Remilitarization of the Rhineland
The remilitarization of the Rhineland by the German Army began on 7 March 1936 when German military forces entered the Rhineland. This was significant because it violated the terms of the Treaty of Versailles and the Locarno Treaties, marking the first time since the end of World War I that German troops had been in this region; the remilitarization changed the balance of power in Europe from France and its allies towards Germany, making it possible for Germany to pursue a policy of aggression in Western Europe that the demilitarized status of the Rhineland had blocked until then. Under Articles 42, 43 and 44 of the 1919 Treaty of Versailles—imposed on Germany by the Allies after the Great War—Germany was "forbidden to maintain or construct any fortification either on the Left bank of the Rhine or on the Right bank to the west of a line drawn fifty kilometers to the East of the Rhine". If a violation "in any manner whatsoever" of this Article took place, this "shall be regarded as committing a hostile act...and as calculated to disturb the peace of the world".
The Locarno Treaties, signed in October 1925 by Germany, France and Britain, stated that the Rhineland should continue its demilitarized status permanently. Locarno was regarded as important as it was a voluntary German acceptance of the Rhineland's demilitarized status as opposed to the diktat of Versailles. Under the terms of Locarno and Italy guaranteed the Franco-German border and the continued demilitarized status of the Rhineland against a "flagrant violation" without however defining what constituted a "flagrant violation". Under the terms of Locarno, if Germany should attempt to attack France Britain and Italy were obliged to go to France's aid and if France should attack Germany Britain and Italy would be obliged to Germany's aid; the American historian Gerhard Weinberg called the demilitarized status of the Rhineland the "single most important guarantee of peace in Europe" as it made it impossible for Germany to attack its neighbors in the West and as the demilitarized zone rendered Germany defenseless in the West, impossible to attack its neighbors in the East as it left Germany open to a devastating French offensive if the Reich tried to invade any of the states guaranteed by the French alliance system in Eastern Europe, the so-called Cordon sanitaire.
The Versailles Treaty stipulated that Allied military forces would withdraw from the Rhineland by 1935. However, the German Foreign Minister Gustav Stresemann announced in 1929 that Germany would not ratify the 1928 Young Plan for continuing to pay reparations unless the Allies agreed to leave the Rhineland in 1930; the British delegation at the Hague Conference on German reparations in 1929 proposed that reparations paid by Germany be reduced and that British and French forces should evacuate the Rhineland. The last British soldiers left in late 1929 and the last French soldiers left in June 1930; as long as the French continued to occupy the Rhineland, the Rhineland functioned as a form of "collateral" under which the French could respond to any German attempt at overt rearmament by annexing the Rhineland. Once the last French soldiers left the Rhineland in June 1930, it could no longer play its "collateral" role, thus opening the door for German rearmament; the French decision to build the Maginot Line in 1929 was a tacit French admission that it was only a matter of time before German rearmament on a massive scale would begin sometime in the 1930s and that the Rhineland was going to be remilitarized sooner or later.
Intelligence from the Deuxième Bureau indicated that Germany had been violating Versailles continuously all through the 1920s with the considerable help of the Soviet Union, with the French troops out of the Rhineland, it could only be expected that Germany would become more open about violating Versailles. The Maginot Line in its turn lessened the importance of the Rhineland's demilitarized status from a French security viewpoint; the foreign policy of Fascist Italy was to maintain an "equidistant" stance from all the major powers in order to exercise "determinant weight", which by whatever power Italy chose to align with would decisively change the balance of power in Europe, the price of such an alignment would be support for Italian ambitions in Europe and/or Africa. The foreign policy goal of the Soviet Union was set forth by Joseph Stalin in a speech on 19 January 1925 that if another world war broke out between the capitalist states that: "We will enter the fray at the end, throwing our critical weight onto the scale, a weight that should prove to be decisive".
To promote this goal which would lead to the global triumph of Communism, the Soviet Union tended to support German efforts to challenge the Versailles system by assisting German secret rearmament, a policy that caused much tension with France. An additional problem in Franco-Soviet relations was the Russian debt issue. Before 1917, the French had been by far the largest investors in Imperial Russia, the largest buyers of Russian debt, so the decision by Lenin in 1918 to repudiate all debts and to confiscate all private property, whether it be owned by Russians or by foreigners, had hurt the world of French business and finance quite badly; the question of the Russian debt repudiation and compensation for French businesses affected by Soviet nationalisation policies poisoned Franco-Soviet relations until the early 1930s. The centerpiece of interwar French diplomacy had been the cordon sanitaire in Eastern Europe, intended to keep both the Soviet Union and Germany out of Eastern Europe. To this end, France had signed treaties of alliance with Poland in 1921, Czechoslovakia in 1924, Romania in 1926 and Yugoslavia in 1927.
The cordon sanitaire states were intended as a collective replacement
Second Italo-Ethiopian War
The Second Italo-Ethiopian War referred to as the Second Italo-Abyssinian War, was a colonial war fought from 3 October 1935 until 19 February 1937, although Addis Ababa was captured on 5 May 1936. The war was fought between the armed forces of the Kingdom of Italy and those of the Ethiopian Empire. Ethiopia was defeated and subjected to military occupation; the Ethiopian Empire became a part of the Italian colony of Italian East Africa. Fighting continued until the Italian defeat in East Africa in 1941, during the East African Campaign of the Second World War. Italy and Ethiopia were members of the League of Nations yet the League was unable to control Italy or to protect Ethiopia when Italy violated Article X of the Covenant of the League of Nations; the Abyssinia Crisis of 1935 is seen as a clear demonstration of the ineffectiveness of the League. The Italian victory coincided with the zenith of the popularity of dictator Benito Mussolini and the Fascist regime at home and abroad. Ethiopia was consolidated with Italian Somaliland into Africa Orientale Italiana.
Since the 1880s, Italy had been committed to an imperialist policy in the Horn of Africa with Italy taking Eritrea in 1885, subsequently parts of Somalia. The First Italo-Ethiopian War in which Italy invaded Ethiopia ended with a humiliating defeat for Italy at the last battle, the Battle of Adwa, caused the downfall of the ultra-imperialist government of Crispi; the decisive victory by the Ethiopians over the Italians at Adwa destroyed the Italian forces and humiliated their country. The victory of the black Ethiopians over the white Italians at Adwa caused a "deep national trauma" in Italy, as the inferior Ethiopians were viewed as incapable of defeating the Italians, Italy was the only European nation to lose a major war with an African country during the "Scramble for Africa". In 1906, a secret Anglo-Italo-French agreement had consigned Ethiopia to the Italian sphere of influence and the Regio Esercito had started planning for an invasion of Ethiopia in 1908. However, successive Italian governments had more pressing priorities than "avenging Adowa", however great the popular clamour might be, the strategy favoured by the Foreign Ministry was one of "friendship" and "peaceful penetration", bringing Ethiopia into the Italian economic sphere of influence as the prelude to placing it in the political sphere of influence.
In the 1920s, the Fascist regime of Benito Mussolini continued the same policies as his predecessors towards Ethiopia, not least because Italy was involved in the "pacification of Libya" and could not afford to fight two major colonial wars at once. In 1925, Mussolini wrote that he would pursue an "integral violent solution" to the "problem" of Ethiopia when the time was right. Raffaele Guariglia, who served as the Director of European Affairs at the Foreign Ministry, wrote in a 1931 memo that Italy had ambitions in Ethiopia that would be achieved "probably with war". In January 1932, the Foreign Minister Dino Grandi described the policy of "peaceful penetration" as a failure, writing that a policy of politica periferica was needed, advised that the Regio Esercito should start planning for an aggressive war. Guariglia in a memo in August 1932 wrote that Italy should invade Ethiopia provided that Britain and France agreed to support the invasion first. In 1932, Mussolini ordered his Minister of Colonies, Emilio De Bono, to start planning for an invasion of Ethiopia to be launched in the near-future.
However, the commander of the Regio Esercito, Marshal Pietro Badoglio out of jealousy that De Bono was to lead the planned invasion, launched a scathing critique of the De Bono plan, arguing that Italy needed larger forces and a greater logistics basis for an invasion. As a response to Badoglio's objections, Mussolini reluctantly agreed to upgrade the ports and railroads in Eritrea and Italian Somaliland to support the 300,000 men force that Badoglio insisted was necessary. On 30 December 1934, Mussolini gave orders for the "whole destruction of the Ethiopian armed forces and the occupation of the whole of Ethiopia". Mussolini's reasons for the invasion have been much debated by historians; the Italian historians' Franco Catalano and Giorgio Rochat argue that the invasion was an act of social imperialism, contending that the Great Depression had badly damaged Mussolini's prestige, that he needed a foreign war to distract public opinion. Other historians such as Pietro Pastorelli have seen the invasion as more due to plans that Mussolini had long nurtured for an empire in the Horn of Africa and Arabia.
Greek historian Aristotle Kallis noted in the early 1930s that Mussolini had considered invading Yemen to give Italy a foothold in the Middle East, only chose Ethiopia in order to "avenge Adowa" and because Ethiopia was considered to be the weaker opponent. American historian MacGregor Knox argued that Mussolini launched the war for both domestic and foreign policy reasons, arguing that Mussolini both wanted an empire abroad for its own sake and because he wanted a foreign policy triumph to push the Fascist system in a more radical direction in the face of opposition from the Crown, the Catholic Church, other vested interests in Italy. Mussolini appointed De Bono to command the invasion because he wanted the victory to be seen as a Fascist victory, not just an Italian victory, this was quite intentionally a snub of Marshal Badoglio and the rest of the Regio Esercito generals whose first loyalty was to King Victor Emmanuel III. Kallis argued the way in which Mussolini went out of his way after Badoglio replaced De Bono, to deny as much as possible the glory of the victory to the Italian Army and instead presente
December 9th Movement
The December 9th Movement was a mass protest led by students in Beiping on December 9, 1935 to demand that the Chinese government resist Japanese aggression. After the Japanese Imperial Force occupied Manchuria following the Mukden Incident in 1931, it attempted to follow up with an invasion into northern China. Between June and July 1935, the Chin-Doihara Agreement was negotiated between Japan and the Chinese Kuomintang government as a way for the former to gain control of Chahar Province. A puppet state known as "Eastern Hebei Anti-Communist Autonomous Government" was set up by a Yin Rugeng with Japanese help. In response to the demands by Japan to create a separate regime in Northern China, the KMT government was forced to establish the "Hebei-Chahar Political Council"; the Chinese Communists, on the other hand, called for a voluntary mobilization of all Chinese people to resist Japanese aggression in a proclamation published on August 1, 1935. On November 18, student representatives from several major universities in Beiping gathered in a meeting and secretly formed the Beiping Students Union.
An election was held and Guo Mingqiu became the executive president while the communists selected Huang Jing and Yao Yilin to participate in leading the Students Union. On December 3, the Beiping Students Union decided to correspond with as many universities as possible to organize a mass petition. Three days 15 schools published a declaration opposing the formation of the Anti-Communist Autonomous Government of Northern China, it demanded the KMT government to arrest Yin Rugeng and called for a national armed resistance against Japan. A 9-point political agenda was passed the same day, among which called for the KMT to stop its armed campaign against the communists in the Chinese Civil War. Since December 9 was rumored to be the day that the Hebei-Chahar Political Committee was to be established, the Students Union chose that day for the petition. On the early morning of December 9, police and soldiers surrounded many schools and closed the city gate at Xizhimen. Petition students were enraged.
They broke the police enclosure lines. At around 10:30, they arrived at the Beiping branch of the KMT Military Committee in Zhongnanhai. In front of the Xinhua Gate, they sent the petition letters to He Yingqin head of the KMT Military. Angry students waved their arms and shouted slogans such as "Down with Japanese imperialism" and "Immediately stop the civil war", while a 6-point demand was given to the KMT government headquarter. Oppose the Autonomous Government of Northern China and similar organizations. Representatives of He Yingqin was able to talk to the students, but they refused to let students open Xizhimen so that Tsinghua and Yenching university students can enter the city. Students began to march en masse; the number of marching students subsequently increased to about 6,000. When the line entered Xidan and East Chang'an Avenue, some students were attacked by police and soldiers armed with wooden sticks, water pumps and sabers. Hundreds were injured and more than 30 were arrested. Students from Tsinghua and Peking University who were unable to enter the city via the gates stood their ways outside the city wall in bitter cold.
Some of the students wept in telling surrounding residents about atrocities the Japanese army committed in Manchuria. They blamed on the KMT government for its non-resistance policy. At the end of the day, this movement by the students forced the Hebei-Chahar Political Committee to adjourn its planned opening; the protest movement was supported by students all over the country. Response was positive as similar petitions and assemblies were organized in many large cities; the Students Union in Communist-occupied Shaanxi-Gansu district sent telegraph to voice their support. On December 18, the All-China Federation of Trade Unions called for its workers to protest the betrayal by Japan and the arrest of numerous students in Beiping. Meanwhile, Lu Xun and Soong Ching-ling wrote articles in praise of the brave actions done by the students in Beiping, they and other social elites donated money in support. In Beiping, a propaganda troupe was organized in which students from Beiping would tell peasants living in nearby provinces about the need of resistance against future Japanese aggression.
The student demonstrations generated a public outcry and forced the formation of the Hebei-Chahar Political Council to be postponed to December 18, 1935. The movement boosted the profile and prestige of Communist student activists at a time when the Kuomintang-led government was suppressing Communists. After the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, the December 9 Movement has been commemorated as a patriotic movement. In 1985, during the 50th Anniversary of the December 9 Movement, students demonstrated in Beijing, calling for democracy and reform to save the nation. Sons and Daughters in a Time of Storm
Adolf Hitler's rise to power
Adolf Hitler's rise to power began in Germany in September 1919 when Hitler joined the political party known as the Deutsche Arbeiterpartei – DAP. The name was changed in 1920 to the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei – NSDAP, it was anti-Marxist and opposed to the democratic post-war government of the Weimar Republic and the Treaty of Versailles, advocating extreme nationalism and Pan-Germanism as well as virulent anti-Semitism. Hitler's "rise" can be considered to have ended in March 1933, after the Reichstag adopted the Enabling Act of 1933 in that month. President Paul von Hindenburg had appointed Hitler as Chancellor on 30 January 1933 after a series of parliamentary elections and associated backroom intrigues; the Enabling Act—when used ruthlessly and with authority—virtually assured that Hitler could thereafter constitutionally exercise dictatorial power without legal objection. Adolf Hitler rose to a place of prominence in the early years of the party. Being one of its best speakers, he told the other members to either make him leader of the party or he would never return.
He was aided in part by his willingness to use violence in advancing his political objectives and to recruit party members who were willing to do the same. The Beer Hall Putsch in November 1923 and the release of his book Mein Kampf expanded Hitler's audience. In the mid-1920s, the party engaged in electoral battles in which Hitler participated as a speaker and organizer, as well as in street battles and violence between the Rotfrontkämpferbund and the Nazis' Sturmabteilung. Through the late 1920s and early 1930s, the Nazis gathered enough electoral support to become the largest political party in the Reichstag, Hitler's blend of political acuity and cunning converted the party's non-majority but plurality status into effective governing power in the ailing Weimar Republic of 1933. Once in power, the Nazis created a mythology surrounding the rise to power, they described the period that corresponds to the scope of this article as either the Kampfzeit or the Kampfjahre. Adolf Hitler became involved with the fledgling Nazi Party after the First World War, set the violent tone of the movement early, by forming the Sturmabteilung paramilitary.
Catholic Bavaria resented rule from Protestant Berlin, Hitler at first saw revolution in Bavaria as a means to power—but an early attempt proved fruitless, he was imprisoned after the 1923 Munich Beerhall Putsch. He used the time to produce Mein Kampf, in which he argued that the effeminate Jewish-Christian ethic was enfeebling Europe, that Germany needed a man of iron to restore itself and build an empire, he decided on the tactic of pursuing power through "legal" means. After being granted permission from King Ludwig III of Bavaria, 25-year-old Austrian-born Hitler enlisted in a Bavarian regiment of the German army, although he was not yet a German citizen. For over four years, Germany was a principal actor in World War I, on the Western Front. Soon after the fighting on the front ended in November 1918, Hitler returned to Munich after the Armistice with no job, no real civilian job skills and no friends, he remained in the Reichswehr and was given a meaningless assignment during the winter of 1918–1919, but was recruited by the Army's Political Department because of his assistance to the army in investigating the responsibility for the ill-fated Bavarian Soviet Republic.
He took part in "national thinking" courses under Captain Karl Mayr. His skills in oratory, as well as his extreme and open anti-Semitism, caught the eye of an approving army officer and he was promoted to an "education officer"—which gave him an opportunity to speak in public. In July 1919 Hitler was appointed Verbindungsmann of an Aufklärungskommando of the Reichswehr, both to influence other soldiers and to infiltrate the German Workers' Party; the DAP had been formed by Anton Drexler, Karl Harrer and others, through amalgamation of other groups, on 5 January 1919 at a small gathering in Munich at the restaurant Fuerstenfelder Hof. While he studied the activities of the DAP, Hitler became impressed with Drexler's antisemitic, anti-capitalist and anti-Marxist ideas. During the 12 September 1919 meeting, Hitler took umbrage with comments made by an audience member that were directed against Gottfried Feder, the speaker, a crank economist with whom Hitler was acquainted due to a lecture Feder delivered in an army "education" course.
The audience member asserted that Bavaria should be wholly independent from Germany and should secede from Germany and unite with Austria to form a new South German nation. The volatile Hitler arose and scolded the unfortunate Professor Baumann, using his speaking skills and causing Baumann to leave the meeting before its adjournment. Impressed with Hitler's oratory skills, Drexler encouraged him to join the DAP. On the orders of his army superiors, Hitler applied to join the party. Within a week, Hitler received a postcard stating he had been accepted as a member and he should come to a "committee" meeting to discuss it. Hitler attended the "committee" meeting held at the run-down Alte Rosenbad beer-house. Hitler wrote that joining the fledgling party "...was the most decisive resolve of my life. From here there was and could be no turning back.... I registered as a member of the German Workers' Party and received a provisional membership card with the number 7". Normally
The Young Plan was a program for settling Germany's World War I reparations written in August 1929 and formally adopted in 1930. It was presented by the committee headed by American industrialist Owen D. Young, creator and ex-first chairman of the Radio Corporation of America, who, at the time, concurrently served on the board of trustees of the Rockefeller Foundation, had been one of the representatives involved in a previous war-reparations restructuring arrangement—the Dawes Plan of 1924; the Inter-Allied Reparations Commission established the German reparation sum at a theoretical total of 132 billion, but a practical total of 50 billion gold marks. After the Dawes Plan was put into operation in 1924, it became apparent that Germany would not willingly meet the annual payments over an indefinite period of time; the Young Plan reduced further payments by about 20 percent. Although the theoretical total was 112 billion Gold Marks, equivalent to US ca. $27 billion in 1929 over a period of 58 years, which would end in 1988, few expected the plan to last for much more than a decade.
In addition, the Young Plan divided the annual payment, set at two billion Gold Marks, US $473 million, into two components: one unconditional part, equal to one third of the sum, a postponable part, equal to the remaining two-thirds, which would incur interest and be financed by a consortium of American investment banks coordinated by J. P. Morgan & Co; the Committee, appointed by the Allied Reparations Committee, met in the first half of 1929, submitted its first report on June 7 of that year. In addition to Young, the United States was represented by J. P. Morgan, Jr. the prominent banker, his partner, Thomas W. Lamont; the report met with great objections from the United Kingdom but, after a first Conference in The Hague, a plan was finalised on August 31. The plan was formally adopted at a second Hague Conference, in January 1930. Amongst other provisions, the plan called for an international bank of settlements to handle the reparations transfers; the resulting Bank for International Settlements was duly established at the Hague Conference in January.
Between agreement and adoption of the plan came the Wall Street Crash of 1929, of which the main consequences were twofold. The American banking system had to recall money from Europe, cancel the credits that made the Young Plan possible. Moreover, the downfall of imports and exports affected the rest of the world. By 1933 two-thirds of world trade had vanished. A new trade policy was set with the Smoot–Hawley Tariff Act; the latter was influenced by the adopted economic policy. Unemployment soared to 33.7% in 1931 in Germany, 40% in 1932. Under such circumstances, U. S. President Herbert Hoover issued a public statement that proposed a one-year moratorium on the payments, he managed to assemble support for the moratorium from 15 nations by July 1931. But the adoption of the moratorium did little to slow economic decline in Europe. Germany was gripped by a major banking crisis. A final effort was made at the Lausanne Conference of 1932. Here, representatives from Great Britain, Italy, Belgium and Japan gathered to come to an agreement.
By that time it was clear that the deepening depression had made it impossible for Germany to resume its reparations payments. They agreed: Not to press Germany for immediate payments. To reduce indebtedness by nearly 90% and require Germany to prepare for the issuance of bonds; this provision was close to cancellation, reducing the German obligation from the original $32.3 billion to $713 million. It was informally agreed among the delegates that these provisions would be ineffective unless the US government agreed to the cancellation of war debts owed by the Allied governments. Hoover made the obligatory public statement about the lack of any connection between reparations and war debts, however in December 1932, the U. S. Congress rejected the Allied war debt reduction plan, which technically meant that the war reparations and debt reverted to the debt reduction granted Germany by the 1929 Young Plan. However, the system had collapsed, Germany did not resume payments. Once the National Socialist government consolidated power, the debt was repudiated and Germany made no further payments.
By 1933, Germany had made World War I reparations of only one eighth of the sum required under the Treaty of Versailles, owing to the repudiated American loans the United States in effect paid "reparations" to Germany. The plan failed, not because of the U. S. Congress' refusal to go along, but because it became irrelevant upon Hitler's rise to power. After Germany’s defeat in World War II, an international conference decided that Germany would pay the remaining debt only after the country was reunified. Nonetheless, West Germany paid off the principal by 1980. Germany was due to pay off the interest to the United States in 2010, to other countries in 2020. In 2010, Time reported that Germany made "final reparations-related payment for the Great War on Oct. 3, nearly 92 years after the country's defeat by the Allies." This agreement had been preceded by bitter diplomatic struggles, its acceptance aroused nationalist passions and resentment. It weakened, rather than helped, the advocates of a policy of international understanding.
Although the Young plan had reduced Germany's obligations, it was opposed by parts of the political spectrum in Germany. Conservative groups had been most outspoken in opposition to reparations and seized on opposition to the Young Plan as an issue. A coalition was formed o
World Disarmament Conference
The Conference for the Reduction and Limitation of Armaments of 1932–1934 was a failed effort by member states of the League of Nations, together with the United States, to actualize the ideology of disarmament. It took place in the Swiss city of Geneva, 1932 to 1934; the first effort at international arms limitation was made at the Hague Conferences of 1901 and 1907, which had failed in their primary objective. Although many contemporary commentators had blamed the outbreak of the First World War on the war guilt of Germany, historians writing in the 1930s began to emphasize the quick arms race preceding 1914. Further, all the major powers except the US had committed themselves to disarmament in both the Treaty of Versailles and the Covenant of the League of Nations. A substantial international non-governmental campaign to promote disarmament developed in the 1920s and early 1930s. A preparatory commission was initiated by the League in 1925; the motivation behind the talks can be summed up by an extract from the message President Franklin D. Roosevelt sent to the conference: "If all nations will agree wholly to eliminate from possession and use the weapons which make possible a successful attack, defences automatically will become impregnable and the frontiers and independence of every nation will become secure."
The talks were beset by a number of difficulties from the outset. Germany demanded to be allowed'military equality' or it would leave; the French, for their part, were insistent that German military inferiority was their only insurance from future conflict as serious as they had endured in the First World War. Britain and the U. S. were unprepared to offer the additional security commitments that France requested in exchange for limitation of French armaments. After 10 months of negotiations, France and Italy announced and the other States disarmed by the Versailles Treaty should be insured equality in a system which gives security to all nations." The parties could not agree on. The talks broke down and Hitler withdrew Germany from both the Conference and the League of Nations in October 1933; the 1930s had proved far too self-interested an international period to accommodate multilateral action in favour of pacifism. Davies, Thomas. "France and the World Disarmament Conference of 1932–34." Diplomacy and Statecraft 15.4: 765-780.
Online Noel-Baker, Philip John. First World Disarmament Conference and Why It Failed Temperley, A. C; the Whispering Gallery Of Europe influential account online Buckley, The United States and the Washington Conference, 1921-1922, The University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville, 1970. Fanning, Richard Ward and Disarmament, Naval Rivalry and Arms Control, 1922-1933, The University Press of Kentucky, Lexington, 1995. Gooch, John and his generals: the armed forces and fascist foreign policy, 1922-1940, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge / New York, 2007. Kitching, Carolyn and the Geneva Disarmament Conference, Palgrave MacMillan, New York, 2003 O’Neill, Robert John, The German Army and the Nazi Party, 1933-1939, London, 1966. Peden, British rearmament and the treasury: 1932-1939, Scottish Academic Press, Edinburgh, 1979. "Arms Control and Disarmament - Between the world wars, 1919–1939" American Foreign Relations website
World War II
World War II known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries; the major participants threw their entire economic and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China, it included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, the only use of nuclear weapons in war. Japan, which aimed to dominate Asia and the Pacific, was at war with China by 1937, though neither side had declared war on the other. World War II is said to have begun on 1 September 1939, with the invasion of Poland by Germany and subsequent declarations of war on Germany by France and the United Kingdom.
From late 1939 to early 1941, in a series of campaigns and treaties, Germany conquered or controlled much of continental Europe, formed the Axis alliance with Italy and Japan. Under the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of August 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union partitioned and annexed territories of their European neighbours, Finland and the Baltic states. Following the onset of campaigns in North Africa and East Africa, the fall of France in mid 1940, the war continued between the European Axis powers and the British Empire. War in the Balkans, the aerial Battle of Britain, the Blitz, the long Battle of the Atlantic followed. On 22 June 1941, the European Axis powers launched an invasion of the Soviet Union, opening the largest land theatre of war in history; this Eastern Front trapped most crucially the German Wehrmacht, into a war of attrition. In December 1941, Japan launched a surprise attack on the United States as well as European colonies in the Pacific. Following an immediate U. S. declaration of war against Japan, supported by one from Great Britain, the European Axis powers declared war on the U.
S. in solidarity with their Japanese ally. Rapid Japanese conquests over much of the Western Pacific ensued, perceived by many in Asia as liberation from Western dominance and resulting in the support of several armies from defeated territories; the Axis advance in the Pacific halted in 1942. Key setbacks in 1943, which included a series of German defeats on the Eastern Front, the Allied invasions of Sicily and Italy, Allied victories in the Pacific, cost the Axis its initiative and forced it into strategic retreat on all fronts. In 1944, the Western Allies invaded German-occupied France, while the Soviet Union regained its territorial losses and turned toward Germany and its allies. During 1944 and 1945 the Japanese suffered major reverses in mainland Asia in Central China, South China and Burma, while the Allies crippled the Japanese Navy and captured key Western Pacific islands; the war in Europe concluded with an invasion of Germany by the Western Allies and the Soviet Union, culminating in the capture of Berlin by Soviet troops, the suicide of Adolf Hitler and the German unconditional surrender on 8 May 1945.
Following the Potsdam Declaration by the Allies on 26 July 1945 and the refusal of Japan to surrender under its terms, the United States dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 and 9 August respectively. With an invasion of the Japanese archipelago imminent, the possibility of additional atomic bombings, the Soviet entry into the war against Japan and its invasion of Manchuria, Japan announced its intention to surrender on 15 August 1945, cementing total victory in Asia for the Allies. Tribunals were set up by fiat by the Allies and war crimes trials were conducted in the wake of the war both against the Germans and the Japanese. World War II changed the political social structure of the globe; the United Nations was established to foster international co-operation and prevent future conflicts. The Soviet Union and United States emerged as rival superpowers, setting the stage for the nearly half-century long Cold War. In the wake of European devastation, the influence of its great powers waned, triggering the decolonisation of Africa and Asia.
Most countries whose industries had been damaged moved towards economic expansion. Political integration in Europe, emerged as an effort to end pre-war enmities and create a common identity; the start of the war in Europe is held to be 1 September 1939, beginning with the German invasion of Poland. The dates for the beginning of war in the Pacific include the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War on 7 July 1937, or the Japanese invasion of Manchuria on 19 September 1931. Others follow the British historian A. J. P. Taylor, who held that the Sino-Japanese War and war in Europe and its colonies occurred and the two wars merged in 1941; this article uses the conventional dating. Other starting dates sometimes used for World War II include the Italian invasion of Abyssinia on 3 October 1935; the British historian Antony Beevor views the beginning of World War II as the Battles of Khalkhin Gol fought between Japan and the fo