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Basic History of the lead-up to WW2

The Enabling Act (1934)

The Act passed by the Reichstag after the Reichstag fire, essentially giving Hitler the power to do whatever he wanted

The Ruhr (1936)

the main coal and steel producing/manufacturing region in Germany (& thus the heart of its economic and military production)

The Ruhr

-- in the border area with France and Belgium-- taken by the French after Germany stopped paying its war debt --WHERE HITLER MADE HIS FIRST (ILLEGAL) MILITARY MOVE IN THE YEARS LEADING TO WW2

Spanish Civil War (Guernica, 1937)

One of the major world events leading up to WW2, and another of Hitler's steps toward war

Spanish Civil War

fought between the Communists and Franco's Nationalists (Spain's Fascists)-- Hitler used it as a chance to test his new "Luftwaffe" with "blitzkrieg" bombing of the city of Guernica (thousands of civilian deaths)

Austria and the Anschluss(1937)

One more big step in Hitler's march to war-- the Nazis stirred up the German-speaking population of Austria, then used that as an excuse to invade, taking over a big chunk, and adding more territory and people to "the Reich"

Czechoslovakia (Munich, and the "peace of paper," 1938)

much like Austria and the Anschluss-- Hitler stirred up a problem as an excuse, then threatened to invade (acting like a protector of innocent Germans)-- Czechoslovakia could have been a strong enough foe to stop him, except the British and French abandoned them & gave Hitler half their country

Poland (and the Pact of Steel, 1939)

The Second World War begins here-- Hitler and Stalin shocked the world with a secret deal that basically split Poland between them (this was especially surprising, as everything Hitler had said or written for years included attacks on the Communists)


"lightning war"-- term for Hitler's massive- surprise-attack style of warfare-- planes bombing, strafing, tanks & army units moving fast, gobbling up territory, outflanking and hammering the enemy

The Phony War

("the calm before the storm")-- the period of late 1939-early 1940, after Poland had been take, when Britain and France (&many Germans) convinced themselves that nothing bad was really going to happen

Belgium (and the Schlieffen Plan)

where Germany attacked first (as with WW1, and using a modified version of the same plan)-- the plan was to knock France and England out of the war quickly by blitzing through the Lowland countries-- then move forces to the Eastern front, and attack Russia


Hitler's first big mistake, and one of the most important events of the war-- He had virtually the entire British army cornered against the sea, and he hesitated one day too long- British fishing boats, merchants, private boats, the navy started evacuating 300,000 or so British soldiers across the Channel in the night

The Blitz

September, 1940-- the day-and-night bombardment of London and other British cities by the German air force-- probably Hitler's second big mistake-- he quit, just when the British were on the verge of having no planes and airmen left to fight with

Second Front

Hitler's third, perhaps biggest mistake-- the surprise attack on Russia BEFORE he had finished off England-- thus giving himself a two-front war, forcing him to split his forces

Home front

a common term for all the efforts made "back home" insupport of the war effort-- factories, farms, morale building, personal sacrifices

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