Brief Causes of WW2

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Causes of World War 2

Long Term

·       Anger caused in Weimar Germany by the Treaty of Versailles

·       Inability of the League of Nations to deal with major international issues – evident in the 1930’s in the Manchurian Crisis and the Abyssinian Crisis. Both conflicts showed the League’s inability to control those powers that worked outside of accepted international law. – In the case of Manchuria it was Japan and in the case of Abyssinia it was Mussolini’s Italy.



Treaty of Versailles

·       In 1919 Lloyd George of England, Orlando of Italy, Clemenceau of France and Woodrow Wilson from the US met to discuss how Germany was to be made to pay for the damage world war one had caused

·       Woodrow Wilson (USA) wanted a treaty based on his 14-point plan which he believed would bring peace to Europe

·       George Clemenceau (France) wanted revenge. He wanted to be sure that Germany could never start another war again.

·       Lloyd George (Britain) personally agreed with Wilson but knew that the British public agreed with Clemenceau. He tried to find a compromise between Wilson and Clemenceau.

·       Germany had been expecting a treaty based on Wilson’s 14 points and were not happy with the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. However, they had no choice but to sign the document.

·       The main terms of the Treaty of Versailles were:

o   War Guilt Clause – Germany should accept the blame for starting World War One

o   Reparations – Germany had to pay 6,600 million for the damage caused by the war

o   Disarmament – Germany was only allowed to have a small army and six naval ships. No tanks, no air force and no submarines were allowed. The Rhineland area was to be de-militarised.

o   Territorial Clauses – Land was taken away from Germany and given to other countries. Anschluss (union with Austria) was forbidden.

Hitler’s Actions

·       Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in January 1933. Almost immediately he began secretly building up Germany’s army and weapons. In 1934 he increased the size of the army, began building warships and created a German air force. Compulsory military service was also introduced.

·       Although Britain and France were aware of Hitler’s actions, they were also concerned about the rise of Communism and believed that a stronger Germany might help to prevent the spread of Communism to the West.

·       In 1936 Hitler ordered German troops to enter the Rhineland. At this point the German army was not very strong and could have been easily defeated. Yet neither France nor Britain was prepared to start another war.

·       Hitler also made two important alliances during 1936:

o   Rome-Berlin Axis Pact (1936) – allied Hitler’s Germany with Mussolini’s Italy

o   Anti-Comintern Pact (1936) – allied Germany with Japan. – An Anti-Communist Pact. Included Italy in 1937.

·       Hitler’s next step


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