The Thirties were marked by confrontation and violence. The Western diplomats practicing Appeasement believed it would prevent another global war, but were woefully unaware of what they were dealing with. Most of the confrontation was between the ideologies of Nazism and Communism; they became mortal enemies in the thirties, which made their non-aggression pact and the dismemberment of Poland all the more shocking. At the end of the decade, the Nazi-Soviet Nonaggression Pact would shock the world and lay the groundwork for the Invasion of Poland and the Second World War.
Hitler’s rise to power was through democratic means, but he and the Nazis paved the way in blood, targeting political opponents and Jews in violent attacks. Street battles were fought for the Nazis by their Brown Shirts. Eventually Hitler, with the support of the industrialists, was able to rehabilitate his reputation from bitter war veteran to savior of Germany.
The Japanese were initially successful in their invasion of China, but as the new decade dawned, they held the cities while large Chinese formations harassed them from the interior. While China turned into a quagmire, Japan’s military looked to the resources of the South Pacific and war with the Western powers.
The Spanish Civil War was a regional conflict that was turned into an international staging ground for the weapons of World War II. The Wehrmacht practiced air combat techniques and introduced tank maneuver into the battlefield. Russian pilots gained some knowledge of German aircraft. The Spaniards gained a fascist dictator that ruled until his death in 1975.
The Munich Pact paved the way for Hitler to dismember Czechoslovakia. The failure of the French and British to stand up to Hitler directly led to the start of the Second World War when Hitler moved against Poland.
The Soviet Union under Stalin began its own expansion, targeting Finland to gain territory and free water ports in the Baltic. A brutal winter campaign, led by political commissars and not soldiers, left thousands of Russians dead. Only with huge reinforcements and massed artillery were the Russians able to force the Finns to capitulate.