After World War I, the world did not settle. In Europe Germany was devastated by the impact of the Treaty of Versailles. Russia was now the Soviet Union. The United States went back to North America and isolated itself from the effects of World War I and the Treaty of Versailles. At the end of the 1920's, not only the United States but the entire world was hit by the Great Depression. New leaders in countries led to the shaping of the next 20 years.
Hitler started out as a corporal during World War I. He survived a job which had a self-life of 6 months, by doing it for 2 years. He was a runner of messages during the war. He was greatly disliked by the men in his company because he loved the blood and carnage of the war. After the war like a lot of Germans he was disillusioned by the surrender of Germany and needed an answer why they lost. In the 1920's the Nazi party started out as gang than a political organization. Hitler would speak anywhere he could, typically bars and usually brawls would break out. Once Hitler was in prison he realized that the Nazi party needed to be more than a gang if he wanted to be placed into the German government. After he got out of prison he changed the face and persona of the Nazi party and in 1933 he was elected legally as the leader of Germany.
After the death of Lenin, Stalin systematically took control over the Soviet government. Before his death, Lenin feared the rise of Stalin in the Soviet government and named another Leon Trotsky to be his successor. However the ambition of Stalin was too much for Trotsky and he fled to Mexico where he died in his sleep many years later over mysterious circumstances. Stalin believed that communism would work and the only way to prove it was to become the most dominant country in the world.
Mussolini came to power in the 1920's. Early on Mussolini believed that communism was the way that Italy should be run. He ran into problems served some jail time, but like Hitler he was able to climb the political ladder to become the leader of Italy. Mussolini became friends with Hitler in 1933 when Hitler became Chancellor. At first their relationship was more economic, but then it moved into other avenues. A common bound between the two countries is that they did not like the moves that France was making during the inter war years.
In the late 1800's Japan was used to being pushed around by the western powers. At the turn of the century the Japanese government decided that they wished to become an empire in the Pacific. During World War I they aligned themselves with the allies in the hopes of obtaining territory after the war. During the inter war years they learned a lesson just like Germany and Italy, the western powers did not want to be involved in another war. Therefore they were able to take land aggressively without being attacked or punished.
All 4 of these leaders were aggressive and dangerous to encounter. Stalin aggressively took power in the Soviet Union after the death of Lenin. He kept power by any means necessary meaning many Russians (Soviets) died to keep him in power. Since 1904 Japan wished to become an empire in the Pacific. They were collecting territory through force and negotiation up through World War II. Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party eventually were elected into office in Germany. Hitler was able to rebuilt Germany and become a devastating force in Europe and the world. Benito Mussolini in Italy followed the path Hitler and pushed Italy into a fascist government.
Fascism was a very popular in Germany and Italy. Fascism had characteristics that made it a dominant part of Germany and Italy but also the results of this ideology also had Europe concerned to where these two countries were going. Fascism celebrates the nationality or races of their people above all other groups. There is self pride, but also hatred and a personification of superiority over all groups that are not them. A fascist government is anti-democratic and shows a glorified use of force. Leaders are typically in military uniforms instead of suits. People in a fascist state are taught to believe, obey, and fight for their country. Typically this fascist state reminds the people of previous greatness in history and that they will again be that great if not greater. Rules in a fascist state are strict and also punishments are harsh without mercy. The government of a fascist state will identify a group that has caused the country great harm and they will promote the destruction and punishment of that group. Regardless of who you are in this government, there are examples of the lack of human rights. Labor is also suppressed but corporations are protected for the overall good. Fascism and communism is not the same thing even though they may use some of the same devices to rule.
Just like World War I, the intricacies of World War I will be studied in more depth during your junior year in United States history. For this class, the following will be looked at. Prior to WW II, Germany and the Soviet Union held a treaty to attack and cut up Europe into their own little playground. Hitler never liked Stalin and when Germany invaded Poland in Sept. of 1939 Russia jumped in on their side. The Axis powers were able to push Europe to the brink in 1942; however Germany made two major mistakes. The first mistake was to turn around and attack the Soviet Union in June of 1941 and then by declaring war on the United States after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December of 1941. Germany now had to fight a two front war. They Americans would be found in both the Pacific and European theatres, and Stalin would not stop until Germany is punished and humiliated.