"His eyes impressed me most of all. There was a liquid quality about them which indicated keen perception and profound sympathy." - Mackenzie King describes Adolph Hitler
In the 1930s, fascism thrived in Europe and the world moved closer to war.
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Rise of the Fascists
Rise of Hitler
Mackenzie King visits Hitler and appeases Germany on the brink of the Second World War
Hate at the Top
Jews face powerful prejudice in Canada as they try to escape Nazi Germany
Canada Goes to War
The country decides what role it will play as Hitler's army sweeps through Europe
In 1933, Adolph Hilter was elected German Chancellor and immediately began transforming the German economy into a war machine. By the late 1930s, Germans led other countries in Europe in their forces of destruction. Germany's submarine force surpassed England's fleet . And its airforce and army were formidable.
Hitler's goal was to make Germany the most important power in Europe. His envisioned a society centered on the superiority of the Aryan race and the elimination of the Jewish people.
In 1937, Hitler annexed Austria on March 13, 1938 and a year later completed a takeover of Czechoslovakia.
European and North American leaders, including Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King supported the policy of "appeasement" of Germany. Leaders accepted Hitler's increasingly aggressive moves hoping Germany would be satiated once it had consolidated the German-speaking areas of Europe.
Then on September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland and it was finally clear to world leaders that Hitler could not be appeased. Two days later, Britain and France declared war on Germany.
Canada at war
On September 10, 1939 Canada entered the Second World War. At this point, Prime Minister Mackenzie King's wanted to limit Canada's role in the war. More than half of the country's citizens had no ties to Britain and Canada was reassessing its colonial obligations.
But less than a year later, it was apparent that Canada was in for a long, hard fight. In spring 1940, Hitlerís army moved easily through the Low Countries of Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg and into France. With its army of six million, France was one of the most powerful military forces in the world, and expected to be the bulwark for western democracy. But on June 14, ten days after engaging the French army, the Nazis walked into Paris unopposed.
Canada geared up for a full war effort. The Prime Minister commanded factories to begin round-the-clock production of war supplies. By the end of 1940, 200,000 Canadians had volunteered to fight in Europe.