The outbreak of war

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Nazi propaganda poster

German/Soviet non-aggression pact

  • On 23 August Stalin and Hitler signed the German-Soviet Non Aggression Pact.
  • This guaranteed that the USSR would not assist Poland when Germany invaded.
  • In return they would receive parts of Eastern Poland.
  • However both Germany and the USSR knew that this co-operation would not last.
  • France and Britain were alarmed by this newly formed pact as the both feared Germany and communist Russia.

The invasion of Poland

  • September 1 1939, Germany invaded Poland. France and Britain declared war on Germany on 3 September
  • Poland was defeated by superior German blitzkrieg tactics on 28 September 1939.
  • Russians took parts of East Poland and annexed Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.
  • Lebensraum is the German word for "living space". It was Hitler's idea of creating a 'Greater Germany'. This expansion would be taken through the East. Hitler despised the Russians and the Eastern Slavic states. The concept was a combination of Nazi ideology and German territorial desires.
  • The creation of the Polish Corridor through the Treaty of Versailles was deeply resented by Germany. The purpose of this was to give Poland access to the sea port of Danzig. The corridor however separated Germany from East Prussia. Hitler demanded that the city of Danzig be returned to Germany. Poland refused, increasing political tensions.

The phoney war

  • France and the Maginot Line
Location of the Maginot line defending France.
  • The Battle of Britain
Damage to London from Nazi bombing.
  • Barbarossa
  • USA, Pearl Harbor and the end of isolationism
The attack on Pearl Harbor

Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor was designed in part to inflict as much damage on the United States as they could, in order to prevent the USA from becoming much of a force in WWII.