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World War II in Germany

The tremendous dislocations caused by World War I laid the groundwork for the collapse of democratic institutions in Germany. A worldwide depression that began in 1929 destroyed the already fragile democratic regime there.

In 1933, Adolf Hitler led to power the National Socialist German Workers' Party -- the Nazi Party -- a mass movement that was virulently nationalistic, anti-democratic, and anti-Semitic. Hitler ended parliamentary government and assumed dictatorial powers.

The Nazi government increased the strength of the German armed forces and sought to overturn the Versailles Treaty, to recover German territory lost at the peace settlement, and to return to the so-called Fatherland German-speaking minorities within the borders of surrounding countries. Hitler stated goal was to secure "living space" for the German "master race."

In March 1938, Germany invaded and annexed Austria.

In March 1939, Germany invaded Czechoslovakia.

In August 1939, Germany and the USSR signed a secret non-agression pact dividing up Poland. On September 1, Germany invaded Poland.

On September 3, 1939, Britain, France, Australia and New Zealand declared war on Germany. World War II had begun.

Click here for more about the war in Europe.

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