erich von Falkenhayn, Paul von Hindenburg

Spanish Civil War (1936-1939)

  • Conflict between the Republican government and Franco's nationalists
  • Prelude to the Second World War
  • Key figures : Francisco Franco, Manuel Azaña, Dolores Ibárruri

Second World War (1939-1945)

  • Rise of Nazism and Fascism
  • German invasion of Poland
  • Holocaust
  • Atomic bomb and end of the war
  • Key figures : Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Joseph Stalin, Charles de Gaulle

Cold War (1947-1991)

  • Confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union
  • Nuclear arms race
  • Korean War and Vietnam War
  • Fall of communism and end of the Cold War
  • Key figures : Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Nikita Khrushchev, Leonid Brezhnev, Ronald Reagan, Mikhail Gorbachev

Yugoslav Wars (1991-2001)

  • Decomposition of Yugoslavia after the fall of communism
  • Ethnic wars and war crimes
  • Key figures : Slobodan Milošević, Franjo Tuđman, Alija Izetbegović

Decolonization and Independence

Independence Wovements in Africa and Asia

  • Struggle against European colonialism
  • Emergence of new states
  • Key figures : Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Kwame Nkrumah, Ho Chi Minh, Jomo Kenyatta

 Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

  • Creation of the State of Israel in 1948
  • Wars and peace negotiations
  • Important figures : David Ben Gurion, Golda Meir, Yitzhak Rabin, Yasser Arafat, Mahmoud Abbas

Algerian War (1954-1962)

  • Conflict between France and the National Liberation Front (FLN)
  • Algerian independence
  • Key figures : Charles de Gaulle, Ahmed Ben Bella, Ferhat Abbas

Civil Rights and Social Movements

The Struggle for Civil Rights in the United States

  • Racial segregation and the anti-apartheid movement
  • March on Washington and Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech
  • Key figures : Martin Luther King Jr, Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, James Baldwin

 Feminist Movement

  • Struggle for equal rights for men and women
  • Universal women's suffrage and contraception
  • Important figures : Simone de Beauvoir, Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, Angela Davis

Anti-Apartheid Movement in South Africa

  • Fight against the racist apartheid regime
  • Peaceful struggle and negotiations
  • Key figures : Nelson Mandela, Frederik de Klerk, Desmond Tutu

Economic and Technological Development

 Second Industrial Revolution

  • Fordism and mass production
  • Development of the automobile and aviation
  • Key figures : Henry Ford, Alfred Sloan, Orville and Wilbur Wright

Depression of 1929 and the Great Depression

  • Stock market crash and global economic crisis
  • New economic and social policies
  • Key figures : Herbert Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John Maynard Keynes

 Digital Revolution

  • Invention of the computer and the Internet
  • New communication and information technologies
  • Key figures : Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Tim Berners-Lee

Further Information

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Quiz questions preview

  • Which country signed a declaration with China in 1984 that Hong Kong would revert to Chinese rule in 1997?

    Portugal | The United Kingdom | France | The United States
  • Which country was Willy Brandt chancellor of?

    Austria | Denmark | Netherlands | West Germany
  • Which organization, created in 1949, brings together European and North American countries for collective defense?

  • Ratified in 1919, what was the purpose of the 18th Amendment to the United States Constitution?

    Women's right to vote | The creation of Indian reserves | Full citizenship granted to blacks | The establishment of prohibition
  • Which organization played a central role in the economic crisis of 1974, which resulted from the first oil shock?

    UN | IEA | PLO | OPEC