History 104: Western Civilization since 1648
Lecture: World War II

Fascist Expansion click here for audio

1935 was an important year for the expansion of fascism.

Republican poster showing fascism as meaning exploitation and death for the worker
In Germany, the Nuremberg Laws were passed, which deprived Jews in Germany of citizenship. It was also the year in which Germany announced she was re-arming, and signed the Anglo-German Naval Agreement, which permitted Germany to build a Navy 35% the tonnage of the British navy. In this time of depression and a desire to avert war, other powers permitted Germany to restore her sovereignty. Also in that year, Italy invaded Ethiopia (called Abyssinia) to start the Italian empire. Britain and France did little to stop this; indeed, they may have hoped that Italy could someday serve to counter Nazi expansion. The League of Nations protested but was powerless to act.

The next year, in Spain, the new Axis of Germany and Italy had an opportunity to test their weapons systems. Fascists led by General Francisco Franco were rebelling against the Republican Spanish government in the Spanish Civil War (1936). Supporting the fascists gave the Axis a chance to test blitzkrieg, the lightning war technique: leading with planes to bomb communications and transportation networks, followed by tanks, then light armored vehicles and infantry to "mop up". Artist Pablo Picasso recorded the horror of the bombing of a civilian village called Guernica:

Picasso's Guernica

Drawing by 11-year-old Magalena Ruiz, made of the attack on her town, Oliva

Art of the Western World:

Small Version

This same year, Germany moved into the demilitarized Rhineland, then proceeded to annex Austria and the southern portion (Sudetenland) of Czechoslovakia. At the Munich Conference in 1938, Britain and France agreed to permit this expansion, which Hitler claimed was to reunite the old German empire. This policy of appeasement was designed to prevent an all-out war. British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain announced the accord on the radio:

This morning I had another talk with the German Chancellor Herr Hitler, and here is the paper which bears his name upon it as well as mine.

Some of you perhaps have already heard what it contains, but I would just like to read it to you.

"We, the German Fuhrer and Chancellor and the British Prime Minister have had a further meeting today and are agreed in recognizing that the question of Anglo-German relations is of the first importance for the two countries and for Europe. We regard the agreement signed last night and the Anglo-German naval agreement as symbolic of the desire of our two peoples never to go to war with one another again."

7. War: Pacific Theatre ->