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Timeline of Events leading up to WW2

Franklin D Roosevelt

Events leading up to WW2: Franklin Roosevelt was the 32nd American President who served in office from March 4, 1933 to April 12, 1945 and witnessed the events leading up to WW2.

Definition and Summary of the Events leading up to WW2
Summary and definition:
The Events in Europe leading up to WW2 that gave grave concern to the United States involved the threat to Democracy from Germany, USSR, Italy, Spain and Japan and the rise of the dictators such as Hitler and Mussolini. These aggressive and anti-democratic countries were adopting the policy of expansionism instigated by their totalitarian governments. 

The 1919 Treaty of Versailles set out harsh terms for Germany's punishment for its involvement in WW1 which caused anger and resentment in Germany and the rise of Hitler.

The Great Depression had triggered a worldwide recession and aggressive countries were looking to resolve their economic problems by the conquest of new territories and their natural resources. As FDR fought against the effects of the Great Depression the United States adopted policies of  Internationalism and Isolationism in an attempt to keep the nation out of World War 2 which erupted in 1939. On December 7, 1941 Japan bombed Pearl Harbor and the United States declared war on Japan on December 8 1941 beginning  America's fight in WW2.

Foreign and Domestic Policy of FDR
During the mid-1930's President Roosevelt was occupied with the economic crisis and the effects of the Great Depression. Many Americans favored Isolationism. FDR favored Internationalism believing that international trade increased prosperity and helped prevent war between nations. He adopted a neutral position in relation to foreign affairs and Congress passed five different Neutrality Acts from 1935 to 1939. President Roosevelt achieved his greatest foreign policy success through his "good neighbor" policy towards Latin America and countries of the Western Hemisphere (South America, Central America and the Caribbean). FDR kept a wary eye on events unfolding in Europe and Asia during the mid-1930s, but his priority was leading America to economic recovery.

Events leading up to WW2: Fascism, Nazism, Communism and Militarism
President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the people of the United States saw the emergence of European dictators such as Mussolini and Franco and the rise of ideologies of Fascism. Adolf Hitler combined elements of Fascism and Racism as the leader of the National Socialist German Workers' Party, better known as the Nazi Party and founded Nazism. Joseph Stalin, the Soviet dictator of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) adhered to Communism. Emperor Hirohito was the ruler of Japan  with General Hideki Tojo who sought to establish a colonial empire led by Militarists. These powerful men, and the aggressive and expansionist governments in Germany, Italy, Spain, Japan and the USSR all played a major role in the events leading up to WW2. For additional facts refer to Fascism, Nazism and Communism, Japanese Militarism and Totalitarianism and the Rise of Dictators.

Events leading up to WW2: Isolationism in America during the 1930's
During this turbulent period FDR was battling the economic crisis and the effects of the Great Depression. As he watched the events leading up to WW2 unfold in Europe and Asia he maintained a position of neutrality, encouraging international trade through his policy of Internationalism. The majority of Americans at this time favored Isolationism, fearing America would be dragged into another war.

Timeline of Events leading up to WW2 for kids
The following fact sheet contains interesting facts and information on the Timeline of Events leading up to WW2

1919: Following WW1 the 1919 Treaty of Versailles set out the terms for Germany's punishment which caused anger and resentment in Germany

1919: The League of Nations was created by the Treaty of Versailles by which member nations would help preserve peace and prevent future wars by pledging to respect and protect each other’s territory and political independence.

1924: Benito Mussolini (1883-1945) established himself as dictator of Italy in 1924 and founded the ideology of Fascism.

1924: Joseph Stalin (1878 – 1953) established himself as the Dictator of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union

1926: In 1926 Hirohito became the Emperor of Japan and the symbol of the state

1929: The effects of the great economic crisis of the Great Depression (1929 to 1939) are felt in virtually all corners of the world. Anti-democratic countries form Totalitarianism governments that assert absolute and total control over the public and private lives of people and begin to adopt policies of expansion and aggression led by dictators

1930s: General Hideki Tojo of Japan, a fascist, nationalist, and militarist, played a key role in opening hostilities against China in the 1930's - refer to Japanese Militarism.

1933: Adolf Hitler (1889 – 1945) becomes Chancellor of Germany and and head of the National Socialist German Workers' Party, better known as the Nazi Party.

1933: FDR becomes President of the US and implements the beginning of the New Deal with the Hundred Days.

1934: Hitler establishes himself as dictator assuming the title of "Fuhrer". Nazism shared many features of Fascism but also featured racism.

1935: Italy invades Ethiopia (Abyssinia) in October 1935

1935: US Congress passed a series of Neutrality Acts (1935–1939) designed to avoid American involvement in another World War by preventing loans to those countries taking part in such conflicts

1936: General Francisco Franco (1892-1975) overthrew the Spanish democratic republic in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939)

1936: Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy form the Rome-Berlin Axis treaty on October 25, 1936

1936: Japan joined Germany in signing the Anti-Comintern Pact (an anti-communist pact) against the Soviet Union

1938 March 12 - Hitler annexes the country of Austria into Germany

1938: In September 1938 France and Britain enact a policy of appeasement, agreeing to the German annexation of  Czechoslovakia

1938: The Night of the Broken Glass (Kristallnacht) occurs November 9-19 in which Nazis violently attack Jews and destroy Jewish property

1939: General Franco established himself as the Fascist dictator of Spain

1939: Adolf Hitler ordered German troops to invade Czechoslovakia on 15 March 1939. The Germans also took over Bohemia, and established a protectorate over Slovakia.

1939: The Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact signed August 23, 1939 in which Germany and the Soviet Union pledged neutrality should either become involved in a war

1939: On September 1, 1939, German forces invaded Poland from the west.

1939: Britain and France respond to the invasion forces by declaring war on Germany September 3, 1939. The events leading up to WW2 had drawn to a conclusion. World War II had begun...

1939: The United States declares its neutrality on September 5, 1939

1939:  The Soviet Union invades Poland from the east on September 17, 1939. USSR and Germany divide Poland.

1939: The Phoney War (September 1939 to April 1940 ) was an eight-month period at the start of World War II in which there was a lack of major military operations and nothing seemed to happen. Germany was preparing to defeat its opponents in a series of short campaigns using the "Blitzkrieg" (lightning war) strategy.

1939: The United States Congress amend the Neutrality Acts on November 4, 1939 to favor Britain and France

1939: On November 30, 1939 Soviet troops invade Finland

1940: On April 9, 1940 Germany invades Denmark and Norway

1940: On May 10, 1940 Holland, Belgium, and Luxembourg are invaded by Germany

1940: On June 10, 1940 Italy declares war on Britain and France. The British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, who had favored appeasement resigns and Winston Churchill becomes the new Prime Minister of Great Britain

1940: The evacuation of Allied soldiers from the beaches and harbor of Dunkirk, France, between 27 May, 1940 and 4 June

1940: FDR is elected to an unprecedented third term as president of the United States on November 5, 1940

1940: On June 22, 1940 Germany attacks the Soviet Union

1940: The British win the Battle of Britain (August 8, 1940 - September 27, 1940)

1940: In September 1940, the Tripartite Pact was signed forming the Axis powers of Germany, Italy, and Japan, in which the three countries agreed to assist each other if they were attacked by any additional power not yet at war with them. The intended target was the United States.

1941: Congress signs the Lend-Lease Act on March 11, 1941 by which the US government provided aid, economic and other, to nations warring against the Axis Powers.

1941: August 11, 1941 FDR and Winston Churchill form the Atlantic Charter, establishing the war aims of both nations

1941: On 4 September, 1941 the "Greer incident" occurred on south of Iceland in the North Atlantic. The Greer became the first US Navy war ship to be fired on by a German U-Boat but the torpedoes missed their target.

1941: The USS Kearny was torpedoed on October 17, 1941 by a German U-boat while on patrol off Greenland. The USS Kearny but did not sink, but eleven men were killed and 22 men were injured in the explosion.

1941: On October 27, 1941 Franklin D. Roosevelt's "Navy Day Address" on the Attack on the Destroyer Kearney. FDR claimed to possess a secret Nazi map which demonstrated Hitler’s intention to conquer Central and South America and designs against the United States itself.

1941: On October 31, 1941 the U.S.S. Reuben James was the first United States warship to be sunk during World War II and resulted in the loss of 115 of 160 American crewmen. The incidents in the Atlantic moved America nearer to outright involvement in the European war. Refer to USS Greer, Kearny and Reuben James.

1941: The Japanese bomb the United States fleet at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

1941: Britain and the United States declare war on Japan on December 8, 1941 and America begins its fight in WW2

US American History
1929-1945: Depression & WW2

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