Eight decades after the formation of the alliance between Germany and Italy, few would say the rise of an expansionist European dictator is imminent. Yet history and the Bible reveal otherwise.
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Berlin, 1936: The world gathered for the Olympic Games. It was Nazi leader Adolf Hitler’s chance to show off a resurgent Germany and his vision for the nation. Propaganda mastermind Joseph Goebbels hatched a plan for a pomp-and-circumstance spectacle for the opening ceremony.
The event seems utterly bizarre in hindsight, like some sort of sci-fi alternate universe.
Flags lined the streets, with Olympic rings aside swastikas. The first-ever torch relay (now a staple of the games) ended with a lone runner entering a stadium with Nazi banners dominating the backdrop. When Hitler arrived to open the games, the crowd erupted into a thundering chant of “Sieg, heil! Sieg, heil!” with the perfunctory outstretched-arm salute.
The opening ceremony that year raised the bar so high that every host nation since has followed suit with dramatic displays of national pride. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum wrote: “For two weeks in August 1936, Adolf Hitler’s Nazi dictatorship camouflaged its racist, militaristic character while hosting the Summer Olympics. Softpedaling its antisemitic agenda and plans for territorial expansion, the regime exploited the Games to bedazzle many foreign spectators and journalists with an image of a peaceful, tolerant Germany.”
For the most part, it worked. Although the world knew of the Nazis’ master race ideology, most left the Olympics thinking that Germany could not be all that bad.
Similarly, not many took note on October 25, 1936, when the fascist governments of Italy and Germany agreed to become allies.
A few days later, Italian leader Benito Mussolini publicly announced the move: “This Berlin-Rome vertical line is not an obstacle but rather an axis around which can revolve all those European states with a will to collaboration and peace.”
In other words, Mussolini felt Europe would now revolve around Italy and Germany. Given his and Hitler’s expansionist desires, they likely wanted the entire globe to turn on the axis of Rome and Berlin.
The Axis powers were born, with Japan joining soon after.
There was a strong reason for nations to have rose-colored glasses in regards to the growing fascist empire. It happened less than 20 years after World War I, which was thought of as “the war to end all war.” The globe still clung to the idea that military conflict on that scale would never be repeated. The League of Nations had even been established to promote the use of diplomacy over guns.
Few expected what fully was to come. And even with the benefit of hindsight, it seems unbelievable.
How did a Rome-Berlin Axis coerce two entire nations into complying with atrocities that have not since been paralleled? In Germany, how did an ultra-radical political party—consisting of just 850,000 members—bamboozle the whole 66-million-strong nation?
Two years later, in 1938, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain met with Hitler. The men signed the Munich Pact, which ceded Czechoslovakia’s resource-rich Sudetenland to Germany. The agreement, which was intended to appease the Nazis, caused Chamberlain to declare, “Peace for our time.”
The West still did not get it. Germany invaded Poland a year later. By the end of 1940, the Axis powers captured Denmark, Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands, France and parts of North Africa.
A few short years later, six million Jews were dead as a result of the Holocaust. Add to that total 5.7 million Soviet civilians, 2.95 million Soviet prisoners of war, 1.8 million Polish civilians…the list sadly goes on.
Here we are 80 years after the formation of the Axis powers. As was the case leading up to WWII, most are utterly unaware that history is about to repeat itself.
Some politicians and journalists did see the writing on the wall regarding the Axis threat—especially the danger of the Nazis. Edgar Mowrer of the Chicago Daily News warned this about Hitler: “What he’s saying about the Jews is serious. Don’t underestimate him” (The Atlantic).
In addition, Hitler outlined his agenda in his book Mein Kampf. It contained clear language about expanding Germany’s borders so the Aryan race could have lebensraum, or “living space.” It is littered with anti-Semitic rhetoric. It stated that if Hitler were elected, he would break the Treaty of Versailles and rearm the nation.
Hitler did every one of these things.
The fact that the world did not stop the 1930s rise of the Nazis is telling. Germany had just gone to war with the world a few decades earlier, and Hitler was not secretive about his motives.
How quickly mankind forgets the lessons of the past! Yet WWI was not the only reason Europe should have seen this coming. Something similar happened many times before. In fact, the continent has a penchant for getting steamrolled by dynamic strongmen.
Before Hitler and Mussolini, there was Napoleon. Before him was Charles V and Otto the Great. What linked all of these men? The Holy Roman Empire.
While the Nazi regime was labeled the Third Reich, the First Reich was the Holy Roman Empire, which lasted from AD 962-1806.
All of the men listed looked up to the likes of Charlemagne and Justinian who also ruled Europe. Take note: This entire list of rulers has more in common than first meets the eye.
One of the uniting characteristics of these historical figures was their power of persuasion. They had the incredible ability to inspire blind loyalty.
Regarding Hitler—whose speeches were known to be mesmeric—the former secretary of Joseph Goebbels stated: “Those people nowadays who say they would have stood up against the Nazis—I believe they are sincere in meaning that, but believe me, most of them wouldn’t have” (The Guardian).
She stated that during the reign of the Nazi party “the whole country was as if under a kind of a spell.”
Napoleon was known to be similar. Personally, he stated that he had “the gift of electrifying men” (Napoleon: For and Against).
One of his generals put it this way: “That devil of a man [Napoleon] exercises a fascination on me that I cannot explain even to myself, and in such a degree that, though I fear neither God nor devil, when I am in his presence I am ready to tremble like a child, and he could make me go through the eye of a needle to throw myself into the fire” (The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind).
The lesson from all this? When men with such compelling charisma arise in Europe, war is close behind.
There is no Mein Kampf today for us to see if another Hitler is on the horizon. Yet there is another book that details both the rise of the Axis powers and a coming European dictator.
Any regular reader of The Real Truth knows that the publication uniquely examines history and world events through the lens of Bible prophecy. Yet we do not want you to take our word for it regarding what God’s Word says. You need to prove it for yourself—and you can. The Restored Church of God, which publishes this magazine, freely offers many books, videos and articles at rcg.org to help you do this.
One powerful proof of the validity of prophecy actually involves Hitler and Mussolini. In the 1930s, the 20th-century leader of the Church that produces this magazine was studying the book of Revelation, chapter 17. He came to verse 10, which states “five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come…”
For context, this verse is speaking of a symbolic beast that has seven heads. The five that were fallen were the governments of Justinian, Charlemagne, Otto the Great, Charles V, and Napoleon. (Real Truth Editor-in-Chief David C. Pack’s booklet Who or What Is the Beast of Revelation? explains all of this using both the Bible and history.)
Notice the language of verse 10: “five are fallen, one is, and the other is not yet come.” This verse could only be revealed at one time: during the reign of the head labeled “one is,” which is stated in present tense.
Amazingly, the phrasing “one is” was first understood when Hitler and Mussolini were on the scene! God kept the meaning of this verse sealed until the time He chose. Revelation 1:1 shows that He only reveals such knowledge to His servants.
With six heads now “fallen,” there is a future head—a seventh—that is yet to come.
The beast in Revelation 13 has a parallel in Daniel 7. Putting the details of these symbolic creatures next to the record of history further proves the Bible—as well as additional details to how the seventh head will arise.
Read carefully: “And I [the apostle John] stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns…” (Rev. 13:1).
This beast is the Roman Empire. In both Daniel 7 and Revelation 13, the beasts have 10 horns. The Bible defines these: “And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings [governments] that shall arise” (Dan. 7:24).
In other words, the Roman Empire would have 10 kingdoms throughout the centuries—10 resurrections under different strong-men leaders.
Put simply, in this succession of empires, there would be a “deadly wound,” which would later be “healed.”
Every word of this is backed by history. It proves God is the author of the Bible—and that future prophecies will come to pass!
Ancient Rome enjoyed an extended period of power and splendor, which was followed by a long and steady decline. In AD 476, it was finally overrun by a series of three Germanic tribes, the Vandals, Heruli and Ostrogoths.
This date marks the start of the “deadly wound”—it looked like the Roman Empire was dead!—and the three tribes are the first three horns.
Yet, in AD 554, Justinian’s army recaptured Italy and he led his Imperial Restoration. Rome was back! This was the fourth of the 10 horns.
The next four horns were Charlemagne’s Frankish Kingdom, Otto I’s Holy Roman Empire, Charles V’s Hapsburg dynasty, and Napoleon’s kingdom.
From AD 554 until Napoleon was forced to abdicate the throne in 1814, this system repeatedly united Europe for a period of 1,260 years.
After this deadly wound was healed, the Bible states that “power was given unto him [the Roman governmental system] to continue forty and two months” (vs. 5).
What does 42 months have to do with 1,260 years? Mr. Pack answers this in his booklet Who or What Is the Beast of Revelation?
He writes: “Ezekiel 4:4-6 and Numbers 14:34 show that, in prophetic fulfillment, each day counts for a year. This is critical to understand in regard to many other prophecies. Without recognizing this principle, all of these Bible prophecies have remained closed—sealed—to those who sought to understand them. How does ‘a day for a year’ apply here?
“Forty-two months is three and a half years. God’s sacred years contain 360 days. 360 days times 3 1/2 equals 1,260 days—or 1,260 years in prophecy.”
Astonishingly, AD 554 to 1814—from Justinian to Napoleon—is exactly 1,260 years!
The next resurrection of the Roman system (the ninth horn and sixth head) began when Giuseppe Garibaldi united Italy in 1870. This culminated with the Axis powers during WWII.
The same governmental system will reappear in Europe for a seventh time, which Revelation 17 describes as one “not yet come” (vs. 10). The examples of Hitler and Mussolini provide a fascinating type of what is to come.
Summarize in your mind the events of WWII: Italy and Germany band together and conquer much of Europe. Western nations in the continent are largely pitted against the Axis powers. Prejudice against Jewish citizens results in forced labor camps and genocide of the Holocaust.
The events of the sixth head are all lesser types of what is to come with the seventh head. It will be a World War III on a scale few can imagine.
The Old Testament book of Isaiah is mainly written to Judah and Jerusalem (1:1)—the modern nation of Israel in the Middle East. Chapter 1 describes the result of this war: “Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers” (vs. 7).
These strangers are a European army. They will be headed by a strongman labeled both the “prince of Tyrus” (Ezek. 28:2) and “king of the north” (Dan. 11:40). Daniel 11 shows that this man will “enter also into the glorious land [modern Israel], and many countries shall be overthrown” (vs. 41).
Isaiah 3:25 simply labels this horrific event “the war.”
Yet this conflict does not focus solely on Jerusalem. Ezekiel 4 reveals that both Judah (vs. 1) and other modern-day descendants of Israel (vs. 3)—including America, Britain and other Western European nations—will be pummeled by the seventh head of the Roman system.
Just as happened in the Holocaust, there will again be enslavement and execution.
Ezekiel 5:7-9 explains why this will occur: “Therefore thus says the Lord God; Because you multiplied more than the nations that are round about you, and have not walked in My statutes, neither have kept My judgments, neither have done according to the judgments of the nations that are round about you; therefore thus says the Lord God; Behold, I, even I, am against you, and will execute judgments in the midst of you in the sight of the nations. And I will do in you that which I have not done, and whereunto I will not do any more the like, because of all your abominations.”
Before this time, God will warn all of the modern nations descended from ancient Israel. He will tell them to repent from their sins and serve Him. This message will go out with thundering clarity and power—leaving all without excuse.
But most in stiff-necked Israel will need to learn a bitter lesson through national captivity: “And they that escape of you shall remember Me among the nations whither they shall be carried captives, because I am broken with their whorish heart, which has departed from Me, and with their eyes, which go a whoring after their idols: and they shall loathe themselves for the evils which they have committed in all their abominations” (Ezek. 6:9).
The system that God will use to do all of this is the next resurrection of the Roman system. It will again involve Germany and its military prowess.
Realize that God uses nations and peoples to work out His master Plan for mankind. All nations have distinct national characteristics, which makes them useful for different purposes.
God describes the character of the Assyrian peoples—whose descendants now live in Europe—in the book of Isaiah: “For he [the Assyrian nation] says, By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom; for I am prudent…” (10:13).
This group has a long list of successes and accomplishments, which has led to an ingrained nationalistic pride.
The account in Isaiah 10 reveals the nation’s love for war and tendency to conquer surrounding lands: “…I have removed the bounds of the people, and have robbed their treasures, and I have put down the inhabitants like a valiant man: and my hand has found as a nest the riches of the people: and as one gathers eggs that are left, have I gathered all the earth…” (vs. 13-14).
However, this definition is far from what these people think of themselves. Notice verse 7: “Howbeit he means not so, neither does his heart think so; but it is in his heart to destroy and cut off nations not a few.” Despite a lengthy historical track record written in blood, this nation “means not so, neither does [its] heart think so.”
There is an incredible purpose for all of this. It is found in verse 5: “O Assyrian, the rod of My anger, and the staff in their hand is My indignation.”
The Assyrian people have long been used by God as a means of punishment for rebellious nations such as the ancient Israelites. They will be used similarly again. This is why there will be a coming seventh head as mentioned in Revelation.
God will not do any of this without warning all the nations involved first. Those of Jewish descent and those in America, Britain and Western Europe will know what is coming and why. The same can be said for those in Germany, Italy and surrounding nations. Individuals will have every chance to seek God and avoid the horrible times ahead.
Yet the stubbornness of man will mean he must learn the hard way.
The ultimate purpose for the coming World War III is the same for everyone involved: that all nations may come to know God and keep His commandments. His way of life is the only path to true peace, happiness and prosperity.
To learn more about all the beasts mentioned in Bible prophecy and to identify the exact signs that signal the seventh head is rising, read the booklet Who or What Is the Beast of Revelation?