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The Origins of World War II Reading

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    "This nation will remain a neutral nation, but I cannot ask that every American remain neutral in thought as well."

    - President Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1939


    America and Isolationism

    When events began happening in Europe that would eventually lead to World War II, many Americans took an increasingly hard line towards getting involved. The events of World War I had fed into America's natural desire toward isolationism, and this was reflected by the passage of Neutrality Acts along with the general hands off approach to the events that unfolded on the world stage.

    Increasing tensions

    While America was wallowing in neutrality and isolationism, events were occurring in Europe and Asia that were causing increasing tension across the regions. These events included:

    • Totalitarianism as a form of government in the USSR (Joseph Stalin), Italy (Benito Mussolini), Germany (Adolf Hitler), and Spain (Francisco Franco).
    • A move towards fascism in Japan.
    • The creation of Manchukuo, Japan's puppet government in Manchuria, beginning the war in China.
    • The conquest of Ethiopia by Mussolini.
    • Revolution in Spain led by Francisco Franco.
    • Germany's continuing expansion including taking the Rhineland.
    • The worldwide Great Depression.
    • World War I allies with large debts, many of which were not paying them off.
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