The Treaty was the agreement in Europe after World War I. It stipulated that Germany could not produce military machinery, so by ignoring it, Hitler created a massive invasion force by the time he was ready to invade Poland, and Britain and France essentially ignored the process, allowing it to continue (Kreis, 2004). Hitler's real aim was not to conquer France and England, he wanted Russia. He refused any alliances that Russia offered before the war, and he thought when France surrendered, England would soon follow and that he could concentrate all his manpower and focus on Russia (Weinberg, 1996, p. 158-160).
The war really began in March 1938, when Hitler forced Austria to join Germany, and then he went after the German-speaking areas of Czechoslovakia. Historian Kreis continues, "The area also contained key industries and was vital to the protection of Czechoslovakia. Without this area heavily fortified Czechoslovakia could not hope to withstand German aggression. Sudentenland Germans, encouraged by the Nazis, began to denounce the Czech government" Kreis, 2004). In March 1939, Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia, replaced Czech troops with German troops, and took over the country. His next goal was Poland. France and Great Britain admonished Hitler, but did little else. Historian Kreis continues, "While Chamberlain returned to England with a piece of paper in his hand, Hitler was laughing. What Britain and France had shown was their own weakness and this weakness increased Hitler's appetite for even more territory" (Kreis, 2004). Poland's fate would be the official start of World War II.
On September 1, 1939, German troops entered Poland. Late in August 1939, right before the Polish invasion, Hitler even signed a non-aggression pact with Russia, all the while knowing that his ultimate goal was to take over the country. Historian Kreis notes, "Britain and France demanded that Hitler stop his forces but Hitler ignored them and so Britain and France declared war on Germany. Using the Blitzkrieg or lightening war, Poland succumbed to Germany on September 27, 1939" (Kreis, 2004). At first, fighting was on the western front of the war, mainly against France and Great Britain. America supported the allies, but did not join in the European war; instead they attempted to negotiate a solution. By April 1940, Hitler's strategy had changed, and he attacked Norway and Denmark on the Northern European coast, because he knew he needed shipping and naval bases in the area. By June, France had surrendered, and in August, Hitler attempted to beat down Great Britain into submission by ordering massive air attacks on the country, called the Battle of Britain. At the end of 1941, so certain of his success, Hitler even invaded Russia, despite the non-aggression compact between the two countries. However, on December 7, 1941, after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, the United States entered the war, because Japan was an ally of Germany. The Americans would eventually turn the tide of the war and defeat the Nazis.
Hitler's ultimate goal was to exploit the countries he took over. Historian Kreis continues, "The Germans expropriated and exploited every country which they conquered. They took gold, art, machinery, and food supplies back to Germany. Some foreign factories were confiscated -- others produced what the Germans demanded" (Kreis, 2004). They also subjugated the Jews, and built efficient concentration camps where millions of Jews were slaughtered, all in the name of creating Hitler's "Master Race" of perfect Germans.
While it took almost four years, the Allied Powers did eventually beat the German Army and restore European countries to freedom. However, Russia gained much territory during the war, effectively building its power over the continent. Hitler, unable to face defeat, committed suicide with his mistress just a few days before the end of the war. He was a fascist dictator who wanted to rule the world, and failed miserably.
Editors. (2009). Adolph Hitler. Retrieved 20 April 2009 from the Wikipedia.org Web site: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adolf_Hitler.
Kreis, S. (2004). Hitler and World War Two. Retrieved 20 April 2009 from the HistoryGuide.org Web site: http://www.historyguide.org/europe/lecture11.html.
Murphy, D.M., & White, J.F. (2007). Propaganda: Can a word decide a war? Parameters, 37(3), 15+.