The European Theatre of World War II was a huge area of heavy fighting across Europe from Germany's invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939 until the end of the war with the German unconditional surrender on May 8, 1945 (V-E Day). The Allied forces fought the Axis powers on two fronts (the Eastern Front and Western Front) as well as in the adjoining Mediterranean and Middle East Theatre.
Germany was defeated in World War I, and the Treaty of Versailles placed punitive conditions on the country, including significant financial reparations, the loss of territory (some only temporarily), war guilt, military weakening and limitation, and economic weakening. Germany was humiliated in front of the world and had to pay very large war reparations. Many Germans blamed their country's post-war economic collapse and hyperinflation on the treaty's conditions. These resentments contributed to the political instability which made it possible for Adolf Hitler and his National Socialist Party to come to power, with Hitler's appointment as Chancellor of Germany in 1933.
After Hitler took Germany out of the League of Nations, Mussolini and Hitler formed the Rome-Berlin axis, under a treaty known as the Pact of Steel. Later, Japan would also join as an Axis power under the rule of Hideki Tojo. Japan and Germany had already signed the Anti-Comintern Pact in 1939, to counter the Soviet Union's communism "threat". Other smaller powers also later joined the Axis through pacts.
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