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Aggression Leads to War: The Onset of World War II in Europe. Guided Reading Activity Answer Guide . The Devastation of Europe During World War I and the failure of the Peace Treaty left Europe weak. The rise of bolshevism and the communist Party left Russia unstable. .

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joseph stalin
JOSEPH STALIN

A brutal sociopath and violent dictator, Joseph Stalin ruled over his own people with an iron fist. He forced peasants to cede all of their property to the government, caused millions to perish in famines due to his misguided agricultural policies, and murdered anyone who opposed him – even members of his own Communist Party.

fascism
FASCISM

A political system which is based on extreme nationalism, racist and violent behavior towards minority groups or national rivals, extreme militarism, and aggression. Fascism is almost always accompanied by totalitarian dictatorships. The original Fascist Party, founded in Italy in the 1920s, was led by Benito Mussolini.

mussolini s italy
Mussolini’s Italy

In Italy during Benito Mussolini’s rule, political rivals were beaten up, jailed, or even murdered by gangs of “Black Shirts” – thugs who beat up and even killed Mussolini’s political opponents. During his dictatorship, Mussolini taught school children to recite:

“ Mussolini is always right!”

nazism
NAZISM

Nazism was a form of fascism which took hold in Germany during the early 1930s. Led by Adolf Hitler, German’s National Socialist Party planned to re-militarize the nation, conquer foreign lands, and subjugate groups of people they considered inferior – including Slavs, Poles, Gypsies, and especially Jewish people, who they blamed for all the political and economic troubles of Germany.

racism and anti semitism in nazi germany
Racism and anti-Semitism in Nazi Germany
  • One of basic beliefs of Nazism was the racist myth that German, “Aryan” stock, were meant to rule over other groups of people – Slavs, Poles, Russians, Gypsies, or Jewish men and women alike.
  • Anti-Semitism was the most virulent form of racism practiced by the Nazis. Jewish men and women were blamed for causing Germany to lose the Great War, and demonized as greedy, predatory, and cruel people.
  • Soon, Jewish children were banned from attending public schools, and Jewish citizens were forbidden to practice law or medicine in Germany.
  • Pogroms, or government organized attacks of Jewish communities were carried out – including Kristallnacht – “The Night of Broken Glass” during which hundreds of synagogues and Jewish owned businesses were vandalized or burned – and Jewish citizens were violated and terrorized – even killed.
ethiopian emperor haile selessie
ETHIOPIAN EMPEROR HAILE SELESSIE

In a June 1936 speech before the League of Nations, Haile Selassie stated:

“Should it happen that a strong Government finds it may with impunity destroy a weak people, then the hour strikes for that weak people to appeal to the League of Nations to give its judgment in all freedom. God and history will remember your judgment.”

At the end of his speech, he is reported to have warned: “It is us today. It will be you tomorrow.”

german aggression of the 1930s
German Aggression of the 1930s

THE ANSCHLUSS: AUSTRIA

SUDETENLAND, CZECHOSLOVAKIA

violations of the treaty of versailles under adolf hitler and the nazi party
Violations of the Treaty of Versailles under Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party
  • IN DEFIANCE OF THE TREATY OF VERSAILLES, GERMANY BEGAN TO REBUILD ITS MILITARY – DESPITE THE FACT THAT THE TREATY OF VERSAILLES STRICTLY FORBID SUCH ACTIONS.
  • HITLER THEN SENT HIS SOLDIERS INTO THE RHINELAND REGION OF GERMANY – ON THE WESTERN SIDE OF THE NATION NEARER TO FRANCE, OCCUPYING THE REGION.
  • HITLER PROVIDED AIR SUPPORT AND MILITARY EQUIPMENT TO GENERALISSIMO FRANCISCO FRANCO IN SPAIN DURING THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR, 1936 – 1939, RESULTING IN ANOTHER FASCIST REGIME IN EUROPE. (THE FRANCO REGIME WOULD REMAIN IN POWER EVEN AFTER WORLD WAR II, INTO THE 1970S.)
  • FINALLY, THE NAZIS USED MILITARY AGGRESSION AND EXTORTION IN ORDER TO TAKE OVER BOTH AUSTRIA AND PORTIONS OF CZECHOSLOVAKIA – BEFORE RESORTING TO WAR IN 1939.
the response of europe and the u s
THE RESPONSE OF EUROPE AND the U.S.

Meanwhile, the toothless League of Nations – and major powers like France, England, and the United States – was barely even discernable. Hitler was allowed to take over these regions without so much as a reprimand. The League of Nations condemned the aggressor nations (FDR called them “bandit nations”) but did nothing to stop them.

appeasement
Appeasement

Appeasement is the official policy of giving in to, or ceding to the demands of an aggressive nation in order to avoid war. During the 1930s, European nations and the League of Nations – who had the power to intervene against Adolf Hitler – hoped that he would be appeased when they allowed he and his Nazi Party to take over Austria and the Sudetenland. Meanwhile, in the United States, Franklin Roosevelt was hampered by a population and a Congress which was steadfastly devoted to isolationism and neutrality, allowing Nazi Germany to gain strength.