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SocStud 33: WORLD HISTORY & people preferred to have few children than the

CIVILIZATION II “cheaper by the dozen” families before. With

fewer children to raise, some women had more
Chapter 23: THE INTERWAR YEARS time to work outside the home. They liked their
Reported by: Rey Mark Y. Gania new independence.
Aljon M. Embolos
Women fashion in the 1920’s and 1930’s also
Section Outline: reflected the new freedom. It was the “flapper
 Changing Patterns of Life era” and short skirts and short hair replaced
 Failure of the League of Nations the styles of the prewar that had not been done
 Changes to the Political System before 1914. Women liked to look “thoroughly
 Threats to World Peace modern.”

Between the two great wars, the world enjoyed Easier Life with New Technology. Modern
two decades of troubled peace and global life was made easier by the new technology of
economic depression (1918-1939). It was the gadgets, devices and appliances. Stores now
calm before two storms. Everyone appreciated sold a variety of food in cans or packages. The
the calm, but seemed wart of another food could be stored in an ice cooler. Or even
gathering storm. The peace after WWI lasted a new electric refrigeration. Labor-saving
only for two decades. The period economic, devices such as a washing machine, electric
political and military conditions that made irons, vacuum cleaners and floor polisher made
another world war inevitable. The period of housework easier.
peace nevertheless brought many changes to
the social conditions of women, new Millions of people now had automobiles. The
technology and thinking that made people innovation in transport made travel easier,
forget their hardships, if only for a while. even across continents. Charles Lindbergh flew
the first solo flight across Atlantic in May 1927.
1. Changing Patterns in Life By the 1930’s airlines were making passenger
 How women enjoyed new opportunities flights between Europe, America and even
 Why new technology and thinking made Asia.
people forget hardships
The radio became the most popular gadget for
New Opportunities for Women. It was the entertainment and news. US President Franklin
1930’s, and Lily, a new bride, got bored Roosevelt (1932-1945) gave regular “fireside
staying all day in a small apartment in Quiapo, chats” on the radio to American homes.
Manila. She asked her sister in law to hide from
her husband the fact that she would look for Hollywood in the US west Coast, churned out
work, because she wanted her to stay home hundreds of new motion picture film to
only. Being college graduate and with good entertain and amuse. Other countries
English skills, she easily found a job. She developed their own movie industries. Latest
became one of the first “time ladies” at the talking movies. Sitting for two hours in a dark
local telephone company. She sat in front of a motion picture cinema hall was a favorite date.
new device called the microphone and recited It made people forget their troubles. The
the time into the telephone. In case a person movies also made celebrities of actors and
wanted to know the time they dialed the moviemakers. People became fans of movie
telephone company another new service, and stars and followed the ups and down of their
they only had to listen to her voice for the life, as if it were their own.
service. Lily women in the westernized
Philippine society in the 1930’s. People danced to the latest pop tunes from
radio, juke boxes or photographs. They bought
By the 1930’s, women had won suffrage in the vinyl “records.” The top ten tunes usually
Philippines, most of Western Europe, the US, included happy, jumpy tunes, or heartbreaking
Russia and India. WWI had helped to expand romantic music. Top bands or singers attracted
the horizons for women. They had joined the fans who drooled on their every note, and
war effort by working as nurses, factory fainted or screamed during their live
workers and office staff. Although after the performances. At this time, band musicians
war, by the 1930’s, there were more working were more popular than singers. Singers
women than ever before. actually had to sing well.

Also, families became smaller in the 1930’s Filipino with their gift for music, became the
many men did not return form the Great War. most popular entertainers playing Western
In England, a whole generation of young men, music in other Asian Cities. Hong Kong (then a
the best and the brightest, died during the British colony) and Shanghai (with Western
Great War. Moreover, an economic depression spheres of influence) were full of Filipino bands
affected global economies. Most married
and singers. Like good overseas workers, their Liza with a moustache. Dada writers wrote
remittances helped families back home. poems by picking words by chance. It did not
matter if it did not make sense. To them, the
Postwar Currents of Thought. A revolution in postwar world did not make sense anyway.
ideas followed the Great War. After the terrible
slaughter of the war and the flu epidemic, 2. Failure of the League of Nations
many thinkers rejected the Enlightenment
First Global Organization: The league of
faith in progress and reason. They no longer
Nations (Societe des nations) was the first
celebrated the success of science and
major global political organization. It was the
technology; as they had in prewar Europe.
brainchild of President Woodrow Wilson. His
Fourteen Points guided the league’s vision and
In the 1920’s, writers expressed a dep sense
mission. The united states were expected to
of pessimism, and helplessness. “this is the
play a major role in the first global organization
way the world ends/Not with a bang but a
to keep the peace.
whimper”, wrote T.S. Eliot in a poem in the
10920’s. He was referring to the emptiness of But, the League was troubled from the start.
modern life. The war had swept away accept Wilson failed to persuade his own Congress to
ideas of the past. Including the belief in ratify (approve) the League treaty. America’s
progress. Many men and women mourned the failure to join the league was one of the ten
loss of their families and friends during the worst mistakes in history established anyway,
war, and they blamed the leader who had led but America never joined.
them to war.
The League was inaugurated in Geneva,
Some writers expressed the horrors of war, Switzerland, on January 10, 1920. The total
like Erich Maria Remarque, in the novel, you membership reached 62 states by 1935. Its
read about earlier. German playwright Bertolt organization became a model for the United
Brecht ridiculed modern society in The Tree- nations later.
Penny Opera and others plays.
Failure of the League. The league failed to
live up its main goal of preserving world peace.
The psychological theories of Sigmund Freud
It prevented war in only a few minor cases
became more widely accepted Previously,
involving small nations, but it did not prevent
people who behaved differently were simply
WWII. For example, the league settled a
“crazy”. Now it was possible to help them
territorial dispute between Finland and Sweden
understand why they were “Neurotic,”
in 1920. It stopped war between Colombia and
“compulsive,” “Obsessive,” or “Psychotic.”
Peru in 1932.
According to Freud, human behavior is
influenced by hidden subconscious forces. Like It was more successful in humanitarian and
childhood experiences. The study of the human technical work. For example, it controlled the
mind and behavior attracted more experts. illegal trade in opium and other harmful drugs;
it helped to find homes for refugees; and it
Self-consciousness also entered into modern collected valuable statistics on labor, business
literature. Authors like James Joyce, an and social conditions throughout the world.
Irishman, used stream of consciousness to
describe a day in the life of a middle class man However, the League was disregarded by the
in Dublin in his novel Ulysses. Joyce ignored Big Powers when they pursued their important
grammar and used foreign words, jumbled political interests. Italy, Japan and Germany
thoughts, and unconventional language, which could not be stopped from grabbing other
shocked critics. New literature expressed the nation’s territories. The United States chose an
confusion of ordinary people after the Great isolationist foreign policy. Britain took a policy
war. of appeasement. In the end the same nations
that were at war WWI were at war again in
Many Artist rejected realism and 1939. The League failed to prevent another
impressionism. They painted in strange world war and eventually closed shop in 1946.
abstract styles. Pablo Picasso, a Spanish 3. Changes to the Political System
genius painted in a “cubist” style, or in
geometrical abstract forms. He often portrayed Between the two wars, there were many
different sides of a person, front view and side important changes in the international political
view, in the same picture. His painting of system. These political changes had a
Guernica showed the horrors of the Spanish profound effect on the world.
civil war on a little village.
Rise of Communist Russia. As you read in
the previous chapter, the Russia Empire
Another style in the 1920’s was the “dada,”
collapse during WWI was replaced by a
jumbled style of painting literature, or
communist state. A communist state is ruled
architecture. Followers of dada liked strange,
by communist who practice the extreme form
crazy behavior, for example painting the Mona
of socialism. The revolutionaries who took over
Russia in 1917 implemented for the first time Next, Russia’s expansion abroad became a
in history the new ideology of communism that threat to the stability and security of many
you read in chapter 20. European countries. Stalin and the communist
now plotted to export their revolution abroad.
Under the communists, Russia was officially
They were inspired by Karl Marx’s predictions
renamed the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic
that other workers would also revolt and
(USSR), or Soviet Union for short. After Lenin’s
replace their capitalist governments with
death in 1924, Josef Stalin became the Soviet
communist states. When this did not happen
ruler. Stalin became an absolute ruler and
automatically, communist parties were
brutally eliminated his rival and critics by
founded in Britain, France, Italy, and other
means of purges (mass arrest, exile to Siberia,
countries. Russia used propaganda, espionage
and murder). Stalin ordered the massacre of
and subversion to overthrow non-communist
some ten million Kulaks (Feudal Lords and
Capitalist). Feudalism in Russia disappeared
almost overnight by force. In most countries, communism failed due to
the strong democracies in Britain and the US.
Russia became a totalitarian state under
But civil war erupted in some countries
communist party control, led by Chairman
Germany, nationalist leaders stopped the
Josef Stalin. Stalin made Soviet Russia the
showcase of communism state in the world.
The economy underwent central planning. Territorial Changes in Europe and the Middle
Heavy industrialization began, using Russia’s East. The breakup of four empires during WWI
vast coal and iron resources, in order to regain resulted in the appearance of many new
Russia’s lost military power. Instead of independent states in Europe and Asia. New
“butter,” Russia would build new warships, states appeared and old territories were
submarines, airplanes, tanks, and armaments. transferred, some to become new republics;
All agriculture was taken over by the others to become mandated territories of the
communist party, and they determined the League members.
output of collective farms.
From the former Russian Empire came four
Under Stalin, the communist party took over little Baltic Republic- Finland, Estonia, Latvia
any and all sources of wealth in Russia – and Lithuania. These new states had a
Agricultural and natural resources, urban dangerous existence because they were small
buildings and homes, stores, cultural, and so and close to Soviet Russia. Within twenty
on. From now on, everybody’s life and years, only Finland remained free. Estonia,
livelihood depended on the say-so of Latvia and Lithuania turned into communist
communist party leaders. The society would be satellite state of Russia.
mobilized under central planning.
Out of the former empires of Germany and
The centralized planning of the economy Austro-Hungary came Poland. At last, Poland
initially helped to organized the Russia was restored as a free republic. For the first
economy and redistributed the wealth. Russia time since 1795, the Polish people had their
caught up with the other industrialized military own nation again. Its territory included those
states in Europe. regions which Austria, Russia and Germany
had taken in the 18th Century. Poland’s
Because the Russian people had no tradition of
Existence, however, would be threatened by
democracy under the Czars, they adapted to
Germany, under Hitler, as you will read later.
the totalitarian rule of the communist. After all,
the communist had brought them the “bread Out of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire
and peace” they longed for after the Great cam Czechoslovakia. Although a landlocked
War. country. Czechoslovakia became the most
progressive country in East Europe. Russia, but
What the new communist leaders really
these proved useless when Hitler invaded the
wanted was a new Russian empire and world
mixture of various nationalities having
domination by the communists. They spread
different religions, languages and customs in
the communist ideology to other countries,
several provinces of the former Austro-
both in Europe and other continents. Many
Hungary empire. Austria and Hungary became
communist parties were organized in Europe
separate countries rather than the dual
and other continents. These communist parties
monarchy before WWI.
sought, by democratic or subversive means, to
gain power in the countries. However, any new From the ruins of the Ottoman Empire arose
communist state ended up neighboring new nations of the Ottoman Empire Turkey,
countries eventually became Stalin’s Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria,
leadership, soviet Russia regained its position and Egypt. From the heart of the Ottoman
as a Big Power. It emerged from the ashes of Empire came the new republic of Turkey.
the WWI stronger than ever. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Turkish war hero,
became the first president, Ataturk
modernized the region and changed the capital
form Constantinople (Istanbul) too Ankara. He become king but preferred the title of II Duce
renamed the new state to asset the supremacy (The Leader). He suppressed all civil liberties
of his tribe, the Turks, over the many nations and killed his enemies. But he stayed in power
that the former Ottomans had ruled. Turkey because he made the Italians feel great again.
became a proud new nation with the heritage He pleased the majority Italian Catholics by
of the ancient Hittites, the classical Eastern giving the Pope back power over the Vatican
Roman Byzantines, the Muslim Ottomans, and papal estate and promised good relations with
the modern westernized Turks. Roman Church. Due to the strong dictatorship,
Italians came to accept Mussolini as a good
Ottoman lands in the Middle East were
leader. Never mind his dictatorial ways, some
awarded to Britain and France as League
Italians said “at least he made the trains run
mandated colonies. The discovery of oil in the
on time.” Unfortunately, Italy would eventually
1930’s in these territories made the western
be ruined by the dictator.
powers reluctant to give them up. But Arab
nationalism and troubles in Palestine After making Italy a strong Military power,
eventually led to the independence of these Mussolini recovered lost territories and
Territories-Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Jordan, invaded new territories. His lust for power led
Syria, Lebanon and Israel. him into fatal alliance with Hitler.

In the 1920’s and 1930’s, Palestine became Rise of Nazi Germany. Defeat in the first
the source of growing tensions between the World War ended the German Empire and
Arab and Jewish nationalist. In 1917, Britain monarchy, and Germany became a republic. In
issued the Balfour Declaration which supported February 1919, the German people elected a
the return of the Jews to their ancestral republic for the first time. However, the
homeland in Palestine. Yet Britain had also politicians could not agree and became
promised the Arabs their own homeland in overwhelmed by Germany’s problems. In the
Palestine. The population of Palestine was 98% midst of Germany’s troubles, Adolf Hitler, a
Arab, since the Jews had gone on their charismatic leader, appeared on the political
diaspora after the Roman era. But, now, they scene. His political part, the Nazi, offered an
wanted to return to the land of Promised them extreme nationalist vision that promised to
by God. Thousands of Jewish settlers arrived restore Germany’s power. The German public
by boatloads from Europe. They caused was desperate for strong leadership to which
tension with the Arabs occupying the same they were used. Hitler and the Nazi’s met that
land since the Crusades. need.

Rise of Fascist Italy. Italy (one the victorious The traditional leaders of Germany were wary
Allies), suffered a hard postwar era. of Hitler, but the was a forceful personality and
Unemployment, labor strikes, and violent food pleased the crowds. In February 1933, the
riots rocked the kingdom. Communism gained Reichstag (Parliament building) was burned
ground and was spreading fast among the mysteriously. The incident helped in Hitler’s
masses. To save the country from rise to supreme power.
communism, Benito Mussolini, a fiery editor
In August 1934, Hitler abolished German
veteran of the war, and teacher, founded an
democracy and founded a new totalitarian
extreme nationalistic movement called
government – the Third Reich (Third Empire).
“Fascism” in Milan on March 23, 1919. The
According to Hitler, the Reich was the Holy
world Fasces in Latin means an ax surrounded
Roman Empire and the second Reich was the
by bundle of rods symbolizing the authority or
Prussian monarchy. Hitler became the new
the ancient Roman state. In Italian, it aims
Reich Fuhrer (Emperor, Leader). The third
were to transform Italy into a Fascist
Reich was expected to last for “a thousand
nationalist state and restore its ancient
years.” Hitler adopted the emblem of the
swastika (a hooked cross), and preached a
In the desperation to have strong leader, many new gospel of “Aryan” (white) racial
Italians accepted him. Mussolini was a great superiority.
crowd pleaser, and imitated Napoleonic posed.
The Nazi controlled everything in their favor.
He swayed the crowds with eloquent speeches.
To obtain any rights of benefits, people had to
To his Fascist followers, he said, “better a day
like a lion than a hundred years like a sheep.” join the Nazi Party or follow their orders. Hitler
and the Nazis blamed all of Germany’s troubles
With the help of his violent youth gangs the on the victorious WWI powers, the former
“black shirts” (who wore black uniforms), leaders the Jews. He was especially hard on
Mussolini rose to power. From Naples, he the Jewish race. In the Nazi era, all German
marched to Rome at the head of his Fascist youths were taught to hate the Jewish race.
militia and seized the government. King Victor
The Nazis used propaganda and other tactics
Emmanuel yielded quickly and mad him
to mobilize the German nation. The Nazis
Premier of Italy. Then Mussolini got rid of him
controlled the educational system the military,
and established a dictatorship. He did not
and the mass media. All major industries and
natural resources were nationalized taught ultra-nationalistic ideas. Factories
(government owned). The judiciary and legal turned out war materials of household goods.
system of Germany were forced to comply with
4. Threats to World Peace
the orders of the new regime. The Nazis used
loyal party members to brainwash young The Threats to World Peace. The road to the
people, to use violence against party him Hitler world war was paved by the following
embarked on an aggressive foreign policy that situations in the prewar world:
led to war.
1.) The collapse of the League of Nations;
Rise of Militaristic Japan. After WWI Japan 2.) The great depression;
became the strongest empire in Asia. It took 3.) International debt in Asia;
over German’s territories in the Pacific and in 4.) The arms race;
China. But it was checked in time by the other 5.) Japanese aggression in Asia;
international powers. By 1930’s, Japan’s 6.) The Italian conquest of Ethiopia;
imperialistic expansion caused trouble for the 7.) The dangerous Axis alliances; and
other powers. 8.) German aggression in Europe
Japan became more militant and nationalistic Collapse of the League of Nations. From
as it acquired power and colonies. In 1929 the the start, the League of Nations had been
Great World Depression dealt a heavy blow to crippled by America’s refusal to join it and by
Japanese trade. When Japan tried to squeeze the lack of support of the Big Powers. The
China, China boycotted Japanese goods. League’s most active supporters were the
small nations. But they did not contribute
In retaliation, the Japanese army seized
much finances or influence. The Big Power
Manchuria in North China, and turned it into a
members, who could have saved the League,
colony in 1931. In Manchuria, Japan installed
largely ignored it.
a puppet government with Emperor Pu-Yi,
controlled by Japanese advisers. Manchuria One by one, the Big Power members left the
would absorb Japan’s excess population and League when its action were condemned by
produced more industrial war material for League Assembly votes. In 1931, Japan
Japan’s Military ambitions. walked out after it was condemned for
annexing Manchuria. In 1933, Germany simply
In the 1930’s Japan was controlled by military
quit the League upon Hitler’s orders.
cliques. Their entire reason to exist depended
on maintaining military supremacy at home In 1935, the League also failed to stop Italy
and obtaining resources abroad Japan’s quick from annexing Ethiopia, as you shall read later.
rise as world war power in an age of Italy walked out the League was disbanded
imperialism and militarism had made the due to lack of support and financial
Japanese proud and aggressive. The Military contributions from member states.
factions claimed success in expanding Japan’s
influence and glory. Great Depression. The industrial age had
succeeded due to the large companies or
The military leaders came to believe that japan business corporations which controlled the
had a divine destiny to conquer the rest of economy. To pay for the production of goods
Asia. At the very least, they had to maintain an and services, capitalist borrowed money from
economic sphere favorable to Japan. Thus, banks. Banks had funds put into bank account
Japan envisioned a “Greater East Asia Co- by their depositors. They made money from
Prosperity Sphere” to provide Japan with the the interest on loans. Capitalist borrowed loans
resources and the market for its manufacturing because they had “leverage,” or credit line
industries. Japan would obtain the raw based on future profits from business from
materials cheaply, and then sell the finished other people’s money.
product with big profits.
Eventually, the capitalist thought of raising
By the late 1930’s the military cliques ousted more money by selling “shares” or “stocks” of
the civilian politicians and took over the entire their companies to investors. In exchange for
government. Three moderate premiers and ex- company shares, the stockholders. In
premiers were assassinated by extremists. In exchange for company shares, the stockholder
1936, a four-day coup was staged by young would be paid “dividends” (Profits from the
reformist army officers. Finally, a few months Income) of the company. Thus stock market
before the attack on Pearl harbor, in was established in industrialized nations to
September 1941, Premier Hideki Tojo enable the public to buy and sell shares of
converted Japan into a total war machine. publicly listed companies. Again, people made
money from other people’s money in hopes of
Japanese propaganda taught the people to
making at future date.
believe in the Emperor as god, the glory of
dying in battle, and the need to conquer new This situation seemed wonderful, until the
lands. Boys were trained for war, and schools honesty of the people involved was
questioned. In the autumn of 1929, some
stockholders could not pay for the shares they International Debt Crisis. Nations, like
bought earlier because they simply did not people, also have debt to pay. Unpaid debts
have the money that they had promised. A could pose serious morale and economic
panic buying-and-selling period followed in the problems for those who cannot pay the debts.
next few days.by “black Tuesday”, October In 1918, Germany was made to pay a
29,1929, the New York stock market collapsed. staggering war damages debt of $33 billion.
Some Wall Street billionaires committed France and other countries wanted to make
suicide by jumping from the tall buildings sure that Germany would never again become
because their paper wealth had disappeared rich enough to pose a threat to them.
into thin air. The companies and stockholders
But the next generation of Germans could not
lost around $40 billion in only a few months.
pay these war debts. Several arrangements
Many companies and banks simply shut down,
were made to restructure the loans, and some
and millions of workers lost their jobs. All
nations restored to drastic measures. In 1923,
because the bankers and company owners had
been dishonest and greedy. Belgium and France sent troops to the Ruhr,
Germany’s industrial and mining center, to
Throughout the 1930’s, about 10,000 banks collect on a coal quota. This made Germany
also closed. Bank deposit were uninsured, and even poorer.
people simply lost their savings. Surviving
The war debts became a vicious circle. Other
banks refused to lend anymore. Companies
nations (Britain, France, Italy, etc.) also could
could not obtain a credit line to run their
not pay their war loans to the United States.
factories. Thus, more businesses collapsed,
This was because they were waiting for the
and more people were thrown out of work.
reparations payments which Germany failed to
Due to the worsening situation, people cut pay.
bank on their expenses. When people stopped
After the global Great Depression, there was a
buying goods and services, the economic
complete halt to all sovereign debt payments
activity declined, and more factories shut
afford to pay. By 1934, all of them had stopped
down. More people were laid off from work. On
paying sovereign debts.
top of the financial collapse, a severe drought
hit the Mississippi Valley and turned it into a Arms Race. Since the arms race posed a
dust bowl. Many farmers and their families threat to peace, nations tried to control the
took refuges in the cities and worsened the production of armaments in the interwar
unemployment situation. It was a terrible period. In the 1920s and 1930s, the Big
situation described by novelist John Steinbeck Powers concluded several naval disarmament
in his novel, The Grapes of Wrath. treaties to disarm and limit their navies,
including the US, Britain, Japan, France and
The economic collapse in the US spread to
Italy. But their mistake was in forgetting to
other industrialized countries and continued
included Germany could ever threaten them
for years, thus resulting in the worldwide
again. Moreover, these naval disarmament
‘Great Depression” of the 1930’s. A depression
pacts were not honored by the parties, like
is a prolonged period of economic decline in
Japan and Italy.
national growth and economic activity. The
gross national product of Western countries fell Thus, by the mid-1930s, Germany, Japan and
in the 1930’s from more than 10% to 30% Italy started a naval armaments policy, which
annually. Unemployment rose to above 25% of gave them new warships, submarines and
the labor force. ships.
There was a terrible breakdown of business, Civil War in Spain. In 1923, General Miguel
factories, banks, and trade throughout the Primo de Rivera, with the consent of the
world in the 1930’s. it triggered worldwide Spanish King, established a military
inflation because paper money became almost dictatorship. Elections in 1931 in Spain went
worthless. One in four people lost their jobs. against the government. The King abdicated
Many people became homeless and survived and fled the country. A civil war followed, and
only through emergency bread lines or the Spain was torn between the right-wing
shelters. pro-monarchist (Franco) and the left-wing
republicans (supported by US, Britain and
As the depression went on, trade between
nations declined. Each nation tried to het what
was left by using all sorts of tricks. This On July 18,1936, General Francisco Franco led
worsened the relations between the “have” Spanish soldiers form their military base in
and “Have-not” countries. They adopted Morocco into mainland Spain to take over
“beggar-my-embargo, high tariffs etc.) the power. Franco was supported by the pro-
“Have-not” nations, who could not feed their Catholic and pro-monarchy factions
populations but had strong militaries like (Falangistas). Franco was also supported by
Germany and Japan, were driven into Germany and Italy, which did not want the
aggression military actions. radical republicans to win because the latter
included communists. At the request of Franco, German Aggression in Europe. Once more,
German warplanes bombed Guernica on April the world plunge into a terrible war. This time,
27,1937. Franco captured Madrid in March the spark would come from a power-hungry
1939, and installed an ultra-conservative dictator who had the support of his people.
authoritarian government in Spain, with Hitler’s aims were as follows:
himself as supreme leader (Caudillo).
 To restore the power and glory that
The Spanish civil war (1936-39) took a heavy Germans had before the great war;
toll (nearly one million lives). It was considered  To gain lebensraum (living space) for
a dressed rehearsal for the world war to come, the Germans to prosper again; and
because big powers were involved in the small  To unite German-speaking peoples by
conflict. returning territories they lost in the
unfair Versailles Treaty.
Japanese Aggression in Asia. in Asia Japan
adopted an aggressive foreign policy which led Hitler was not alone. The Nazi’s won power in
to increasing international tension. After Germany due to the overwhelming support of
annexing Manchuria, Japan wanted more in German voters-farmers, University, students,
China. On July 7, 1937, Japan launched a ultra-nationalist, and millions of jobless poor.
massive military drive to conquer the rest of The Majority of Germans were not Nazis but
China. It provoked a small war at the Marco they were ready to accept any charismatic
Polo Bridge near Beijing. This became the politician who promised them what they
excuse for a full-scale undeclared war between wanted to hear. The German people accepted
Japan and China. the loss of their civil and political rights as
small price to pay for their survival and
The civil war temporarily ceased between
security. They also participated in the
Chinese republican troops led by General
persecution and imprisonment of millions of
Chiang Kai-Shek and communist troops led by
innocent Jews, communist and anti-Nazi critics
Mao Zedong, and they united to defend China
in labor camps. Today Germans consider their
against Chinese and foreign civilians, the most
Nazi past as one of the worst stains on their
notorious incident being “The Rape of Nanking” history.
in 1937. The Sino-Japanese War was still
raging when the Second World War exploded As you read earlier. Germany began to rearm
in Europe in 1939. and stopped paying war debts. Hitler ordered
the military services and training of all able-
Ethiopian War (1935-36). To avenge Italy’s
bodied German males. He built new warships,
defeat by Ethiopian in 1896, and to realize his
planes, tanks and other weapons. By 1936, he
dream of a world empire, Mussolini invaded
had an army of nearly one million men, and
Ethiopia (then called Abyssinia) in October
the newest navy, air force, and tanks in
1935. Hailed Selassie, the Christian emperor, Europe.
appealed to the League of Nations, which
promptly declared Italy guilty of aggression. Confident of his strong military machine and
Mussolini defied the League and rushed more the weakness of the allies, Hitler began a
Italian troops to Ethiopia. Great Britain and foreign policy of aggression in central Europe.
France could have stopped Mussolini, but they In March 1936, he sent German troops back
feared to risk a European war. They stood by into the Rhineland. The buffer zone between
and watched Italy’s victories in Ethiopia. In France and Germany. France was preoccupied
1936, Ethiopia was completely annexed by with its own problems, and did not resist the
Italy. German advance.

Dangerous Alliances. In October 1936, Hitler Nest Hitler annexed Austria, a small and weak
and Mussolini signed a pact to establish the nation with seven million Germans (Hitler
“Roman-Berlin Axis.” In November 1937, himself was an Austrian). The political union
Japan joined them. The Tripartite alliance of (Anschluss) of the two countries was
Germany, Italy and Japan became the Axis completed in March 1938. On March 15,1938,
Powers in WWII. Hitler marched triumphantly into Vienna, to
the cheers of many pro-German Austrians.
In August 1939, Hitler signed a pact with
Those who disagreed either fled abroad or
Stalin, which surprised the Western powers
prudently kept quiet.
because earlier, the Nazis and the Communist
had been mortal enemies and fought each The next prize was even greater and easier.
other in the Spanish Civil War. The Nazi-Soviet Czechoslovakia was rich in industrial and
pact contained secret arrangement to divide natural resources. In March 1938, Hitler
Poland and Eastern Europe between the two demanded that Czechoslovakia sur surrender
countries. Furthermore, Russia agreed to the Sudetenland, its western portion where
supply Germany with iron and coal it needed three million Germans lived.
for its war preparations. Stalin knew he was
Hitler was prepared to retreat had the Allies
merely delaying Germany’s attack on Russia.
helped Czechoslovakia to resist the German
advance. Yet Britain and France actually
assisted Germany in obtaining the
Sudetenland. On September 29,1938, the
prime minister of Britain and France met with
Hitler at Munich, Germany. Hitler promised not
to make any more territorial claims. If the
Allies did not interfere with his dispute with the
Czechs. British Prime Minister Neville
Chamberlain proudly brought home a personal
letter from Hitler, promising not to make any
more territorial claims. Chamberlain said
Hitler’s letter would bring “peace in our time.”
The opposition led by Sir Winston Churchill,
disagreed. Churchill, an historian, warned that
Hitler’s book Mein Kamp (My Struggle) had
promised “to regain all German lands by the
power of the sword.” He denounced the policy
of appeasement. Appeasement is the policy of
giving in to the demands of an aggressive
nation because of fear or stupidity. This policy
was counter-productive and actually led to war

For Hitler, Munich was a political triumph. He

had bluffed the Allies into allowing him he
grabbed the whole of Czechoslovakia. In March
1939, Hitler sent his army, not only into the
Sudetenland but also into the rest of
Czechoslovakia and conquered the whole
country. Encouraged by Hitler’s success,
Mussolini seized Albania.

Finally, Hitler turned on Poland. He demanded

the surrender of the city of Danzig and the
German-speaking Polish border. This time, the
Polish and Allies refused his demands. They
had learned not to trust in Hitler’s promises
anymore. The Nazis invaded Poland, anyway,
on September 1, 1939. This began a new world