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Annotated WWII Timeline

By LHeller
  • Mein Kampf

    Mein Kampf
    Adolf Hitler wrote Mein Kampf (My Struggle) while in prison for the Beer Hall Putsch. In Mein Kampf, Hitler outlines his methods for world domination, including ignoring the Versailles Peace Treaty, building up the German army, and killing the Jewish race. This soon became his basic guide after becoming the German Chancellor. It was very contributory to World War II because it shows the first traces of Hitler's plan for the future of Germany long before he was able to put it in action.
  • Stock Market Crash

    Stock Market Crash
    The Stock Market Crash triggered the Great Depression around the world. As a result, Germany, one of the worst affected, suffered a huge unemployment rate and poverty. These dire circumstances caused people to be attracted to radical political parties, such as the Nazis, giving Hitler his opening to overthrow the Weimar Republic. Without the consequences of the Stock Market Crash, Hitler would never have gotten the fanatic mass support that he utilized building up to and during World War II.
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    The Great Depression

    As stated before, when the world was thrown into the Great Depression, Germany was heavily affected so people were more accepting of militaristic politics instead of democracy. This led to Hitler's rise to power and the people's support allowed him to implement strategies for the Aryan race's ascension, which ultimately caused World War II.
  • Japanese invasion of Manchuria

    Japanese invasion of Manchuria
    Japanese officers blew up a train in the Chinese province Manchuria (popular with Japanese businesses) as a plot that would give Japan an excuse for the army to invade the territory and continue its expansion west. This territorial greed caused Japan to ally with the Axis powers and attack the US, causing the war in the Pacific and contributing to the Axis World War II efforts.
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    Japanese Expansion

    This began with the invasion of Manchuria. They then pushed west through China and eventually annexed the Philippines, Guam, and most of south and east Asia as the fighting raged on in Europe. This was finally halted once the US entered the war and defeated them in the Battles of Midway and the Coral Sea. Japan might not have allied with the Axis powers if they had not wanted control of Asia because of their "racial superiority," which linked them to the idealogies of Hitler and Mussolini.
  • Hitler comes to power

    Hitler comes to power
    Hitler came to power as leader of the Nazis, growing in popularity with the unemployed because of his racist messages scapegoating the Jews and glorifying the Aryans. Hitler's ascent allowed him to legally overthrow the Weimar Republic and become dictator of Germany, making it easy to implement his strategies for expanding and "purifying" Germany. If Hitler had not been able to get power, his decisions that defied various past European agreements and caused WWII would never have been enacted.
  • Enabling Act

    The Enabling Act was legislation that suspended constitutional government for four years in order to meet the crisis in the German economy. This law allowed Hitler to make totalitarian decisions that the people/government would not have allowed. Hitler could remilitarize the Rhine, invade other countries, create the Gestapo and SS, and even start the Holocaust without having to answer to anyone. Without the Enabling Act, Hitler would not have been able to accomplish a fraction of what he did.
  • Nuremberg Laws

    The Nuremberg Laws were legislation enacted by the Nazis that deprived Jewish Germans of their citizenship and imposed many other hardships on them. These laws exploited the racism of the Germans because they were heavily supported. One result was Crystallnacht, which paved the way for the horrors of the Holocaust, an integral part of World War II. "Racial purity" is core to Nazism, and these show Hitler's early attempt to wipe out the "inferior" races.
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    The Ethiopian War

    Mussolini invaded Ethiopia to showcase Italy's military strength as well as gain another territory that would add to the re-creation of the ancient Roman Empire. This reinforced the idea of "racial inferiority," a cornerstone of the Axis Powers. Italy's hold was left unchecked due to a lack of commitment from Europe, ultimately causing Africa to be yet another front in WWII. In 1936 the "Rome-Berlin Axis" was created, forming the basis of the Axis Powers that were the aggressors of WWII.
  • Remilitarization of the Rhineland

    Remilitarization of the Rhineland
    Due to the distraction caused by the Ethiopian War, Hitler was able to remilitarize the Rhineland, forcing the major powers to concede. This explicitly went against the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, which called for the Rhineland (bordering France) to be permanently demilitarized. These weak concessions allowed Hitler to prepare for WWII because he could have thousands of troops bordering the country that he wished to destroy, a goal in Mein Kampf.
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    Spanish Civil War

    Francisco Franco led a military coup to overthrow the Spanish republican government and become a fascist dictator. He soon had the help of Hitler and Mussolini, who used Spanish civilian towns to test new weaponry and terror tactics. By 1939 Franco gained complete control and had slaughtered thousands. The republican side had little support from the rest of Europe. This is one of several examples of neglect that allowed Hitler to continue unchecked until war was inevitable.
  • "Rape of Nanjing"

    "Rape of Nanjing"
    Japanese troops slaughtered hundreds of thousand of Chinese and raped women and girls, causing the event to be coined the "Rape of Nanjing." Japan felt its actions were justified by stating that it was an attempt to liberate China from the evils of western Europe, a part of Japan's plan for Hirohito to become the pan-Asian emperor. This is part of the Japanese Expansion and shows that the Japanese wanted to gain territory, causing them to join the Axis powers in pursuit of world domination.
  • Anschluss

    "Anschluss" refers to the German annexation of Austria in order to reinstate Austrian prestige and unite the Aryan race into one nation. Hitler was welcomed with open arms because of the similar culture and his pump-priming methods. In turn, Hitler was given more people, land, and necessary resources for WWII, without being stopped by the rest of Europe, leading to further German aggression.
  • Munich Conference

    Munich Conference
    Britain, France, Germany, and Italy came together in the Munich Conference in which Chamberlain used appeasement to "satisfy" Hitler's want for the Czech Sudetenland. Chamberlain felt that he brought "peace in our time" but in reality he just gave Hitler more time to strengthen his army and basically allowed German aggression. Confrontation was necessary, and this occurred much later with more consequences in resources and human lives.
  • Appeasement

    Appeasement is the strategy of preventing a war by making concessions for legitimate grievances. In this case, England and France used the tactic of appeasement by not opposing Hitler's claim to the Czech Sudetenland, since so many Germans lived there. Chamberlain felt that this would bring peace, appeasement just allowed Hitler more time for military preparation and justified his claims to more territory. For Churchill, it was too little, too late and WWII was the last option to stop Hitler.