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The Second World War was caused by:
a. Hitler’s Aims
1. To unite German speaking people (using NSD which had been denied at the Treaty of Versailles. 2. He wanted lebensraum (living space) in order to gain self-sufficiency (autarky) 3. He wanted to dominate Europe and the World To achieve any of these aims would involve breaking the Treaty of Versailles (28/6/1919), and this could lead to war.
b. The aggression of Hitler’s Allies
1. Italy – Mussolini wanted a Fascist-Roman empire in the Mediterranean and Africa (e.g. Abyssinian invasion in 1935.) 2. Japan – Japan wanted a Nipponese empire in the Pacific, extending into China and Australia (e.g. Manchurian invasion in 1931) Germany, Italy and Japan were hostile to Communism (USSR), and this way a cause of war and vice versa.
c. Democratic powers were passive
1. USA – Isolated 2. France – France was unlikely, and reluctant, to intervene against Germany, because she could not rely on Britain’s and America’s support. 3. Britain – Between 1934 and 1937, Britain was sympathetic to German recovery. Between May 1937 and March 1939, Britain appeased Germany. These powers could have stopped Fascist aggression earlier than 1939.
d. The League of Nations failed to keep peace
See other notes.
War was caused by a combination of ‘a’ to ‘d’, but Hitler’s aims and actions were the main cause of war.
Reasons for Causes of War
1. The Rome-Berlin Axis (October 1936) was a cause of war because it united the aggressive fascist powers and divided Europe into hostile camps. 1919) 6.Refer to map showing nine causes of war. Rearmament alarmed the French who. 9. stating that as the powers would not disarm to his level. 1919) 5. 1936) was a cause of war because it broke the Treaty of Versailles and the Locarno Pacts (1925) 3. Causes of the Second World War (Detail) See Map and Summary Sheet Nine Steps to War 1. . Germain (10th September. The Second World War was caused by Fascist aggression and the failure of democratic powers to stop this aggression. 4. France remained passive without Britain’s support. The Rearmament of Germany German rearmament began after Hitler left 1932-4 Geneva Disarmament Conference. By 1935 rearmament was well underway. reinforced the Maginot line (built between 1929 and 1934). The rearmament of Germany was a cause for war because it broke the Treaty of Versailles (28th June. Germain. The Nazi-Soviet Pact (29th August 1939) caused war because it sealed Poland’s downfall. he would rearm Germany to their level. The Nazi annexation of the Sudetenland after the Munich conference (29th September 1938) was a cause of war. The Anschluss of Germany with Austria (13th march. This was a line of steel and concrete fortifications stretching from Belgium to Switzerland and was called ‘a gate without a fence’ because Germany would be able to avoid it and invade France via Belgium. 1938) was a cause of war because it broke the Treaty of Versailles and Treaty of St. Germain (10th September. 8. Chamberlain’s appeasement policy (after may 1937 – March 1939) was a cause of war because it broke the Treaty of Versailles and Treaty of St. 1919) 2. because it broke the Treaty of St. cause war because it defied the Munich agreement and ended Britain’s appeasement policy. 7. The remilitarization of the Rhineland (7th march. The Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia in March 1939. This involved conscription and munitions factories. feeling insecure. The Nazi invasion of Poland (1st September 1939) caused war because Britain had guaranteed Poland’s borders.
’ To show that his remilitarization was popular. The Remilitarization of the Rhineland (1936) Having broken the Treaty of Versailles once. which showed that 98. 1938) Austrian Fascists wanted to unite with Germany but Schuschnigg.) 5. 4. Churchill disagreed. citing Mein Kampf (1924) where Hitler had written that Germany must regain lands ‘in the East … by the power of the sword. the Siegfried Line. 3. The Anschluss with Austria (13th March. In so doing. The Pact of Steel (May 1939). He was unable to gain support from abroad (France and the Little Entente) so agreed to meet Hitler in Berlin. Hitler had used Spain as a practise ground. Hitler risked doing it a second time by marching 30. remained passive because Britain would not support her. Mussolini and Hitler strengthened their alliance on two occasions a. with 250. Hitler held a plebiscite.Britain was sympathetic towards Germany and even signed an Anglo German naval Treaty (June 1935) allowing Germany’s navy to be 35% of the size of the Royal Navy. Rioting . b. 2. wanted Austria to be independent. the Austrian Chancellor. The Rome Berlin Axis (October 1936) Originally Mussolini did not want to be Hitler’s ally and in 1935 talks were held with Britain and France at the Stresa Front. (We have the benefit of hindsight. Hitler used his new found arms to support Franco in the Spanish Civil War (1936-9) Hitler sent the Condor Legion of the Luftwaffe to bomb Guernica on 26th April. Britain took the view that Germany was ‘marching into her own back yard. believing that all Hitler wanted to do was unite German speaking people. He went on to build his own defensive fortification. Guernica was razed to the ground and Franco went on to conquer the Basque areas of Spain.000 troops mobilised.8% were in favour. but these came to nothing when Anthony Eden of Britain threatened oil sanctions against Mussolini during the Abyssinian crisis. Britain’s policy of Appeasement (May/June 1937 – March 1939) Neville Chamberlain became British Prime Minister on 28th May 1937. Hitler would break the Treaty of Versailles (28th June 1919) but Chamberlain did not believe Hitler would cause war.’ Chamberlain had misinterpreted Hitler’s aims.000 troops into Cologne on 7th March 1936. He was persuaded to accept Hitler’s henchman Seyss-Inquart as Minster of the Interior. This caused the Rome-Berlin Axis in 1936. and followed the policy of appeasing Germany. 1937. The Anti-Commintern Pact (November 1937) with Japan. France.
Chamberlain realised appeasement had failed. demanded a union with Germany. Hitler’s plans to invade Poland were complete. Hitler made it seem that he had been invited into Austria. It said: a. peace in our time’. Chamberlain announced that he had gained ‘peace with honour. Germain (10th September 1919) and hereby Czechoslovakia gained 3 million German speaking people. mobilised alone. Fearing war. After the Anschluss the Sudeten German leader. so Chamberlain could still appease Hitler. SeyssInquart invited Hitler to assist him and on 13th March. so he began to rearm Britain and guarantee peace in Poland. so the Czechs surrendered. Hitler Gained the Sudetenland (29th September. Benes. Britain and Germany would never go to war. Munich Agreement (29th September. in March 1939. 1939) – The Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact By the summer of 1939. 1938) This was signed by Hitler. except Churchill. So far Hitler had only taken German speaking territory. Hitler forced Lithuania to give him Memel where most people spoke German.’ 7. the Czech Premier.in Vienna increased under Seyss-Inquart’s leadership and Schuschnigg resigned. Nazi-Soviet Pact (29th August. Godesburg and at Munich. This was ‘rigged’ by biased questioning. but in private he exploded saying ‘that fellow Chamberlain has spoiled my entry into Prague. 1938) The Sudetenland was lost by Austria in the Treaty of St. Hitler’s Reaction In public Hitler seemed satisfied. Unable to receive help from France. Chamberlain met Hitler on three occasions at Berchtesgaden. Chamberlain’s Reaction On his return to England. 6. Benes was not present. 1938 troops from the Wermacht entered Austria. The Fall of Czechoslovakia (March 1939) In March 1939. Hitler could take the Sudetenland the following day without a plebiscite b. Chamberlain and Daladier. The majority rejoiced. However. In a plebiscite on the Anschluss a vote of 99. Hitler threatened to bomb Prague.75% in favour was recorded. Hungary and Poland could take border districts from Czechoslovakia c. 8. Therefore to avoid a war on two . in fact he had incited the union. Konrad Henlein. He realised that to invade Poland mighty cause Britain to attack him from the West but he was more concerned to avoid a Russian attack from the east. Mussolini.
Britain. e. 1938) Appeasement – to give into an aggressor little by little. Hitler’s plebiscites on remilitarization and the Anschluss of Austria and Germany (Hitler fixed his referendums in 1936 and for the Anschluss in 1938. 3rd September 1939. Stalin of USSR gained time to rearm in case Hitler attacked him later.e.g. forced onto Czechoslovakia (1938) Passive – to spectate.g. e. Causes of the Second World War .g. Germany remilitarized the Rhineland (1936) Plebiscite (referendum) – a vote on an issue. Buffer zone – a protective barrier of land. sudden attack co-ordinating air. 1939) German tanks invaded West Prussia and Posen on the 1st September 1939 using blitzkrieg tactics. then land forces).g. Germany (after 1934).g. Chamberlain sent an ultimatum (a warning with a threat) saying that if Hitler did not withdraw from Poland by 11am. Germany was aggressive towards Czechoslovakia (March.g. declared war on Germany.g. He fixed them by biased questioning. e. Britain appeased Germany (May/June 1937 – March 1939) Blitzkrieg – lightning attack. followed by France. (This is a lightning.g.g. co-ordinating air and land forces. Britain’s ultimatum for Hitler to leave Poland by 11am on the 3rd September 1939. e. e.g. if Britain supported Poland. Germany’s attack on Poland (1st September 1939) Remilitarization – rearming and area.g. German Invasion of Poland (1st September. Hitler’s aim to take land from bordering states to achieve self-sufficiency (autarky) Anschluss – union.g. Eastern Poland taken by the USSR as protection against a future German attack.g. Austria and Germany (March. e. he arranged the Nazi-Soviet Pact. The Munich Agreement. 9. 1939) and Poland (1st September.Vocabulary • • • • • • • • • • • • • Lebensraum – living space. e. On 3rd September.fronts.) Ultimatum – a warning with a threat. i. Rearmament – manufacturing of weapons and conscription. e. Germany under Hitler and Schacht to enable Germany to avoid imports Aggression – hostile or violent action. This would provide the USSR with a bufferzone. Britain and France were passive towards the German remilitarization of the Rhineland (March 1936) . and the chance to gain the eastern half of Poland. e. e. so no-one expected him to have a plebiscite for the Sudetenland. Britain would declare war. which said that if either country went to war the other would remain neutral. Britain after the taking of Sudetenland Autarky – self-sufficiency economically. E. 1939) Diktat – none-negotiated decision/arrangement. Hitler gained the chance to invade Poland with a war on one front. in the hope of preventing war. e. not take part in the action. e.
e. Invasion of Poland c. Anti-Commintern Pact. 1919) on Germany: o Land losses o Reparations o War Guilt b. 1937) o Russia – Nazi-Soviet Pact. The harshness of the Treaty of Versailles (28th June. The democracies were too passive o USA – isolation o France – would not do anything without Britain’s support o Britain – sympathetic towards Germany. Anglo-German Naval Treaty (1935) and later appeased her (May/June 1937 – March 1939) Immediate a.g.2.8. Anti-Commintern Pact (November. Albania o Japan – Manchuria (1931). e. The failure of the League of the Nations to: o Keep peace o Bring about disarmament Short term a. a.3. Rome-Berlin Axis.7.6.g. German invasion of Poland (1st September. Hitler’s aggression: o His aims o His actions (see steps to war: 1.9) b. Hitler incited the Anschluss (March.• Incite – devious planning. 1938) Causes of the Second World War (Summary) Long term.5. 1939) . The aggression of the other powers: o Italy – Abyssinia (1935). Short term and Immediate Causes Long term a.
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