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Causes of World War II
The main causes of World War II were nationalistic tensions, unresolved issues, and resentments resulting from the World War I and the interwar period in Europe, plus the effects of the Great Depression in the 1930s. The culmination of events that led to the outbreak of war are generally understood to be the 1939 invasion of Poland by Germany and the 1937 invasion of the Republic of China by the Empire of Japan. These military aggressions were the result of decisions made by the authoritarian ruling Nazi elite in Germany and by the leadership of the Kwantung Army in Japan. World War II started after these aggressive actions were met with an official declaration of war and/or armed resistance.
German battleship Schleswig-Holstein, Westerplatte, September 1, 1939.
Ideologies, doctrines, and philosophies
The internationalist minded, radical Bolsheviks seized power in Russia in November 1917 and subsequently supported attempts to set up similar regimes elsewhere, with brief success in Hungary and Bavaria. This caused many central and western Europeans (and Americans) to fear Destroyer USS Shaw exploding after her forward magazine was detonated during that a violent Communist revolution would the Attack on Pearl Harbor. overwhelm their own countries. Beginning in 1919 the victorious Entente Powers established a cordon sanitaire of border states on Russia’s western frontier in the hope of quarantining Communism in Russia. Both Italian and German national socialist fascism were in part a reaction to international communist socialist uprisings, in conjunction with nationalist fears of the Slavic empire. A further factor in Germany was the success of Freikorps (voluntary paramilitary groups of discharged soldiers) in crushing the Bolshevik Bavarian Soviet Republic in Munich in 1919. Many of these veterans became early components of the Nazi party’s SA which would be the party’s troops in the street warfare with the Communist armed militia in the decade before 1933. The street violence would help shift moderate opinion towards the need for Germany to find an anti-Communist authoritarian leader to restore stability to German life.
Italy’s expansionist desires can be tied to bitterness over minimal gains after helping the Allies achieve victory in World War I. Greater Hungary was a popular topic of discussion. and Denmark. and the Treaty of Craiova resulted in the return of Southern Dobruja to Bulgaria. the German state had lost land to Lithuania. which included all territories where Germans lived. bitterness among Germans. disregarding the fact of them being minority in this territory. and Yugoslavia in World War I and the Second Balkan War. and later invaded Greece. France. Italy had been promised large chunks of Austrian territory but received only Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol. Notable losses included the Polish Corridor. Germany began its own program of expansion. Under the Nazi regime. had also been stripped of enormous territories after the partition of the Austria-Hungary empire and hoped to regain those lands by allying with Germany. In Europe. Estonia. Danzig. The Soviet Union had lost large parts of former Russian Empire territories to Poland. The economically valuable regions of the Saarland and the Rhineland were placed under the authority (but not jurisdiction) of France. Italy’s Benito Mussolini sought to create a New Roman Empire based around the Mediterranean and invaded Albania in early 1939. Italy had also invaded Ethiopia as early as 1935. contributing to feelings of revanchism which inspired irredentism. at the worst. This provoked little response from the League of Nations and the former Allied powers. By the Treaty of London. and Russia without provoking a general war or. because of Allied appeasement and prior inaction. the Second Vienna Award resulted in the loss of Northern Transylvania to Hungary. and also difficult relations with those in these neighboring countries. Germany and Italy had not been as successful as the other Great Powers in gaining and holding territory. Poland. at the start of the war. predating the creation of the German State of 1871. and the most economically valuable eastern portion of Upper Silesia. Hungary. and promises believed to have been made about Albania and Asia Minor were ignored by the more powerful nations' leaders. and Russia/the Soviet Union) had long held large amounts of territory under imperial or colonial rule. Lithuania and Romania in World War I and the Russian Civil War and was interested in regaining lost territories. usually by means of military aggression. only spark weak Allied intervention after the result was already decided. had lost territories to Greece. Romania. seeking to restore the "rightful" boundaries of pre–World War I Germany. or union. Romania. Bulgaria. Hitler estimated that he could invade Poland.Causes of World War II 2 Expansionism (imperialism) Expansionism is the doctrine of expanding the territorial base (or economic influence) of a country. Latvia. the Memel Territory (to Lithuania). . the United Kingdom. Such a plan of unification. a reaction to empire-building that was common throughout the war-weary and depressed economy of the 1930s. After the Treaty of Versailles. supporters hoped to unite the German people under one nation. also an ally of Germany during World War I. found itself on the losing side in early stages of World War II. while on the winning side in World War I. Germany came to Mussolini's aid on several occasions. Finland. leading to a perhaps inevitable war with Poland. various European powers (such as France. the French province of Alsace-Lorraine. As result of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina were ceded to the Soviet Union. Also during the Russo-Japanese war some territories had been lost to Japan. the Province of Posen. Germany's pre–World War II ambitions in both Austria and parts of Czechoslovakia mirror this goal. After World War I. resulting in the reoccupation of the Rhineland and action in the Polish Corridor. The result of this loss of land was population relocation. between Germany and a newly reformed Austria was prohibited by the Allies. the majority of Austria's population supported such a union. had been discarded because of the Austro-Hungarian Empire's multiethnic composition as well as competition between Prussia and Austria for hegemony. At the time of World War II. an ally of Germany during World War I. However. Greater Romania was a concept that caused Romania to side more and more with Germany. Also of importance was the idea of a Greater Germany. At the end of World War I. an Anschluss.
had been widespread for centuries. In many ways. a strong. Germany introduced permanent conscription in 1935. By the 19th and 20th centuries. with a clear aim of rebuilding its army (and defying the Treaty of Versailles). these migrations had acquired considerable political implications. were the master race and that the Slavs were inferior. cultural and ethnic links. In many of these cases. in the end of 19th century and at the beginning of 20th century. Japan and Italy. and the need for individual heroism was an important part of fascist ideology. Furthermore. In Asia. Social-Darwinist theories framed the coexistence as a "Teuton vs. in the sense of duty and honor. Thailand had lost territories to France. In general. Japan harbored expansionist desires. In his book The Doctrine of Fascism. especially to the emperor. the United Kingdom and in Germany. including Pan-Germanism and Pan-Slavism. it believes that the government should control industry and people for the good of the country. fuelled at least partially by the minimal gains the Japanese saw after World War I. In Italy. the roots of the expansionism leading to World War II can be found in perceived national slights resulting from previous involvement in World War I. centralized government usually headed by a dictator. believe in the possibility or utility of perpetual peace". as well as swaths of Siberia and the Russian port of Vladivostok. and wanted to regain those areas. Japan was forced to give up all but the few islands it had gained during World War I.Causes of World War II Finland lost territory to the Soviet Union during the early stages of World War II in the lop-sided Winter War. nationalism. Nationalism Nationalism is the belief that groups of people are bound together by territorial. 3 Fascism Fascism is a philosophy of government that is marked by stringent social and economic control. the "Aryan race". Despite having taken a German colony in China and a few other Pacific islands. During . fascism viewed the army as a model that a whole society should emulate. already a nation where fervent nationalism was prevalent. nationalistic goals of re-unification of former territories or dreams of an expanded empire. land and limited resources. Integrating these ideas into their own world-view. Slav" struggle for domination. generally speaking. and often has a policy of belligerent nationalism that gained power in many countries across Europe in the years leading up to World War II. the idea of restoring the Roman Empire was attractive to many Italians. For example. The rise of the nation-state had given way to the politics of identity. Compounding this fact was the traditional militant attitude of the three had a similar track record that is often underestimated. Such migratory patterns created enclaves and blurred ethnic frontiers. Benito Mussolini declared that "fascism does not. many Germans had settled to the east (the Volga Germans). Nationalism was used by their leaders to generate public support in Germany. Racism Further information: Xenophobia in Showa Japan and Eugenics in Showa Japan Twentieth-century events marked the culmination of a millennium-long process of intermingling between Germans and Slavs. Fascist countries were highly militaristic. Over the years. In Japan. Fascism ultimately proved to be one of the beliefs that was universal with many invading Axis countries. Finland was drawn into what was called the Continuation War to regain what it had lost. When Germany attacked the Soviet Union in 1941. Militarism A highly militaristic and aggressive attitude prevailed among the leaders of Germany. the Nazis believed that the Germans. Fascists believed that war was generally a positive force for improvement and were therefore eager at the prospect of a new European war.
territorial dismemberment. the US played a minor role in World War I and Wilson could not convince the Allies to agree to adopt his Fourteen Points. The Kaiserliche Marine spent most of the war in port. occupied the Rhineland as far east as the river with some small bridgeheads on the east bank at places like Cologne. 4 Interrelations and economics Problems with the Treaty of Versailles The Treaty of Versailles was neither lenient enough to appease Germany. and Italy took the southern half of Tyrol after an armistice had been agreed upon. and German troops occupied (with varying degree of control) large parts of Eastern and Central Europe. which were due to be evacuated by Allied troops five. which took place in 1920. including those of the American Army. caused mass ethnic resettlement and caused hyperinflation of the German currency . however. The Weimar Germany after Versailles Annexed by neighbouring countries Administered by the Republic printed trillions of marks and League of Nations Weimar RepublicWeimar Germany borrowed heavily from the United States (to later default) to pay war reparations to Britain and France. thus the occupation was intended to last until 1935. and punished them for their "responsibility" rather than working out an agreement that would assure long-term peace. only to be turned over to the allies and scuttled at surrender by its own officers. separated millions of ethnic Germans into neighboring countries.Causes of World War II World War II. following the Armistice of 1918. The treaty placed the blame.S. who had promised the people of Germany that U. Many Germans felt that the German government had agreed to an armistice based on this understanding. or "war guilt" on Germany and Austria-Hungary. The treaty resulted in harsh monetary reparations. who still carried war debt from World War I. nor harsh enough to prevent it from becoming the dominant continental power again. The treaty created bitter resentment towards the victors of World War I. ten and finally 15 years after the formal ratification of the treaty.see inflation in the Weimar Republic. The war in the east ended with the collapse of Russian Empire. The treaty specified three occupation Zones. Hitler used racism against "Non-Aryan" peoples. Allied forces. the last Allied troops left Germany five years prior to that date in 1930 in a good-will reaction to the Weimar Republic's policy of reconciliation in the era of Gustav Stresemann and the Locarno Pact. The German colonies were taken during the war. Under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles of 1919 the occupation was continued. President Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points would be a guideline for peace. In fact. Contributing to this. The lack of an obvious military defeat was one of the pillars that held together the Dolchstosslegende and gave the Nazis another tool at their disposal. while others felt that the German Revolution of 1918–1919 had been orchestrated by the "November criminals" who later assumed office in the new Weimar Republic. After the destructive and indecisive battle of Jutland (1916) and the mutiny of its sailors in 1917. .
German-speaking areas of Bohemia (so-called Sudetenland) remained part of it inside Czechoslovakia. led to struggling development. Yugoslavia (originally the Kingdom of Serbs. and large groups of national minorities remained trapped in other countries. which in the end. a whole new set of issues emerged at the same time as a consequence of the treaties of Trianon and Saint Germain. In addition. Macedons. Hungary was held responsible for the war and stripped of two thirds of its territory and inhabitants. Protectionist nationalistic policies of the successor states created high regional political tension and economic cooperation of the formerly united regions of Austria-Hungary was a thing of the past. which had been an equal partner in the Austro-Hungarian government. while losing the part of Tyrol that makes up Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol. Montenegrins.Causes of World War II An opposite view of the treaty held by some is that it did not go far enough in permanently neutering the capability of Germany to be a great power by dividing Germany into smaller. especially amidst the rise of communism. irredentist and extremist movements gained strength and support from the population in this area. this could have had any number of unforeseeable consequences. this would have undone Bismarck's work and would have accomplished what the French delegation at the Paris Peace Conference wanted. While some problems had been solved. received Burgenland (formally part of Hungary). less powerful states. Croats. Regardless. However. and the Slovenes). powers. As a result. a significant portion of Hungarians and Germans ended up under foreign rule. Former lands of Austria-Hungary were divided up arbitrarily after the war in order Territory of the proposed Republic of German Austria in the immediate aftermath to suit the ambitions of the victorious of WWI. 5 Issues after the dissolution of Austria-Hungary One major issue after the dissolution of Austria-Hungary was that the self-determination principle proposed by President Woodrow Wilson failed to achieve its goal. Croats. and Slovenes) was home of five major ethnic groups (Serbs. the Treaty of Versailles is generally agreed to have been a very poor treaty which helped the rise of the Nazi Party. while Austria. In effect. and was created after the war. For example. Competition for resources and markets .
the French empire included French Indochina. Under the guise of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. Indo-China. Indonesia.-led demand to pull out of China. There was a feeling at the back of it that it provided the only escape from economic strangulation. Japan lacks extensive natural resources. 1939. When Japan moved into the southern part of French Indochina.. ""What I shall say in Japan in the ensuing months 'comes straight from the horses mouth' in that it will accurately represent and interpret some of the current thoughts of the American government and people with regard to Japan and the Far East. Japan had two choices: comply with the U. Singapore. and progress not only for themselves but for all other nations in every quarter of the world. the American Ambassador to Japan. . the Philippines.S.S. and were denied the Japanese industry.S. At the beginning of the twentieth century. the sphere of influence of the United States was expanding across the Pacific. According to Japanese diplomat Mamoru Shigemitsu. often in closed economic systems such as the British Commonwealth..Causes of World War II 6 Other than a few coal and iron deposits. The intended consequence of this was the halt of oil shipments from the U. Guinea. among other things. The Japan government deemed it unacceptable to retreat from China. Japan was determined to dominate this market. and the Netherlands held the Dutch East Indies. In a sense the Manchurian outbreak was the result of the international closed economies that followed on the first World War. Borneo. On October 19. Papua New World map of colonialism at the end of the Second World War in 1945. Japan had succeeded in pushing back the East Asian expansion of the Russian Empire in competition for Korea and Manchuria. But the new order in East Asia has appeared to include. Lengthy talks were held between the U. The natural resources in Asia were shipped to fuel the industries of the colonial powers at low prices.. By the time it had the ability to gain its own colonies. With oil reserves that would last only a year and a half during peace time (much less during wartime). Malaya.S.. In the Philippines. to Japan. In addition. Japan was a latecomer to the club of industrialized imperialist countries. Burma. which had supplied 80 percent of Japanese oil imports.American rights and interests in China are being impaired or destroyed by the policies and actions of the Japanese authorities in China. or seize the oilfields in the East Indies from the Netherlands. annexing Hawaii. Grew. but even entry. and Japan. and other European powers had been dominating.S."  The largest source both of raw material and consumers in Asia was China. The markets for finished goods sent the colonies were also closed to the Japanese. which the U.. and to this the American people are opposed. not only were Japanese activities forbidden.. much of the Pacific and its resources had been carved up between the Western Great Powers: the British Empire included India. Joseph C. stability. where public opinion was alarmed by events such as the Nanking Massacre and growing Japanese power. depriving Americans of their long established rights in China.. in a formal address to the America-Japan Society stated.S."  In 1937 Japan invaded Manchuria and China proper. (see Overseas expansion of the United States) At the turn of the century in the Russo-Japanese War. "The Japanese were completely shut out from the European colonies. with slogans as "Asia for the Asians!" Japan sought to remove the Western powers influence in China and replace it with Japanese domination..the American Government and people earnestly desire security. Ordinary trade was hampered by unnatural discriminatory treatment. President Roosevelt chose to freeze all Japanese assets in the U.. The ongoing conflict in China led to a deepening conflict with the U. The Netherlands and UK followed suit. and providing crucial assistance to China...
The League lacked an armed force of its own and so depended on the members to enforce its resolutions. Mason had argued that the German working-class was always opposed to the Nazi dictatorship. keep to economic sanctions which the League ordered. This also lessened the power of the League—the addition of a burgeoning industrial and military world power would have added more force behind the League's demands and requests. settling disputes between countries through negotiation diplomacy. maintaining that though Germany was faced with economic problems in 1939. when needed. growing out of the Congress of Vienna (1815). they were often very reluctant to do so. Mason had contended that a "flight into war" had been imposed on Adolf Hitler by a structural economic crisis. Overy argued against Mason's thesis. that this was a form of political resistance and this resistance forced Adolf Hitler to go to war in 1939. The League's methods included disarmament. the extent of these problems cannot explain aggression against Poland and the reasons for the outbreak of war were due to the choices made by the Nazi leadership. the League ultimately proved incapable of preventing aggression by the Axis Powers in the 1930s. 7 Problems with the League of Nations The League of Nations was an international organization founded after World War I to prevent future wars. though the United States never joined. that in the over-heated German economy of the late 1930s. In this way. or provide an army. Under the new philosophy. the Japanese Navy attacked the U. a shaky economic recovery was threatened by a rearmament program that was overwhelming the economy and in which the Nazi regime's nationalist bluster limited its options. The Mason-Overy Debate: "The Flight into War" theory In the late 1980s the British historian Richard Overy was involved in a historical dispute with Timothy Mason that mostly played out over the pages of the Past and Present journal over the reasons for the outbreak of World War II in 1939. 1870.. and improving global welfare. They mistakenly believed they would have a two year window to consolidate their conquests before the United States could effectively respond.S. the reliance upon unanimous decisions. and the continued self-interest of its leading members meant that this failure was arguably inevitable. and the United States would seek a compromise peace long before the tide of war could potentially turn to the Allies' superior production. However. preventing war through collective security. the lack of an armed force. The absence of the U. The proposed period would include many (but not all) of the major European regime changes to occur during the period. which confronted Hitler with the choice of making difficult economic decisions or aggression. saw Europe as a shifting map of alliances among nation-states. Thus. the League was a government of governments. Mason articulated a Primat der Innenpolitik ("primacy of domestic politics") view of World War II’s origins through . European Civil War Some academics examine World War II as the final portion of a wider European Civil War that began with the Franco-Prussian War on July 19. for the League to use. The diplomatic philosophy behind the League represented a fundamental shift in thought from the preceding hundred years.S. German workers could force employers to grant higher wages by leaving for another firm that would grant the desired wage increases. The impetus for the founding of the League came from U.Causes of World War II Hoping to knock out the United States for long enough to be able to achieve and consolidate their war-aims. a "flight into war" imposed by a domestic crisis. creating a balance of power maintained by strong armies and secret agreements. After numerous notable successes and some early failures in the 1920s. 1941. President Woodrow Wilson. with the role of settling disputes between individual nations in an open and legalist forum. including those during the Spanish Civil War and Russian Civil War. The old philosophy. the outbreak of the Second World War was caused by structural economic problems.S. Navy at Pearl Harbor on December 7. The key aspects of the crisis were according to Mason.
The war ended with a Prussian victory. German foreign policy was driven by domestic political considerations. ways and means will always yet be found to get out of a fix". Overy argued that there is considerable evidence that the German state felt they could master the economic problems of rearmament. as one civil servant put it in January 1940 "we have already mastered so many difficulties in the past.Causes of World War II the concept of social imperialism. was transferred from France to Germany. For Overy. it was the state of the German economy. who was alarmed at the rapid growth in population and unity among the German people and eventually chose to declare war in the face of potential loss of French international prestige. Finally.” However. Mason argued that the Nazi leaders were deeply haunted by the November Revolution of 1918. In Mason’s opinion. the failure of various rearmament plans produced by the shortages of skilled workers. Mason argued that the timing of a such a war was determined by domestic political pressures. Mason argued that “Nazi Germany was always bent at some time upon a major war of expansion. and Germany unified soon after. 8 Specific events Franco-Prussian War The Franco-Prussian War was initiated by Napoleon IV of France. In Mason’s opinion. the “overheating” of the German economy caused by rearmament. the problem with Mason's thesis was that it rested on the assumption that in a way not shown by records. Mason described German foreign policy as driven by an opportunistic 'next victim' syndrome after the Anschluss. Overy asserted that the repressive capacity of the German state as a way of dealing with domestic unhappiness was somewhat downplayed by Mason. if one or other raw material became extremely scarce. Overy argued that there was a difference between economic pressures induced by the problems of the Four Year Plan and economic motives to seize raw materials. information was passed on to Hitler about the Reich's economic problems. and had nothing to do with what Hitler wanted. the decision to sign the German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact with the Soviet Union and to attack Poland and the running of the risk of a war with Britain and France were the abandonment by Hitler of his foreign policy programme outlined in Mein Kampf forced on him by his need to stop a collapsing German economy by seizing territory abroad to be plundered. Alsace-Lorraine. especially as relating to a failing economy. According to Mason. Mason's Primat der Innenpolitik thesis was in marked contrast to the Primat der Außenpolitik ("primacy of foreign politics) usually used to explain World War II. that here too. and not Hitler's 'will' or 'intentions' that was the most important determinate on German decision-making on foreign policy. a border territory. industry and foreign reserves of neighboring states as a way of accelerating the Four Year Plan. which continued into the 20th century. In Mason's view in the period between 1936–41. and the launch of World War II in 1939 was best understood as a “barbaric variant of social imperialism”. This period marked a relative decline in the strength of France. industrial unrest caused by the breakdown of German social policies. Mason contended that when faced with the deep socio-economic crisis the Nazi leadership had decided to embark upon a ruthless 'smash and grab' foreign policy of seizing territory in Eastern Europe which could be pitilessly plundered to support living standards in Germany. The resulting disruption in the balance of power led France to seek alliances with Russia and the United Kingdom. and was most unwilling to see any fall in working class living standards out of the fear that it might provoke another November Revolution. by 1939. and the sharp drop in living standards for the German working class forced Hitler into going to war at a time and place not of his choosing. in which the “promiscuity of aggressive intentions” was nurtured by every successful foreign policy move. .
and the Slovenes). November 8 to the early afternoon of Friday. which had been losing favor. where a national assembly convened to produce a new constitution after the German Empire was abolished following the nation's defeat in World War I. advanced the idea that the army would somehow have triumphed if not for the German Revolution of 1918–1919 at home. Large groups of nationalistic minorities still remained trapped in other nations. unsuccessfully tried to overthrow the Weimar Republic.Causes of World War II 9 World War I World War I was a cataclysm in which nearly an entire generation of young men was killed or wounded. the 1929 crash caused a shortage in capital. many American banks invested their money in rebuilding Europe. The republic was named after the city of Weimar. and the army was retreating (but not routing) in the face of an enemy with more men and material. The Great Depression Fallout from the collapse of the United States economy following the 1929 Stock Market Crash reverberated throughout the world. Croats. This contributed directly to the rise of Hitler in Germany. After World War I. Allied troops had not entered Germany in large numbers and its people anticipated a treaty along the lines of the Fourteen Points. The Germans had a difficult time accepting defeat. The Beer Hall Putsch was a failed Nazi coup d'état which occurred in the evening of Thursday. poverty. Yugoslavia (originally the Kingdom of Serbs. Firstly. . At the end of the war. however unlikely the reality. It was a liberal democracy in the style of France and the United States. Those investors who still had money to invest lost faith in the European market. and other totalitarians. the navy was in a state of mutiny. failed to set up the parameters which may have prevented the Second. weaker and embittered. This "Stab in the Back" theory was used to convince the people that a second world war would be winnable. and Slovenes) had 5 major ethnic groups (the Serbs. and it was created after the war. and an overall feeling of despair. Montenegrins. For example. civil unrest. The Fourteen Points were largely abandoned in favor of punishing Germany for its alleged "war guilt". second only to the United States. some Germans. This meant the German people argued that had the 'traitors' not gone and surrendered to the Allies. notably Hitler. Many people view World War II as a continuation of World War I. Croats. The lure of a steady job and adequate food led many people to support dictatorships like those established by Adolf Hitler. but capable of rebounding and seeking revenge. Weimar Republic The Weimar Republic governed Germany from 1919 to 1933. drafted at the conclusion of the World War I. 1923. some believe that the Versailles Treaty. November 9. The Great Depression resulted in a 25% unemployment rate in the United States and a 33% unemployment rate in Germany. World War I lacked a decisive conclusion. Macedons. It was fought mainly as a preemptive war by Germany aimed at checking Russian power. Severe unemployment led a surge in Nazi Party membership. which led to high rates of unemployment. Adolf Hitler. using the popular World War I General Erich Ludendorff. an ineffective compromise that left Germany smaller. Germany could have gone on to win the war. The Great Depression affected Germany tremendously. Benito Mussolini. Despite this reality. However. European countries were hit hard by the Great Depression.
a Nazi-led majority abolished parliamentarism. whereby the Nazis' planned Gleichschaltung ("bringing into line") of Germany was made formally legal. on May 5. Initially. the Soldiers' Oath was modified into an oath of obedience to Adolf Hitler personally. The Italians invaded without a formal declaration of war. Mussolini declared the country's withdrawal from the organization. and Somaliland into a single colony known as Italian East Africa. the governments were inclined to see the remilitarization as a fait accompli. Mussolini approved the use of mustard gas. Ethiopia had successfully resisted European colonization. In violation of the Treaty of Versailles and the spirit of the Locarno Pact.Causes of World War II 10 Rise of Fascism in Italy From October 27 to October 29. In the "Night of the Long Knives". He warned that "It is us today. Benito Mussolini and his National Fascist Party (Partito Nazionale Fascista. Italian invasion of Ethiopia Italian dictator Benito Mussolini attempted to expand the Italian Empire in Africa by invading the Ethiopian Empire (also known as Abyssinia). 1936. On March 31. 1933. It will be you tomorrow". The arson of the parliament building on February 27 (which some have claimed the Nazis had instigated) was used as an excuse for the cancellation of civil and political liberties. After new elections. 1934. Italian forces took the capital. France could not act because of political instability at the time. the troops entered on bicycles and could easily have been stopped had it not been for the appeasement mentality. Eritrea. Without much resistance from the army leadership. 1936. Hitler's men murdered his main political rivals. the Italians won the last major battle of the war. To that time. In addition. or PNF) staged a coup d'état and seized political power in the Kingdom of Italy. The occupation was done with very little military force. Emperor Haile Selassie fled into exile on May 2. the Kingdom of Italy invaded on October 3. After Hindenburg died on August 2. With the pretext of the Walwal incident in late 1934. 1936. and other states throughout the world. the Weimar constitution. Addis Ababa. the British Government could not find out or discuss actions to be taken until the following Monday. March 7. the war progressed slowly for Italy despite its advantage in weaponry. since the remilitarization occurred on a weekend. giving the Nazis totalitarian control over German society. By the end of 1935. Germany remilitarized the Rhineland on Saturday. the Battle of Maychew. the authority of the presidency fell into the hands of Adolf Hitler. 1922. Italy annexed the Ethiopia on May 7 and merged Ethiopia. As a result of the League's condemnation of Italy. On June 30. . and practically the parliament itself through the Enabling Act on March 23. Mussolini and the PNF foreshadowed similar Fascist movements in Romania. The League of Nations declared Italy the aggressor but failed to impose effective sanctions. As a result of this. Emperor Haile Selassie gave a stirring speech before the League of Nations denouncing Italy's actions and criticizing the world community for standing by. Hungary. Nazi dictatorship Hitler was appointed chancellor on January 30. enacted by the aged President Paul von Hindenburg and the rightist coalition cabinet led by Hitler. 1935.
he elected to hold a plebiscite. The decision to disregard their right to self determination was based on French intent to weaken Austria and Germany.. in fact one of the most industrialized regions in Czechoslovakia. which began on 22 and 23 September 1937. the Spanish Republic.. France and Fascist Italy. However. Both sides used this war as an opportunity to test improved weapons and tactics. The latest. insist on the historical-legal unity [of Bohemia]…It is more just to subjugate 3 million [Germans] than that 10 million [Czechs and Slovaks] be . Its more than 3 million ethnic Germans comprised almost a quarter of the population of Czechoslovakia. Nanjing and Guangzhou. though. made it clear that he could be pushed "no further". just days prior to the balloting. the idea of creating a Greater Germany through such a union had been popular in Austria as well as Germany. Masaryk urged on October 31. and committed brutal atrocities in the Nanjing massacre. the Treaty of Versailles created two new states: Austria and Czechoslovakia. a successful Austrian Nazi Party coup transferred power within the country. the quarrelling amongst these powers doomed any continuation of a Stresa Front and. to "[b]e very careful – no weakness. Parts of the so-called Sudetenland were highly industrialized. Second Sino-Japanese War The Second Sino-Japanese War began in 1937 when Japan attacked deep into China from its foothold in Manchukuo. Dollfuss' successor. Consequently. At the request of the Czechs the areas that would be known as the Sudetenland remained within Bohemia and were incorporated into the new Czechoslovak state against the wishes of much of the local population. with no choice but to accept the unfavorable Anschluss. Italy had little reason for continued opposition to Germany. peaking just after World War I when both new constitutions declared German Austria a part of Germany. Following a Hitler speech at the Reichstag. The takeover allowed German troops to enter Austria as "enforcers of the Anschluss". and applied pressure for several Austrian Nazi Party members to be incorporated into offices within the Austrian administration. The Soviet Union supported the existing government. called forth widespread protests culminating in a resolution by the Far Eastern Advisory Committee of the League of Nations. Historically. who all had vehemently opposed such a union. Germany pressed for the Austrian Nazi Party's legality. Munich Agreement The so-called Sudetenland was a predominantly German-speaking region along the borders of Czechoslovakia with Germany. 1918 his ally Edvard Beneš. After World War I. Nevertheless. since the Party quickly transferred power to Hitler. and Austria ceased to exist as an independent state. hoping to retain autonomy. no fighting occurred as most Austrian were enthusiastic. Amidst mounting pressures from Germany. and was if anything drawn in closer to the Nazis. Such an action was expressly forbidden by the Treaty of Versailles. Anschluss The Anschluss was the 1938 annexation of Austria into Germany. The Bombing of Guernica was a horrific attack on civilians which foreshadowed events that would occur throughout Europe. The invasion was launched by the bombing of many cities such as Shanghai. On October 31. and keeping it out of German influence would weaken the war potential of the former enemy. Britain. did nothing. the Future Czechoslovak President Tomáš G.Our Germans will be downcast when Germany surrenders.Causes of World War II 11 Spanish Civil War Germany and Italy lent support to the Nationalist insurrection led by general Francisco Franco in Spain. played a critical role in the assassination of Austrian chancellor. The Imperial Japanese Army captured the Chinese capital city of Nanjing. Just as importantly. but rather uncompromisingly demand full independence from the Habsburgs. 1918. Engelbert Dollfuss. Kurt Schuschnigg.
When the French and British negotiators informed the Czechoslovak representatives about the agreement. Soviet-Japanese Border War In 1939. The Soviet Union focused on her western border.5 million troops to guard the frontier with Japan. 1938. Albania was occupied after short campaign despite stubborn resistance offered by the Albanian forces. Germany took the Sudetenland unopposed. Following this battle. following the earlier Battle of Lake Khasan in 1938. breaking the Munich Agreement. . The entire ordeal was the last show of the French and British policy of appeasement. all German parties (except German Social-Democratic party) merged with the Sudeten German Party (SdP). The conferring powers allowed Germany to move troops into the region and incorporate it into the Reich "for the sake of peace. Germany requested the immediate annexation of the Sudetenland. supporting German separatist groups within the Sudeten region. Mussolini's troops invaded Albania. Paramilitary activity and extremist violence peaked during this period and the Czechoslovakian government declared martial law in parts of the Sudetenland to maintain order. especially now that Slovakian nationalism was rising. Hitler gave his word that Germany would make no further territorial claims in Europe. This only complicated the situation. and economy. leading to conflict with the United States over the Philippines and control of shipping lanes to the Dutch East Indies. Citing the need to protect the Germans in Czechoslovakia."  The Sudetenland contained most of the defensive system which ran across mountainous terrain and was larger than the Maginot line. was not allowed to participate in the conference. Rome delivered Tirana an ultimatum on March 25. King Zog refused to accept money in exchange for countenancing a full Italian takeover and colonization of Albania. as did the Nazi press. They were decisively beaten by Soviet units under General Georgy Zhukov. President Edvard Beneš capitulated. the Japanese attacked west from Manchuria into the Mongolian People's Republic. but leaving 1 million to 1. In the Munich Agreement of September 30. population. out of suspicion towards Prague and Nazi encouragement. Hitler pressed for the Sudetenland's incorporation into the Reich. which had already mobilized over one million troops and was prepared to fight. German troops invaded Prague. British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and French leaders appeased Hitler. Czechoslovakia had a modern army of 38 divisions. Czechoslovakia. German occupation and Slovak independence In March 1939. 1939. the Soviet Union and Japan were at peace until 1945. Alleged Czech brutality and persecution under Prague helped to stir up nationalist tendencies. and that if Czechoslovakia would not accept it. 1939. Japan looked south to expand its empire." In exchange for this. the country of Czechoslovakia disappeared.Causes of World War II subjugated. demanding that it accede to Italy's occupation of Albania. France and Britain would consider Czechoslovakia to be responsible for war. backed by a well-noted armament industry (Škoda) as well as military alliances with France and Soviet Union. and with the Slovaks declaring independence. The Sudetenland region also comprised about one third of Bohemia (western Czechoslovakia) in terms of territory. On April 7. 12 Italian invasion of Albania After German occupation of Czechoslovakia. Italy saw itself becoming a second-rate member of the Axis. After the Anschluss.
Invasion of Poland Tensions had existed between Poland and Germany for some time in regards to the Free City of Danzig and the Polish Corridor. It was signed in Moscow on August 23. Hitler used the issue of the status city as pretext for attacking Poland. neither Germany nor the Soviet Union were ready to go to war with each other. or forced to cede part of their territory by either the Soviet Union. tensions rose again. Although officially labeled a "non-aggression treaty". Poland. or both. The Soviet Union had lost territory to Poland in 1920. without entering the war effectively. the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was a non-aggression treaty between Germany and the Soviet Union. which was arranged with the support of Lord Halifax. and there is some debate over a claim that Poland had. a trip to Italy was made by British amateur diplomat James Lonsdale-Bryans. Final diplomatic strategy In 1940. Halifax himself had met with Hitler in 1937. Poland and Romania were divided into spheres of interest of the parties. Estonia. and what became World War II was declared by the British and French. 1939. The Soviet Union invaded Poland from the east on September 17. Subsequently all the mentioned countries were invaded. the pact included a secret protocol. was to meet with German ambassador Ulrich von Hassell. Germany.Causes of World War II 13 Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact Nominally. while the British Empire would control the rest of the world. Latvia. This had been settled in 1934 by a non-aggression pact but in spring of 1939. in 1933. tried to get France to join it in preventive attack after Nazis won in Germany. Lonsdale-Bryans proposed a deal whereby Germany would be given a free hand in Europe. thus avoiding the repeat of Czech situation     Shortly after the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact The Soviet Union joined Germany's Invasion of had been signed. while explaining during a high level meeting of German military officials in May 1933 that his real goal is obtaining Lebensraum for Germany. In 1939. 1939. occupied. Britain and France had previously warned that they would honor their alliances to Poland and issued an ultimatum to Germany: withdraw or war would be declared. isolating Poles from their Allies in the West and afterwards attacking Poland.  . It is unclear to what extent this proposal enjoyed the official backing of the British Foreign Office. The trip. The secret protocol explicitly assumed "territorial and political rearrangements" in the areas of these countries. Lithuania. Germany declined. Germany invaded Poland on September 1. in which the independent countries of Finland. by the Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov and the German foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop.
This nearly happened during the Battle of Wake Island shortly after. Aristotle Fascist Ideology. pdf) . Aristotle Fascist Ideology. Aristotle Fascist Ideology. 208)  (http:/ / books. 2000 page 151  Kaillis. 2000 pages 6-7  Perry. London: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishing. Matt "Mason. google. Germany and Italy did not have to declare war on the USA in order to fulfill their treaty obligations. Aristotle Fascist Ideology. ‘Domestic Crisis’ and War in 1939” from The Third Reich edited by Christian Leitz Blackwell: Oxford. Volume 2. Ian The Nazi Dictatorship London : Arnold 2000 page 88. `domestic crisis’ and the war in 1939” from The Origins of The Second World War edited by Patrick Finney. Joseph C. p102  Overy. London: Routledge.established rights in China"& f=false ) Ten Years in Japan. 2000 page 166  Kaillis.J.J. R. 1997. archive. 2000 pages 165-166  Mason. “Debate: Germany. Tim & Overy. effectively ending isolationist sentiment in the U. Hitler chose to declare that the Pact required that Germany follow Japan's declaration of war. Although the Tripartite Pact with Germany and Italy did not mandate declaration of war if a signatory initiated an attack. London: Routledge. Matt "Mason.My struggle for peace. Germany declared war on the United States. hoping to destroy the United States Pacific Fleet at anchor. Japan's attack on the US. Matt "Mason. Even though the Japanese knew that the U. org/ stream/ japanandherdesti006533mbp#page/ n213/ mode/ 2up) Japan and her Destiny. Volume 2. 1999 p117-118  Mason. Aristotle Fascist Ideology. Aristotle Fascist Ideology. resulted in an immediate declaration of a state of war between the two nations. Grew (pg 251-255)  Perry. they hoped that they would feed reinforcements in piecemeal and thus the Japanese Navy would be able to defeat them in detail. London: Routledge. London: Routledge.S.  Kaillis. References  Mussolini . `domestic crisis’ and the war in 1939” from The Origins of The Second World War edited by Patrick Finney. Edward Arnold: London. Timothy" pages 780-781 from The Encyclopedia of Historians and Historical Writing edited by Kelly Boyd. and in doing so catch the Soviets off-guard. Shigemitsu (pg.  Within days. htm)  (http:/ / www. edu/ assets/ pdf/ wp061. which had so far prevented it from entering the war.THE DOCTRINE OF FASCISM (http:/ / www. London: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishing. London: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishing. 1999 page 780  Kaillis. had the potential to build more ships. 1941. org/ wffmaster/ Reading/ Germany/ mussolini. ca/ books?id=bf9g6B2USgsC& pg=PA254& lpg=PA254& dq="depriving+ Americans+ of+ their+ long-+ + established+ rights+ in+ China"& source=bl& ots=A_zfK-SZvP& sig=W3hsHRynS2KHe_TA6jmU5SGKCow& hl=en& ei=looqTJrcLsqknQfMxbDvBQ& sa=X& oi=book_result& ct=result& resnum=2& ved=0CBcQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage& q="depriving Americans of their long. ‘Domestic Crisis’ and War in 1939” from The Third Reich edited by Christian Leitz Blackwell: Oxford.Causes of World War II 14 Invasion of the Soviet Union Germany attacked the Soviet Union in June 1941. 2000 page 165  Kaillis. 2000 page 7  Kaillis. umn. 1999 page 780  Kaillis. London: Routledge. R. Timothy" pages 780-781 from The Encyclopedia of Historians and Historical Writing edited by Kelly Boyd. Richard “Germany. but eagerly did so. Timothy" pages 780-781 from The Encyclopedia of Historians and Historical Writing edited by Kelly Boyd. and hoped that success there would bring Britain to the negotiation table.S. Volume 2. 1999 page 108  (http:/ / www. London: Routledge. London: Routledge. cas. Matt "Mason. Attack on Pearl Harbor The Imperial Japanese Navy attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7. Richard “Germany. 1999 page 780  Perry. worldfuturefund. 1999 page 780  Perry. Ian The Nazi Dictatorship London : Arnold 2000 page 88. 2000 pages 165-166  Kaillis. London: Routledge. United Kingdom. Hitler believed that the Soviet Union could be defeated in a fast-paced and relentless assault that capitalized on the Soviet Union's ill-prepared state.  Kershaw. Timothy" pages 780-781 from The Encyclopedia of Historians and Historical Writing edited by Kelly Boyd. 2000 page 165  Kershaw. London: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishing. Tim & Overy. “Debate: Germany. ending the war altogether. 1997 p102  Overy. United Kingdom. Aristotle Fascist Ideology. Hitler further wanted to preempt an attack by the Soviet Union. Volume 2. Aristotle Fascist Ideology. Edward Arnold: London.
Societies. No. Dee. 1999 ISBN 1-56663-252-8.+Japan. : Princeton University Press. • Wandycz. Kirby.previously announced as Sinking of the SS Automedon and the Role of the Japanese Navy: A New Interpretation (http://www. Roosevelt and American Foreign Policy. 2008  UK diplomat sought deal with Nazis (http:/ / fr. com/ servlet/ Satellite?cid=1220186503336& pagename=JPost/ JPArticle/ ShowFull). Franklin D. Bruce On The Fiery March : Mussolini Prepares For War. Sept. Princeton. 1975  International history of the twentieth century and beyond Antony Best page 181 Routledge. N.a counterbalancing agent to the Asia.R. OR : Frank Cass.google. jpost. 2003 ISBN 0-275-97937-7. 1933-1945 Peter Hoffmann page 37 McGill-Queen's University Press 1996  Hitler Joachim C. • Hillgruber. ac. David Neville Chamberlain. jstor.uhpress.narod. 1955). : Praeger Publishers. Sept. 1940-1941 (London: Allen Lane.ISBN 978-1-905-24628-1 (cloth) [reprinted by University of Hawaii Press. Westport. • Thorne. Richard & Mason. The Road to Pearl Harbor: The coming of the war between the United States and Japan. • Dallek. Honolulu. 4. CO. 1999 ISBN 0-7146-8056-7. Willmott. the Telegraph. 2008)  Lord Halifax tried to negotiate peace with the Nazis (http:/ / www. Chicago : I. 2 (Jun. classic history by senior American official. from the eighteenth century to the present dayMartin Kitchen page 305 Weidenfeld and Nicolson. 1926-1936 : French-Czechoslovak-Polish relations from Locarno to the remilitarization of the Rhineland.htm) • Seki. The Journal of Modern History.hawaii. Japan and the Second World War: The Global Consequences Following Germany's Sinking of the SS Automedon in 1940. Robert. • Dutton. • Kuliabin A. 2 edition (July 30. 2. 27. and the Coming of the Far Eastern Conflict of 1941-1945 (1985) sophisticated analysis of each major power. 135-151 (http:/ / links. translated by Anthony Fothergill. Andreas Germany and the Two World Wars. February 1989. 2001 ISBN 0-340-70627-9.com/ books?id=u5KgAAAACAAJ&dq=Mrs. P. 0. 27 September 1938  Zygmunt J. Semin S. short overview. Vol.J.. Piotr Stefan The Twilight of French Eastern Alliances. telegraph.edu/cart/ shopcore/?db_name=uhpress&page=shop/flypage&product_id=4475& PHPSESSID=75b7d372eb6f6c4d747ec0a150c42ead). html). Herbert. pp. London .Russia . : Harvard University Press. Mass. (2006). co. Gasiorowski: Did Pilsudski Attempt to Initiate a Preventive War in 1933?. 1988 . uk/ news/ uknews/ 2650832/ Lord-Halifax-tried-to-negotiate-peace-with-the-Nazis. • Hildebrand. New York : Oxford University Press. Batsford 1973. Fateful Choices: Ten Decisions That Changed the World. 13. org/ sici?sici=0022-2801(195506)27:2<135:DPATIA>2. google. Haruo and H. 2007).ru/article-eng. 10-ISBN 1-905-24628-5. 1981 ISBN 0-674-35321-8.2-A& size=SMALL& origin=JSTOR-reducePage)  The history of the German resistance. London : Arnold . Igor (editors) The Munich crisis. Christopher G. Portland. #28. London. html). G. “Zavtra Rossii”. Michael Jabara 1939 : the Alliance that never was and the coming of World War II. Fest page 586 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.] • Overy. 2009  A military history of Germany. Cambridge. Ferguson's Tea-Set. • Strang. translated by William C. Number 122. • Tohmatsu. Klaus The Foreign Policy of the Third Reich. Mrs. Conn. A Gathering Darkness: The Coming of War to the Far East and the Pacific (2004). uk/ ~pv/ munich/ czdoc09. 2007 -.+Ferguson's+Tea-set. The Issue of War: States. Timothy "Debate: Germany. Erik & Lukes. • Feis. Jerusalem Post. 2008  Ian Kershaw. 17 July 1997 (http:// simon31.Causes of World War II  Chamberlain's radio broadcast (http:/ / www. st-andrews. 1938: Prelude to World War II. 1932-1945 (1995). 2002  Blitzkrieg w Polsce wrzesien 1939 Richard Hargreaves page 84 Bellona. “Domestic Crisis” and War in 1939" pages 200-240 from Past and Present.+and+the+Second+World+War& client=firefox-a) London: Global Oriental. 385 (http:/ / books. Eiji. (http://books. com/ books?id=6J0_vJKLzsgC& printsec=frontcover#v=onepage& q& f=false) 15 Further reading • Carley. • Goldstein.
by Joseph Goebbels (http://www. • The Way to Pearl Harbor: US vs Japan (http://www1. 1980 ISBN 0-226-88511-9.org/i4a/pages/index. Robert France and the Origins of the Second World War. which was a contributing factor to the World Wars.Review of this book: "Searching for responsibility in starting and losing a war" (http://search.html). 1933-36.htm) Explains the long term conflict between Germany and France over the centuries.. Donald Cameron How war came : the immediate origins of the Second World War.org/web/20080801150653/ http://www. The. Who Was Responsible? From Marco Polo Bridge to Pearl Harbor. New York : Oxford University Press.htm) • "We shall fight on the beaches" speech.jp/cgi-bin/fb20070311a1. Watt. Chicago : University of Chicago Press. Chicago : University of Chicago Press. Wheeler-Bennett.Causes of World War II ISBN 0-691-05528-9. The Yomiuri Shimbun. ISBN 4643060123. 1970 ISBN 0-226-88509-7. 1985 ISBN 0-19-503492-9.htm) .japantimes. New York : St.spartacus. 1937-1939.archive.co. James E.htm) • The New Year 1939/40. 1938-1939. Martin's Press. Weinberg. John Munich : Prologue to Tragedy. Henry Ashby German big business and the rise of Hitler. Gerhard The Foreign Policy of Hitler's Germany: Starting World War II.edu/TED/ice/japan-oil. by Winston Churchill (http://web. american. Turner. Auer (Editor) (2007). 1948.calvin. Yomiuri Shimbun. 16 • • • • • • • Young.winstonchurchill. 1996 ISBN 0-312-16185-9. Germany and the Struggle for the War-making Natural Resources of the Rhineland (http://www.edu/academic/cas/gpa/goeb21.cfm?pageid=393) • Czechoslovakia primary sources (http://www. Weinberg. 1989 ISBN 0-394-57916-X.edu/ted/ice/saar.uk/2WWmunich. External links • France. Gerhard The Foreign Policy of Hitler's Germany : Diplomatic Revolution in Europe.american.co. New York : Pantheon. New York : Duell.schoolnet. Sloan and Pearce. The Japan Times Online.
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JohnDoe0007. AROUNDNASCAR. Sparrowmahoney. Chrislk02. Bloodshedder. Kristen Eriksen. Courcelles. Kursis. Imaginos. Barberio. Oblivious. CA387. History Today Magazine. SchfiftyThree. Elistoughton. Mac Davis. CommonsDelinker. Deeptrivia. MarvinCZ. Inter. GraemeLeggett. Ixfd64. Coolian. King of Hearts. Nickptar. Kill. SpecMode. R'n'B. Davewild. II MusLiM HyBRiD II. JayZ. Balcer. Carcharoth. Qworty.org/w/index. Can't sleep. BoomerAB. Sceptre. Mav. Hi878. JimVC3. Kingturtle. Auntof6. Rama. Snigbrook. Gerbrant. Hvatum. Pt314156. Lear's Fool. Triage. Xompanthy. Startstop123. 1566 . Kipholbeck. Joebobs. WhiteC. ArchDaemon. Randbewohner. Jovianeye. Vogonvor. Fritz Saalfeld. Thingg.g. Nihil novi. Stor stark7. Panchitaville. D'lin.org/w/index. Excirial.Article Sources and Contributors 17 Article Sources and Contributors Causes of World War II Source: http://en. Mentifisto. XB-70. Cautious. Ylem. Walor. Shield35. Iridescent. FF2010. A. Googleaseerch. Tomsthings. A8UDI. Bobo192. Hmains. Jaybenad. 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