The Second World War, 1940–45
Over the next twenty-one months the war expanded, combining the conflicts of Europe and Asia. The principal driving force behind this step-by-step process of escalating violence was relentless Nazi aggression. Between September 1939 and December 1941, Hitler wilfully added to the number of Great Powers arrayed against the Third Reich, but despite stunning successes on the battlefield in the early years of the conflict, he and his generals could not bring the European war to a victorious conclusion. Part of the explanation for this failure lies in the fact that Hitler’s opponents resolved to fight on even after suffering the severest of military setbacks. This determination did not stem simply from a fear of
Germany’s growing power, but more significantly from a widespread belief that Nazism, fascism and Japanese militarism stood for a new form of global barbarism that had to be stamped out before it was too late.