World War II broke out when Nazi Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939. A once preventable war had become inevitable — and would soon become global — due to three fatal decisions.
Most infamously, the Western European democracies had appeased Hitler during the late 1930s in hopes that he would quit gobbling up his neighbors. Unfortunately, the Nazis considered Western appeasement as weakness to be manipulated rather than magnanimity to be reciprocated.
After the bloodless annexation of Austria and the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia, Hitler assumed that Britain and France would not go to war at all if he went into Poland. Or, if they did, that they would not fight very seriously.
Yet Western appeasement did not alone guarantee the outbreak of World War II.
The Germans invaded Poland only after a guarantee from Josef Stalin that the Soviet Union would soon join in attacking the Poles from the east. The two dictatorships could then divvy up the country.
Stalin’s Communist Russia had foolishly gambled that by making a deal with Nazi Germany, Hitler would leave the Soviets alone. At first, Stalin hoped that Germany would turn its war machine loose only on the Western European democracies.
Yet Stalin’s collaboration with Hitler eventually guaranteed that Russia also would be double-crossed — less than two years after signing an agreement with the Third Reich, Germany surprise-attacked the Soviet Union, on June 22, 1941. Due to Stalin’s collaboration, almost 30 million Russians would die on the Eastern Front over the next four years.
But it was more than Western appeasement of Hitler and Soviet collaboration that made World War II inevitable. Nazi Germany still remained relatively weak in 1939. The populations, economies, and territories of its likely enemies were collectively far greater than those of the Third Reich and its allies.
A third, fatal decision was necessary to ensure a war. The United States had entered World War I late in April 1917, and it revived the sagging Allied effort, helping to crush the Germany army and win the war by November 1918.
But by 1919, America had rapidly disarmed and forgotten its key role in World War I. Americans had tired of the Europeans. They were sick of the endless horse-trading that had led to the postwar Versailles Treaty.
By the start of the Great Depression in 1929, America was mostly unarmed and determined never to get involved in European feuding again. Most Americans complained that the huge death toll of World War I had led to neither perpetual peace nor even a peaceful Germany.
America’s isolationism and disarmament also helped prompt another global war. Had the U.S. kept its military strong after World War I, and had it entered into a formal alliance with its former World War I partners, Germany never would have risked a second war against the combined strength of a fully armed Britain, France, and United States.
Instead, Hitler assumed the U.S. either could not or would not offer much military help to his intended European targets.
Why, then, did a relatively weak Nazi Germany between 1939 and 1941 believe that it could take on much of the world, and inspire Axis partners such as Italy and Japan to follow its suicidal lead?
The answer is obvious. British and French appeasement, Soviet collaboration, and American isolation had together convinced Hitler and his Axis allies that the victors of World War I were more eager to grant concessions at any cost than were the defeated.
The world of 2016 is eerily beginning to resemble the powder keg of 1939 Europe.
Wish I could find a transcript rather than a news report of this, but it is in almost every Donald Trump speech:
VDH is one of the few NRO writers I even bother with anymore, and that’s usually only because of his expertise about the falling apart of California.
This was a good comparison between pre-WWII and now.
Historians are going to have a field day with the times we are in.
And, they will have to compete with the Lefty fictionists who are rewriting history as fast as humanly possible.
Putin’s adventure in Ukraine is an exact duplicate of how Hitler took over Czechoslovakia and no doubt he took some lessons from the reactions of the West.
Just as before, we will eventually be pushed far enough to ignite another war. Just as before, we WILL win. Then, just as before, standing on the rubble and a few hundred million corpses, we can say, “Yay. We won.” Wouldn’t it be much better to prevent any petty despot from even imagining they could win a war and avoid it altogether?
In the 30s conservatives liked Hitler. None would listen to FDR
People like Henry Ford arch conservative and Jew hater were happy to accept medals from the Nazis. And banks were happy to finance Hitler, Prescott Bush made the original family fortune representing Nazi companies. He was almost indicted for it when after Pearl he continued to represent those companies in their South American dealingshttp://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2003/oct/17/20031017-110534-8149r/