To say that the 1930s was a turbulent period in history would be an understatement. On Oct. 29, 1929, the American stock market crashed, ushering in the world-wide economic Depression that lasted for nearly a decade. Stock values fell to a fraction of their previous value. Many Americans panicked and withdrew their money from banks, which resulted in bank failure after bank failure. People lost homes, businesses closed and farms failed. By 1932, one-quarter of Americans were unemployed. These problems, however, were not exclusive to the United States.
Europeans, too, suffered from hunger, job loss and severe inflation caused by the Depression, but it was also suffering from issues brought about by the end of World War I. The disintegration of the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires resulted in the creation of new nations, many of which were ill-equipped to handle these problems. The democratic governments established after the war were unable to solve these problems and many European nations turned toward totalitarian governments.
During the 1930s, totalitarian governments gained in popularity and dictators, such as Benito Mussolini in Italy, Adolph Hitler in Germany and Francisco Franco in Spain, gained control. The beliefs of the leaders varied, but all their governments had one thing in common: the belief that the government has total control over its citizens' lives. This often resulted in anti-religious measures, stories of which were featured prominently in the pages of The Western Catholic.
The paper's editor, Msgr. Martin J. Foley, seemed especially interested in the events in Germany and Spain. The paper reported on anti-Catholic measures implemented by Hitler, such as the elimination of church-supported organizations and Catholic schools. The paper also ran numerous stories about the Spanish Civil War and how rebels targeted Catholic churches and clergy.
This was a turbulent period in history and all these events played out in the pages of The Western Catholic.