The Road to World War II: 4 Dictatorships


Step 1: Your teacher will be assigning you into groups of four. Each person in a group will be assigned to either Germany, Russia, Italy or Japan. Each group member will then become an "expert" on this country in the Interwar Period.

Step 2: Then, explore the resources provided below for your country and take notes on all of the information that you find. As you research your country, make sure to take thorough notes while filling in your worksheet. Try to use at least two sources for each section. This will enable you to have a more complete view of your country, its leader and the leader's actions and the role all of these played in the coming of World War II.

Step 3: Once everyone has had a chance to completely research their respective country and completely fill out their worksheet, they will share their "expertise" on their country with the other members of the group. Other group members will fill out the remaining sections of their worksheets on the three countries they did not research.



Biographies - Each of the leaders of the four countries took different paths to power, and their were some differences in their styles of leadership.

Germany: Adolf Hitler,

Italy: Benito Mussolini,

Russia: Josef Stalin,

Japan: Emperor Hirohito, Prime Minister Hideki Tojo, History Channel's Biography


Economy- You are interested in discovering how the economies of each country were fairing before the war. The economy of each country is important because it influences both the feelings of ordinary citizens and the actions taken by the government. For example, during a period of economic stability or economic growth, citizens are more likely to be content with their government and the world. Therefore, they are not likely to agitate for or support a war. This does not mean though, that a poor country will always want to go to war. Because, if a government has very little money it is difficult to organize and sustain an army.

Your job is to find out the strengths and weaknesses of the economies of the Germany, Italy, Russia (Soviet Union) and Japan prior to World War II. Some of the information you should look for includes: unemployment rates, percentage of people that are homeless, average salary, a country?s Gross National Product or GNP, and the rate of inflation. Also, find out why the economy was the way it was. Each of these countries had been involved in World War I, but the outcomes of the war was different for each.

Germany: German Economy(1933-39), Economic Recovery, Pre-War and Post-War Economy, Reparations

Italy: Economy in Fascist Italy

Russia: Stalin's Five Year Plan, Collectivization of Agriculture

Japan: Japan's Economy in the 1930's, Economic Depression, Economic Recovery


Political Environment - You are interested in learning about the governments of the Germany, Italy, Russia and Japan. The structure and role of the government in the daily lives of its citizens is important in understanding the actions of those citizens. For example, if a government does not allow its citizens to speak freely in public forums, then it is unlikely that the citizens will ever be able to influence the workings of the government. Also, it is important to understand who actually controls the everyday workings of the government. Is there a group of people that oversee the laws of the country, or is only one person in charge?

Your job is to find out how the government operates. This information will be very important to you when completing your article because it will allow you to understand the actions taken by each country in the years leading up to World War II. Some of the information you should look for includes (these are just suggestions, you may find different information that may help you, don't limit your search just to these areas): Who has the right to vote; what percentage of people in the country have the right to vote? Is the press controlled by the government, are the people encouraged to voice their opinions to the government? Who is the ultimate leader of the country, who has the final say in the government? Is there a parliament or legislative body, how much power do they have? What role does the military have in the government? How did the leader come to power? What actions does the leader use to stay in power and limit his opposition?


Germany: Hitler's Rise to Power, National Socialist Party, Hitler Biography, Nazi Party, Treaty of Versailles, Weimar Republic, Italy and Germany

Italy: Rise and Fall of Mussolini, Mussolini's Road to Dictatorship, Italy's Foreign Policy, Italy and Germany

Russia: Stalin's Rise to Power, Stalin's Purges, Stalin's Use of Terror

Japan: Japan, Manchuria & the League of Nations, Foreign Policy towards China



Social Aspects of country - You are interested in learning about the culture and different ways of life that were found in Germany, Italy, Russia and Japan in the years before World War II. A country?s culture is important because it lets others know what the people of that country value. The beliefs and feelings of ordinary citizens can strongly influence the actions of government.

Your job is to discover what life was like in your country in the 1920's and 1930's. Treatment for different groups was oftentimes very different. Some of the information you should look for includes: the religious beliefs of citizens of each country, beliefs about racial differences, resentment towards other countries because of past conflicts, customs or traditions specific to that country, and any other information that would help to describe the people and social life of each country.

Germany: Hitler, Women in Germany, Women and Children Under Hitler

Italy: Life in Mussolini's Italy, Women and Youth Under Mussolini

Russia: Life in Stalin's Russia, Women's Life Under Stalin

Japan: Conflict with China, Buddhism, Shinto , Nationalism

Step 4: Once all students have filled in the section for each country on their worksheets, the "experts" for each country will report their findings and the class will discuss each country. The "experts" and the teacher will answer any questions from other students.

Step 5: You will then write a news article about your country. You will play the role of a news reporter on January 1, 1939. Your article will tell the reader about your country during the Interwar period up until this date. You will write about the leader and their rise to power, the effects of World War I on the country, the economic conditions of the country, and the general welfare of the people of your country. Your article should completely tell the story of your country in the years between World War I and World War II. Remember, a news article was contain: WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, and HOW. Your article must be at least one full page in length.

The Public URL for this WebQuest:
WebQuest Hits: 66,159
Save WebQuest as PDF

Ready to go?

Select "Logout" below if you are ready
to end your current session.