When Did World War II Actually Begin?

HISTORY, 8 Jun 2020

Dr. James Chen | Natylie's Place - TRANSCEND Media Service

6 Jun 2020 D-Day 76th anniversary

The author focuses on the sequence of events leading up to WWII and argues that the starting date of the war should be earlier than 1 Sep 1939.

I. A Revelation, Not a Revision

Suppose a fist fight had broken out after class the evening before on the campus of the high school your child attends. Fortunately, everything was caught on the surveillance camera. Today, all the parents are attending a meeting hosted by the principal. The video shows the indisputable:

At 19:31, Student J assaulted Student C.

At 19:36, Students G and J formed a gang against Student S.

At 19:37, Student J started to beat Student C and Student C started to fight back. Student S started to help Student C. And later, Student I joined the gang formed by Students G and J.

At 19:39, Student J and Student S started to fight for a short period of time. Then, Student G started to beat Student P, and Students B and F were coming to Student P’s assistance.

At 19:40, Student G knocked out Student F. Student I joined the fight against Students B and F. Later on, Student A started to help Student C.

At 19:41, Student G started to beat Student S. And later, Student J conducted a sneak attack on Student A and Student A started to fight back. Student G joined Student I to fight Student A.

The principal stops the video and declares that the fight started at 19:39pm when Student G attacked Student P.

If at this moment, you are considering raising your hand to correct the principal’s statement, I recommend that you try to get a refund for your high school education, since you will be told that you were obviously taught wrong regarding the history of WWII.

Let’s look at the indisputable facts here regarding that event:

On September 18, 1931, the Kwantung Army of the Empire of Japan invaded Manchuria immediately following the Mukden Incident.

On November 25, 1936, Germany and Japan signed the Anti-Comintern Pact.

On July 7, 1937, Japan instigated the Marco Polo Bridge Incident, and started a full scale invasion of China. The Chinese government responded with a full scale resistance.

In August 1937, a month after the Marco Polo Bridge Incident, the Soviet Union established a non-aggression pact with China. The Republic of China received credits for $250 million for the purchase of Soviet weapons. There followed big arms deliveries, including guns, artillery pieces, more than 900 aircraft and 82 tanks. More than 1,500 Soviet military advisers and about 2,000 members of the air force were sent to China.

On November 6, 1937, Italy joined the Anti-Comintern Pact.

In May, 1939, the Japanese Kwantung Army and the Soviet Army engaged in a fierce battle along the Khalkha River in Mongolia.

On September 1, 1939, the German Army invaded Poland, causing Great Britain and France to declare war on Germany.

The combined forces of the British and French Armies were defeated at Dunkirk in May-June of 1940 and France surrendered to Germany.

On June 10, 1940, Italy declared war on France and Great Britain.

By December 23, 1940, upon approval by the War Department, State Department, and the President of the United States, an agreement was reached to provide China the 100 P-40B Tomahawk aircrafts, which would be piloted by the American Volunteer Group organized by the American aviator, Claire Chennault.

On June 22, 1941, the German Army invaded the Soviet Union.

On December 7, 1941, the Japanese Imperial Navy attacked Pearl Harbor, prior to declaration of war. On the second day, the U.S. declared war on Japan, and Germany subsequently declared war on the U.S.

The question is why the so-called official version of WWII history chooses September 1, 1939 – when Germany invaded Poland – as the starting date of WWII, rather than July 7, 1937 – when Japan invaded China.  The Japanese invasion of China not only occurred earlier, but also inevitably led to the German invasion of Poland and the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. The obvious answer is that marking September 1, 1939 as the official start of WWII fits the version the powerful world elites want us to know. If the starting date of WWII were chosen based on facts, logic and reason, many embarrassments, such as the real causes of war and true war crimes would be revealed without reservation. Any responsible human being would like to know the facts they want to keep away from us.

II. The Historical Truths Less Frequently Told

  1. The rise of the Japanese imperialism, fascism and militarism.

Japan’s ambition to form the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere was an imperialist concept created and promulgated for occupied Asian populations from 1931 to 1945 by the Empire of Japan. It extended across the Asia-Pacific and promoted the cultural and economic unity of Northeast Asians, Southeast Asians, South Asians (in particular Indians and Punjabis) and Oceanians. It also declared the intention to create a self-sufficient bloc of Asian nations led by Japan. The idea was announced in a radio address entitled “The International Situation and Japan’s Position” by Foreign Minster Hachiro Arita on June 29, 1940. Two months later, Japanese Prime Minister Matsuoka Yôsuke announced the idea of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere in August 1940.

However, the roots of the Co-Prosperity Sphere go back many years prior to its formal announcement. The Japanese envisioned the Co-Prosperity Sphere to be an autarkic bloc of Asian nations led by the Japanese and free of Western powers.

The idea of Japanese cultural superiority over other Asian races had been expounded as early as the late nineteenth century and steadily grew in intensity until the end of World War II. For example, the famous Japanese educator Fukuzawa Yukichi wrote “Japan’s Mission in Asia” in 1882 to support the idea of Japanese imperialism and the “manifest destiny” of Japan to be the leader of Asia. In the early part of the twentieth century, several ultranationalist groups and writers, such as the Black Dragon Society and Kita Ikki gained increasing popularity with their views that Japan should take leadership in Asia to expel foreign powers by means of a righteous war, if necessary. Many of these ultranationalist groups believed that the moral purity of the Yamato race and Japan’s unique ancestry as descendants of the sun goddess Amaterasu entitled the Japanese to such a leadership role in Asia. In 1905, Japan became the first Asian country to defeat a Western power, namely Russia, in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-5, which bolstered Japan’s confidence in its destiny to lead Asia.

Economic factors played a large role in Japan’s announcement of the Co-Prosperity Sphere in 1940. Japan required East Asian raw materials such as oil from the Dutch East Indies and rubber from Indochina in order to keep its manufacturing industry and military in China supplied. The U.S. embargo of oil and steel shipments to Japan and other restrictions on raw materials shipments by Western nations pushed the Japanese leaders to seek sources in Asian countries to ensure Japanese self-sufficiency. The other Asian countries in the Co-Prosperity Sphere also would provide Japan with export markets for its manufactured goods and with land for its surplus population.

In addition to cultural and economic factors, Japan’s international political aspirations also led to the formation of the Co-Prosperity Sphere. Since the late nineteenth century, Japanese leaders believed they had just as much right as Western powers to acquire and maintain colonies in Asia. Japan considered colonies to be a basic prerequisite to achieving international prestige and becoming a first-rate country (ittô koku). The Western imperialist countries also subjected Japan to a series of coercive acts, insults, and provocations, which caused great anger to fester among the Japanese people. For example, the 1921-22 Washington Conference naval treaties forced on Japan an unfavorable battleship ratio of 5:5:3 for the US, Britain, and Japan respectively. In 1919 at the Paris Peace Conference, Western countries rejected the simple Japanese request to have a racial equality clause included in the League of Nations Covenant. In 1924, America passed the Japanese Exclusion Act to shut off Japanese immigration into the US. This series of international affronts to Japanese pride and status provided fuel to Japanese militaristic sentiments and eventually led to Japan attacking the Western powers to establish the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.

Japanese leaders used the Co-Prosperity Sphere in its propaganda for the people both in Japan and in other Asian countries. The leaders spoke of “Asia for Asians,” the need to liberate Asian countries from Western imperialist powers, and economic co-prosperity for member nations of the autarkic bloc. As Japan occupied various Asian countries, they set up governments with local leaders who proclaimed independence from the Western powers.

The occupied countries soon found out that the reality of the Co-Prosperity Sphere differed greatly from the high-sounding propaganda. The local governments established by the Japanese turned out to be puppet regimes with the Japanese making all significant decisions. The Japanese conducted themselves with great haughtiness and disdain toward the local population, imposing a program of “Japanization” on the people with little or no regard for local customs and beliefs. Many native people of these Asian countries suffered and died from forced labor, torture, and execution. The Co-Prosperity Sphere turned out to be just another form of oppressive imperialism in place of the imperialism previously imposed by Western nations.

  • The British Empire encouraged and supported the rise of Japanese imperialism, fascism and militarism.

The British Empire had been in alliance with the Japanese Empire back to 1855. In an effort to find the Russian fleet in the Pacific Ocean during the Crimean War, a French-British naval force reached the port of Hakodate, which was open to British ships as a result of the Friendship Treaty of 1854, and sailed further north, seizing the Russian-American Company‘s possessions on the island of Urup in the Kuril archipelago. The Treaty of Paris (1856) restituted the island to Russia. (The United States was the only ally the Russian Empire enjoyed in the Crimean War. In reciprocity, the United States received Russian support during the American Civil War, while the British and the French Empires were supporting the Confederates.)

In 1865, Chōshū Domain bought the warship Union from Glover and Co., a British agency of Jardine Matheson established in Nagasaki. In 1869, Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh became the first European prince to visit Japan arriving on HMS Galatea on September 4.

In 1902, the Japanese–British alliance was signed in London on January 30. In 1905, the alliance was renewed and expanded. Official diplomatic relations were upgraded, with ambassadors being exchanged for the first time.

In 1909, Fushimi Sadanaru returned to Britain to convey the thanks of the Japanese government for British advice and assistance during the Russo-Japanese War. In 1910, Sadanaru represented Japan at the state funeral of Edward VII, and met the new king George V at Buckingham Palace. In 1911, the Japanese – British alliance was renewed again. In 1913, the IJN Kongō, the last of the British-built warships for Japan’s navy, entered service.

Between 1914–1915, Japan joined World War I as Britain’s ally under the terms of the alliance and captured German-occupied Tsingtao (Qingdao) in mainland China. They also helped Australia and New Zealand capture archipelagos like the Marshall Islands and the Mariana Islands. In 1917, the Imperial Japanese Navy helped the Royal Navy and allied navies patrol the Mediterranean against Central Powers ships.

In 1921, Crown Prince Hirohito visited Britain and other Western European countries. It was the first time that a Japanese crown prince had traveled overseas. Later, in September, the members of the Sempill Mission arrived in Japan, which was a British technical mission for the development of Japanese Aero-naval forces. Over the next 20 years, the British provided the Japanese with secret information on the latest British aviation technology. This espionage work helped Japan rapidly develop its military aircraft and its technologies before the Second World War.

In 1922, Edward, Prince of Wales traveling on the HMS Renown, arrived in Yokohama on April 12th for a four-week official visit to Japan. In 1923, the Japanese -British alliance was only ostensibly discontinued on August 17th in response to U.S. and Canadian pressure.

In September of 1931, the Japanese Army seized Manchuria, which China had not controlled in decades.  It set up a puppet government. Britain and France effectively controlled the League of Nations, which issued the Lytton Report in 1932, saying that Japan had genuine grievances, but it acted illegally in seizing the entire province. Japan quit the League, Britain and France took no action.

In 1934, the Royal Navy sent ships to Tokyo to take part in a naval parade in honor of the late Admiral Tōgō Heihachirō, one of Japan’s greatest naval heroes, the “Nelson of the East”. In 1937, the Kamikaze, a prototype of the Mitsubishi Ki-15, traveled from Tokyo to London, the first Japanese-built aircraft to land in Europe, for the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. in July 1939, negotiations between Japanese Foreign Minister Arita Khatira and the British Ambassador in Tokyo, Robert Craigie, led to an agreement by which Great Britain recognized Japanese conquests in China.

  • The Third Reich and the Appeasement.

Nazi Germany, also known as the Third Reich, was the German state between 1933 and 1945, when Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party controlled the country, transforming it into a dictatorship.

On June 18, 1935, the Anglo-German Naval Agreement was signed between Britain and Germany, regulating the size of the Kriegsmarine in relation to the Royal Navy. It fixed a ratio whereby the total tonnage of the Kriegsmarine was to be 35% of the total tonnage of the Royal Navy on a permanent basis. It was registered in League of Nations Treaty Series on 12 July 1935.

The Anglo-German Naval Agreement was an ambitious attempt on the part of both the British and the Germans to reach better relations, but it ultimately foundered because of conflicting expectations between the two countries. For Germany, the Anglo-German Naval Agreement was intended to mark the beginning of an Anglo-German alliance against France and the Soviet Union, whereas for Britain, the Anglo-German Naval Agreement was to be the beginning of a series of arms limitation agreements that were intended to limit German expansionism. The Anglo-German Naval Agreement was controversial, both at the time and since, because the 35:100 tonnage ratio allowed Germany the right to build a Navy beyond the limits set by the Treaty of Versailles, and Britain had made the agreement without consulting France or Italy.

The pact also permitted Germany to begin rebuilding its navy, including its U-boats, despite the fact that Hitler had already violated the Treaty of Versailles.

On September 29, 1938, after the four powers, Hitler, Chamberlain, French PM Édouard Daladier  and Benito Mussolini, met in Munich, Chamberlain returned to Britain promising “peace for our time“, allowing the annexation of Sudetenland by Germany. Both Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union were not allowed to attend the meeting.

Appeasement was accepted by most of those responsible for British foreign policy in the 1930s, by leading journalists and academics and by members of the royal family, such as King Edward VIII and his successor, George VI. Anti-communism was sometimes acknowledged as a deciding factor, as mass labor unrest resurfaced in Britain, and news of Stalin’s bloody purges disturbed the West. A common upper-class slogan was “better Hitlerism than Communism.” In France, right-wingers could sometimes be heard chanting “Better Hitler than Blum,” referring to their socialist Prime Minister at the time.

  • The British Empire on the Side of the Spanish Nationalists during the Spanish Civil War from 1936-1939.

The British government proclaimed neutrality. Preventing a major war by appeasing Italy and Germany was its main foreign policy goal. The leaders believed that the Spanish Republican Government was the puppet of extreme left Socialists and Communists. Accordingly, the British Cabinet adopted a policy of benevolent neutrality towards the military insurgents, with the covert aim of avoiding any direct or indirect help to the Popular Front Government. Public opinion was divided, with a clear majority demanding another great war be avoided. The British establishment was strongly anti-communist and tended to prefer a Nationalist victory. However, Popular Front elements on the left strongly favored the Republican cause.

The ambassador to Spain, Sir Henry Chilton, believed that a victory for Franco was in Britain’s best interests and worked to support the Nationalists. British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden publicly maintained the official policy of non-intervention but privately expressed a preference for a Nationalist victory. Eden also testified that his government “preferred a Rebel victory to a Republican victory.” Admiral Lord Chatfield, British First Sea Lord in charge of the Royal Navy, was an admirer of Franco, while the British Royal Navy in general also favored the Nationalists. As well as permitting Franco to set up a signals base in Gibraltar, a British colony, the Germans were allowed to overfly Gibraltar during the airlift of the Army of Africa to Seville. The Royal Navy also provided information on Republican shipping to the Nationalists, and HMS Queen Elizabeth was used to prevent the Republican navy shelling the port of Algeciras. During the fighting for Bilbao, the Royal Navy supported the Nationalist line that the River Nervión was mined, telling British shipping to keep clear of the area – and were badly discredited when a British vessel ignored the advice and sailed into the city, finding the river unmined as the Republicans had claimed.

The Anglo-French arms embargo meant that the Republicans’ chief foreign source of matériel was the USSR while the Nationalists mainly received weapons from Italy and Germany. The last Republican prime minister, Juan Negrín, hoped that a general outbreak of war in Europe would help his cause compelling Britain and France, to finally help the Republic. Ultimately neither Britain nor France intervened to any significant extent. The British supplied food and medicine to the Republic, but actively discouraged the French government of Léon Blum from supplying weapons. Claude Bowers, the American Ambassador to Spain, was one of the few ambassadors friendly to the Republic. He later condemned the League of Nations Non-Intervention Committee, saying that each of their moves had been made to serve the cause of the rebellion, and that ‘This committee was the most cynical and lamentably dishonest group that history has known.’

Britain and France officially recognized the Nationalist government on February 27, 1939. Labor leader Clement Attlee criticized the way it had been agreed, calling it ‘a gross betrayal … two and a half years of hypocritical pretense of non-intervention’.

  • The U.S. business society benefited from the second Sino-Japanese War.

In a hearing before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs on April 19, 1939, the acting chairman Sol Bloom interviewed Maxwell S. Stewart, a former Foreign Policy Association research staffer and economist who charged that America’s Neutrality Act and it’s “neutrality policy” was a massive farce which only benefited Japan and that Japan would never have had the capability to invade China without the massive amount of war material America exported to Japan. America exported far more war material to Japan than to China in the years 1937–1940. According to the U.S. Congress, the U.S.’s third largest export destination was Japan until 1940 when France overtook it due to France being at war also. Japan’s military machine acquired all the war materials, automotive equipment, steel, scrap iron, copper, and oil that it wanted from the United States in 1937-1940 and was allowed to purchase aerial bombs, aircraft, and aircraft equipment from America up to the summer of 1938. War essentials exports from the United States to Japan increased by 124% along with a general increase of 41% of all exports from 1936 to 1937 when Japan invaded China.

According to a hearing by the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations,  the U.S. contributed massively to the Japanese war economy in 1937 with 20% of zinc, 49% of engines and machinery, 60% of iron, 42% of pig iron, 61% of oil, 91% of automobiles and parts, 93% of copper imported from to Japan in 1937. From 1937 to 1940, the US exported a total of $987 million to Japan. The total value of military supplies was $704 million. During the Japanese war against China, 54% of Japan’s weapons and supplies were provided by Americans. 76% of Japanese planes came from the US in 1938, and all lubricating oil, machine tools, special steel, high-test airplane petrol came from the US. In September of 1939, American oil companies unveiled contracts to deliver 3 million barrels of petroleum to the Japanese Navy.

  • The U.S. business class was supportive of the fascist movement all over the world.

It is well known that some of the American industrialists and big corporations were supportive of the Nazi regime in the 1930s.

During the Spanish Civil War, some American businesses supported Franco. The automakers Ford, Studebaker, and General Motors sold a total of 12,000 trucks to the Nationalists. The American-owned Vacuum Oil Company in Tangier refused to sell to Republican ships and at the outbreak of the war, the Texas Oil Company rerouted oil tankers headed for the republic to the Nationalist controlled port of Tenerife, and supplied gasoline on credit to Franco. This was illegal and Texaco was fined $20,000, but this credit arrangement continued until the war’s end. After the war was over, José Maria Doussinague, who was at the time undersecretary at the Spanish Foreign Ministry said, “Without American petroleum and American trucks, and American credit, we could never have won the Civil War.”

President Roosevelt tried, in 1938, to bypass the embargo imposed by Congress and to ship American aircraft to the Republic via France, but failed. The embargo did not apply to non-military supplies such as oil, gas or trucks. The US government was thus able to ship food to Spain as a humanitarian cause and this mostly benefited the Loyalists. The position of the Roosevelt administration is closer to the Soviet Union on this matter, but far away from Germany, Italy, Japan, and the British Empire.

2. The Heartland Theory.

A sophisticated reader at this moment may ask a critical question:  why were the British imperialists and some of the western elites willing to accept such a high risk to support the fascist movement in the 1930s?  The answer lies in the understanding of the Heartland Theory postulated by Halford J. Mackinder in his article, “The Geographical Pivot of History”, submitted to the Royal Geographical Society in 1904.

The Heartland lay at the center of the world island, stretching from the Volga to the Yangtze and from the Himalayas to the Arctic. Mackinder’s Heartland was the area then ruled by the Russian Empire and after that by the Soviet Union, minus the Kamchatka Peninsula region, which is located in the easternmost part of Russia, near the Aleutian Islands and Kurile islands.

Later, in 1919, Mackinder summarised his theory thus:

“Who rules East Europe commands the Heartland;

who rules the Heartland commands the World-Island;

who rules the World-Island commands the world.”

The vital question was how to secure control for the Heartland. This question may seem pointless, since in 1904 the Russian Empire had ruled most of the area from the Volga to Eastern Siberia for centuries. However, throughout the nineteenth century, the Western European powers had combined, usually successfully, in the Great Game to prevent Russian expansion. Another factor which prevented Russia from commanding the Heartland was that the Russian Empire was huge but socially, politically and technologically backward—i.e., as Mackinder stated, it was inferior in “virility, equipment and organization.”

Mackinder outlined the following ways in which the Heartland might become a springboard for global domination in the twentieth century:

  • Invasion of Russia by a West European nation (most probably Germany).
  • A Russo-German alliance.
  • Conquest of Russia by a Sino-Japanese empire.

So, in the 1930s, from the British imperialist point of view, supporting an anti-communist Japanese Empire and an anti-Communist Nazi Germany would be serving the best interests of the British Empire.

3. July 7, 1937, a More Accurate Date for the Start of WWII.

There are three more reasons why the designation of July 7, 1937 as the starting date of WWII is more logical and sensible than September 1, 1939.

  1. The Japanese invasion of China inevitably led to the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the final straw that invited the United States to join the war. The German invasion of Poland, although bringing in two powers, the British Empire and France, would not definitively lead to the largest confrontation of armies in human history – that between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. (Hitler’s decision to invade the Soviet Union is considered one of the most unnecessary and fatal military decisions in human history.)
  2. The Japanese invasion of China directly and instantly involved two big powers, Japan and China, in a fierce total war and almost immediately brought in another big power, the Soviet Union, and eventually another big power, the United States, now making the confrontation of a global scale. The German invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939, ended in less than one month. The real confrontation between the German army and an alliance of the French army and the British expeditionary force didn’t happen until May 1940.
  3. The Japanese invasion of China occurred prior to and was conducive to the German invasion of Poland. The failure of the League of Nations to rectify the Japanese aggression in China emboldened Hitler’s ambition to expand the German territory.

III. Conclusion

There is a cliché:  “If you don’t learn history, you are going to repeat it.” I think it is more accurate to say:  If you learn history wrong, not only you are going to repeat it, you may even make it worse.

It’s obvious why the British imperialists, the Zionists and some American oligarchs want to make people believe that WWII started on September 1, 1939, when the Germans crossed the German-Polish border. However, it is more imperative for the rest of the people in the world, especially, the Americans, who bear our founding fathers’ principles and aspire to continue to be the leader of the world, to interpret the history of WWII correctly and morally.

Otherwise, learning the wrong lessons from history can only create a bad future for humanity. Embarking on the Cold War and the danger of nuclear calamity after the end of the most destructive war the world had ever known reveals the consequences of the continuation of such ignorance.

References (Abridged List):

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James J. Chen has had a life-long interest in history, politics, and the humanities. He has begun writing on these topics, with a particular emphasis on the the U.S.’s role in the evolution of the modern world.  He lives and practices medicine in the San Francisco Bay Area. His website: https://jamesjchen.wixsite.com/save-the-country.

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