The era of economic depression and anxiety was also the time for flourishing intensity of political dictatorship. Civil liberties and democratically elected governments declined rapidly in Europe and some parts of Asia. On the eve of the Second World War, democratically elected governments were only surviving in France, Great Britain, Switzerland, the Scandinavian countries and the Low Countries. Elsewhere in Europe and Asia, various kinds of dictators ruled. Brutality and dictatorship seemed to be the wave of the time. Thus the intellectual crisis and the fall of liberal political institutions characterized the general civilization in Europe. This composition examines the various conquests and battles that dominated the various parts of Europe and East Asia and effects these developments.
The events of the 1930s provide a disturbing section in the account western civilization. The main development was not only the rise in distinct dynamic and ruthless tyranny but also the revitalization of authoritarian reign. This new form of authoritarian rule reached its full realization in the Nazi Germany, Japan and the Soviet Union. Hitler and Stalin ruled with unprecedented severity and mobilized their troops for enormous atrocities. Hitler’s undertakings were directed towards territorial expansion and racial aggression, and his attack on Poland started the world war two in 1939.
Although outstanding opportunity for social progression and steady economic recovery won the Nazi support, they were merely the byproducts of the brutal Nazi regime. The unique and basic concepts of the Nazi regime remained race and space- the superiority of the German race and territorial expansion.
FRENCH AND BRITISH APPEASEMENT
The British government under Neville Chamberlain anticipated the Nazi regimes intention of invading its neighbors. For this, the British and the French governments signed an appeasement agreement with Hitler to avoid future wars. The concept of Appeasement came about from the Treaty of Versailles in 1919.The British appeasement, which lasted into 1939, was practically a dictation of the French policy. This appeasement was motivated by the pacifism of the British population still tormented by the memories of the First World War and the feeling of guilt among the Britons towards Germany. British conservatives looked down upon Hitler and underestimated his capabilities. To them the real threat was the Soviet Union and not the Nazi.
The British favored appeasement for various reasons. For one, Britain was still recovering from the diverse effects of the first war. Due to the economic problems brought about by the great depression, Britain was focusing on improving the economy rather than engaging war. Secondly, because of the weak economy, Britain had a weak military with an insufficient navy and almost no air force.
In light of these problems, Neville Chamberlain, the then British Prime minister, believed that by convincing Hitler to sign an appeasement document will prevent Hitler from engaging in war with Britain. Although he had no intention of disengaging from war, his main aim was to get enough time to step up his army. Throughout this time, while France and Britain opted for appeasement; the Soviet Union remained silent watching all the developments.
Quite obviously, Hitler did not keep the promise of appeasement. In 1939, although Britain and France issued ultimatums, the Nazi invaded Poland. This act forced Britain and France to declare war on Germany. These developments led to the Second World War.
It is ironical that while Britain and France declared war on Germany to protect the Polish sovereignty, they did nothing inform of practical assistance to Poland. Instead of helping Poland, they attacked Germany with the aim of toppling the Nazi government. Viewed critically, the declaration of war by Britain and France on Germany was an empty gesture.
NAZI-SOVIET UNION PACT
By 1938, Germany was preparing for was. Adolf Hitler was hopping to capture Poland without resistance, having taken over Austria in 1938. However, he did not want a split army as was the case in the First World War when the German army split into two. Hitler was ascertained not to repeat the faults.
In an effort not to fail in future wars, Germany signed an economic agreement with the Soviet Union. In the pact, the Soviet Union was to provide Germany with raw materials and food products in exchange for machineries from Germany. This pact proved essential for Germany during the Second World War. For example, the economic agreement helped Germany to bypass British blockades. Four days after the signing of the economic agreement, the two countries signed another agreement (the German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact). The agreement stated that the two countries would not attack each other during the war.
The Nazi-Soviet Union pact was greatly beneficial for Germany in the Second World War (Richard et al., 221). While the Nazi attacked Poland, the Soviet Union did not intervene. Also, because of the pact, the Soviet Union did not enter into any fight with Germany; consequently Germany was able to avoid two-front wars as was the case in the First World War. The terms and the protocols of this pack were kept by the Soviet Union and the Nazi until Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941.
As independent organizations get under control and Germany regain its economic strength, Hitler collaborated with other like-minded dictators and began expanding the territory of Germany. These expansions were facilitated partly by the military strength of the Nazi army and partly by divided, uncertain, pacific regimes, which tried to buy off the Nazi and avoid war.
However, despite many regimes buying off Hitler, war inevitably broke out; both in the east and in the west, for the ambitions of Hitler were unlimited. On both the east and west war fronts, Nazi solders fought successfully, creating a vast empire of destruction and death (Richard et al., 291). The expansion of the Nazi empire together with the deaths and destructions continued until October 1942.
The reckless aggression by the Nazi regime lead to the creation of powerful coalitions determined to bring to an end the Nazi order. Led by the United States, the Soviet Union and Britain, the grand forces functioned efficiently in bringing down the Nazi regime. By 1943, the tide had completely turned against the Nazi and two years later, Germany was utterly defeated. Thus Hitler and the Nazi empire were short-lived.
Italy was not left behind. In 1922, Mussolini seized power in Italy. Like other European dictators, Mussolini hated and wanted to destroy liberalism in Italy. Like the Soviet Union’s Stalin, Mussolini begun as socialist but successfully sough the support of revolutionists and turned against the working class. Mussolini’s rule was theatrical and brutal, but was not as successful as other European dictators of his time (Richard et al., 307).
The dictatorship characteristic of Mussolini came into light when he rejected parliamentary government. When the opposition pressured him for reforms, Mussolini declared his desire to make Italy a fascist nation; he abolished the freedom of press, and his government ruled by decree. However, unlike the communists in the Soviet Union or the Nazi Germany, Mussolini did not succeed to establish a totalitarian state. His fascist party was not able to destroy the previous power structures like the Nazi did. Besides the Mussolini regime was not racial and did not prosecute Jews until when Italy became under Nazi control late in the Second World War.
JAPANESE AGGRESSION AND CHINESE RESPONSE
Meanwhile in East Asia, war was boiling between Japan and China. Between 1931 and 1937, the politics of Japan was overtaken by the military. Many incidences involving the military occurred, each undermining the development of democratic government. Many coups and assassinations were conducted. The Japanese invasion of China was one of the major events that marked Japan’s involvement in the wars. It was also a great step by Japan in becoming an economic giant competing with countries such as Germany, Britain and the United States.
Prior to the invasion, Japan had a long history of involvement in Chinese affairs. Towards the end of the 1800’s Japan and China were constantly at war for land (Iwanami, 22). Japan remained successful in the world as the only country from Asia to be economically equivalent to European countries. Japan was particularly more successful after the First World War but the great depression following the War caused Japan to suffer big economic problems. To maintain it economic stability, Japan felt that the only way was to conquer new lands to provide them with natural resources. On top of their priority were the Chinese province of Manchuria and the surrounding areas extending along the Pacific Ocean. Although not considered to be a major contributing factor, the destruction of the Japanese railway by Chinese solders in 1913 is also contributed to the invasion. When China-Japan war became eminent, political parties in Japan were emasculated and then disbanded, Japanese politics became a military affair and the whole country was mobilized to accomplish the war.
Upon invasion of China, the Japanese set up a false government in Manchuria. In so doing, the Japanese were able to exploit the natural resources of Manchuria and increase trade during the harsh economic times. The invasion of Manchuria was followed by the Rape of Ranking in 1938, which further weakened the Chinese government and the divided Chinese people. During these invasions, the Japanese army murdered and tortured many innocent Chinese. Popularly known as the Forgotten Holocaust, this is the main cause of animosity between china and Japan.
During the war, all domestic raw materials were mobilized to develop ships and war planes. Towards the end of the war, the only priority of the Japanese government was the production of airplanes. Other light industries such as the textile factories were almost eliminated. With time, Japan realized that the natural resources coming from the “yen Bloc” (Manchuria, Taiwan, Korea and other parts of captured china) was not sufficient (Iwanami, 66). In order to secure more resources, Japan invaded south East Asia, beginning with French Indochina (Vietnam). This act angered the United States, which imposed asset freeze and oil embargo on Japan. Consequently, Japan began to prepare for war with the United States. Encouraged by the Nazi in Europe, the Japanese initiate the war against the US by bombing the Pearl Harbor. To the Japanese, the totalitarianism in the USSR and Germany was more superior to individualism and capitalism in America
Upon the outbreak of the Pacific war, Japan attacked a wide area of South East Asia but soon began to face difficulties from the allied counter-attacks. Japanese planes and ships quickly diminished while the US developed more and more of them (Iwanami, 37). In 1945, the USSR entered there was against Japan. During the same time, the US troops had conquered most cities in Japan. Two atomic bombs in Nagasaki and Hiroshima forced Japan to surrender. The main reason why Japan was defeated was the collapse of its economy for the lack of energy and inputs.