Road to War
The road to war was paved with political extremism, anti-Semitism and territorial adventurism. All attempts to appease Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany proved utterly futile. Finally, the invasion of Poland by Germany and Soviet Russia in September 1939 condemned the world to years of privation and bitter conflict.
Twice during the first half of the 20th century the world was engulfed in flames. The defeat of Germany during the Great War tragically sets the fuse for the Second World War.
In a period of economic chaos and political extremism, the German government of the day hands power to the National Socialists or Nazi party. The Nazi leader, Adolf Hitler, promises to restore Germany to its former glory, and build an empire that will last a thousand years. This new German State or Reich will be built upon a foundation of racial and political discrimination, mass murder, and, finally, an aggressive war of conquest. Although denied the capacity to wage war by the Treaty of Versailles following World War One, secretly, Germany rearms.
German troops reoccupy the Rhineland. Two years later the German army is welcomed into Austria. Next, Czechoslovakia falls under German control: a victim of the Anglo-French policy of ‘Appeasement’. But Hitler will not to be appeased. When Germany launches a surprise attack on Poland in September 1939, Europe is once again plunged into war.
German troops take Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg. By June, British and French forces are trapped on the beaches of Dunkirk, and a German invasion of Britain seems inevitable. But the invasion never comes. Britain’s Royal Air Force (RAF) defeats the German Luftwaffe in the skies over Southern England during the Battle of Britain. Britain stands alone. A year later British and Commonwealth forces are humiliated when German airborne troops attack and capture Crete in the Mediterranean. It is a stunning, remarkable and costly victory for the Germans.
Hitler’s eyes then turned eastward. Ignoring his earlier pact with Soviet leader Josef Stalin, Hitler launches Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the USSR, in June 1941. It is now the turn of a disorganised and poorly led Red Army to face the panzers and Stuka dive-bombers of Blitzkrieg – the lightning war.
As the global crisis deepens, an isolationist America has no other option than to prepare for the worst while still hoping for the best. Cast in the role of “the arsenal of democracy”, the United States Lend-Leases guns, tanks, planes, ships, trucks, fuel, ammunition and even food to the beleaguered European powers. America is willing to do almost anything to stave off outright war.