WWII – Allies, Axis Powers
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In World War II, the Axis countries wanted to expand their territories, which brought them into conflict with the Allies. The Axis countries were Germany, Italy and Japan, and the Allies were the United States, Great Britain, China, and the Soviet Union. All of the Axis powers followed a policy of aggressive territorial expansion in the 1930’s. They invaded weak lands that could be taken over easily. They knew exactly what they wanted, and they took it.
Benito Mussolini promised to bring order and prosperity to Italy and became dictator in 1922. Then Joseph Stalin became the dictator of the Soviet Union in 1929. He was competing against other leading Communists and he eliminated all of them one by one. Adolf Hitler became the dictator in Germany in 1933. Germany had to give up territory and resources, and pay large reparations because of the Treaty of Versaille. Hitler vowed to ignore this treaty and avenge Germany’s defeat in World War I. Hitler also said that German’s were a “superior race” and that such peoples as Jews and Slavs were inferior. He began campaigns of hatred against Jews and Communists and promised to eliminate them from the country. Later, General Hideki Tojo became the premier of Japan in 1941.
Japan was the first to conquer land. It wanted all of eastern Asia under Japanese control. The U.S. still refused to be involved in European disputes. Great Britain and France were unwilling to risk another war so soon after World War I, but they knew they would have to eventually.
Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain of Great Britain tried to restore the calm and wanted to preserve peace at all cost. He believed that meeting Hitler’s demands could prevent war. Sudetenland was given to Germany because Hitler promised he would have no more territorial demands. French Premier Edouard Daladier and Chamberlain hoped this would satisfy Hitler and prevent war. In 1939, Hitler broke the Munich agreement and seized the rest of Czechoslovakia.
By 1941, this had become a global conflict, and the fighting had spread throughout Europe, Asia, and Africa. In December of 1941, the U.S. enters the war. Mussolini becomes tired of playing Hitler’s junior partner and badly wanted a victory to boost his standing, so he began invading some areas. Hitler only signed that non-aggression pact with the Soviets to keep them out of the war while they overran Western Europe. The Soviets surrender under a new rule and become part of the Allies. The Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor; the U.S. decided it was more important to fight the Germans rather than the Japanese because Germany was a bigger threat. After several defeats, Hitler committed suicide, claiming that the Germans were not worthy of his rule. After this, the Germans surrendered and the U.S. began to focus on the Japanese. They started bombing Japanese cities, and were working on the Manhattan Project, which was the development of the atomic bomb. Once this was made, they bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan, which ended World War II.
The Axis Powers all wanted to gain control of more land, and did so by invading countries that were weaker than they were. They had an unfair advantage, which is why the Allies decided to help these countries. World War II began because of territorial expansion.