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IB History II-Notes

WW II-Axis Aggression/Causes
November 6, 2007
Imperial Japan was controlled by its military, fascist Italy was led by dictator Benito
Mussolini, and Nazi Germany was led by Adolf Hitler. These nationsJapan, Italy, and
Germany
1. engaged in one act of aggression after another, thereby violating, without any
effective opposition, the major international peace agreements: the Treaty of
Versailles, the Covenant of the League of Nations, the Nine-Power Treaty, and the
Kellog-Briand Pact
2. withdrew from membership in the League and
3. joined together to form a military alliance, the Rome-Berlin-Tokyo Axis
1.

2.
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6.

Line of Axis Aggression:


Manchuria In 1931-32 Japan invaded and conquered Chinas northern
province of Manchuria. Japan flouted the mild efforts put forth by the League of
Nations to halt her aggression. Some historians maintain that the Manchurian
invasion marked the beginning of WW II (revealing the weaknesses of the
League)
Ethiopia-- In 1935 Italy invaded the African nation of Ethiopia. The League of
Nations branded Italy an aggressor and voted minor economic sanctions be
imposed against Italy. Mussolini conquered and annexed Ethiopia.
German Remilitarization-- Nazi Germany violated the Treaty of Versailles in
1935 by reintroducing conscription and in 1936 by remilitarizing the Rhineland.
Hitler encountered no serious Allied opposition although Germanys military
strength was then still slight.
Spain In 1936 General Francisco Franco began a revolt against the legally elected
Left-of-center government of Spain. While the Loyalists, who supported the
elected government, received limited aid from Russia, Franco received extensive
support of troops and military equipment from Italy and Germany. After three
years of civil war, Franco won complete control and established a military
dictatorship friendly to Germany and Italy. The Spanish Civil War served Nazi
Germany as a testing ground for new weapons and military tactics.
China-- In 1937 Japanese forces from Manchuria invaded China proper. The
Japanese overran Chinas coastal areas but failed to penetrate far into the interior.
The Chinese continued their resistance, receiving limited aid from Britain and the
United States.
Austria-- In 1938 Hitler invaded and annexed Austria on the grounds that all
German-speaking people belonged within one German nation. Anschluss (union)
of Germany and Austria violated the World War I peace treaties. Furthermore,
Anschluss was never approved by the Austrian people in an honest plebiscite.

7. Czechoslovakia
a. Hitler demands the Sudetenland Later in 1938 Hitler claimed the
Sudetenland, a region in Czechoslovakia bordering on Germany and
inhabited by German-speaking people. Although the Sudeten people had
not been oppressed,, Nazi propagandists manufactured stories of Czech
atrocities. The Czech govt. refused to yield. It counted on its alliances
with Russia & France, and expected British support. However, Britain
and France decided not to risk war but to appease Hitler.
b. Munich Conference British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and
French Premier Edouard Daladier, meeting at Munich with Mussolini and
Hitler, agreed to let Hitler annex the Sudetenland. Deserted by her allies
Czechoslovakia yielded. Chamberlain returned to England and proclaimed that he had preserved peace in our time. Hitler promised that
that he would demand no more territory.
c. Hitler Seizes the Rest of Czechoslovakia Six months later, however,
Hitler seizes the Slavic-inhabited remainder of Czechoslovakia. In
England, the Chamberlain government at last realized that Hitler could not
be trusted to keep his promises. Britain and France joined in a military
alliance and guaranteed protection to Germanys next probable victim,
Poland.
8. Albania In 1939 Mussolini invaded and annexed this Balkan country, giving
Italy control of the Adriatic Sea.
9. Poland
a. Hitlers Demands. In 1939 Hitler demanded the return of Danzig and the
the Polish Corridor on the ground that they were inhabited by Germanspeaking people.
b. Russo-German Non-Aggression Pact (aka Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact)
Before Poland responded, Nazi Germany and Soci
Germany and Socialist Russia announced a 10 year Non-Aggression Pact.
The world was surprised because Hitler had always preached hatred of
Communism, and Joseph Stalin had always condemned fascism. The Pact
enabled Russia to avoid involvement in a major war, and by its secret
clauses, gave Stalin a free hand over eastern Poland and the Baltic states
of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
The Pact protected Germany against a two-front war and promised Hitler
foodstuffs and war supplies from Russia.
c. Start of World War II On September 1, 1939, German troops invaded
Poland. Two days later, Britain and France honored their guarantee to
Poland and declared war on Germany. World War II officially started.