World War II was arguably the most devastating war witnessed to this day. It caused massive amounts of damage that lasted for decades. Many nations all over the world suffered from the events of this war regardless of whether their countries were a part of the war or not. At the onset, there were many causes of World War II. Some of them were bad political decisions while many others were simply the wrong circumstances at the wrong time. Much of the reason World War II came about was because of the devastation and chaos left after World War I.
The end of World War I
After Germany was defeated in World War I, the famous Treaty of Versailles was signed by the Germans. By signing this treaty on June 28th, 1919, Germany accepted full responsibility for the entire war and its effects and damages on the other European countries and the Allied Powers in general. Accepting this responsibility took a toll on Germany as it had to pay billions of dollars in reparations.
This huge debt put Germany under a lot of stress and hurt the German economy. The German people were starving and the government could not handle the debt. Everything was falling apart.
During these dark times in Germany’s history, a ray of hope came to the German people in the form of Hitler and the Nazi Party who promised to fix the economy and regain the pride that Germany lost in World War I. What the German people did not see coming was Hitler’s dictatorship and the devastation he was about to bring to Germany and the rest of the world. Instead, they saw hope and proclaimed him the “Fuhrer,” which meant the leader of Germany.
The growing Japanese threat
While Hitler was rising to power in Germany, Japan was getting more and more powerful. Achieving many advances in different fields, the Japanese were faced with one major problem: Japan is an island with no land for agriculture or any other natural resources. In order to keep growing their country and future empire, the Japanese started taking over neighboring countries. They started by invading Manchuria in 1931 and then invading China about six years later.
The rise of Fascism
After World War I, many countries suffered from economic problems which led to the rise of Fascist dictators taking over their countries. Fascism started in Italy with Mussolini and in Spain with Franco. Both were dictators who invaded other countries to gain more power. Mussolini invaded Ethiopia in 1935, which tempted Hitler to follow his lead and start invading neighboring European countries starting with Austria in 1938.
The League of Nations did not do anything to stop Hitler or Mussolini when they started invading countries and growing their powers. This encouraged Hitler to invade Czechoslovakia only one year after taking over Austria.
The Great Depression
During the years before World War II broke out, many countries suffered from economic problems that led to governments rising and falling in most countries. In some countries, an unstable government and economic environment forced people to look for hope anywhere they could find it, even if it meant fascism and the loss of their own free will. Because of these factors, the Great Depression was one of the leading causes of World War II.
After World War I, Europe was very careful not to fall into another war. The European nations wanted to avoid war at all costs. Major powers in Europe, like Great Britain, did not want to start a conflict with Germany. Rather than trying to stop Hitler’s assaults against other countries, Europe essentially tried to keep him happy.
Both Great Britain and France chose to let Hitler keep the part of Czechoslovakia he had invaded in an agreement called the Munich Agreement. The People of Czechoslovakia called this agreement a betrayal since they had no choice or say in the matter.
Of course, this did not stop Hitler’s plans to continue his invasion of other countries. Accordingly, he kept building up his army in hopes to expand his empire. On September 3rd, 1939, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain declared war on Germany and the Second World War had officially started and would last for the next 6 years.
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