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Encyclopedia > Events preceding World War II in Europe

In Europe, the origins of the war are closely tied to the rise of fascism, especially in Nazi Germany. A discussion of how the Nazis came to power is a requisite in this context. World map showing the location of Europe. ... This article needs additional references or sources to facilitate its verification. ... Nazi Germany, or the Third Reich, commonly refers to Germany in the years 1933–1945, when it was under the firm control of the totalitarian and fascist ideology of the Nazi Party, with the Führer Adolf Hitler as dictator. ...


The origins of World War II are generally viewed as having its roots in the aftermath of the First World War (1914-1918). In that war Imperial Germany under the nationalistic Kaiser Wilhelm II had been defeated along with its allies, chiefly by a combination of the United Kingdom, United States and France. The war was directly blamed by the victors on the militant nationalism of the Kaiser's Germany; it was Germany that effectively started the war with an attack on France through Belgium. France had in 1871 suffered a defeat in the Franco-Prussian War, which directly was followed by the constitution of a German Empire under Prussian leadership. France now demanded revenge for its financial devastation during the First World War (and its humiliation in the earlier war), which ensured that the various peace treaties, specifically the Treaty of Versailles imposed tough financial war reparations and restrictions on Germany. (See: Aftermath of World War I for more details.) “The Great War ” redirects here. ... 1914 (MCMXIV) was a common year starting on Thursday (see link for calendar). ... 1918 (MCMXVIII) was a common year starting on Tuesday of the Gregorian calendar (see link for calendar) or a common year starting on Wednesday of the Julian calendar. ... This article or section should include material from German Monarchy The term German Empire (the translation from German of Deutsches Reich) commonly refers to Germany, from its consolidation as a unified nation-state on January 18, 1871, until the abdication of Kaiser (Emperor) Wilhelm II on November 9, 1918. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... German Emperor Wilhelm (born Friedrich Wilhelm Viktor Albrecht, Prince of Prussia 27 January 1859–4 June 1941), was the last German Emperor and King of Prussia (de: Deutscher Kaiser und König von Preußen), ruling from 15 June 1888 to 9 November 1918. ... 1871 (MDCCCLXXI) was a common year starting on Sunday (see link for calendar). ... Combatants Second French Empire North German Confederation allied with south German states (later German Empire) Commanders Napoleon III Otto Von Bismarck, Helmuth von Moltke the Elder Strength 400,000 at the beginning of the war 1,200,000 Casualties 150,000 dead or wounded 284,000 captured 350,000 civilian... Scholars debate about what exactly constitutes an empire (from the Latin imperium, denoting military command within the ancient Roman government). ... Motto: Suum cuique Latin: To each his own Prussia at its peak, as leading state of the German Empire Capital Königsberg, later Berlin Political structure Duchy, Kingdom, Republic Duke1  - 1525–68 Albert I  - 1688–1701 Frederick III King1  - 1701–13 Frederick I  - 1888–1918 William II Prime Minister1,2... The Treaty of Versailles (1919) was the peace treaty which officially ended World War I between the Allied and Associated Powers and Germany. ... War reparations refer to the monetary compensation provided to a triumphant nation or coalition from a defeated nation or coalition. ... Woodrow Wilson and the American peace commissioners during the negotiations on the Treaty of Versailles. ...

Contents

The Weimar Republic becomes the Third Reich

The Nazi Party, led by Adolf Hitler, blamed Germany's ruined economy on the harshness of the Versailles Treaty, on faults of democracy, and the Dolchstosslegende. In Germany, as in post-Austro-Hungarian Austria, citizens recalled the pre-war years under autocratic rule as prosperous, but the post-war years under weak democratic rule as chaotic and economically disastrous. The situation was further aggravated by the world-wide economic depression that followed the Wall Street crash in 1929. Left-wing and right-wing anti-democratic parties in the Reichstag (the German parliament) obstructed parliamentary work, while different cabinets resorted to government by the special emergency powers of the Weimar constitution. This enabled the President and Cabinet to bypass the parliament. Hitler redirects here. ... Woodrow Wilson with the American Peace Commissioners The Treaty of Versailles of 1919 is the peace treaty created as a result of six months of negotiations at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 which put an official end to World War I between the Allies and Central Powers. ... Magazine title from 1924, example of a propaganda illustration in support of the legend The Dolchstosslegende (German: Dolchstoßlegende, literally Dagger stab legend often translated into English as stab-in-the-back myth) refers to a social myth and persecution-propaganda theory popular in Germany in the period after World... Austria-Hungary, also known as the Dual monarchy (or: the k. ... Forms of government Part of the Politics series Politics Portal This box:      An autocracy is a form of government in which the political power is held by a single person. ... In economics, a depression is a term commonly used for a sustained downturn in the economy. ... Crowd gathering on Wall Street. ... “Leftism” redirects here. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into Left-Right politics. ... The Reichstag (German for Imperial Diet) was the parliament of the Holy Roman Empire, the North German Confederation, and of Germany until 1945. ... A cabinet is a body of high-ranking members of government, typically representing the executive branch. ...


Hitler was appointed Reichskanzler (Chancellor) on January 30, 1933. The arson of the Reichstag building on February 27 – now commonly believed to have been instigated by Nazis – was used as an excuse for the cancellation of civil and political liberties, enacted by the aged president Paul von Hindenburg and the right-wing coalition cabinet led by Hitler. The federal head of government of Germany is called Chancellor (German: Kanzler). ... January 30 is the 30th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... 1933 (MCMXXXIII) was a common year starting on Sunday. ... The Reichstag building. ... February 27 is the 58th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... Paul Ludwig Hans Anton von Beneckendorff und von Hindenburg, known universally as Paul von Hindenburg (2 October 1847 – 2 August 1934) was a German field marshal and statesman. ... A coalition government, or coalition cabinet, is a cabinet in parliamentary government in which several parties cooperate. ...


After new elections, a Nazi-led majority passed the Enabling Act on March 23. This transferred legislative powers to Hitler's cabinet. Hitler's remaining political opposition, the KPD and SPD, were banned, before Hitler turned on internal threats to his power during the Night of the Long Knives. Chief among those was Ernst Röhm, the leader of the Nazi Brown Shirts. The Enabling Act (Ermächtigungsgesetz in German) was passed by Germanys parliament (the Reichstag) on March 23, 1933. ... March 23 is the 82nd day of the year (83rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... A legislature is a type of representative deliberative assembly with the power to adopt laws. ... 1932 KPD poster, End This System The Communist Party of Germany (German Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands – KPD) was a major political party in Germany between 1918 and 1933, and a minor party in West Germany in the postwar period. ... SPD redirects here. ... The Night of the Long Knives (Saturday June 30 and Sunday July 1, 1934) (German, Nacht der langen Messer), also known as Reichsmordwoche, Operation Hummingbird or the Blood Purge, was a lethal purge of Adolf Hitlers potential political rivals in the Sturmabteilung (SA; also known as storm troopers or... Ernst Julius Röhm, also known as Ernst Roehm in English (November 28, 1887 - July 2, 1934) was a German military officer, and the commander and co-founder of the Nazi Sturmabteilung, or storm troopers — the SA. // Röhm was one of three children of Julius Röhm and his... The seal of SA The   or SA (German for Storm division, usually translated as stormtroop(er)s ), functioned as a paramilitary organization of the NSDAP — the German Nazi party. ...


After President Hindenburg died on August 2, 1934, Hitler replaced the offices of Chancellor and President with a single dictactorial position by declaring himself Führer ("Leader") of a new German Reich – the Third Reich. With little resistance from its leadership, the oath taken by members of Germany's armed forces (the Wehrmacht) was modified to become a statement of unconditional obedience to Hitler himself. August 2 is the 214th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (215th in leap years), with 151 days remaining. ... 1934 (MCMXXXIV) was a common year starting on Monday (link will take you to calendar). ... Forms of government Part of the Politics series Politics Portal This box:      A dictatorship is an autocratic form of government in which the government is ruled by a dictator. ...   (Fuehrer when the ü-umlaut is not used, but never just Fuhrer) is a proper noun meaning leader or guide in the German language. ... Wehrmacht   (armed forces, literally defence force(s)) was the name of the armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. ...


Italy

The Italian economy also fell into a deep slump following World War I. 1914's Red Week had expanded into the post-war Biennio rosso, and many were gravely worried that a Bolshevik-style Communist revolution was imminent. “The Great War ” redirects here. ... The Biennio rosso (English: Two red years) were two years, 1919 and 1920, in which there was a massive struggle for political power by the workers of Italy. ... Bolshevik Party Meeting. ...


After a number of liberal governments failed to rein in these threats, and the Fascists had increased their public profile by highly visible punishment expeditions to supposedly crush the Socialist threat, King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy invited Benito Mussolini to form a government on October 29, 1922. The Fascists maintained an armed paramilitary wing, which they employed to fight Anarchists, Communists, and Socialists. Victor Emmanuel III (Italian: ; 11 November 1869 – 28 December 1947) was King of Italy (29 July 1900 – 9 May 1946), Emperor of Ethiopia (1936–43) and King of Albania (1939–43). ... Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini (July 29, 1883 – April 28, 1945) was the prime minister, and a faget and dictator of Italy from 1922 until 1943, when he was overthrown. ... October 29 is the 302nd day of the year (303rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1922 (MCMXXII) was a common year starting on Sunday (link will display full calendar). ... Anarchism is a generic term describing various political philosophies and social movements that advocate the elimination of hierarchy and imposed authority. ... This article is about communism as a form of society, as an ideology advocating that form of society, and as a popular movement. ... Socialism is any economic system in which the means of production are owned and controlled collectively or a political philosophy advocating such a system. ...


Within a few years, Mussolini had consolidated dictatorial power, and Italy became a police state. On January 7, 1935, he and French Foreign Minister Pierre Laval signed the Franco–Italian Agreement giving him a free hand in the Abyssinia Crisis with Ethiopia, in return for an alliance against Hitler. There was little international protest. He then sent large numbers of troops to Eritrea and Italian Somaliland, the two colonies of Italy that bordered Ethiopia. Dictator is originally the title of a magistrate in ancient Rome appointed by the Senate to rule the state in times of emergency. ... A police state is a political condition where the government maintains strict control over society, particularly through suspension of civil rights and often with the use of a force of secret police. ... January 7 is the seventh day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... 1935 (MCMXXXV) was a common year starting on Tuesday (link will display full calendar). ... Pierre Laval, prime minister of Vichy France Pierre Laval (28 June 1883 – 15 October 1945) was a French politician and four times Prime Minister of France, the final time being under the Vichy government. ... On January 7th, 1935, the French Foreign Minister Pierre Laval and Italian Prime Minister Benito Mussolini signed the Italo-French agreements in Rome. ... The Abyssinia Crisis was a pre-WW2 diplomatic crisis originating in the conflict between Italy and Ethiopia (then called Abyssinia by the British). ... Italian Somaliland was an Italian colony that lasted, apart from a brief interlude of British rule, from the late 19th century until 1960 in the territory of the modern-day East African nation of Somalia. ...


Britain attempted to broker peace but failed, as Mussolini was bent on conquest. Britain then declared an arms embargo on both Italy and Ethiopia. Britain also cleared its warships from the Mediterranean, further allowing Italy unhindered access. Shortly after the League exonerated both parties in the Walwal incident, Italy attacked Ethiopia, resulting in the Second Italo–Abyssinian War. The Mediterranean Sea is an intercontinental sea positioned between Europe to the north, Africa to the south and Asia to the east, covering an approximate area of 2. ... Combatants Italy Ethiopia Strength 800,000 (only ~330,000 mobilized) 100,000 (some ill-equipped) Casualties 15,000 16,000 The Second Italo–Abyssinian War, also called the Rape of Ethiopia, lasted seven months in 1935–1936. ...


Shortly after Italy conquered Ethiopia, the Spanish Civil War began. During the Spanish Civil War, seen by many as a testing ground for the Second World War, he provided troops, weapons and other aid to Francisco Franco's Nationalists. Combatants Spanish Republic With the support of: Soviet Union[1] Nationalist Spain With the support of: Italy Germany Commanders Manuel Azaña Francisco Largo Caballero Juan Negrín Francisco Franco Gonzalo Queipo de Llano Emilio Mola José Sanjurjo Casualties 500,000[2] The Spanish Civil War was a major conflict... The Spanish Civil War had large numbers of foreigners participating in both sides of the struggle. ... Francisco Paulino Hermenegildo Teódulo Franco Bahamonde (4 December 1892–20th (or possibly 19th) November[1] 1975), commonly abbreviated to Francisco Franco (pron. ...


Spanish Civil War

While many nations refused to become involved in the Spanish Civil War, notably Britain and France, troops were sent by both Hitler and Mussolini to aid the Spanish Nationalists, which included those with Fascist leanings. It would prove to be a precursor to many of the tactics and methods employed in the Second World War, such as the test bombing of Guernica, which aimed to see how effective the Blitz would be. Spain would be neutral during World War II, but the division during the Civil War of Fascism (Germany and Italy) versus democracy (many volunteers joined the forces against the Nationalists from countries with an official stance of neutrality) and Communism (the USSR) was repeated during the Second World War. Guernica or Guernica y Lumo (Basque Gernika-Lumo, pronounced in IPA [gernika]) is a small city in the Spanish Basque Country that was the meeting place of the Biscayne assembly under an oak tree, the Gernikako Arbola, which was a symbol of traditional freedoms of the Basque people. ... Look up Blitz in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...


German expansionism

Meanwhile in Germany, once political consolidation (Gleichschaltung) was in place, the Nazis turned their attention to foreign policy with several increasingly daring acts. The German word Gleichschaltung â’½ â’¾ (literally synchronising, synchronization) is used in a political sense to describe the process by which the Nazi regime successively established a system of totalitarian control over the individual, and tight coordination over all aspects of society and commerce. ...

On March 16, 1935, the Versailles Treaty was violated as Hitler ordered Germany to re-arm. Germany also reintroduced military conscription (the treaty stated that the German Army should not exceed 100,000 men). Defence Expenditure of the Major Belligerent Nations of WW II, 1930-1938. ... March 16 is the 75th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (76th in leap years). ... 1935 (MCMXXXV) was a common year starting on Tuesday (link will display full calendar). ... Woodrow Wilson with the American Peace Commissioners The Treaty of Versailles of 1919 is the peace treaty created as a result of six months of negotiations at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 which put an official end to World War I between the Allies and Central Powers. ...


These steps produced nothing more than official protests from the United Kingdom and France, for they were more serious about enforcing the economic provisions of the treaty than its military restrictions. Many Britons felt the restrictions placed on Germany in Versailles had been too harsh, and they believed that Hitler's aim was simply to undo the extremes of the treaty, not to go beyond that. This sentiment was underscored by the signing of the Anglo-German Naval Agreement, which authorized Germany to build a fleet one third the size of the Royal Navy and put an end to British naval operations in the Baltic Sea, granting Germany supremacy there. Faced with no opposition, Hitler moved troops into the Rhineland on March 7, 1936. Under the Versailles treaty, the Rhineland should have been demilitarized, for France wanted it for a buffer between herself and Germany. But, as before, Hitler's defiance was met with inaction, despite Polish proposal to put in action the Polish-French alliance. The Anglo-German Naval Agreement (AGNA), was signed between United Kingdom and Germany in of June 18, 1935. ... The Royal Navy of the United Kingdom is the oldest of the British armed services (and is therefore the Senior Service). ... The Baltic Sea is located in Northern Europe, from 53°N to 66°N latitude and from 20°E to 26°E longitude. ... The Remilitarization of the Rhineland by the German Army took place on 7 March 1936 when German forces entered the Rhineland. ... March 7 is the 66th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (67th in leap years). ... 1936 (MCMXXXVI) was a leap year starting on Wednesday (link will take you to calendar). ...


Ó


Czechoslovakia

With Austria secured, Hitler turned his attention to Czechoslovakia. Unlike Austria, Czechoslovakia was not a German-speaking country, had a large and modern army backed with a huge armament industry, and had military alliances with France and England. Despite all this, Hitler, encouraged by reluctance of major European powers to stop his violation of post WWI treaties, was intended to go to the edge of war, convinced that France would shrink back again, not fulfilling her treaty obligations to Czechoslovakia. His first order of business was to seize the mountainous border regions called Sudetenland, in which lived a significant German-speaking majority, and was based on the right of self-determination on a unification with Germany. This region formed about one third of Bohemia (western Czechoslovakia) in terms of territory, population and economy and were vital for the country's existence. With Austria in German hands, this western part of Czechoslovakia, equipped with a huge defense system (larger than the Maginot line), was nearly surrounded by Germany. Motto (French) God and my right Anthem God Save the King (Queen) England() – on the European continent() – in the United Kingdom() Capital (and largest city) London (de facto) Official languages English (de facto) Government Constitutional monarchy  -  Queen Queen Elizabeth II  -  Prime Minister Tony Blair MP Unification  -  by Athelstan 967  Area... It has been suggested that Germans in Czechoslovakia (1918-1938) be merged into this article or section. ... The Maginot Line (IPA: [maÊ’inoː], named after French minister of defense André Maginot) was a line of concrete fortifications, tank obstacles, machine gun posts and other defenses which France constructed along its borders with Germany and with Italy, in the light of experience from World War I, and...


Following lengthy negotiations, and blatant war threats from Hitler, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain went out of his way with French leaders to appease Hitler. In the Munich Agreement of September 30, 1938, the major European powers, allowed, for the sake of "peace in our time", German troops to occupy the Sudetenland. Czechoslovakia, which at that time already mobilized an over one million man army and was prepared to fight for independence, 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. German (and soon after also Polish and Hungarian) forces invaded. A few months after that, on March 15, 1939, the now virtually defenseless remaining parts of the Czech lands were occupied by Germany as well and Hitler (in the Prague Castle) proclaimed Bohemia and Moravia a German protectorate. After one day before (on March 14) Slovakia had declared her independence, recognized by France, Britain and other important powers (see under Jozef Tiso). In the United Kingdom, the Prime Minister is the head of government, exercising many of the executive functions nominally vested in the Sovereign, who is head of state. ... Arthur Neville Chamberlain (18 March 1869 – 9 November 1940), known as Neville Chamberlain, was a British Conservative politician and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1937 to 1940. ... For the annual global security meeting held in Munich, see Munich Conference on Security Policy Chamberlain holds the paper containing the resolution to commit to peaceful methods signed by both Hitler and himself on his return from Germany in September 1938. ... September 30 is the 273rd day of the year (274th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1938 (MCMXXXVIII) was a common year starting on Saturday (link will take you to calendar). ... Edvard BeneÅ¡ Edvard BeneÅ¡ with wife 1921, autochrome portrait by Josef JindÅ™ich Å echtl Edvard BeneÅ¡ (May 28, 1884 - September 3, 1948) was a leader of the Czechoslovak independence movement and the second President of Czechoslovakia. ... March 15 is the 74th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (75th in leap years). ... 1939 (MCMXXXIX) was a common year starting on Sunday (link will display full year calendar). ... Entrance to the Prague Castle at night The Prague Castle (Czech: Pražský hrad) is the castle in Prague where the Czech kings, Holy Roman Emperors and presidents of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic have had their offices. ... For the Lebanese political coalition, see March 14 Alliance. ... Josef Tiso in photo Monsignor Jozef Tiso (October 13, 1887–April 18, 1947) was a Roman Catholic priest who became a deputy of the Czechoslovak parliament, a member of the Czechoslovak government, and finally the President of Independent Slovak Republic from 1939-1945, allied with Nazi Germany. ...


References


  Results from FactBites:
 
World War II - Facts, Information, and Encyclopedia Reference article (9907 words)
World War II was a truly global conflict with many facets: immense human suffering, fierce indoctrinations, and the use of new, extremely devastating weapons such as the atom bomb.
World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a mid-20th-century conflict that engulfed much of the globe and is generally accepted as the largest and deadliest continuous war in human history.
Post–World War II Europe was partitioned into Western and Soviet spheres of influence, the former undergoing economic reconstruction under the Marshall Plan and the latter becoming satellite states of the Soviet Union.
World War II - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (8503 words)
The causes of World War II are naturally a debated subject, but a common view, ties them to the policy of appeasement, which was directed by the United Kingdom and France after the First World War and expansionism of Germany and Japan.
The League of Nations was powerless and mostly silent in the face of many major events leading to World War II such as Hitler's re-militarisation of the Rhineland, annexation of Austria, and occupation of Czechoslovakia.
Resistance during World War II occurred in every occupied country by a variety of means, ranging from non-cooperation, disinformation and propaganda to hiding crashed pilots and even to outright warfare and the recapturing of towns.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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