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Compare the origins of WWI & WWII

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Compare the origins of the WWI and the WWII. The WWI (1914-1919) and the WWII (1939-1945) were the two majour balance of power wars of the XX century. There are some differences and similarities in the origins of these wars. In this essay we will compare the causes of the wars on the three levels according to the system suggested by Waltz: systemic, domestic and individual. Following the rule of parsimony, we shall begin with the international/systemic causes. There are two similar issues in the origins of the WWI and WWII on this level. Firstly, the both wars resulted from the imbalances in power distribution within the international system. The both times it was caused by the German attempts to expand and to gain world hegemony. In the beginning of the XX century the German share of the world industry reached 15% by 1913; according to Tripliz plan Germany was to build the second largest navy in the world (later it challenged Britain with it). This rise of the German preponderance scared Britain, which resulted in the growth of rigidity of the alliance system and imbalance of power. ...read more.


The beginning of the century was also characterized by the complacency about peace, which resulted in the loss of moderacy within international system and led to the WWI. The majour powers were not involved in war, while there were massive trained arm-forces in Europe, and the militarism was growing along with the spread of Darwin's ideas that the strong must prevail. The specific systemic cause which refer only to the WWII, but not to the WWI, was the failure of the collective security in the face of the League of nations. It failed to apply Article 16 sanctions to Japan, despite its invasion in China was recognized to be unjustified; in the Ethiopean crisis (1935) the sanctions applied against Italy were too moderate and ineffective. Thus the existing world order became unstable. There is one main similarity among the domestic causes of the WWI and the WWII. The majour problems were caused by the instabilities within German domestic situation. Many analysts argue that the Germany's attempt to gain world hegemony at the outbreak of the WWI was a result the desire of the elite (landed aristocrats and very large industrial capitalists) ...read more.


In contrast, the WWII was desired by Hitler, and as soon as he stared to put his 4-phases plan of gaining world hegemony in the end of 1940s, the war became almost inevitable. In the both the role of decisions made by individuals was important, however those decisions were different and had different effects. In the WWI the outbreak of the war in 1914 and the scale of the war were both put on the leaders of the states e.g. on Count Berchtold, the Austro-Hungarian foreign minister, who wanted to crush Serbian independence; on S. Sazonov, Russian minister of foreign affairs; who supported Serbia; on Wilhelm II, the German emperor, who encouraged Austria to take hard line in the crisis, who ensures that he will support Russia in its policy on Balkans. As a result instead of small local war, the world conflict broke out in 1914. Before the WWI the decision of Chamberlain, British premier-minister, to follow the appeasement policy in relation to Germany was the majour mistake, that allowed the invasion in Czechoslovakia on the 2nd stage of the Hitler's 4-phases plan, and to the continuous successful German expansion according to the Hitler's plan till the Battle of Britain (1940). This eventually led to the outbreak of the WWII. ...read more.

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