chapter  19
Total War: World War II
ByMichael G. Kort
Pages 20

The coming to power of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party in Germany was the crucial link in a chain of events that ultimately led to World War II. To be sure, during the 1930s there were undemocratic regimes both in Asia and Europe whose aggressive designs threatened international peace. In East Asia, even before Hitler came to power and began destabilizing Europe, Japan had seized the huge Chinese territory of Manchuria and turned it into a puppet state. In southern Europe, Fascist Italy under Benito Mussolini moved to expand its colonial possessions in Africa and to act on its territorial ambitions elsewhere in the Mediterranean region. Yet only Germany among the world’s growing assortment of fascist and authoritarian countries had the military and economic potential to challenge the international order established after World War I. Hitler’s rise to power in 1933 added a key catalyst to that mix: the will and ruthlessness to undertake aggression.