The Germans invaded Poland only after a guarantee from Josef Stalin that the Soviet Union would soon join in attacking the Poles from the east. The two dictatorships could then divvy up the country. Stalin’s Communist Russia had foolishly gambled that by making a deal with Nazi Germany, Hitler would leave the Soviets alone. At first, Stalin hoped that Germany would turn its war machine loose only on the Western European democracies.
But by 1919, America had rapidly disarmed and forgotten its key role in World War I. Americans had tired of the Europeans. They were sick of the endless horse-trading that had led to the postwar Versailles Treaty.
By the start of the Great Depression in 1929, America was mostly unarmed and determined never to get involved in European feuding again. Most Americans complained that the huge death toll of World War I had led to neither perpetual peace nor even a peaceful Germany.
#share#America’s isolationism and disarmament also helped prompt another global war. Had the U.S. kept its military strong after World War I, and had it entered into a formal alliance with its former World War I partners, Germany never would have risked a second war against the combined strength of a fully armed Britain, France, and United States.
Instead, Hitler assumed the U.S. either could not or would not offer much military help to his intended European targets.