Map A. World War II
The years 1933 to 1942 saw the rise and expansion of Fascism in Italy, Nazism in Germany, and militarism in Japan. These empires expanded their territory and military power at the expense of their smaller neighbors, many of them new nations created by the Treaty of Versailles. The League of Nations, helpless to stem aggression, and the United States, guided by a policy of isolationism, stood largely aside as Europe and Asia descended into crisis. By the late 1930s, Nazi Germany had invaded Poland and threatened to invade Great Britain, a longtime ally of the United States. It was not until Japanese forces attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii -- a U.S. territory, though not yet a state -- that the U.S. entered the world-wide conflict. World War II spanned the globe, with battles fought in Africa, Europe, Asia, and the United States (or its territories). The war did not end until Italy was occupied, Germany was invaded by U.S. and Russian forces, and the two atomic bombs were dropped on the Japanese cities of Nagasaki and Hiroshima in 1945.
What factors help explain the ease with which Hitler's Germany and Mussolini's Italy were able to conquer so much of Europe and Africa from 1933 to 1941? What problems in the Soviet Union, France, and Great Britain made resistance to German and Italian aggression difficult?