Causes of WWII

Summaries of the key causes of WWII, including Hitler's actions, the policy of appeasement, problems caused by the peace treaties, the Nazi-Soviet Pact, failure of the League of Nations and the economic depression. From my classwork. Hopefully you'll find this useful to revise International Relations Core 3. Good luck in your revision!

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  • Created on: 31-05-13 18:38
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Hitler's Actions Hitler's aims were aggressive! He wished to:
1) Abolish the Treaty of Versailles, which he believed to be unjust, a constant
reminder of a humiliating defeat
2) Expand German territory, which had been reduced by the Treaty of Versailles.
Wanted Anschluss! Carve out empire in East! Lebensraum for German master
3) Destroy Communism ­ hatred for Bolsheviks.
Hitler disregarded the Treaty of Versailles entirely in rearming Germany as soon as he
came into power. This boosted Nazi support within Germany. In addition, he marched
troops into the Rhineland, which had been forbidden under the Treaty of Versailles. This
was a gamble; when France did nothing, it only encouraged Hitler to take an even
bigger gamble next time. His takeover of Czechoslovakia finally brought an end to
appeasement, and resulted in Britain and France declaring that if he invaded Poland
they would declare war. Hitler's ultimate invasion of Poland was the trigger for war,
and his actions overall a short term cause of war in 1939.
The Policy of The aim of appeasement was to quell the grievances of Germany through negotiation
Appeasement so that, once appeased they would act in the same way as others as regards foreign
affairs. However, this did not work with Hitler; Churchill believed this was because his
aims were not rational, and so no amount of appeasement would have satiated him. He
would always request more. Appeasement facilitated Hitler's objectives by removing
obstacles from his path to power. Appeasement allowed the Germany army to grow
too strong ­ stronger even than Britain or France. It also encouraged Hitler to be ever
more aggressive and greedy in his demands, as he became increasingly assured that
Britain and France would do nothing to stop him/ Furthermore, appeasement made
Britain and France appear weak, which lost them respect and allies. In particular, the
USSR was alienated. Seeing that Britain and France were apparently unwilling to stand
up to Hitler, Stalin instead chose to ally with Germany.
The policy of appeasement was a short term cause, as it was a response to Hitler's
actions in the years immediately before war.
Problems Caused by Had the Treaty of Versailles (`diktat') not been as harsh as it was, Germany would not
the Peace Treaties have been as terribly crippled as it was under the burden of reparations and war guilt,
and so Hitler's aims would have been quite different, and the German people less
desperate for radical change. Hitler may never have been elected had there been no
need to rectify the apparent injustices of Versailles. The other treaties also contributed
to the outbreak of war, as they created numerous small, weak countries which were
easy targets for Hitler. In particular, the Treaty of Saint-Germain and Trianon, for
example, divided the Austro-Hungarian empire into small countries with little defence
against a powerful aggressor. While the League of Nations should have been able to
rectify these problems caused by the peace treaties, it had already failed by the
mid-1930s. This is a long term cause which had its roots in the end of the First World
The Nazi-Soviet Stalin's alliance with Hitler under the Nazi-Soviet Anti-Aggression Pact contributed to
Pact causing World War II as it outlined yet another division in Europe, and ultimately led to
the invasion of Poland. As part of the Pact, Hitler and Stalin secretly agreed to invade
Poland and divide it between them. While neither party entered into the pact intending
to sign up for a long term alliance, the pact proved Hitler's intention to continue with hi

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Europe. As the USSR was now allied to Germany, there was no obstacle to
invasion of Poland, and Hitler welcomed an addition to the Nazi forces. This was a very
short term cause which led to the trigger cause, as only a week and a half after the
signing of the pact war was declared.…read more


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