Causes of World War II

Among the causes of World War II were, to a greater extent, the political takeover in 1933 of Germany by Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party and its aggressive foreign policy, and to a lesser extent, Italian Fascism in the 1920s, and Japanese militarism preceding an invasion of China in the 1930s. The immediate cause was Germany invading Poland on September 1, 1939, and Britain and France declaring war on Germany on September 3, 1939.

Problems arose in Weimar Germany that experienced strong currents of revanchism after the Treaty of Versailles that concluded its defeat in World War I in 1918. Dissatisfactions of treaty provisions included the demilitarization of the Rhineland, the prohibition of unification with Austria (including the Sudetenland) and the loss of German-speaking territories such as Danzig and Eupen-Malmedy despite Wilson's Fourteen Points, the limitations on the Reichswehr making it a token military force, the war-guilt clause, and last but not least the heavy tribute that Germany had to pay in the form of war reparations, which became an unbearable burden after the Great Depression. The most serious internal cause in Germany was the instability of the political system, as large sectors of politically active Germans rejected the legitimacy of the Weimar Republic.

After his rise and take-over of power in 1933 to a large part based on these grievances, Adolf Hitler and the Nazis heavily promoted them and also ideas of vastly ambitious additional demands based on Nazi ideology, such as uniting all Germans (and further all Germanic peoples) in Europe in a single nation; the acquisition of "living space" (Lebensraum) for primarily agrarian settlers (Blut und Boden), creating a "pull towards the East" (Drang nach Osten) where such territories were to be found and colonized; the elimination of Bolshevism; and the hegemony of an "Aryan"/"Nordic" so-called Master Race over the "sub-humans" (Untermenschen) of inferior races, chief among them Slavs and Jews.

Tensions created by those ideologies and the dissatisfactions of those powers with the interwar international order steadily increased. Italy laid claim on Ethiopia and conquered it in 1935, Japan created a puppet state in Manchuria in 1931 and expanded beyond in China from 1937, and Germany systematically flouted the Versailles treaty, reintroducing conscription in 1935 with the Stresa Front's failure after having secretly started re-armament, remilitarizing the Rhineland in 1936, annexing Austria in March 1938, and the Sudetenland in October 1938.

All those aggressive moves met only feeble and ineffectual policies of appeasement from the League of Nations and the Entente Cordiale – in retrospect symbolized by the "peace for our time" speech following the Munich Conference, that had allowed the annexation of the Sudeten from interwar Czechoslovakia. When the German Führer broke the promise he had made at that conference to respect that country's future territorial integrity in March 1939 by sending troops into Prague, its capital, breaking off Slovakia as a German client state, and absorbing the rest of it as the "Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia", Britain and France tried to switch to a policy of deterrence.

As Nazi attentions turned towards resolving the "Polish Corridor Question" during the summer of 1939, Britain and France committed themselves to an alliance with Poland, threatening Germany with a two-front war. On their side, the Germans assured themselves of the support of the USSR by signing a non-aggression pact with them in August, secretly dividing Eastern Europe into Nazi and Soviet spheres of influence.

The stage was then set for the Danzig crisis to become the immediate trigger of the war in Europe which started on 1 September 1939 when Germany invaded Poland. Britain and France then gave Germany an ultimatum to withdraw, which Germany ignored, and Britain and France declared war on Germany on September 3, 1939. Following the Fall of France in June 1940, the Vichy regime signed an armistice, which tempted the Empire of Japan to join the Axis powers and invade French Indochina to improve their military situation in their war with China. This provoked the then neutral United States to respond with an embargo. The Japanese leadership, whose goal was Japanese domination of the Asia-Pacific, thought they had no option but to pre-emptively strike at the US Pacific fleet, which they did by attacking Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941.

Meanwhile, Nazi Germany had brought the Soviet Union into the war as an active belligerent by attacking eastwards in Operation Barbarossa (June 1941).

Schleswig Holstein firing Gdynia 13.09.1939
The German battleship Schleswig-Holstein attacked Westerplatte at the start of the war, September 1, 1939
USS SHAW exploding Pearl Harbor Nara 80-G-16871 2
Destroyer USS Shaw exploding during the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941

Expansionism

Expansionism is the doctrine of expanding the territorial base (or economic influence) of a country, usually by means of military aggression. In Europe, Italy under Benito Mussolini sought to create a New Roman Empire based around the Mediterranean. It invaded Albania in early 1938, at the start of the war, and later invaded Greece. Italy had also invaded Ethiopia as early as 1935. This provoked angry words and an oil embargo from the League of Nations, which failed.

Under the Nazi regime, Germany began its own program of expansion, seeking to restore the "rightful" boundaries of historic Germany. As a prelude toward these goals the Rhineland was remilitarized in March 1936.[1]

Also, of importance was the idea of a Greater Germany, supporters hoped to unite the German people under one nation state, which included all territories where Germans lived, regardless of whether they happened to be a minority in a particular territory. After the Treaty of Versailles, a unification between Germany and a newly formed German-Austria, a successor rump state of Austria-Hungary, was prohibited by the Allies despite the majority of Austrian Germans supporting such a union.

First pictures of the Japanese occupation of Peiping in China
Japanese march into Zhengyangmen of Beijing after capturing the city in July 1937

In Asia, the Empire of Japan harbored expansionist desires towards Manchuria and the Republic of China.

Militarism

Militarism is the principle or policy of maintaining a strong military capability to use it aggressively to expand national interests and/or values, with the view that military efficiency is the supreme ideal of a state.[2] A highly militaristic and aggressive national ideology prevailed in Germany, Japan and Italy.[3] This attitude fueled advancements in military technology, subversive propaganda, and ultimately territorial expansion as well. The leaders of countries that have been militarized often feel a need to prove that their armies are important and formidable, and this was often a contributing factor in the start of conflicts in the interwar period such as the Second Italo-Abyssinian War and the Second Sino-Japanese War.[4]

During the period of the Weimar Republic (1919–1933), the Kapp Putsch, an attempted coup d'état against the republican government, was launched by disaffected members of the armed forces. After this event, some of the more radical militarists and nationalists were submerged in grief and despair into the NSDAP, while more moderate elements of militarism declined. The result was an influx of militarily-inclined men into the Nazi Party which, when combined with their racial theories, fueled irredentist sentiments and put Germany on a collision course for war with its immediate neighbors.

Two contemporaneous factors in Japan contributed both to the growing power of its military and chaos within its ranks leading up to the Second World War. One was the Cabinet Law, which required the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) and Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) to nominate cabinet members before changes could be formed. This essentially gave the military veto power over the formation of any Cabinet in the ostensibly parliamentary country. Another factor was gekokujō, or institutionalized disobedience by junior officers. It was not uncommon for radical junior officers to press their goals, to the extent of assassinating their seniors. In 1936, this phenomenon resulted in the February 26 Incident, in which junior officers attempted a coup d'état and killed leading members of the Japanese government. In the 1930s, the Great Depression wrecked Japan's economy and gave radical elements within the Japanese military the chance to force the entire military into working towards the conquest of all of Asia. For example, in 1931 the Kwantung Army (a Japanese military force stationed in Manchuria) staged the Mukden Incident, which sparked the Invasion of Manchuria and its transformation into the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo.

Germans vs Slavs

Twentieth-century events marked the culmination of a millennium-long process of intermingling between Germans and Slavs. The rise of nationalism in the 19th century made race a centerpiece of political loyalty. The rise of the nation-state had given way to the politics of identity, including Pan-Germanism and Pan-Slavism. Furthermore, Social-Darwinist theories framed the coexistence as a "Teuton vs. Slav" struggle for domination, land and limited resources.[5] Integrating these ideas into their own world-view, the Nazis believed that the Germans, the "Aryan race", were the master race and that the Slavs were inferior.[6]

Interrelations and economics

Problems with the Treaty of Versailles

German losses after WWI
Germany after Versailles
  Administered by the League of Nations
  Annexed or transferred to neighboring countries by the treaty, or later via plebiscite and League of Nation action

The Treaty of Versailles was neither lenient enough to appease Germany, nor harsh enough to prevent it from becoming the dominant continental power again.[7] Germans largely saw the treaty place the blame, or "war guilt", on Germany and Austria-Hungary and punish them for their "responsibility" rather than working out an agreement that would assure long-term peace. The treaty provided for harsh monetary reparations, separated millions of ethnic Germans into neighboring countries, territorial dismemberment, and caused mass ethnic resettlement. In an effort to pay war reparations to Britain and France, the Weimar Republic printed trillions of marks, causing extremely high inflation of the German currency (see Hyperinflation in the Weimar Republic).

The treaty created bitter resentment towards the victors of World War I, who had promised the people of Germany that U.S. President Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points would be a guideline for peace; however, the US played a minor role in World War I and Wilson could not convince the Allies to agree to adopt his Fourteen Points. Many Germans felt that the German government had agreed to an armistice based on this understanding, while others felt that the German Revolution of 1918–1919 had been orchestrated by the "November criminals" who later assumed office in the new Weimar Republic.

The German colonies were taken during the war, and Italy took the southern half of Tyrol after an armistice had been agreed upon. The war in the east ended with the defeat and collapse of Russian Empire, and German troops occupied large parts of Eastern and Central Europe (with varying degree of control), establishing various client states such as a kingdom of Poland and the United Baltic Duchy. After the destructive and indecisive battle of Jutland (1916) and the mutiny of its sailors in 1917, the Kaiserliche Marine spent most of the war in port, only to be turned over to the allies and scuttled at surrender by its own officers. The lack of an obvious military defeat was one of the pillars that held together the Dolchstosslegende ("Stab-in-the-back myth") and gave the Nazis another propaganda tool at their disposal.

French security demands

French security demands, such as reparations, coal payments, and a demilitarized Rhineland, took precedence at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 and shaped the Treaty of Versailles by severely punishing Germany; however, Austria found the treaty to be unjust which encouraged Hitler's popularity. Ginsberg argues, "France was greatly weakened and, in its weakness and fear of a resurgent Germany, sought to isolate and punish Germany....French revenge would come back to haunt France during the Nazi invasion and occupation twenty years later."[8]

Paris Peace Conference (1919)

As World War I ended in 1918, France, along with the other victor countries, were in a desperate situation regarding their economies, security, and morale. The Paris Peace Conference of 1919 was their chance to punish Germany for starting the war. The war "must be someone's fault – and that's a very natural human reaction" analyzed historian Margaret MacMillan.[9] Germany was charged with the sole responsibility of starting World War I. The War Guilt Clause was the first step towards a satisfying revenge for the victor countries, namely France, against Germany. France understood that its position in 1918 was "artificial and transitory".[10] Thus, Clemenceau, the French leader at the time, worked to gain French security via the Treaty of Versailles.[10]

Big four
"The Big Four" made all the major decisions at the Paris Peace Conference (from left to right, David Lloyd George of Britain, Vittorio Emanuele Orlando of Italy, Georges Clemenceau of France, Woodrow Wilson of the U.S.)

The two main provisions of the French security agenda were reparations from Germany in the form of money and coal and a detached German Rhineland. The French government printed excess currency, which created inflation, to compensate for the lack of funds in addition to borrowing money from the United States. Reparations from Germany were necessary to stabilize the French economy.[11] France also demanded that Germany give France their coal supply from the Ruhr to compensate for the destruction of French coalmines during the war. Because France feared for its safety as a country, the French demanded an amount of coal that was a "technical impossibility" for the Germans to pay back.[12] France wanted the German Rhineland demilitarized because that would hinder a German attack. This gave France a physical security barrier between itself and Germany.[13] The inordinate amount of reparations, coal payments, and the principle of a demilitarized Rhineland were viewed by the Germans to be insulting and unreasonable.

Germany's reaction to Treaty of Versailles

"No postwar German government believed it could accept such a burden on future generations and survive ...".[11] Paying reparations is a classic punishment of war but in this instance it was the "extreme immoderation" that caused German resentment. Germany made its last World War I reparation payment on 3 October 2010,[14] ninety-two years after the end of World War I. Germany also fell behind in their coal payments. They fell behind because of a passive resistance movement against the French.[15] In response, the French invaded the Ruhr, the region filled with German coal, and occupied it. At this point the majority of Germans were enraged with the French and placed the blame for their humiliation on the Weimar Republic. Adolf Hitler, a leader of the Nazi Party, attempted a coup d'état against the republic to establish a Greater German Reich[16] known as the Beer Hall Putsch in 1923. Although this failed, Hitler gained recognition as a national hero amongst the German population. The demilitarized Rhineland and additional cutbacks on military infuriated the Germans. Although it is logical that France would want the Rhineland to be a neutral zone, the fact that France had the power to make that desire happen merely added onto the resentment of the Germans against the French. In addition, the Treaty of Versailles dissolved the German general staff and possession of navy ships, aircraft, poison gas, tanks, and heavy artillery was made illegal.[13] The humiliation of being bossed around by the victor countries, especially France, and being stripped of their prized military made the Germans resent the Weimar Republic and idolize anyone who stood up to it.[17]

Japan's seizure of resources and markets

Major Japanese drives in 1937
Japanese occupation of China in 1937

Other than a few coal and iron deposits, and a small oil field on Sakhalin Island, Japan lacked strategic mineral resources. At the start of the 20th century in the Russo-Japanese War, Japan had succeeded in pushing back the East Asian expansion of the Russian Empire in competition for Korea and Manchuria.

Japan's goal after 1931 was economic dominance of most of East Asia, often expressed in Pan-Asian terms of "Asia for the Asians.".[18] Japan was determined to dominate the China market, which the U.S. and other European powers had been dominating. On October 19, 1939, the American Ambassador to Japan, Joseph C. Grew, in a formal address to the America-Japan Society stated:

the new order in East Asia has appeared to include, among other things, depriving Americans of their long established rights in China, and to this the American people are opposed ... American rights and interests in China are being impaired or destroyed by the policies and actions of the Japanese authorities in China.[19]

In 1937 Japan invaded Manchuria and China proper. Under the guise of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, with slogans as "Asia for the Asians!" Japan sought to remove the Western powers' influence in China and replace it with Japanese domination.[20][21]

The ongoing conflict in China led to a deepening conflict with the U.S., where public opinion was alarmed by events such as the Nanking Massacre and growing Japanese power. Lengthy talks were held between the U.S. and Japan. When Japan moved into the southern part of French Indochina, President Roosevelt chose to freeze all Japanese assets in the U.S. The intended consequence of this was the halt of oil shipments from the U.S. to Japan, which had supplied 80 percent of Japanese oil imports. The Netherlands and Britain followed suit. With oil reserves that would last only a year and a half during peacetime (much less during wartime), this ABCD line left Japan two choices: comply with the U.S.-led demand to pull out of China, or seize the oilfields in the East Indies from the Netherlands. The Japan government deemed it unacceptable to retreat from China.[22]

Failure of the League of Nations

The League of Nations was an international organization founded after World War I to prevent future wars. It failed.[23] The League's methods included disarmament; preventing war through collective security; settling disputes between countries through negotiation diplomacy; and improving global welfare. The diplomatic philosophy behind the League represented a fundamental shift in thought from the preceding century. The old philosophy of "concert of nations", growing out of the Congress of Vienna (1815), saw Europe as a shifting map of alliances among nation-states, creating a balance of power maintained by strong armies and secret agreements. Under the new philosophy, the League was a government of governments, with the role of settling disputes between individual nations in an open and legalist forum. The United States never joined, which lessened the power and credibility of the League—the addition of a burgeoning industrial and military world power might have added more force behind the League's demands and requests.

No-nb bldsa 5c006
The official opening of the League of Nations, 15 November 1920

The League lacked an armed force of its own and so depended on the members to enforce its resolutions, uphold economic sanctions that the League ordered, or provide an army when needed for the League to use. However, they were often very reluctant to do so. After numerous notable successes and some early failures in the 1920s, the League ultimately proved incapable of preventing aggression by the Axis powers in the 1930s. The reliance upon unanimous decisions, the lack of an armed force, and the continued self-interest of its leading members meant that this failure was arguably inevitable.[24][25]

The Mason-Overy Debate: "The Flight into War" theory

In the late 1980s, the British historian Richard Overy was involved in a historical dispute with Timothy Mason that mostly played out over the pages of the Past and Present journal over the reasons for the outbreak of World War II in 1939. Mason had contended that a "flight into war" had been imposed on Adolf Hitler by a structural economic crisis, which confronted Hitler with the choice of making difficult economic decisions or aggression. Overy argued against Mason's thesis, maintaining that though Germany was faced with economic problems in 1939, the extent of these problems cannot explain aggression against Poland and the reasons for the outbreak of war were due to the choices made by the Nazi leadership.

Mason had argued that the German working-class was always to the Nazi dictatorship; that in the over-heated German economy of the late 1930s, German workers could force employers to grant higher wages by leaving for another firm that would grant the desired wage increases; that this was a form of political resistance and this resistance forced Adolf Hitler to go to war in 1939.[26] Thus, the outbreak of the Second World War was caused by structural economic problems, a "flight into war" imposed by a domestic crisis.[26] The key aspects of the crisis were according to Mason, a shaky economic recovery was threatened by a rearmament program that was overwhelming the economy and in which the Nazi regime's nationalist bluster limited its options.[26] In this way, Mason articulated a Primat der Innenpolitik ("primacy of domestic politics") view of World War II's origins through the concept of social imperialism.[27] Mason's Primat der Innenpolitik thesis was in marked contrast to the Primat der Außenpolitik ("primacy of foreign politics) usually used to explain World War II.[26] In Mason's opinion, German foreign policy was driven by domestic political considerations, and the launch of World War II in 1939 was best understood as a "barbaric variant of social imperialism".[28]

Mason argued that "Nazi Germany was always bent at some time upon a major war of expansion."[29] However, Mason argued that the timing of such a war was determined by domestic political pressures, especially as relating to a failing economy, and had nothing to do with what Hitler wanted.[29] In Mason's view in the period between 1936–41, it was the state of the German economy, and not Hitler's 'will' or 'intentions' that was the most important determinate on German decision-making on foreign policy.[30] Mason argued that the Nazi leaders were deeply haunted by the November Revolution of 1918, and was most unwilling to see any fall in working class living standards out of the fear that it might provoke another November Revolution.[30] According to Mason, by 1939, the "overheating" of the German economy caused by rearmament, the failure of various rearmament plans produced by the shortages of skilled workers, industrial unrest caused by the breakdown of German social policies, and the sharp drop in living standards for the German working class forced Hitler into going to war at a time and place not of his choosing.[31] Mason contended that when faced with the deep socio-economic crisis the Nazi leadership had decided to embark upon a ruthless 'smash and grab' foreign policy of seizing territory in Eastern Europe which could be pitilessly plundered to support living standards in Germany.[32] Mason described German foreign policy as driven by an opportunistic 'next victim' syndrome after the Anschluss, in which the "promiscuity of aggressive intentions" was nurtured by every successful foreign policy move.[33] In Mason's opinion, the decision to sign the German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact with the Soviet Union and to attack Poland and the running of the risk of a war with Britain and France were the abandonment by Hitler of his foreign policy program outlined in Mein Kampf forced on him by his need to stop a collapsing German economy by seizing territory abroad to be plundered.[31]

For Overy, the problem with Mason's thesis was that it rested on the assumption that in a way not shown by records, information was passed on to Hitler about the Reich's economic problems.[34] Overy argued that there was a difference between economic pressures induced by the problems of the Four Year Plan and economic motives to seize raw materials, industry and foreign reserves of neighboring states as a way of accelerating the Four Year Plan.[35] Overy asserted that the repressive capacity of the German state as a way of dealing with domestic unhappiness was somewhat downplayed by Mason.[34] Finally, Overy argued that there is considerable evidence that the German state felt they could master the economic problems of rearmament; as one civil servant put it in January 1940 "we have already mastered so many difficulties in the past, that here too, if one or other raw material became extremely scarce, ways and means will always yet be found to get out of a fix".[36]

Specific developments

Nazi dictatorship

Bundesarchiv Bild 183-H12704, Bad Godesberg, Vorbereitung Münchener Abkommen
Adolf Hitler in Bad Godesberg, Germany, 1938

Hitler and his Nazis took full control of Germany in 1933–34 (Machtergreifung), turning it into a dictatorship with a highly hostile outlook toward the Treaty of Versailles and Jews.[37] It solved its unemployment crisis by heavy military spending.[38]

Hitler's diplomatic tactics were to make seemingly reasonable demands, then threatening war if they were not met; concessions were made, he accepted them and moved onto a new demand.[39] When opponents tried to appease him, he accepted the gains that were offered, then went to the next target. That aggressive strategy worked as Germany pulled out of the League of Nations (1933), rejected the Versailles Treaty and began to re-arm with the Anglo-German Naval Agreement (1935), won back the Saar (1935), re-militarized the Rhineland (1936), formed an alliance ("axis") with Mussolini's Italy (1936), sent massive military aid to Franco in the Spanish Civil War (1936–39), seized Austria (1938), took over Czechoslovakia after the British and French appeasement of the Munich Agreement of 1938, formed a peace pact with Stalin's Russia in August 1939 – and finally invaded Poland in September 1939.[40]

Re-militarization of the Rhineland

EdwardVIIIcoin
This coin was minted for Edward VIII.

In violation of the Treaty of Versailles and the spirit of the Locarno Pact and the Stresa Front, Germany re-militarized the Rhineland on March 7, 1936. It moved German troops into the part of western Germany where, according to the Versailles Treaty, they were not allowed. France could not act because of political instability at the time. According to his official Biography, King Edward VIII, who thought the Versailles provision was unjust,[41] ordered the government to stand down.[42]

Italian invasion of Ethiopia (Abyssinia)

After the Stresa Conference and even as a reaction to the Anglo-German Naval Agreement, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini attempted to expand the Italian Empire in Africa by invading the Ethiopian Empire (also known as Abyssinia). The League of Nations declared Italy the aggressor and imposed sanctions on oil sales that proved ineffective. Italy annexed Ethiopia on May 7 and merged Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Somaliland into a single colony known as Italian East Africa. On June 30, 1936, Emperor Haile Selassie gave a stirring speech before the League of Nations denouncing Italy's actions and criticizing the world community for standing by. He warned that "It is us today. It will be you tomorrow". As a result of the League's condemnation of Italy, Mussolini declared the country's withdrawal from the organization.[43]

Spanish Civil War

Himmlerencuentroconfranco1940
Francisco Franco and Heinrich Himmler in Madrid, Spain, 1940

Between 1936 and 1939, Germany and Italy lent support to the Nationalists led by general Francisco Franco in Spain, while the Soviet Union supported the existing democratically elected government, the Spanish Republic, led by Manuel Azaña. Both sides experimented with new weapons and tactics. The League of Nations was never involved, and the major powers of the League remained neutral and tried (with little success) to stop arms shipments into Spain. The Nationalists eventually defeated the Republicans in 1939.[44]

Spain negotiated with joining the Axis but remained neutral during World War II, and did business with both sides. It also sent a volunteer unit to help the Germans against the USSR. Whilst it was considered in the 1940s and 1950s to be a prelude to World War II and It prefigured the war to some extent (as it changed it into an antifascists contest after 1941), it bore no resemblance to the war that started in 1939 and had no major role in causing it.[45][46]

Second Sino-Japanese War

In 1931 Japan took advantage of China's weakness in the Warlord Era and fabricated the Mukden Incident in 1931 to set up the puppet state of Manchukuo in Manchuria, with Puyi, who had been the last emperor of China, as its emperor. In 1937 the Marco Polo Bridge Incident triggered the Second Sino-Japanese War.

The invasion was launched by the bombing of many cities such as Shanghai, Nanjing and Guangzhou. The latest, which began on 22 and 23 September 1937, called forth widespread protests culminating in a resolution by the Far Eastern Advisory Committee of the League of Nations. The Imperial Japanese Army captured the Chinese capital city of Nanjing, and committed war crimes in the Nanjing massacre. The war tied down large numbers of Chinese soldiers, so Japan set up three different Chinese puppet states to enlist some Chinese support.[47]

Anschluss

Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1985-083-11, Anschluss Österreich, Innsbruck
Cheering crowds greet the Nazis in Innsbruck

The Anschluss was the 1938 annexation by threat of force of Austria into Germany. Historically, the Pan-Germanism idea of creating a Greater Germany to include all ethnic Germans into one nation-state was popular for Germans in both Austria and Germany.

One of the Nazi party's points was "We demand the unification of all Germans in the Greater Germany on the basis of the people's right to self-determination."

The Stresa Front of 1935 between Britain, France and Italy had guaranteed the independence of Austria, but after the creation of the Rome-Berlin Axis Mussolini was much less interested in upholding its independence.

The Austrian government resisted as long as possible, but had no outside support and finally gave in to Hitler's fiery demands. No fighting occurred as most Austrians were enthusiastic, and Austria was fully absorbed as part of Germany. Outside powers did nothing. Italy had little reason for continued opposition to Germany, and was if anything drawn in closer to the Nazis.[48][49]

Sprachenkarte Mitteleuropas (1937)
1937 ethno-linguistic situation in central Europe

Munich Agreement

The Sudetenland was a predominantly German region inside Czechoslovakia alongside its border with Germany. Its more than 3 million ethnic Germans comprised almost a quarter of the population of Czechoslovakia. In the Treaty of Versailles it was given to the new Czechoslovak state against the wishes of much of the local population. The decision to disregard their right to self determination was based on French intent to weaken Germany. Much of Sudetenland was industrialized.[50]

Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1976-063-32, Bad Godesberg, Münchener Abkommen, Vorbereitung
British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and Hitler at a meeting in Germany on 24 September 1938, where Hitler demanded annexation of Czech border areas without delay

Czechoslovakia had a modern army of 38 divisions, backed by a well-noted armament industry (Škoda) as well as military alliances with France and the Soviet Union. However its defensive strategy against Germany was based on the mountains of the Sudetenland.

Hitler pressed for the Sudetenland's incorporation into the Reich, supporting German separatist groups within the Sudeten region. Alleged Czech brutality and persecution under Prague helped to stir up nationalist tendencies, as did the Nazi press. After the Anschluss, all German parties (except the German Social-Democratic party) merged with the Sudeten German Party (SdP). Paramilitary activity and extremist violence peaked during this period and the Czechoslovakian government declared martial law in parts of the Sudetenland to maintain order. This only complicated the situation, especially now that Slovakian nationalism was rising, out of suspicion towards Prague and Nazi encouragement. Citing the need to protect the Germans in Czechoslovakia, Germany requested the immediate annexation of the Sudetenland.

In the Munich Agreement of September 30, 1938, British, French and Italian prime ministers appeased Hitler by giving him what he wanted, hoping he would not want any more. The conferring powers allowed Germany to move troops into the region and incorporate it into the Reich "for the sake of peace." In exchange for this, Hitler gave his word that Germany would make no further territorial claims in Europe.[51] Czechoslovakia was not allowed to participate in the conference. When the French and British negotiators informed the Czechoslovak representatives about the agreement, and that if Czechoslovakia would not accept it, France and Britain would consider Czechoslovakia to be responsible for war, President Edvard Beneš capitulated. Germany took the Sudetenland unopposed.[52]

German occupation and Slovak independence

Münchner abkommen5 en
All territories taken from Czechoslovakia by its neighbours in October 1938 ("Munich Dictate") and March 1939

In March 1939, breaking the Munich Agreement, German troops invaded Prague, and with the Slovaks declaring independence, the country of Czechoslovakia disappeared. The entire ordeal was the last show of the French and British policy of appeasement.

Italian invasion of Albania

After the German occupation of Czechoslovakia, Benito Mussolini feared for Italy becoming a second-rate member of the Axis. Rome delivered Tirana an ultimatum on March 25, 1939, demanding that it accede to Italy's occupation of Albania. King Zog refused to accept money in exchange for countenancing a full Italian takeover and colonization of Albania. On April 7, 1939, Italian troops invaded Albania. Albania was occupied after a 3 days campaign with minimal resistance offered by the Albanian forces.

Soviet–Japanese Border War

In 1939, the Japanese attacked west from Manchuria into the Mongolian People's Republic, following the earlier Battle of Lake Khasan in 1938. They were decisively beaten by Soviet units under General Georgy Zhukov. Following this battle, the Soviet Union and Japan were at peace until 1945. Japan looked south to expand its empire, leading to conflict with the United States over the Philippines and control of shipping lanes to the Dutch East Indies. The Soviet Union focused on her western border, but leaving 1 million to 1.5 million troops to guard the frontier with Japan.

Danzig crisis

After the final fate of Czechoslovakia proved that the Führer's word could not be trusted, Britain and France decided on a change of strategy. They decided any further unilateral German expansion would be met by force. The natural next target for the Third Reich's further expansion was Poland, whose access to the Baltic sea had been carved out of West Prussia by the Versailles treaty, making East Prussia an exclave. The main port of the area, Danzig, had been made a free city-state under Polish influence guaranteed by the League of Nations, a stark reminder to German nationalists of the Napoleonic free city established after the French emperor's crushing victory over Prussia in 1807.

After taking power, the Nazi government made efforts to establish friendly relations with Poland, resulting in the signing of the ten-year German–Polish Non-Aggression Pact with the Piłsudski regime in 1934. In 1938, Poland participated in the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia by annexing Zaolzie. In 1939, Hitler claimed extraterritoriality for the Reichsautobahn Berlin-Königsberg and a change in Danzig's status, in exchange for promises of territory in Poland's neighbours and a 25-year extension of the non-aggression pact. Poland refused, fearing losing de facto access to the sea, subjugation as a German satellite state or client state, and future further German demands.[53][54] In August 1939, Hitler delivered an ultimatum to Poland on Danzig's status.

Polish alliance with the Entente

In March 1939, Britain and France guaranteed the independence of Poland. Hitler's claims in the summer of 1939 on Danzig and the Polish Corridor provoked yet another international crisis. On August 25, Britain signed the Polish-British Common Defence Pact.

Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact

Nominally, the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact was a non-aggression treaty between Germany and the Soviet Union. It was signed in Moscow on August 23, 1939, by the Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov and the German foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop.

In 1939, neither Germany nor the Soviet Union were ready to go to war with each other. The Soviet Union had lost territory to Poland in 1920. Although officially labeled a "non-aggression treaty", the pact included a secret protocol, in which the independent countries of Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania were divided into spheres of interest of the parties. The secret protocol explicitly assumed "territorial and political rearrangements" in the areas of these countries.

Subsequently, all the mentioned countries were invaded, occupied, or forced to cede part of their territory by either the Soviet Union, Germany, or both.

Invasion of Poland

Second World War Europe
Germany invaded Poland on 1 September 1939 which directly led to the Anglo-French declaration of War on Germany on 3 Sept. The Soviet Union joined Germany's invasion of Poland on 17 September

Between 1919 and 1939 Poland pursued a policy of balancing between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, seeking non-aggression treaties with both.[55] In early 1939 Germany demanded that Poland join the Anti-Comintern Pact as a satellite state of Germany.[56] Poland, fearing a loss of independence, refused, and Hitler told his generals on 23 May 1939 that the reason for invading Poland was not Danzig: "Danzig is not the issue at stake. It's a matter of extending our living space in the East..."[57] To deter Hitler, Britain and France announced that an invasion would mean war and tried to convince the Soviet Union to join in this deterrence. The USSR, however, gained control of the Baltic states and parts of Poland by allying with Germany, which it did through the secret Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact in August 1939. London's attempt at deterrence failed, but Hitler did not expect a wider war. Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, and rejected the British and French demands that it withdraw, resulting in their declaration of war on September 3, 1939, in accordance with the defense treaties with Poland that they had signed and publicly announced.[58][59]

Invasion of the Soviet Union

Germany attacked the Soviet Union in June 1941. Hitler believed that the Soviet Union could be defeated in a fast-paced and relentless assault that capitalized on the Soviet Union's ill-prepared state, and hoped that success there would bring Britain to the negotiation table, ending the war altogether.

Attacks on Pearl Harbor, the Philippines, British Malaya, Singapore and Hong Kong

Usually, the US government and the American public in general had been supportive of China, condemning the colonialist policies of the European powers and Japan in that country, and promoting a so-called Open Door Policy. Also, many Americans viewed the Japanese as an aggressive or inferior race, or both. The Nationalist Government of Chiang Kai-shek held close relations with the United States, which opposed Japan's invasion of China in 1937 that it considered an illegal violation of the sovereignty of the Republic of China, and offered the Nationalist Government diplomatic, economic, and military assistance during its war against Japan. Diplomatic friction between the US and Japan manifested itself in events like the Panay incident in 1937 and the Allison incident in 1938.

Japanese troops entering Saigon in 1941
Japanese troops entering Saigon

Reacting to Japanese pressure on French authorities of French Indochina to stop trade with China, the U.S. began restricting trade with Japan in July 1940. The cutoff of all oil shipments in 1941 was decisive, for the U.S., Britain and the Netherlands provided almost all of Japan's oil.[60] In September 1940, the Japanese invaded Vichy French Indochina and occupied Tonkin in order to prevent China from importing arms and fuel through French Indochina along the Sino-Vietnamese Railway, from the port of Haiphong through Hanoi to Kunming in Yunnan.[61] The U.S.decided the Japanese had now gone too far and decided to force a roll-back of its gains.[62] In 1940–41, the U.S. and China decided to organize a volunteer squadron of American planes and pilots to attack Japan from Chinese bases. Known as 1the Flying Tigers, the unit was commanded by Claire Lee Chennault. Their first combat came two weeks after Pearl Harbor.[63]

Taking advantage of the situation, Thailand launched the Franco-Thai War in October 1940. Japan stepped in as a mediator for the French-Thai war in May 1941, allowing its ally to occupy bordering provinces in Cambodia and Laos. In July 1941, as operation Barbarossa had neutralized the Soviet threat, the faction of the Japanese military junta supporting the "Southern Strategy", pushed through the occupation of the rest of French Indochina.

The United States reacted by seeking to bring the Japanese war effort to a complete halt by imposing a full embargo on all trade between the United States to Japan on 1 August 1941, demanding that Japan withdraw all troops from both China and Indochina. Japan was dependent on the United States for 80 percent of its oil, resulting in an economic and military crisis for Japan that could not continue its war effort with China without access to petroleum and oil products.[64]

The USS Arizona (BB-39) burning after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor - NARA 195617 - Edit
Attack on Pearl Harbor, December 1941

On 7 December 1941, without any prior declaration of war,[65] the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked Pearl Harbor with the aim of destroying the main American battle fleet at anchor. At the same time, other Japanese forces attacked the U.S.-held Philippines and the British Empire in Malaya, Singapore, and Hong Kong. The following day, an official Japanese declaration of war on the United States and the British Empire was printed on the front page of all Japanese newspapers' evening editions.[66] Due to international time differences, this announcement took place between midnight and 3 AM on 8 December in North America, and at about 8 AM on 8 December in the UK.

Canada declared war on Japan on the evening of the 7th; a royal proclamation affirmed the declaration the next day.[67] The United Kingdom declared war on Japan on the morning of the 8th, specifically identifying the attacks on Malaya, Singapore and Hong Kong as the cause, and omitting any mention of Pearl Harbor.[68] The United States declared war upon Japan on the afternoon of the 8th, some nine hours after the UK, identifying only "unprovoked acts of war against the Government and the people of the United States of America" as the cause.[69]

Four days later the U.S was brought into the European war when on December 11, 1941, Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy declared war on the United States. Hitler chose to declare that the Tripartite Pact required that Germany follow Japan's declaration of war; although American destroyers escorting convoys and German U-boats were already de facto at war in the Battle of the Atlantic. This declaration effectively ended isolationist sentiment in the U.S. and the United States immediately reciprocated, formally entering the war in Europe.[70]

See also

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Further reading

  • Bell, P. M. H. The Origins of the Second World War in Europe (1986). 326 pp.
  • Boyce, Robert, and Joseph A. Maiolo. The Origins of World War Two: The Debate Continues (2003) excerpt and text search
  • Carley, Michael Jabara 1939: the Alliance that never was and the coming of World War II, Chicago: I.R. Dee, 1999 ISBN 1-56663-252-8.
  • Dallek, Robert. Franklin D. Roosevelt and American Foreign Policy, 1932–1945 (1995).
  • Deist, Wilhelm et al., ed. Germany and the Second World War. Vol. 1: The Build-up of German Aggression. (1991). 799 pp., official German history
  • Dutton, David Neville Chamberlain, ( Oxford University Press, 2001) ISBN 0-340-70627-9.
  • Eubank, Keith. The Origins of World War II (2004), short survey
  • Evans, Richard J. The Third Reich in Power (2006)
  • Feis, Herbert. The Road to Pearl Harbor: The coming of the war between the United States and Japan. classic history by senior American official.
  • Finney, Patrick. The Origins of the Second World War (1998), 480pp
  • Goldstein, Erik & Lukes, Igor (editors) The Munich crisis, 1938: Prelude to World War II, (London: Frank Cass, 1999) ISBN 0-7146-8056-7.
  • Hildebrand, Klaus The Foreign Policy of the Third Reich, translated by Anthony Fothergill, London, Batsford 1973.
  • Hillgruber, Andreas Germany and the Two World Wars, translated by William C. Kirby, Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 1981 ISBN 0-674-35321-8.
  • Kaiser, David E. Economic Diplomacy and the Origins of the Second World War: Germany, Britain, France, and Eastern Europe, 1930–1939 (Princeton UP, 2015).
  • Lamb, Margaret and Tarling, Nicholas. From Versailles to Pearl Harbor: The Origins of the Second World War in Europe and Asia. (2001). 238 pp.
  • Langer, William L. and S. Everett Gleason. The Challenge to Isolation: The World Crisis of 1937–1940 and American Foreign Policy (1952); The Undeclared War: 1940–1941: The World Crisis and American Foreign Policy (1953); highly detailed narrative
  • Mallett, Robert. Mussolini and the Origins of the Second World War, 1933–1940 (2003) excerpt and text search
  • Overy, Richard and Wheatcroft, Andrew. The Road to War. (3rd ed 2001). 564 pp. country by country history
  • Overy, Richard & Mason, Timothy "Debate: Germany, "Domestic Crisis" and War in 1939" pages 200–240 from Past and Present, Number 122, February 1989.
  • Steiner, Zara. The Triumph of the Dark: European International History, 1933–1939 (Oxford History of Modern Europe) (2011) 1236pp
  • Strang, G. Bruce On The Fiery March: Mussolini Prepares For War, (Praeger Publishers, 2003) ISBN 0-275-97937-7.
  • Thorne, Christopher G. The Issue of War: States, Societies, and the Coming of the Far Eastern Conflict of 1941–1945 (1985) sophisticated analysis of each major power.
  • Thorne, Christopher G. The Approach of War, 1938–1939 (1969) chronological table 1938-1939 pp 205–210
  • Tohmatsu, Haruo and H. P. Willmott. A Gathering Darkness: The Coming of War to the Far East and the Pacific (2004), short overview.
  • Watt, Donald Cameron How war came: the immediate origins of the Second World War, 1938–1939, New York: Pantheon, 1989 ISBN 0-394-57916-X.
  • Weinberg, Gerhard.The Foreign Policy of Hitler's Germany: Diplomatic Revolution in Europe, 1933–36 (v. 1) (1971); The Foreign Policy of Hitler's Germany: Starting World War II, 1937–1939 (vol 2) (University of Chicago Press, 1980) ISBN 0-226-88511-9.
  • Weinberg, Gerhard L. A World at Arms: A Global History of World War II (1994) online free
  • Wheeler-Bennett, John W. "Twenty Years of Russo-German Relations: 1919–1939" Foreign Affairs 25#1 (1946), pp. 23–43 online
  • Wright, Jonathan. Germany and the Origins of the Second World War (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007) 223pp. online review

France

  • Adamthwaite, Anthony. "France and the Coming of War" in Patrick Finney, ed., The Origins of the Second World War (Arnold, 1997)
  • Boyce, Robert, French Foreign and Defence Policy, 1918-1940: The Decline and Fall of a Great Power (1998) online
  • Boxer, Andrew. "French Appeasement: Andrew Boxer Considers Explanations for France's Disastrous Foreign Policy between the Wars." History Review 59 (2007): 45+ online
  • Duroselle, Jean-Baptiste. France and the Nazi Threat: The Collapse of French Diplomacy 1932–1939 (2004); translation of his highly influential La décadence, 1932–1939 (1979)
  • Nere, J. The Foreign Policy of France from 1914 to 1945 (1975)
  • Young, Robert J. France and the Origins of the Second World War (1996) excerpt, covers historiography in ch 2.</ref>

External links

Causes of World War I

The causes of World War I remain controversial. World War I began in the Balkans in late July 1914 and ended in November 1918, leaving 17 million dead and 20 million wounded.

Scholars looking at the long-term seek to explain why two rival sets of powers – Germany and Austria-Hungary on the one hand, and Russia, France, and Great Britain on the other – had come into conflict by 1914. They look at such factors as political, territorial and economic conflicts, militarism, a complex web of alliances and alignments, imperialism, the growth of nationalism, and the power vacuum created by the decline of the Ottoman Empire. Other important long-term or structural factors that are often studied include unresolved territorial disputes, the perceived breakdown of the balance of power in Europe, convoluted and fragmented governance, the arms races of the previous decades, and military planning.Scholars doing short-term analysis focused on the summer of 1914 ask if the conflict could have been stopped, or whether it was out of control. The immediate causes lay in decisions made by statesmen and generals during the July Crisis of 1914. This crisis was triggered by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria by the Bosnian-Serb nationalist Gavrilo Princip who had been supported by a nationalist organization in Serbia. The crisis escalated as the conflict between Austria-Hungary and Serbia came to involve Russia, Germany, France, and ultimately Belgium and Great Britain. Other factors that came into play during the diplomatic crisis that preceded the war included misperceptions of intent (e.g., the German belief that Britain would remain neutral), fatalism that war was inevitable, and the speed of the crisis, which was exacerbated by delays and misunderstandings in diplomatic communications.

The crisis followed a series of diplomatic clashes among the Great Powers (Italy, France, Germany, Britain, Austria-Hungary and Russia) over European and colonial issues in the decades before 1914 that had left tensions high. In turn, these public clashes can be traced to changes in the balance of power in Europe since 1867.Consensus on the origins of the war remains elusive since historians disagree on key factors, and place differing emphasis on a variety of factors. This is compounded by changing historical arguments over time, particularly the delayed availability of classified historical archives. The deepest distinction among historians is between those who focus on the actions of Germany and Austria-Hungary as key and those who focus on a wider group of actors. Secondary fault lines exist between those who believe that Germany deliberately planned a European war, those who believe that the war was ultimately unplanned but still caused principally by Germany and Austria-Hungary taking risks, and those who believe that either all or some of the other powers, namely Russia, France, Serbia and Great Britain, played a more significant role in causing the war than has been traditionally suggested.

Diplomatic history of World War II

The diplomatic history of World War II includes the major foreign policies and interactions inside the opposing coalitions, the Allies of World War II and the Axis powers. The military history of the war is covered at World War II. The prewar diplomacy is covered in Causes of World War II and International relations (1919–1939).

Events preceding World War II in Asia

This article is concerned with the events that preceded World War II in Asia.

Export Control Act

The Export Control Act of 1940 was one in a series of legislative efforts by the United States government and initially the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt to accomplish two tasks: to avoid scarcity of critical commodities in a likely pre-war environment, and to limit the exportation of materiel to pre-World War II Imperial Japan. The act originated as a presidential proclamation by Roosevelt forbidding the exporting of aircraft parts, chemicals, and minerals without a license, and was intended to induce Japan to curtail its occupation of the Indo-Chinese coast.The text of the Act stated that whenever the President deemed it "necessary in the interest of national defense," he could prohibit or curtail the exportation of military equipment, munitions, tools and materials.Although controls were first authorized in 1940 in regard to munitions and similar materials essential to the defense effort, its coverage was extended in 1942 to all commodities, and broader geographic coverage, following America's entry into World War II. The law was extended, with modifications through 1948, and it was envisioned that remaining controls would soon disappear at the time of re-enactment in 1949. The scarcity of certain goods in the world markets however, made continuance of controls necessary in order to prevent a drain on such goods from plentiful American supplies with its consequential inflationary effects. National security and foreign policy concerns, especially following the outbreak of the Korean War, were new and compelling reasons for passing the Export Control Act of 1949, and in extending it until (at least) 1958. The law included both domestic policies aimed primarily at conditions within the United States, as well as controls directed at conditions outside the country, as an instrument of American foreign policy. This is exemplified by the restrictions on export of certain strategic or military items to the Soviet bloc or to other countries which it felt, if permitted, would be detrimental to the foreign policy program of the United States during the Cold War. The foreign policy motive became so strong that it brought legislation directing the President to enlist the cooperation of other nations in enacting controls on trade with the Soviet block to parallel those of the United States. The benefits of the various economic and military aid programs were to be withheld from non-cooperating nations, as in the Mutual Defense Assistance Control Act of 1951.

France–Germany relations

The relations between France and Germany, since 1871, according to Ulrich Krotz, has three grand periods: 'hereditary enmity' (down to 1945), 'reconciliation' (1945–63) and since 1963 the 'special relationship' embodied in a cooperation called Franco-German Friendship (French: Amitié franco-allemande; German: Deutsch-Französische Freundschaft).In the context of the European Union, the cooperation between the two countries is immense and intimate. Even though France has at times been eurosceptical in outlook, especially under President Charles de Gaulle, Franco-German agreements and cooperations have always been key to furthering the ideals of European integration.

In recent times, France and Germany are among the most enthusiastic proponents of the further integration of the EU. They are sometimes described as the "twin engine" or "core countries" pushing for moves. A tram straddling the Franco-German border, across the river Rhine from Strasbourg to Kehl, was inaugurated on the 28th of April 2017 symbolising the strength of relation between the two countries.

Gerd Schultze-Rhonhof

Gerd Schultze-Rhonhof (born 26 May 1939) is a German author and former Generalmajor in the German Army of the Bundeswehr, who, like Udo Walendy, also disputes Germany's guilt for the Second World War.

Great Depression

The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression that took place mostly during the 1930s, beginning in the United States. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations; in most countries it started in 1929 and lasted until the late-1930s. It was the longest, deepest, and most widespread depression of the 20th century. In the 21st century, the Great Depression is commonly used as an example of how intensely the world's economy can decline.The Great Depression started in the United States after a major fall in stock prices that began around September 4, 1929, and became worldwide news with the stock market crash of October 29, 1929, (known as Black Tuesday). Between 1929 and 1932, worldwide gross domestic product (GDP) fell by an estimated 15%. By comparison, worldwide GDP fell by less than 1% from 2008 to 2009 during the Great Recession. Some economies started to recover by the mid-1930s. However, in many countries the negative effects of the Great Depression lasted until the beginning of World War II.The Great Depression had devastating effects in countries both rich and poor. Personal income, tax revenue, profits and prices dropped, while international trade plunged by more than 50%. Unemployment in the U.S. rose to 25% and in some countries rose as high as 33%.Cities around the world were hit hard, especially those dependent on heavy industry. Construction was virtually halted in many countries. Farming communities and rural areas suffered as crop prices fell by about 60%. Facing plummeting demand with few alternative sources of jobs, areas dependent on primary sector industries such as mining and logging suffered the most.

Index of World War II articles (C)

C-108 Flying Fortress

C-46 Commando

C-47 Skytrain

C-54 Skymaster

C-76 Caravan

C-87 Liberator Express

Cabinet Schwerin von Krosigk

Cactus Air Force

Cairo Conference

Cairo Declaration

California World War II Army Airfields

Call of Duty

Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial

Campaign along the Southern Section of Datong-Puzhou Railway

Campaign at the China-Burma Border

Campaign in the Eastern Foothills of the Funiu Mountains

Campaign of the North China Plain Pocket

Campaign to Defend Siping

Campaign to Suppress Bandits in Central and Southern China

Campaign to Suppress Bandits in Dabieshan

Campaign to Suppress Bandits in Liuwandashan

Campaign to Suppress Bandits in Northeast China

Campaign to Suppress Bandits in northeastern Guizhou

Campaign to Suppress Bandits in Shiwandashan

Campaign to Suppress Bandits in the Border Region of Hunan-Hubei-Sichuan

Campaign to Suppress Bandits in Western Hunan

Campaign to the North of Baoding

Campaign to the North of Daqing River

Campaign to the North of Nanchuan County

Campaign to the South of Baoding

Campaigns of World War II

Camps in Poland during World War II

Canada in the World Wars and Interwar Years

Canadian Army Film and Photo Unit

Canadian Automobile Machine Gun Brigade

Canadian Battlefield Memorials Restoration Project

Canadian Corps (World War II)

Canadian Ethnic Cleansing Team

Canadian Siberian Expeditionary Force

Canadian Women's Army Corps

Canicattì massacre

Cannock Chase German war cemetery

Canton Operation

Capitulation in the Netherlands and Denmark

Captain America

Captain Hans Geering

Captain Nazi

Captured armour in German use on the Eastern Front

Captured German equipment in Soviet use on the Eastern front

Captured US firearms in Axis use in WW2

Caretaker Government 1945

Carpathian Half-Brigade of National Defence

Carpatho-Ukraine

Carrie's War

Casablanca Conference

Casemate d'Auenheim Nord

Casemate de Rountzenheim Nord

Casemate de Rountzenheim Sud

Cases of controversial relations with the Axis of World War II

Cash and carry (World War II)

Castle Wolfenstein

Caucasian Front (Soviet Union)

Caucasian Mohammedan Legion

Caucasian Muslim Legion

Causes of World War II

Center of Jewish Studies Shanghai

Central Bank of Manchou

Central Front (Soviet Union)

Central Hopei Operation

Central Hupei Operation

Central Labour Camp Jaworzno

Central Labour Camp Potulice

Central Office for Jewish Emigration

Central Office of the State Justice Administration for the Investigation of National Socialist Crimes

Central Pacific Area Fleet

Centre de la mémoire d'Oradour

Centro di Documentazione Ebraica Contemporanea

Ceux de la Libération

Ceux de la Résistance

Chahar People's Anti-Japanese Army

Changjiao massacre

Channel Islands Occupation Society

Chant des Partisans

Characters in Call of Duty

Charles de Gaulle

Charles H. Coolidge

Charles Lindbergh

Chelmno extermination camp

Chenogne massacre

Chester W. Nimitz

Chetniks of Kosta Pećanac

Chiang Kai-shek rifle

Chiang Kai-shek

China Burma India Theater of World War II

China Coast Guard

China Expeditionary Army

China Girl (1942 film)

China Station

Chinchow Operation

Chinese armies in the Second Sino-Japanese War

Chinese Civil War

Chinese Expeditionary Force in Burma

Chinese Order of battle, Battle of Xuzhou

Chinese People's National Salvation Army

Chinese Republic Ministry of War

Chinese Righteous Among the Nations

Chinese Soviet Republic

Chinese submarine 361

Chronological overview of the liberation of Dutch cities and towns during World War II

Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms

Civil decorations of Nazi Germany

Civilian life under the German occupation of the Channel Islands

Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg

Clementine Churchill, Baroness Spencer-Churchill

Close Combat (video game)

Close Combat Clasp

Close Combat III: The Russian Front

Close Combat series

Close Combat: A Bridge Too Far

Coalition Government 1940–1945

Coastal defences of Australia during World War II

Coastal Forces of the Royal Australian Navy

Coastal Forces of the Royal Canadian Navy

Coastal Forces of the Royal New Zealand Navy

Coastal Forces of World War II

Coastal fortifications of New Zealand

Coins of the Slovak koruna (WWII)

Cold War

Colditz (TV series)

Colditz Castle

Collaboration during World War II

Collaborationism

Collaborationist Chinese Army

Collaborator (novel)

Collected Poems (Primo Levi)

Colonel Kurt Von Strohm

Color of War (TV Series)

Colorado World War II Army Airfields

Combat (French Resistance)

Combat Elite: WWII Paratroopers

Combat Flight Simulator 2

Combat Flight Simulator 3: Battle for Europe

Combat Flight Simulator WWII Europe Series

Combined Chiefs of Staff

Combined Fleet

Combined Operations (United Kingdom)

Comfort women

Comitato di Liberazione Nazionale

Command & Conquer: Red Alert

Commanders of World War II

Commandos (series)

Commandos 2: Men of Courage

Commandos Strike at Dawn

Commandos: Strike Force

Commencement Bay-class escort carrier

Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians

Committee for the Liberation of the Peoples of Russia

Communist Party of China

Company of Heroes Online

Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts

Company of Heroes

Comparative military ranks of World War II

Comparison of early World War II tanks

Component Units, British 48th (South Midland) Infantry Division (World War II)

Concentration camps in France

Concentration camps Lety and Hodonín

Condor Legion

Confessions of a Nazi Spy

Connecticut World War II Army Airfields

Conscription Crisis of 1944

Conscription in Mexico

Conseil National de la Résistance

Consequences of German Nazism

Consolidated B-24 Survivors

Consolidated PB4Y-2

Continuation War

Coral Sea order of battle

Council of Relief Agencies Licensed to Operate in Germany

Council on Books in Wartime

Counter-Attack

Counties of the Independent State of Croatia

Coventry Blitz

Coventry Cathedral

Cretan resistance

Crete order of battle

Crimea Campaign

Crisis: The Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor and Southeast Asia

Criticism of Holocaust denial

Croatian Righteous Among the Nations

Croix de Guerre

Cross-Channel guns in the Second World War

Crveni krst concentration camp

Cryptanalysis of the Enigma

Cultural depictions of Anne Frank

Cultural representations of the Warsaw Uprising

Cyprus internment camps

Cyriel Verschaeve

Czech resistance to Nazi occupation

Czechoslovak 11th Infantry Battalion

Czechoslovak border fortifications

Czechoslovak government-in-exile

Czechoslovak Legion (1939)

Czechoslovak military units on Eastern front

Munich Agreement

The Munich Agreement (Czech: Mnichovská dohoda; Slovak: Mníchovská dohoda; German: Münchner Abkommen) or Munich Betrayal (Czech: Mnichovská zrada; Slovak: Mníchovská zrada) was an agreement concluded at Munich on September 29, 1938, by Germany, Great Britain, France and Italy. It provided "cession to Germany of the Sudeten German territory" of Czechoslovakia. Most of Europe celebrated because it prevented the war threatened by Adolf Hitler by allowing Nazi Germany's annexation of the Sudetenland, a region of western Czechoslovakia inhabited by more than 3 million people, mainly German speakers. Hitler announced it was his last territorial claim in Europe, and the choice seemed to be between war and appeasement.

An emergency meeting of the main European powers – not including Czechoslovakia or the Soviet Union, an ally to both France and Czechoslovakia – took place in Munich, Germany, on 29–30 September 1938. An agreement was quickly reached on Hitler's terms. It was signed by the top leaders of Germany, France, Britain, and Italy. Militarily, the Sudetenland was of strategic importance to Czechoslovakia as most of its border defenses were situated there to protect against a German attack. The agreement between the four powers was signed on the backdrop of a low-intensity undeclared German-Czechoslovak war that had started on 17 September 1938. Meanwhile Poland, which was relying on German–Polish Non-Aggression Pact, also moved its army units towards its common border with Czechoslovakia after 23 September 1938. Facing the combined force of Germany and Poland alongside most of its border (with the major part of the remaining border being with Hungary), Czechoslovakia yielded to French and British diplomatic pressure and ceded the Sudetenland to Germany in line with the terms of the agreement.

The Munich Agreement was soon followed by the First Vienna Award on 2 November 1938, separating largely Hungarian inhabited territories in southern Slovakia and southern Subcarpathian Rus' from Czechoslovakia, while Poland also annexed territories from Czechoslovakia in the North. In March 1939, the First Slovak Republic was proclaimed, and shortly by the creation of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia Germany took full control of the remaining Czech parts. As a result, Czechoslovakia had disappeared.

Today, the Munich Agreement is widely regarded as a failed act of appeasement, and the term has become "a byword for the futility of appeasing expansionist totalitarian states".

New Order (Nazism)

The New Order (German: Neuordnung), or the New Order of Europe (German: Neuordnung Europas), was the political order which Nazi Germany wanted to impose on the conquered areas under its dominion. The establishment of the New Order had already begun long before the start of World War II, but was publicly proclaimed by Adolf Hitler in 1941: The year 1941 will be, I am convinced, the historical year of a great European New Order.

Among other things, it entailed the creation of a pan-German racial state structured according to Nazi ideology to ensure the supremacy of an Aryan-Nordic master race, massive territorial expansion into Central and Eastern Europe through its colonization with German settlers, the physical annihilation of the Jews, the Slavs (especially Poles and Russians), Roma ("gypsies") and others considered to be "unworthy of life" and the extermination, expulsion or enslavement of most of the Slavic peoples and others regarded as "racially inferior". Nazi Germany's desire for aggressive territorial expansionism was one of the most important causes of World War II.

Historians are still divided as to its ultimate goals, some believing that it was to be limited to Nazi German domination of Europe, while others maintain that it was a springboard for eventual world conquest and the establishment of a world government under German control.

The Führer gave expression to his unshakable conviction that the Reich will be the master of all Europe. We shall yet have to engage in many fights, but these will undoubtedly lead to most wonderful victories. From there on the way to world domination is practically certain. Whoever dominates Europe will thereby assume the leadership of the world.

Outline of World War II

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to World War II:

World War II, or the Second World War – global military conflict from 1939 to 1945, which was fought between the Allied powers of the United States, United Kingdom, and Soviet Union against the Axis powers of Germany, Italy, and Japan, with their respective allies. Over 60 million people, the majority of them civilians, were killed, making it the deadliest conflict in human history.

Pact of Steel

The Pact of Steel (German: Stahlpakt, Italian: Patto d'Acciaio), known formally as the Pact of Friendship and Alliance between Germany and Italy, was a military and political alliance between Italy and Germany.

The pact was initially drafted as a tripartite military alliance between Japan, Italy and Germany. While Japan wanted the focus of the pact to be aimed at the Soviet Union, Italy and Germany wanted it aimed at the British Empire and France. Due to this disagreement, the pact was signed without Japan and became an agreement between Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, signed on 22 May 1939 by foreign ministers Galeazzo Ciano of Italy and Joachim von Ribbentrop of Germany.

The pact consisted of two parts. The first section was an open declaration of continuing trust and cooperation between Germany and Italy while the second, a "Secret Supplementary Protocol", encouraged a union of policies concerning the military and economy. Although intended to last 10 years, it was effectively cancelled in 1943 with the removal of Italy's fascist government.

Paris Peace Conference, 1919

The Paris Peace Conference, also known as Versailles Peace Conference, was the meeting of the victorious Allied Powers following the end of World War I to set the peace terms for the defeated Central Powers.

Involving diplomats from 32 countries and nationalities, the major or main decisions were the creation of the League of Nations, as well as the five peace treaties with the defeated states; the awarding of German and Ottoman overseas possessions as "mandates", chiefly to Britain and France; reparations imposed on Germany; and the drawing of new national boundaries (sometimes with plebiscites) to better reflect ethnic boundaries.

The main result was the Treaty of Versailles with Germany, which in section 231 laid the guilt for the war on "the aggression of Germany and her allies". This provision proved humiliating for Germany and set the stage for the expensive reparations Germany was intended to pay (it paid only a small portion before reparations ended in 1931). The five major powers (France, Britain, Italy, Japan and the United States) controlled the Conference. The "Big Four" were French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau, British Prime Minister David Lloyd George, US President Woodrow Wilson, and Italian Prime Minister Vittorio Emanuele Orlando. They met together informally 145 times and made all the major decisions, which in turn were ratified by the others. The conference began on 18 January 1919, and with respect to its end date Professor Michael Neiberg has noted: Although the senior statesmen stopped working personally on the conference in June 1919, the formal peace process did not really end until July 1923, when the Treaty of Lausanne was signed".

Political positions of Pat Buchanan

The political positions of Pat Buchanan (born 1938), an American politician, columnist and news analyst, can generally be described as paleoconservative, and many of his views, particularly his opposition to American imperialism and the managerial state, echo those of the Old Right Republicans of the first half of the 20th century.

Second Thirty Years' War

This is about the term and historiography. For history of the period see World War I, World War II, etc..The "Second Thirty Years' War" is a periodization scheme sometimes used to encompass the wars in Europe from 1914 to 1945.Just as the Thirty Years' War of 1618 to 1648 was not a single war but a series of conflicts in varied times and locations, later organized and named by historians into a single period, the Second Thirty Years' War has been seen as a "European Civil War", fought over the problem of Germany and exacerbated by new ideologies such as communism, fascism, and Nazism.The thesis of the Second Thirty Years' War is that WWI naturally led to WWII, the former was the inevitable cause of the later and thus they can be seen as a single conflict. Indeed policies that originated in the Bismark era created an inevitable outcome. The thesis has been challenged and rejected by many historians who see it as too simple an explanation for the complex series of events that occurred during this period. They see WWII as a consequence of Hitler, whose rise to power was contingent on the Great Depression and thus not inevitable. The Second Thirty Years' War thesis is part of the larger debates over the causes of World War II and a European Civil War.

Stab-in-the-back myth

The stab-in-the-back myth (German: Dolchstoßlegende, pronounced [ˈdɔlçʃtoːsleˌɡɛndə] (listen), literally "dagger stab myth") was the notion, widely believed and promulgated in right-wing circles in Germany after 1918, that the German Army did not lose World War I on the battlefield but was instead betrayed by the civilians on the home front, especially the republicans who overthrew the Hohenzollern monarchy in the German Revolution of 1918–19. Advocates denounced the German government leaders who signed the Armistice on November 11, 1918, as the "November Criminals" (German: November­verbrecher).

When the Nazi Party came to power in 1933, they made the legend an integral part of their official history of the 1920s, portraying the Weimar Republic as the work of the "November criminals" who stabbed the nation in the back to seize power while betraying it. The Nazi propaganda depicted Weimar as "a morass of corruption, degeneracy, national humiliation, ruthless persecution of the honest 'national opposition'—fourteen years of rule by Jews, Marxists, and 'cultural Bolsheviks', who had at last been swept away by the National Socialist movement under Adolf Hitler and the victory of the 'national revolution' of 1933".Scholars inside and outside Germany unanimously reject the notion, pointing out the German army was out of reserves, was being overwhelmed by the entrance of the United States into the war, and by late 1918 had lost the war militarily. To many Germans, the expression "stab in the back" was evocative of Richard Wagner's 1876 opera Götterdämmerung, in which Hagen murders his enemy Siegfried – the hero of the opera – with a spear in his back.

The Origins of the Second World War

The Origins of the Second World War is a non-fiction book by the English historian A. J. P. Taylor, examining the causes of World War II. It was first published in 1961 by Hamish Hamilton.

Treaty of Versailles

The Treaty of Versailles (French: Traité de Versailles) was the most important of the peace treaties that brought World War I to an end. The Treaty ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on 28 June 1919 in Versailles, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, which had directly led to the war. The other Central Powers on the German side signed separate treaties. Although the armistice, signed on 11 November 1918, ended the actual fighting, it took six months of Allied negotiations at the Paris Peace Conference to conclude the peace treaty. The treaty was registered by the Secretariat of the League of Nations on 21 October 1919.

Of the many provisions in the treaty, one of the most important and controversial required "Germany [to] accept the responsibility of Germany and her allies for causing all the loss and damage" during the war (the other members of the Central Powers signed treaties containing similar articles). This article, Article 231, later became known as the War Guilt clause. The treaty required Germany to disarm, make ample territorial concessions, and pay reparations to certain countries that had formed the Entente powers. In 1921 the total cost of these reparations was assessed at 132 billion marks (then $31.4 billion or £6.6 billion, roughly equivalent to US$442 billion or UK£284 billion in 2019). At the time economists, notably John Maynard Keynes (a British delegate to the Paris Peace Conference), predicted that the treaty was too harsh—a "Carthaginian peace"—and said the reparations figure was excessive and counter-productive, views that, since then, have been the subject of ongoing debate by historians and economists. On the other hand, prominent figures on the Allied side, such as French Marshal Ferdinand Foch, criticized the treaty for treating Germany too leniently.

The result of these competing and sometimes conflicting goals among the victors was a compromise that left no one satisfied, and, in particular, Germany was neither pacified nor conciliated, nor was it permanently weakened. The problems that arose from the treaty would lead to the Locarno Treaties, which improved relations between Germany and the other European powers, and the re-negotiation of the reparation system resulting in the Dawes Plan, the Young Plan, and the indefinite postponement of reparations at the Lausanne Conference of 1932.

Although it is often referred to as the "Versailles Conference", only the actual signing of the treaty took place at the historic palace. Most of the negotiations were in Paris, with the "Big Four" meetings taking place generally at the Quai d'Orsay.

Viktor Suvorov

Vladimir Bogdanovich Rezun (Russian: Влади́мир Богда́нович Резу́н; born 20 April 1947), known as Viktor Suvorov (Russian: Ви́ктор Суво́ров), is a Russian writer and a former Soviet military intelligence officer who defected to the United Kingdom. Suvorov is best known for writing Icebreaker and several follow-up books on the history of World War II.

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