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Background To WWII. Events Leading Up to the War. 1928 – Kellog Briand Pact. US Senate voted never to make war again International effort to prevent another World War Paris Peace Pact was signed by 64 nations

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Background to wwii l.jpg

Background To WWII

Events Leading Up to the War

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1928 – Kellog Briand Pact

  • US Senate voted never to make war again

  • International effort to prevent another World War Paris Peace Pact was signed by 64 nations

  • No provisions, economic or military, to enforce it

  • Depended on just public opinion.

Frank Kellog

Aristide Briand

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Kellogg Briand Pact -continued

  • “Peace through incantation”

  • It had little effect in stopping the rising militarism of the 1930s or preventing World War II.

  • Germany, Japan and Italy all wanted war

  • Saw it as a solution to their problems

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The Dirty Thirties - Japan

Lost overseas markets for manufactured goods during Great Depression

Needed food and raw materials

1931 attacked China in Manchuria

Took over China’s iron and coal.

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Japan does what it likes

President Hoover refused to allow an economic boycott of Japan

Critisizes Japan but not enough

Japan quits League of Nations and builds up its navy.

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The Dirty Thirties - Germany

  • German economy shaky since it lost WW1

  • Devastated in Great Depression

  • 1933 Paul von Hindenberg, president, allows Hitler’s Party (Nazi) to take power

  • Nazis fascist – not socialist

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Fascism Rises

  • Fascism - State has more power than people.

  • Strong central government headed by powerful dictator

  • Individuals have no rights.

  • Benito Mussolini of Italy named fascism in 1922 when he came to power as a dictator.

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Racism in Germany

  • Hitler was racist as well as fascist

  • Mein Kampf – proclaims Aryans (blonde/blue eyed) – master race

  • Other races unfit, contaminated, should be either serve Germans or be exterminated.

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Germany 1930’s

  • Nazis and Fascists – both were anti-Communist

  • Germany, army divisions (brown shirts & black shirts - SS) behaved like thugs

    National Socialist German Workers' Party

    Hitler and Mussolini

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Germany prepares for war

  • Beat up Jews (less than 1% of population), Communists, Union leaders.

  • Germany begins to re-arm in violation of League of Nations

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More Aggression from Europe1935 – Italy attacks Ethiopia

  • League of Nations doesn’t act despite world opinion.

  • Meanwhile – no one stopped Hitler either as he rearmed.

  • US (called isolationist) tried to remain neutral and keep out of future war.

  • Neutrality acts made it unlawful for US to sell arms or make loans to warring nations.

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1936 - Civil War in Spain

  • General Franco attacks government

  • Helped by Hitler and Mussolini.

  • Soviet Union helps other side.

  • Franco wins war in 1939 Spain becomes fascist.


  • Japan attacks China again

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Hitler’s Aggression

  • 1938 – Hitler marches into Austria

  • Annexes it

  • “To help mistreated fellow Germans” – The Big Lie

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Hitler Occupies Czechoslovakia

  • Czechoslovakia’s turn next

  • “Mistreated Germans” – The Big Lie again

  • Bullies old Czech president into agreeing to military occupation

  • Occupies part of Sudentenland

    in Czechoslovakia

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Chamberlain and Hitler

  • Munich Pact

  • Neville Chamberlain, prime minister of Britain agrees to help Czechoslovakia

  • But in Munich Hitler persuades Britain and France to go along with this

  • “This would be last grab”

  • They agreed because they didn’t want war.

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Chamberlain and Churchill

  • Chamberlain claimed he had brought “Peace to our time”

  • Chamberlain’s political rival, Churchill disagreed

  • He was against appeasement

    “Britain and France chose between war and dishonor. They chose dishonor. They will have war”


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Hitler Takes All Czechoslovakia.

  • 1939 – 6 months later –

  • Hitler broke pact and took over whole of Czechoslovakia.


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Plight of German Jews

  • Nuremberg Laws – Jews lost citizenship rights

  • Crystal Nacht – suicides, 1000 murders, 26,000 in concentration camps

  • Started because Paris German diplomat assassinated by Jewish 17 year old

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Roosevelt and the Jews

  • Refugees – some Jews tried getting out

  • Roosevelt government did little to help.

  • Depression years – no jobs.

  • Some amazing people escaped

  • Einstein, Toscanini, Fermi, Thomas Mann – amazing people)

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WAR – 3rd September, 1939

  • Polandnext – appeasement didn’t work.

  • September 1, 1939 Germany attacks Poland despite non-aggression pacts

  • Britain and France declares war on Germany WW11 had begun.

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US – Beginning of WWII

  • US neutral with obvious pro-British feelings.

  • Repealed arms embargo for Britain and France.

  • Sold them weapons

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Blitzkrieg – Lightning War

  • Poland split between Germany and Soviets –

  • Slave labor, destroys Polish culture.

  • Genocide of Jews starting in Poland – Final Solution. (After 1941)

  • Firing squads, ghettoes, and finally death camps.

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The Winter of Disillusion

  • Western powers sat around in the winter of illusion

  • Didn’t attack Germany– blockaded instead.

  • More Blitzkrieg – Denmark, Norway (neutral) taken over.

  • Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg, all neutral, captured

  • Next Paris is captured.

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Battle of Dunkirk

  • Britain retreats in shock

  • Grass roots rescue of British troops

  • Local people rescue soldiers over English Channel in little boats

  • Army abandons equipment in France

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Italy Enters War

  • Joins Germany in war – attacks France.

  • June 22, 1940 – France surrendered.

  • Puppet Vichy government in Paris –

  • Government in exile in London

  • Free French under General Charles de Gaulle.

  • Britain is alone – only unoccupied ally in Europe

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Battle of Britain

  • Hitler had just one more battle to win.

  • He totally underestimated the British.

    “We shall defend our island whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender.” Winston Churchill, prime minister who replaced Chamberlain.

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London Blitz

  • Summer of 1940

  • Germany bombs London for 2 months

  • Every night 200 bombers pound the city

  • Children evacuated to country

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Royal Air Force (RAF)

  • New discovery - radar

  • RAF went out day and night to attack German planes.

  • So effective that Hitler gave up idea of invading Britain.

  • 1940 – 1941 – night raids in England to break morale of people

  • England undefeated - remains free

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Axis Countries




Neutral Countries

Sweden, Switzerland,

Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Paraguay


British Empire

Soviet Union

United States




Axis, Allies & Neutral Countries(These are the main ones)