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Do you know that World War II is the most devastating war in human history?
And, the effects of World War I are actually related to the causes of World War II?
Lasting only six years, its effects were tremendous. It was a war that changed the political and economic landscape on a global scale. World War 2 was so destructive that people around the world still remember its scale of destruction and carnage. Many weep in silence for the loved ones lost.
But, how much do we know about it?
What actually drove people to end everything once and for all?
What caused World War 2?
Germany’s invasion of Poland triggered World War II. But, the causes of the war go really deep. In this article, I tried shedding light on the causes of World War II. As a history professor, I often get quite surprised how little students about World War II. So, I decided to write this article.
Causes of World War 2
- Treaty of Versailles – The Treaty of Versailles connects World War I (WW1) and to World War II (WW2). When WW1 ended, a treaty was signed by Germany and the Allied Powers. Germany lost WW1. So, the main objective of the treaty was to punish Germany.
As per the treaty, Germany had to accept the responsibility of the war. She also had to compensate the Allies for the war damages. The compensation (preparation) was monumental. It ruined the German economy and left the people starving.
Germany nearly collapsed.
- Fascism – As WW1 left trails of destruction across Europe, dictators took over some countries and forced fascism. They took advantage of the economic turmoil and convinced people to go to war. All the while, the fascist rulers wanted their own empires.
Franco of Spain formed the first powerful fascist government. Then, Mussolini took over Italy. Mussolini invaded Africa and took control of Ethiopia in 1935.
- Japanese Imperialism – Prior to WW2, Japan was expanding rapidly. Due to being an island nation, Japan didn’t have enough natural resources to sustain their growth. So, Japan began invading regions to conserve resources and expand her empire as well. Japan invaded Manchuria and China in 1931 and 1937 respectively.
- Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party – The main antagonist of WW2, Hitler, and his Nazi Party rose to power. Hitler became inspired by Mussolini and started his own quest to conquer the Earth. During his reigns, the German people were impoverished by the fragile economy.
They wanted someone to lead the country out of reparations and restore nationalism. Hitler was able to cash in and imbued the people with toxic supremacist views. He promised to rebuild Germany while arming her.
To complement his military endeavor, he formed an alliance with Mussolini. Together with Mussolini, he looked to expand his own empire. As part of his conquest, he invaded Austria in 1938.
Hitler grew more brazen as the League of Nations did nothing to stop him. A year later, in 1939, Hitler took over Czechoslovakia.
- Appeasement – You may ask when Hitler started attacking countries, didn’t anybody try to stop him? What about Great Britain? Actually, the wound of WW1 was so severe that many countries didn’t want another war.
Countries like Britain and France thought giving into Hitler’s demands would stop the invasion. But, it didn’t. Hitler grew bolder as he considered the policy of appeasement as weakness. He continued his conquest.
World War II remains as the solid example of why mankind must put down arms. We must know what caused such a devastating event so that we can prevent it from happening again. Mankind must put an end to war, otherwise, war will put an end to mankind.