On 1 September 1939, the German armed forces launched an unprovoked military attack against Poland. Two days later, Hitler’s regime was at war with Britain and France. Hitler had always wanted Britain as an ally in any future war. But the full economic and diplomatic resources of the British Empire were now ranged against his ambitious plan for European hegemony. The Soviet Union, his most hated ideological enemy, was now his diplomatic partner as a result of the last-ditch signing of the Nazi-Soviet Pact on 24 August 1939. Japan, his Axis ally in the Far East, was already embroiled in a bloody war against China. The Italian government led by Mussolini decided to remain neutral.
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