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The rise of totalitarianism in the second global conflict

Edited by Matthew A. At the same time, much of the world was dealing with economic and political crises, and different types of totalitarian regimes began to take hold in Europe. In Asia, an ascendant Japan began to expand its borders.

Although the United States continued to intervene in the affairs of countries in the Western Hemisphere during this period, the general mood in America was to avoid becoming involved in any crises that might lead the nation into another global conflict. Despite its largely noninterventionist foreign policy, the United States did nevertheless take steps to try to lessen the chances of war and cut its defense spending at the same time.

  1. Totalitarian governments in the early 20th century had three basic characteristics.
  2. Japanese losses were minimal. Members of Protestant churches that were involved in missionary work in China were particularly outraged, as were Chinese Americans.
  3. The crash of 1929, when the U.
  4. His sentiments were shared by other noninterventionists in Congress.

In 1928, the United States and fourteen other nations signed the Kellogg-Briand Pact, declaring war an international crime. Despite hopes that such agreements would lead to a more peaceful world—far more nations signed on to the agreement in later years—they failed because none of them committed any of the nations to take action in the event of treaty violations.

The March Toward War While the United States focused on domestic issues, economic depression and political instability were growing in Europe. During the 1920s, the international financial system was propped up largely by American loans to foreign countries.

The crash of 1929, when the U. Around the world, industrialized economies faced significant problems of economic depression and worker unemployment. Many European countries had been suffering even before the Great Depression began. A postwar recession and the continuation of wartime inflation had hurt many economies, as did a decrease in agricultural prices, which made it harder for farmers to buy manufactured goods or pay off loans to banks.

In such an unstable environment, Benito Mussolini capitalized on the frustrations of the Italian people who felt betrayed by the Versailles Treaty.

With the support of major Italian industrialists and the king, who saw Fascism as a bulwark against growing Socialist and Communist movements, Mussolini became prime minister in 1922.

Between 1925 and 1927, Mussolini transformed the nation into a single party state and removed all restraints on his power. In Germany, a similar pattern led to the rise of the totalitarian National Socialist Party. Political fragmentation through the 1920s accentuated the severe economic problems facing the country.

As a result, the German Communist Party began to grow in strength, frightening many wealthy and middle-class Germans. In addition, the terms of the Treaty of Versailles had given rise to a deep-seated resentment of the victorious Allies. The Nazis gained numerous followers during the Great Depression, which hurt Germany tremendously, plunging it further into economic crisis.

By 1932, nearly 30 percent of the German labor force was unemployed. Not surprisingly, the political mood was angry and sullen. Hitler, a World War I veteran, promised to return Germany to greatness. By the beginning of 1933, the Nazis had become the largest party in the German legislature.

In the elections that took place the next month, the Nazis passed the Enabling Act, which gave Hitler the power to make all laws for the next four years. Hitler thus effectively became the dictator of Germany and remained so long after the four-year term passed.

Like Italy, Germany had become a one-party totalitarian state. He commenced his program by withdrawing Germany from the League of Nations in October 1933.

  1. Although the United States continued to intervene in the affairs of countries in the Western Hemisphere during this period, the general mood in America was to avoid becoming involved in any crises that might lead the nation into another global conflict.
  2. With regard to the form that European unification might take and the procedures that might be involved, ideas often diverged according to political and ideological affiliation. The Japanese had worked assiduously for decades to modernize, build their strength, and become a prosperous, respected nation.
  3. Between 1925 and 1927, Mussolini transformed the nation into a single party state and removed all restraints on his power.
  4. In order to avoid the world being divided into two antagonistic blocs and to prevent the inevitably ensuing war, it seemed essential to establish a third European pole.

In 1936, in accordance with his promise to restore German greatness, Hitler dispatched military units into the Rhineland, on the border with France, which was an act contrary to the provisions of the Versailles Treaty. In March 1938, claiming that he sought only to reunite ethnic Germans within the borders of one country, Hitler invaded Austria. This Munich Pact offered a policy of appeasement, in the hope that German expansionist appetites could be satisfied without war.

But not long after the agreement, Germany occupied the rest of Czechoslovakia as well. Although fiercely opposed to Hitler, Stalin, sobered by the French and British betrayal of Czechoslovakia and unprepared for a major war, decided the best way to protect the Soviet Union, and gain additional territory, was to come to some accommodation with the German dictator.

In August 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union essentially agreed to divide Poland between them and not make war upon one another. Japan Militaristic politicians also took control of Japan in the 1930s. The Japanese had worked assiduously for decades to modernize, build their strength, and become a prosperous, respected nation. The sentiment in Japan was decidedly pro-capitalist, and the Japanese militarists were fiercely supportive of a capitalist economy.

The Japanese militarists thus found a common ideological enemy with Fascism and National Socialism, which had based their rise to power on anti-Communist sentiments. In 1936, Japan and Germany signed the Anti-Comintern Pact, pledging mutual assistance in defending themselves against the Comintern, the international agency created by the Soviet Union to promote worldwide Communist revolution.

In 1937, Italy joined the pact, essentially creating the foundation of what became the military alliance of the Axis powers.

World War II: The Rise of Fascism and Nazism

Like its European allies, Japan was intent upon creating an empire for itself. In 1931, it created a new nation, a puppet state called Manchukuo, which had been cobbled together from the three northernmost provinces of China. By the end of the year, the Chinese had suffered some serious defeats. In Nanjing, then called Nanking by Westerners, Japanese soldiers systematically raped Chinese women and massacred hundreds of thousands of civilians, leading to international outcry.

Public sentiment against Japan in the United States reached new heights. Members of Protestant churches that were involved in missionary work in China were particularly outraged, as were Chinese Americans. Although he hoped to offer U. Such a policy in regards to Europe was strongly encouraged by Senator Gerald P. Nye of North Dakota.

The United States, Nye urged, should not the rise of totalitarianism in the second global conflict drawn again into an international dispute over matters that did not concern it. His sentiments were shared by other noninterventionists in Congress. This protest sign shows the unwillingness of many Americans to become involved in a foreign war. A reluctance to intervene in events outside of the Western Hemisphere had characterized American foreign policy since the administration of George Washington.

World War I had been an exception that many American politicians regretted making. Although Roosevelt was aware of Nazi persecution of the Jews, he did little to aid them. In a symbolic act of support, he withdrew the American ambassador to Germany in 1938.

In 1939, he refused to support a bill that would have admitted twenty thousand Jewish refugee children to the United States. Again in 1939, when German refugees aboard the SS St.

Louis, most of them Jews, were refused permission to land in Cuba and turned to the United States for help, the U. State Department informed them that immigration quotas for Germany had already been filled. Once again, Roosevelt did not intervene, because he feared that nativists in Congress might smear him as a friend of Jews. To ensure that the United States did not get drawn into another war, Congress passed a series of Neutrality Acts in the second half of the 1930s.

The Neutrality Act of 1935 banned the sale of armaments to warring nations. The following year, another Neutrality Act prohibited loaning money to belligerent countries. The last piece of legislation, the Neutrality Act of 1937, forbade the transportation of weapons or passengers to belligerent nations on board American ships and also prohibited American citizens from traveling on board the ships of nations at war.

Once all-out war began between Japan and China in 1937, Roosevelt sought ways to help the Chinese that did not violate U.

The Second World War

Since Japan did not formally declare war on China, a state of belligerency did not technically exist. Therefore, under the terms of the Neutrality Acts, America was not prevented from transporting goods to China. In 1940, the president of China, Chiang Kai-shek, was able to prevail upon Roosevelt to ship to China one hundred P-40 fighter planes and to allow American volunteers, who technically became members of the Chinese Air Force, to fly them.

War Begins in Europe In 1938, the agreement reached at the Munich Conference failed to satisfy Hitler—in fact, the refusal of Britain and France to go to war over the issue infuriated the German dictator. Britain and France had already learned from Munich that Hitler could not be trusted and that his territorial demands were insatiable. The legislation, passed and signed by Roosevelt in November 1939, permitted belligerents to purchase war materiel if they could pay cash for it and arrange for its transportation on board their own ships.

How did the rise of totalitarianism lead to WWII?

When the Germans commenced their spring offensive in 1940, they defeated France in six weeks with a highly mobile and quick invasion of France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands. In response, beginning with the Export Control Act in July 1940, the United States began to embargo the shipment of various materials to Japan, starting first with aviation gasoline and machine tools, and proceeding to scrap iron and steel.

In June 1941, Hitler broke the nonaggression pact with the Soviet Union that had given him the backing to ravage Poland and marched his armies deep into Soviet territory, where they would kill Red Army regulars and civilians by the millions until their advances were stalled in the devastating one-year battle over Stalingrad two years later. London and other major British cities suffered extensive damaged from the bombing raids of the Battle of Britain. The charter stated that the United States and Britain sought no territory from the conflict.

It proclaimed that citizens of all countries should be given the right of self-determination, self-government should be restored in places where it had been eliminated, and trade barriers should be lowered.

Further, the charter mandated freedom of the seas, renounced the use of force to settle international disputes, and called for postwar disarmament. As it could no longer buy strategic material from the United States, the Japanese were determined to obtain a sufficient supply of oil by taking control of the Dutch East Indies. However, they realized that such an action might increase the possibility of American intervention, since the Philippines, a U.

Japanese leaders thus attempted to secure a diplomatic solution by negotiating with the United States while also authorizing the navy to plan for war. The Japanese government also decided that if no peaceful resolution could be reached by the end of November 1941, then the nation would have to go to war against the United States.

While American losses were significant, the Japanese lost only twenty-nine planes and five miniature submarines. Japan found that proposal unacceptable but delayed its rejection for as the rise of totalitarianism in the second global conflict as possible.

Pacific fleet at anchor in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. They launched two waves of attacks from six aircraft carriers that had snuck into the central Pacific without being detected. The attacks brought some 353 fighters, bombers, and torpedo bombers down on the unprepared fleet. The Japanese hit all eight battleships in the harbor and sank four of them. They also damaged several cruisers and destroyers.

On the ground, nearly two hundred aircraft were destroyed, and the rise of totalitarianism in the second global conflict hundred servicemen were killed. Another eleven hundred were wounded. Japanese losses were minimal. The strike was part of a more concerted campaign by the Japanese to gain territory. Whatever reluctance to engage in conflict the American people had had before December 7, 1941, quickly evaporated. Against its wishes, the United States had become part of the European conflict.

Conclusion America sought, at the end of the First World War, to create new international relationships that would make such wars impossible in the future. But as the Great Depression hit Europe, several new leaders rose to power under the new political ideologies of Fascism and Nazism.