To be a superpower, a nation needs to have a strong economy, an overpowering military, immense international political power and, related to this, a strong national ideology. It was this war, and its results, that caused each of these superpowers to experience such a preponderance of power.
The war began with the invasion of the Ethiopian Empire also known as Abyssinia by the armed forces of the Kingdom of Italy Regno d'Italiawhich was launched from Italian Somaliland and Eritrea. Both Italy and Ethiopia were member nations, but the League did little when the former clearly violated Article X of the League's Covenant.
Spanish Civil War The bombing of Guernica induring the Spanish Civil Warsparked fears abroad Europe that the next war would be based on bombing of cities with very high civilian casualties When civil war broke out in Spain, Hitler and Mussolini lent military support to the Nationalist rebelsled by General Francisco Franco.
The Soviet Union supported the existing government, the Spanish Republic.
Over 30, foreign volunteers, known as the International Brigadesalso fought against the Nationalists. Both Germany and the Soviet Union used this proxy war as an opportunity to test in combat their most advanced weapons and tactics.
The Nationalists won the civil war in April ; Franco, now dictator, remained officially neutral during World War II but generally favoured the Axis.
The Japanese continued to push the Chinese forces back, capturing the capital Nanking in December After the fall of Nanking, tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of Chinese civilians and disarmed combatants were murdered by the Japanese.
The Japanese doctrine of Hokushin-ronwhich emphasised Japan's expansion northward, was favoured by the Imperial Army during this time. With the Japanese defeat at Khalkin Gol inthe ongoing Second Sino-Japanese War  and ally Nazi Germany pursuing neutrality with the Soviets, this policy would prove difficult to maintain.
Japan and the Soviet Union eventually signed a Neutrality Pact in Apriland Japan adopted the doctrine of Nanshin-ronpromoted by the Navy, which took its focus southward, eventually leading to its war with the United States and the Western Allies.
In MarchGermany annexed Austriaagain provoking little response from other European powers. Soon the United Kingdom and France followed the counsel of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and conceded this territory to Germany in the Munich Agreementwhich was made against the wishes of the Czechoslovak government, in exchange for a promise of no further territorial demands.
In subsequent speeches Hitler attacked British and Jewish "war-mongers" and in January secretly ordered a major build-up of the German navy to challenge British naval supremacy. In MarchGermany invaded the remainder of Czechoslovakia and subsequently split it into the German Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia and a pro-German client statethe Slovak Republic.
In August 23, when tripartite negotiations about a military alliance between France, the United Kingdom and Soviet Union stalled,  the Soviet Union signed a non-aggression pact with Germany. Immediately after that, Hitler ordered the attack to proceed on 26 August, but upon hearing that the United Kingdom had concluded a formal mutual assistance pact with Poland, and that Italy would maintain neutrality, he decided to delay it.
The United Kingdom responded with an ultimatum to Germany to cease military operations, and on 3 September, after the ultimatum was ignored, France, the United Kingdom, Australiaand New Zealand declared war on Germany.
The alliance provided no direct military support to Poland, outside of a cautious French probe into the Saarland.
The Polish counter offensive to the west halted the German advance for several days, but it was outflanked and encircled by the Wehrmacht. Remnants of the Polish army broke through to besieged Warsaw.
On 17 Septemberafter signing a cease-fire with Japanthe Soviets invaded Eastern Poland .Is the deliberate mass murder of civilians on a huge scale ever justified? This article does not have an answer for this question. However, it is important to note that this was a very specific goal of England and America in World War II as the quotes above show.
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