The Great Depression began in the United States but quickly turned into a worldwideeconomic slump owing to the special and intimate relationships that had been forgedbetween the United States and European economies after World War I. The United States hademerged from the war as the major creditor and financier of postwar Europe, whose nationaleconomies had been greatly weakened by the war itself, by war debts, and, in the case ofGermany and other defeated nations, by the need to pay war reparations. So once theAmerican economy slumped and the flow of American investment credits to Europe dried up,prosperity tended to collapse there as well. The Depression hit hardest those nations thatwere most deeply indebted to the United States, i.e., Germany and Great Britain. InGermany, unemployment rose sharply beginning in late 1929, and by early 1932 it hadreached 6 million workers, or 25 percent of the work force. Britain was less severelyaffected, but its industrial and export sectors remained seriously depressed until WorldWar II. Many other countries had been affected by the slump by 1931.


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