First global war, the “Great War” pitted the Central Powers of Germany, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire against the Allied forces of Great Britain, the United States, France, Russia, Italy and Japan. The introduction of modern technology to warfare and more than 9 million soldiers killed by the end in November 1918.
Victory for Allied Powers.
The Treaty of Versailles was the peace settlement signed after World War One. The treaty was signed at the vast Versailles Palace near Paris – hence its title – between Germany and the Allies. The three most important politicians there were David Lloyd George, Georges Clemenceau and Woodrow Wilson.
Mussolini formed the Fascist Party in March 1919, gaining support of many unemployed war veterans whom he organised into armed squads known as Black Shirts. In 1921, the Fascist Party was invited to join the coalition government. By October 1922, Italy seemed to be slipping into political chaos. The Black Shirts marched on Rome and Mussolini presented himself as the only man capable of restoring order. King Victor Emmanuel invited Mussolini to form a government. Mussolini gradually dismantled democratic government and in 1925 made himself dictator. The regime was held together by strong state control and Mussolini's cult of personality.
After Lenin's death, the contest was between Stalin and Trotsky. Stalin used his position as secretary to gain supporters. Stalin became party leader in 1924. Trotsky was dismissed, then exiled and murdered in 1940. In 1927, he removed the left-wing Communists old Bolsheviks such as Kamenev and Zinoviev who had opposed the NEP - from the Politburo. Two years later, he claimed that the NEP was uncommunist, and got right-wing Communists such as Rykov and Tomsky thrown out of the Politburo.
When the Wall Street stock market crashed in October 1929, the world economy was plunged into the Great Depression. By winter of 1932, America was in the depths of the greatest economic depression in its history. The number of unemployed people reached upwards of 13 million.
In 1929, the American Stock Exchange collapsed, America called in all its foreign loans, which destroyed Weimar Germany. Unemployment in Germany rose to 6 million. In July 1930 Chancellor Brüning cut government expenditure, wages and unemployment pay - the worst thing to do during a depression. He could not get the Reichstag to agree to his actions, so President Hindenburg used Article 48 to pass the measures by decree. Anger and bitterness helped the Nazis to gain more support. Many workers turned to communism, but this frightened wealthy businessmen, so they financed Hitler's campaigns. 1928, the Nazis had only 12 seats in the Reichstag; by July 1932 they had 230 seats and were the largest party. In January 1933, Hitler became chancellor, and immediately set about making himself absolute ruler of Germany using Article 48.
The Italians had claimed Ethiopia as their territory. With economic conditions worsening at home, Mussolini needed to take actions that would distract the Italians people. In 1936, the Italians fought against poorly-armed Ethiopian troops in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia's capital). The League of Nations censured Italy, but that comprised the extent of world reaction.
The Rhineland was a key industrial region of Germany, producing coal, steel and iro, also formed a natural barrier to its neighbour and rival, France. In the event of a war, the River Rhine, if properly defended, would be a difficult to invade.
One of the terms of the Treaty of Versailles was that the Germans would not be able to keep military forces in a 50km stretch of the Rhineland. When Hitler did occupy tis area, neither France or England reacted.
In 1937 between Japanese and Chinese troops on the frontier led to what became known as the Marco Polo Bridge Incident. This fighting sparked a full-blown conflict, the Second Sino-Japanese War. The CCP now agreed to fight side by side against Japan. China received aid from western democracies, where public opinion was strongly anti-Japanese. The Japanese quickly captured key Chinese ports and industrial centres, including cities such as the Chinese capital Nanking and Shanghai, brutal conflict continued, both sides used ‘scorched earth’ tactics. Many thousands of Chinese were killed in the indiscriminate bombing of cities by the Japanese air force. Warfare of this nature led, by the war’s end, to an estimated 10 to 20 million Chinese civilians deaths.
Hitler wanted all German-speaking nations in Europe to be a part of Germany, including Austria. This went against the Treaty of Versailles. Germany added seven million people and an army of 100,000 to its Reich. Germany gained useful resources such as steel, iron ore and Austria's foreign exchange reserves.
The balance of power in south-eastern Europe shifted in favour of Germany, increasing their influence in the Balkans. Czechoslovakia was now surrounded on three fronts by Germany.
The Munich Agreement was a settlement permitting Nazi Germany's annexation of portions of Czechoslovakia along the country's borders mainly inhabited by German speakers, for which a new territorial designation "Sudetenland" was coined.
At 4.45 am on 1 September 1939 the German battleship Schleswig-Holstein opened fire on the Polish garrison of the Westerplatte Fort, Danzig (modern-day Gdansk), in what was to become the first military engagement of World War Two. Simultaneously, 62 German divisions supported by 1,300 aircraft commenced the invasion of Poland. The decision of Adolf Hitler to invade Poland was a gamble. The Wehrmacht (the German Army) was not yet at full strength and the German economy was still locked into peacetime production. As such, the invasion alarmed Hitler's generals and raised opposition to his command - and leaks of his war plans to Britain and France.
Under the codename Operation "Barbarossa," Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, in the largest German military operation of World War II.
The attack on Pearl Harbor, also known as the Battle of Pearl Harbor, was a surprise military strike by the Imperial Japanese Navy against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor,on the morning of December 7, 1941. The attack led to the United States' entry into World War II. The attack commenced at 7:48 a.m. Hawaiian Time. The base was attacked by 353 Imperial Japanese fighter planes, bombers, and torpedo planes in two waves, launched from six aircraft carriers. All eight U.S. Navy battleships were damaged, with four sunk. The Japanese also sank or damaged three cruisers, three destroyers, an anti-aircraft training ship. 188 U.S. aircraft were destroyed; 2,403 Americans were killed and 1,178 others were wounded. Japanese losses were light: 29 aircraft and five midget submarines lost, and 64 servicemen killed.
At daybreak, 18,000 British and American parachutists were already on the ground. Many wounded Americans ultimately drowned in the high tide. British divisions, which landed at Gold, Juno, and Sword beaches, and Canadian troops also met with heavy German fire, but by the end of the day they were able to push inland. The United States and Britain each lost about 1,000 men, and Canada 355. Before the day was over, 155,000 Allied troops would be in Normandy. However, the United States managed to get only half of the 14,000 vehicles and a quarter of the 14,500 tons of supplies they intended on shore.
On January 1, 1942, representatives of 26 nations at war with the Axis powers met in Washington to sign the Declaration of the United Nations endorsing the Atlantic Charter, pledging to use their full resources against the Axis and agreeing not to make a separate peace.
On August 6, 1945, during World War II (1939-45), an American B-29 bomber dropped the world’s first deployed atomic bomb over the Japanese city of Hiroshima. The explosion wiped out 90 percent of the city and immediately killed 80,000 people; tens of thousands more would later die of radiation exposure. Three days later, a second B-29 dropped another A-bomb on Nagasaki, killing an estimated 40,000 people. Japan’s Emperor Hirohito announced his country’s unconditional surrender in World War II in a radio address on August 15, citing the devastating power of “a new and most cruel bomb.”