World neighboring countries. These three countries also set
World War II was basically caused by the rise of totalitarian, militaristic
regimes in Germany, Italy, and Japan, which resulted partially from the
Great Depression that plagued the world in the early 1930s and from the
conditions created by the peace settlements following World War I.
After WWI, Germany, Italy and Japan were anxious to regain or increase
their power; all three adopted forms of dictatorship, such as socialism and
facism, which made the state supreme and called for expansion at the
expense of neighboring countries. These three countries also set themselves
up as fighters of communism, which made Western democracies more tolerant
of their early actions. In addition, the democracies were so eager for
peace that they did not adequately prepare their militaries. Finally, the
League of Nations, which was weak from the start by the defection of the
United States, was unable to promote disarmament. Basically, the drawn-out
economic depression sharpened national rivalries, increased fear and
distrust, and made countries susceptible to the promises of demagogues.
The League of Nation’s failure to stop the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1931
was followed by an increase of treaty violations and acts of aggression.
Adolf Hitler came into power in 1933 in Germany, redeveloped the German
army and prepared it for a war of conquest. In 1936, Hitler remilitarized
the Rhineland. Benito Mussolini conquered Ethiopia for Italy; and from 1936
to 1939 the Spanish civil war carried on, with Germany and Italy assisting
the fascist forces of Francisco Franco to victory. In 1938, Germany annexed
Austria. Shortly after, the British and French policy of appeasement toward
the Axis reached its peak with the sacrifice of much of Czechoslovakia to
In 1939, Germany occupied all of Czechoslovakia, and Italy seized Albania.
AT this point, Great Britain and France abandoned their policy of