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World War Two - 1930s Military Buildup

The World Wide Military Expansion (The Literary Digest, 1935)

A 1935 magazine article which presented a table of statistics regarding the the European military expansion and then concluded by stating:

"It seems fair to offer the opinion that a major war is likely within the next ten years because the pressure of rising armament expenditure promises to be so great as to develop the explosion that bound to come."

In 1940 former W.W. I Prime Minister David Lloyd George wrote an editorial in which he condemned the leaders of Europe for procrastinating rather than dealing with Hitler when Germany was still weak.
Click here
to read it.


British Civilians Trained to Use Gas Masks (The Literary Digest, 1936)

This article appeared in 1936 and reported that the populations of both England and France were being trained in the general use of gas masks in anticipation of a German invasion.

"Even babies will be protected in covered perambulators, into which masked 'Nannies' can pump air, forcing it through filter cans. Researchers are working on an infant's mask with a nipple attachment."


The World Navies Expand (The Literary Digest, 1937)

Here is a concise report illustrated by a chart that indicates the size and tonnage of the leading naval powers in 1937.

"In 1922, when a halt was called on the vicious race for bigger and better battleships by conclusion of the Washington Naval Treaty, later supplemented by the London Pact of 1930, there were but five major sea powers: America, Britain, Japan, France and Italy. Today, the world picture has changed and two new faces are on the list, Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia."

"All in all, as the treaties end, the United States Fleet stands on par, if not superior to, the armada of the British Empire..."

Click here to read more about the expansion of the U.S. Navy.
Click here to read another article about the pre-WW II expansion of the world's Naval powers.
Click here to read more about the demise of the Washington Naval Treaty.


Japan and the Road to War (Literary Digest, 1933)

A collection of opinions gathered from the newspapers of the world concerning the belligerency of Imperial Japan and its poor standing in the eyes of the League of Nations:

"Feeling grows among the Japanese that events are shaping toward a second world war, with Japan in the position that Germany occupied in 1914...A Canadian Press dispatch from London, in THE NEW YORK TIMES, estimated war supplies sent from England to China and Japan. According to statistics of the British Government for 1932, the largest individual items were 7,735,000 small-arms cartridges for China and 5,361,450 for Japan...Japan also purchased 740 machine guns."

Four years after the Pearl Harbor attack, a Japanese newspaper editorial expressed deep regret for Japan's aggressiveness in the Second World War, click here to read about it...

Click here to read about a 1925 novel that anticipated the war with Imperial Japan.


Anticipating the War with Japan (The Saturday Review, 1925)

The Great Pacific War was one of the truly remarkable books to hit the shops in 1925; the problem was that this would not be recognized until at least 1944. Unlike the unfortunate writers charged with the task of reviewing the novel, the author, Hector C. Bywater (1884 - 1940), was something of a clairvoyant, and was able to spell out how the war between Japan and the United States would unfold; the contested islands and the American victory. He wrote that the war would commence with a Japanese surprise assault, he recognized the importance that naval aviation would play and he predicted the Kamikaze attacks. Some elements of the war he did not predict, such as Hiroshima, but in 1945, after the smoke had cleared and the bodies were buried, many were amazed to pick the book up and read how much he got right.


Japan Rejects the Washington Naval Treaty (Literary Digest, 1935)

"The first successful attempt in world history to limit armaments was marked for the scrap-heap on December 31, 1936, when Hirosi Saito, the slim and smiling Japanese Ambassador to the United States, bowed himself into the State Department building in Washington last Saturday and handed to Secretary Cordell Hull a document that the world has expecting for many months - Japan's formal denunciation of the Washington Naval Treaty."

Click here to read about FDR's Secretary of State, Cordell Hull.


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