Cast & Crew
Louis De Francesco
Using newsreel footage, this film reviews world events from the end of World War I to the American entry into World War II and, according to the narration, shows "how, through their disunity, democracies were led, some to destruction and others to the verge of destruction." In 1919, the leaders of the nations of the world gather at Versailles to sign the treaty ending World War I. Although U.S. President Woodrow Wilson fights to establish the League of Nations, the United States rejects the Treaty of Versailles and with it, the League of Nations. In Russia, a revolution overthrows the czarist government. By 1928, the German Republic is in ferment as the Nazis and Adolf Hitler move into power, and Germany stops paying war reparations. In Italy, Fascist leader Benito Mussolini comes to power and begins to arm the Italians, while in Great Britain, Prime Minister Lloyd George warns that the future of mankind depends on cooperation between the United States and Great Britain. In 1929, the United States calls for worldwide reduction in arms. In Czechoslovakia, a democratic government develops, while in Spain, the monarchy is overthrown, and the Spanish Republic forms. In 1930, the world suffers from an economic depression, and the Soviet Union establishes its first five-year plan. The Depression hits hard in Germany, where militarism is enjoying a revival. In 1933, Hitler seizes control of the German government and by re-arming, the country violates the Treaty of Versailles. In 1934, Von Hindenberg dies, and in Austria, a Nazi party is organized, but fails. The King of Yugoslavia is assassinated, and the following year Germany is fully re-armed. The Greek government is overthrown, but the free nations are involved with their own internal problems and do not intervene. In 1936, Mussolini becomes increasingly powerful and is hailed as a power for world peace. Later, however, Italy invades Ethiopia and the free nations do nothing, despite Haile Selassie's pleas to the League of Nations. Then Mussolini and Hitler join forces. In 1937, the Japanese, who have grown increasingly more aggressive, invade Manchuria. China protests to the League of Nations, and Japan quits the League in response. Civil war develops in Spain, and with the help of the Axis powers, the forces opposed to the Republic, led by Francisco Franco, win. Again, the democratic nations take no action. Hitler invades Austria, and in 1938, Britain re-arms. When Hitler demands the Sudetenland area of Czechoslovakia, the democracies, led by Neville Chamberlain of Britain, follow a policy of appeasement. In 1939, after Germany invades Poland, Great Britain and France declare war on Germany. Poland falls, and the Soviet Union signs a non-aggression pact with Germany. After the fall of Finland, the Nazis invade Denmark and that country is conquered without a shot being fired. The Germans then invade Norway, Holland, Belgium and France. After France surrenders, Charles De Gaulle forms the Free French government. Now Britain, under the leadership of Prime Minister Winston Churchill, fights on alone. In Asia, China continues its fight against the Japanese, who have joined the Axis. Although China's spirit is strong, its people lack the weapons for a proper defense. Despite their non-aggression treaty with the Soviet Union, the Nazis invade Russia, but are defeated by the Russian winter. In 1941, the Japanese invade French Indo-China and then bomb Pearl Harbor. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt declares war on Japan, and the free nations finally unite against the enemy.
A working title of the film was United We Stand-Divided We Fall. The film begins with the following written foreword: "The events of yesterday tell us of tomorrow. Divided-we free nations would fall. United we will stand." The film ends with a speech by Franklin D. Roosevelt, followed by a color sequence depicting the flags of the democratic nations. The film includes footage from British, German and Russian documentary films.