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How World War II Started

The second world began on 1st September 1939 with the German invasion of Poland. This was truly a global war, which had more than 56 countries involved fighting on land, air and sea in over two-thirds of the earth’s surface. The war which was the most devastating in history in which over 45 million people were killed, ended in 1945 with the dawning of the nuclear era. Causes of the war The First World War and the Treaty of Versailles – When the First World War ended, the Allies decided to exclude the participation of Germans in the peace treaties.

The treaty of Versailles was truly a Diktat (‘Dictated Peace’): Germany was forced to agree to the terms of the treaty regardless of whether its people liked them or not. The terms of the treaty were also very harsh, the main points of conflict being, a disarmament of Germany in the Rhineland area which made them vulnerable to France. This did prove ominous when France finally attacked them in 1923. Another sore point was the Reparations paid by Germany to other countries, chiefly France, for the damage done by them in the First World War. This weakened the economy of Germany, as they themselves had been badly affected by the war.

They sought a reprieve in ‘printing money’ which further weakened the economy to the point of collapse, till the introduction of Dawes plan. The result of all this was that Germany was left very bitter against those who had sought to demean them as a race – a hatred that Hitler would exploit in the 1930s in his rise to power. The Dawes plan and the Great Depression – The Dawes plan had American loan money to Germany, which it used to pay the reparations to France, France used it to pay Britain the money they owed, and Britain used it to pay America the money they owed..

The plan worked well till the stock market crash in America, after which they could not load Germany the money and even wanted it back. This led to a situation of economic crisis and mistrust among countries, which finally led to the failure of League of Nations. Hitler and his foreign policy – Hitler represented people who wanted revenge against the other countries for Germany’s defeat. His policies included going back on the Treaty of Versailles, rearm Germany, unite all ‘true Germans’ in one land and racially cleanse the Reich, increase the area of Germany and destroy communism.

The last two meant attacking other countries by Germany, which started with the invasion of Poland and attack on Russia, and led to other countries being a part of this war Failure of League of nations & Appeasement – The League of Nations was an organization created by the Treaty of Versailles to enforce peace in Europe. The League failed in 1931 when Japan invaded Manchuria, to solve its economic problem. Japan was one of the main countries in the League, and Britain and France, who were the other major countries in the League, appeased them.

Italy saw how the League appeased Japan, and in 1935 Italy invaded Abyssinia. Once again, the League of Nations appeased Italy and this spurred Germany the openly break the Treaty of Versailles by rearming themselves and attacking other countries. The economic crisis in the world caused by the Great Depression caused countries like England and France to appease other countries even when they openly broke the rules, laid down by the League. Appeasement was a large cause of the war, as it allowed Germany to become such a powerful force in Europe.

Hitler and in consequence Germany got used to breaking the League’s rules, and when England and France finally tried stopping Germany, it had already become too powerful. Germany, now joined by Japan and Italy, felt that League could not stop them, and this led to the most devastating war in history.

References Roberts, J. M. , “The Penguin History of the Twentieth Century”, 1999, Penguin Press “Principal Causes of the Second World War”, http://www. bbc. co. uk/dna/h2g2/A1000774

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