Eastern Europe during World War II, 1938–1944
The destruction of Czechoslovakia freed Hitler to begin his war of German conquest in Eastern Europe by invading Poland in September 1939. He had prepared for the war carefully by taking advantage of national, political, and economic conditions among various East European states. Both Hungary and Bulgaria were loser states at Versailles and strongly revisionist. Ultranationalist Hungary had strong ties to Hitler’s fascist ally Italy dating to 1927 and a growing fascist movement of its own, the Arrow Cross. Bulgarian king Boris III (1918–43) was ethnically German and personally sympathetic to the anti-Versailles lead taken by Germany. Romania, a Versailles winner, was wracked by social problems that spawned rabid anti-Semitism and an early fascist movement, the Iron Guard. In Yugoslavia, another Versailles winner, a royal dictatorship, under the regency of pro-German Prince Pavel, desperately tried to curb Croat national animosities against Serb political domination.