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History Essay - Why did war break out in Europe in 1939

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Why did war break out in Europe in 1939? Many historians have traced the causes of World War II to problems left unsolved by World War I (1914-1918). World War I and the treaties that ended it also created new political and economic problems. Forceful leaders in several countries took advantage of these problems to seize power one of the being Hitler. The desire of dictators in Germany, Italy, and Japan to conquer additional territory brought them into conflict with the democratic nations e.g. Britain and France against Germany. After World War I ended, representatives of each of the countries met in Paris in 1919 to draw up peace treaties. These treaties were known as the Peace of Paris. They were worked out in haste by these countries with opposing goals; and failed to satisfy even the victors. Of all the countries Germany left the peace conference the most dissatisfied. Italy gained less territory than it felt it deserved and vowed to take action on its own. The countries that lost World War I -Germany, Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Turkey - were especially dissatisfied with the treaties. They were stripped of territory, arms and were required to make reparations. The Treaty of Versailles, which was signed with Germany, punished Germany severely. The German government agreed to sign the treaty only after they were threatened to be invaded by the allies. ...read more.


Like Japan Italy was a key member of the League and wanted to expand territory by invading another country. However unlike Manchuria the League could not argue that Abyssinia was in an inaccessible part of the world. Britain and France wanted to keep Italy happy as without it they would be powerless against Hitler. However although they imposed sanction against Italy they made a fatal error of not closing the Suez Canal. Had they of done this they could have ended the campaign very quickly. Italy continued to ignore orders from the League and by May 1936 Italy had gained the capital of Abyssinia, Addis Ababa. The League had failed. Britain and France thought if they handled the crisis well they would be in a stronger position against Germany. However they could not have been more wrong and in November 1936 Hitler and Mussolini signed an agreement of their own called the Rome-Berlin Axis. These two failures clearly demonstrated to Hitler that the League was powerless. He would be able conquer other countries and no one would be willing to intervene. After Hitler took power, he began to build up Germany's armed forces in violation of the Treaty of Versailles. In 1936, Hitler sent troops into the Rhineland, a region of Germany along the banks of the Rhine River. Under the treaty, the Rhineland was to remain free of troops. In March 1938, German soldiers marched into Austria and united it with Germany. ...read more.


Stalin knew that Hitler would turn all his military might toward him, signing the pact brought him extra time and allowed him to build up him military forces. He also believed that Britain and France would not be strong reliable allies against Hitler. Not only did the pact give Stalin time, he also acquired new land which Hitler had conquered. On September 1st 1939 the Germany army invaded Poland from the west and on the 17th Soviet forces attacked from the east. Poland was conquered. Hitler was given and ultimatum, he was ordered to get out of Poland. However he did not agree, hence Britain and France declared war on Germany on the 2nd September 1939. Hitler had started a war, but it was not the war he had in mind. It was too soon and against the wrong opponents. Hitler had taken one gamble too many. Although Hitler caused WW2 by refusing to leave Poland there and other factors which contributed. I strongly believe had the USA joined the LON it would not have been so powerless and insignificant. They may well have been able to stop Hitler way before. In addition the LON was unfair towards the Germans it served as a constant reminder of their humiliating defeat and was sooner or later someone was going to do something about it. Thirdly had Hitler not made the pact with Stalin Germany would may well have had to fight a war on two front again and could well have been pulverised. ...read more.

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