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To what extent was Hitler responsible for the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939?

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Introduction

´╗┐To what extent Hitler responsible for the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939? The question of who was to blame for the Second World War is a controversial topic among Historians and rightly so. At the end of the war most academics and politicians were content to blame Hitler and the Nazi Party, this was especially the case once the evils of Nazi Germany had been uncovered in the form of the concentration and extermination camps. Likewise the allies had to sell to the public the argument that they were fighting against an evil system that had intentions of world domination. Hitler therefore was the cause of World War Two and for some time this argument seemed to fit the mould. Hitler had after all had published his evil intent in Mein Kampf, he talked about the need for living space and the survival of the fittest when he had his desires on Russia. Hitler had built up his army and by 1939 had marched into the Rhineland, taken over Austria and Czechoslovakia and finally invaded Poland. These are clear indications of a man intent on war from the beginning are they not? The argument that Hitler intended on war and was therefore the cause of the war is one which does not always stand up to scrutiny. As far as AJP Taylor is concerned Hitler, although wicked and evil, does not alone deserve to be blamed for the war. ...read more.

Middle

One of Hitler?s most obvious aims was the desire for the unification of German speaking peoples. Under the Treaty of Versailles millions of Germans were left under the rule of foreign powers mainly Czechoslovakia and Poland. Hitler had stated from the outset that people of the same blood ought to be in the same Reich. Hitler put this desire into practice when he invaded both Austria and the Sudetenland in 1938. Austria was of course the land of his birth and many Austrians regarded themselves as Germans anyway. No European power intervened on the part of Austria and as far as the Sudetenland was concerned Britain and France were willing to hand the territory over to avoid a conflict in the region. The Munich agreement was seen as a success for British foreign policy of appeasement. It was only natural then, that in the face of such acquiescence on the part of Britain and France, Hitler would demand the return of the German city of Danzig, with a population of over a million. It was this demand that would eventually lead to war when the Germans invaded in September 1939. Although Hitler?s aims contributed to the war, Taylor?s argument is that the other factors were just as important. Taylor contends that the policy of appeasement was a key contributing factor in the cause of the war. Appeasement was a policy whereby war could be avoided through negotiation. Historians on the right like John Charmley believe that it was the only logical policy that could be followed considering the weakness of Britain?s economic and military position. ...read more.

Conclusion

The British had always discounted the Soviets and Chamberlain had no love for the communists anyway. With the signing of the Nazi Soviet Pact Poland?s death knell was sealed and Germany could invade without fear of retaliation by the Russian bear. John Charmley argues that Britain?s guarantee to Poland in 1939 was a major blunder. For the first time in British history, the decision as to whether or not she would go to war was out of her own control. Britain had given a guarantee to a right wing military dictatorship that had acquiesced in the destruction of Czechoslovakia. Such a dictatorship argues Charmley was to pull Britain into a war that destroy Britain as a world power and replace one European dictator with another. In truth the cause of the war was a series of mistakes and misjudgements on the part of European statesmen including Hitler and Chamberlain. To blame Hitler solely for the war is clearly wrong and lacks any clear analysis or judgement. Hitler was clearly intent on expanding German territorial dominance over Eastern Europe. Whether this was the sole cause of the war is debatable. Taylor?s argument that Versailles left Germans both angry and intent on revenge is credible as is his view that Versailles did nothing to prevent Germany from reasserting her power later on. The League of Nations clearly failed in its duty to protect weaker countries. Finally appeasement sent Hitler the wrong signals to Hitler in that it simply fed his appetite for further territorial expansion. Was Hitler the cause of the Second World War? CHAN Collective Security Hitler Appeasement Nazi Soviet Pact ...read more.

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