Paths to War
Germany and Japan
Hitler and His Plan
Adolf Hitler believed that Germans were superior to all other races and nationalities. Around the 1920's, the Nazi regime was planning on taking land from the Soviet Union. However, the Treaty Of Versailles limited Germany's military rights. On March 9, 1935, Hitler had announced the new air force he had created. He also made a military drat that expanded the army from 100,000 to 550,000 troops. This was going strictly against the Treaty, though. France, Italy, and Great Britain were concerned and warned Germany against future acts of aggression. However, they were busy with their own country's depression and did not act.
Further Acts of War
On March 7, 1936, Hitler sent German troops to Rhineland, which was a demilitarized area. France had the right to force German out, but refused to act without British support. Britain did not support the use of force against Germany, though. They viewed German troops invading as a reasonable act by a dissatisfied power.
Benito Mussolini, of Italy, had dreams of creating a new Roman Empire. Mussolini's forces invaded Ethiopia in October 1935. Hitler's support was welcomed and he began to draw closer to the German dictator. In 1936, German and Italy both sent troops to help the General in the Spanish Civil War. That October, Mussolini and Hitler made an agreement that recognized both their common political and economic interests. In November 1936, Germany and Japan signed the Anti-Comintern Pact, that promised a common fighting against communism. By 1937, Germany was considered a "world power." Hitler was convinced that neither France or Great Britain acted as much of an obstacle. He decided in 1938 that he was to pursue one of his goals: to unite with Austria, where he was born. He threatened to invade them and forced the Austrian chancellor to put Austrian Nazis in charge of the government. Lastly, on March 13,1938, Hitler annexed Austria to Germany.
The next objection of Hitler was the destruction of Czechoslovakia. On September 15, 1938, Germany was to be given Sudetenland, an area that was inhabited mainly by Germans in northwestern Czechoslovakia. From a hastily conference in Munich, Hitler's plans were not objected by British, French, German, and Italian representatives. Instead, they reached an agreement that met almost all of his demands. They allowed German troops to occupy Sudetenland. Neville Chamberlain, the British prime minister, returned to England and boasted that the agreement meant "peace for our time." Hitler had promised him that he would not make any more demands. Sadly, Chamberlain believed him.
In March 1939, Bohemia and Moravia, of western Czechoslovakia, were invaded and taken control of by Hitler. After this, the eastern part of the country became a puppet state that was controlled by Nazi Germany. On March 15, 1939, Hitler declared that he would be known as the greatest German of them all. This caused the Western states to react to Nazi threat. Great Britain saw the danger of the threat when Hitler began damaging Danzig. Britain offered to protect Poland if there was a war. Both France and Britain realized that the Soviet Union was powerful enough to keep the Nazi aggression contained. They began to make political and military negotiations with Joseph Stalin.
Soviet Union and Invasion of Poland
On August 23, 1939, the Soviet Union and Germany signed the Nazi-Soviet Non-aggression Pact. This promised that the two nations would not attack each other. Hitler offered Stalin control of the eastern side of Poland and Baltic states. The world was shocked to hear that the Non-aggression pact was signed. This gave Hitler the right to invade Poland. On September 1, German forces invaded western Poland. Britain and France declared war on Germany two days later.
Beginning of the Path
On September 18, 1931, Japanese soldiers were disguised as Chinese. They blew up a small section of the Manchurian Railway. By September 1932, the army had made Manchuria into a new separate state which they renamed Manchukuo. The puppet ruler was placed on the throne, Henry Pu Yi. The League Of Nations was forced to send in investigators after the worldwide protests against Japan's seizure of Manchuria. Japan withdrew from the League when the investigators issued a report condemning the seizure. When more and more countries joined into the condemning, citizens of Japan became more and more supportive of the army and its policies.
Expansion and War with China
Japan expanded over the next couple of years and controlled the eastern part of Mongolia and some areas of North China, around Beijing. Emperor. Hirohito and the government leaders could not control the army. It was actually the army who established Japan's foreign policy. Chiang Kai-shek was trying to avoid conflict with Japan. He believed that the greater threat was that of the Communists. He was the one to calm Japan by allowing it to govern areas of north China when war broke out between Japanese and Chinese troops. In December of 1936, Chiang ended his military efforts against the Communists and formed a new front against Japan. Chinese and Japanese forces clashed just south of Beijing and it spread around in July 1937. Japan had not originally been planning for a war against China, but the 1937 clash was turning into a major conflict. The Chinese capital of Nanjing was seized and destroying in December, killing 100,000 citizens and POW. Chiang refused to surrender and moved his government north, closer to Chongqing, after moving it to Hankyu.
New Asian Order and U.S. Interference
Military leaders had hopes of forcing Chiang to agree to join the New Order. With it, Japan would attempt to establish a new system to control Asia. Japan would be guiding its neighbors to prosperity. Part of the plan of Japan's was to seize Soviet Siberia, because of its rich resources. Around the late 1930s, Japan began cooperating with Nazi Germany and assumed the two countries were launch a joint attack on the Soviet Union. Because of Hitler and Stalin's Non-aggression act, Japan had to rethink its goals. They decided to instead look to South Asia.
In the summer of 1940, Japan demanded the right to exploit the resources in French Indochina. The United States objected and warned Japan that it would apply restrictions that intended to enforce international law, unless Japan withdrew from the area. Japan was caught in a dilemma. It needed the resources of Southeast Asia, but the conflict with the United States made that impossible. Instead, it decided to launch a surprise attack on the United States.