From Versailles to Pearl Harbor: The Origins of the Second World War in Europe and Asia

An Overview of World War II
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Led by Adolf Hitler , the rise of the Nazi party mirrored the ascent of Benito Mussolini's fascist government in Italy. Taking total control of the government in , Hitler remilitarized Germany, stressed racial purity, and sought "living space" for the German people.

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In , he annexed Austria and bullied Britain and France into allowing him to take the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia. The following year, Germany signed a non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union and invaded Poland on September 1, beginning the war. Following the invasion of Poland, a period of quiet settled over Europe. Known as the "Phoney War," it was punctuated by the German conquest of Denmark and the invasion of Norway. After defeating the Norwegians, the war moved back to the Continent.

Defeating the Allies in Belgium and Northern France, the Germans were able to isolate a large segment of the British Army, causing it to evacuate from Dunkirk.

By the end of June, the Germans forced the French to surrender. Standing alone, Britain successfully fended off air attacks that August and September, winning the Battle of Britain and eliminating any chance of German landings.

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Through the summer and early fall, German troops scored victory after victory, driving deep into Soviet territory. Only determined Soviet resistance and the onset of winter prevented the Germans from taking Moscow.

Totalitarianism in Europe

Over the next year, both sides battled back and forth, with the Germans pushing into the Caucasus and attempting to take Stalingrad. Following a long, bloody battle, the Soviets were victorious and began to push the Germans back all along the front. With the fall of France in , the fighting shifted to the Mediterranean.

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Initially, combat largely occurred at sea and in North Africa between British and Italian forces. Following their ally's lack of progress, German troops entered the theater in early Through and , British and Axis forces battled in the sands of Libya and Egypt.

From Versailles to Pearl Harbor: The Origins of the Second World War in Europe and Asia

Moving north, Allied forces captured Sicily in August , leading to the fall of Mussolini's regime. The next month, the Allies landed in Italy and began pushing up the peninsula. Battling through numerous defensive lines, they succeeded in conquering much of the country by the war's end. After consolidating the beachhead, the Allies broke out, routing the German defenders and sweeping across France.

In an attempt to end the war before Christmas, Allied leaders launched Operation Market-Garden , an ambitious plan designed to capture bridges in Holland. While some success was achieved, the plan ultimately failed.

go to site In a final attempt to stop the Allied advance, the Germans launched a massive offensive in December , beginning the Battle of the Bulge. After defeating the German thrust, the Allies pressed into Germany forcing its surrender on May 7, As the military exerted ever control over the government, Japan began a program of expansionism, first occupying Manchuria , and then invading China Japan prosecuted a brutal war against the Chinese, earning condemnation from the United States and the European powers.

In an effort to stop the fighting, the US and Britain imposed iron and oil embargoes against Japan. Needing these materials to continue the war, Japan sought to acquire them through conquest. To eliminate the threat posed by the United States, Japan launched a surprise attack against US fleet at Pearl Harbor on December 7, , as well as against British colonies in the region. Nevertheless, the American experience in that war served to bolster the arguments of isolationists; they argued that marginal U.

Nye, a Republican from North Dakota, fed this belief by claiming that American bankers and arms manufacturers had pushed for U. The publication of the book Merchants of Death by H. Engelbrecht and F. Butler both served to increase popular suspicions of wartime profiteering and influence public opinion in the direction of neutrality.

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Many Americans became determined not to be tricked by banks and industries into making such great sacrifices again. The reality of a worldwide economic depression and the need for increased attention to domestic problems only served to bolster the idea that the United States should isolate itself from troubling events in Europe. During the interwar period, the U. Government repeatedly chose non-entanglement over participation or intervention as the appropriate response to international questions.

Some members of Congress opposed membership in the League out of concern that it would draw the United States into European conflicts, although ultimately the collective security clause sank the possibility of U. During the s, the League proved ineffectual in the face of growing militarism, partly due to the U.

The Japanese invasion of Manchuria and subsequent push to gain control over larger expanses of Northeast China in led President Herbert Hoover and his Secretary of State, Henry Stimson , to establish the Stimson Doctrine , which stated that the United States would not recognize the territory gained by aggression and in violation of international agreements. With the Stimson Doctrine, the United States expressed concern over the aggressive action without committing itself to any direct involvement or intervention.

Other conflicts, including the Italian invasion of Ethiopia and the Spanish Civil War, also resulted in virtually no official commitment or action from the United States Government. Upon taking office, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt tended to see a necessity for the United States to participate more actively in international affairs, but his ability to apply his personal outlook to foreign policy was limited by the strength of isolationist sentiment in the U.

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Margaret Lamb (Author), Nicholas Tarling (Contributor) The Sources of Military Doctrine: France, Britain, and Germany Between. Lamb and Tarling's global approach throws valuable new light on the origins of the Second World War. Editorial Reviews. Review. " a good and useful survey, one that might readily be assigned by From Versailles to Pearl Harbor: The Origins of the Second World War in Europe and Asia - Kindle edition by Margaret Lamb, Nicholas Tarling.

In , President Roosevelt proposed a Congressional measure that would have granted him the right to consult with other nations to place pressure on aggressors in international conflicts. The bill ran into strong opposition from the leading isolationists in Congress, including progressive politicians such as Senators Hiram Johnson of California, William Borah of Idaho, and Robert La Follette of Wisconsin.

In , controversy over U.