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The Causation of the Second World War

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Introduction There is much discussion on the exact causes of the Second World War. Many say it involves problems left unsolved from World War I and forceful leaders in some countries took advantage of those problems. Many dictators in Germany, Italy and Japan to concur additional territory brought them to conflict. Middle There were many important stages leading up to the Second World War. Firstly, there were many countries involved. This would of-course mean many individual views from dynamic leaders. Probably the most famous and powerful at some stages was Hitler. Adolf Hitler was a German Nazi dictator, however he was born in Austria. He was leader of the Nazi Party from 1921. His position was not seriously challenged until the July Plot of 1944, which failed to assassinate him. In foreign affairs, he reoccupied the Rhineland and formed an alliance with the Italian Fascist Benito Mussolini in 1936, annexed Austria in 1938, and occupied Sudeten under the Munich Agreement. The rest of Czechoslovakia was annexed in March 1939. The Ribbentrop- Molotov pact was followed in September by the invasion of Poland and the declaration of war by Britain and France (see World War II). He committed suicide as Berlin fell. Hitler was born in Braunau-am-Inn, and spent his early years in poverty in Vienna and Munich. After serving as a volunteer in the German army during World War I, he was employed as a spy by the military authorities in Munich and in 1919 joined, in this capacity, the German Workers' Party. By 1921 he had assumed its leadership, renamed it the National Socialist German Workers' Party (Nazi Party for short), and provided it with a programme that mixed nationalism with anti-Semitism. Having led an unsuccessful uprising in Munich 1923, he served nine months in prison, during which he wrote his political testament, Mein Kampf. The party did not achieve national importance until the elections of 1930 ; by 1932, although Field Marshal Hindenburg defeated Hitler in the presidential elections, it formed the largest group in the Reichstag (parliament). ...read more.


The Third Reich During 1933, the Weimar Republic gave way to the Third Reich and by the end of the year the one-man party had become the one-party state. Political opponents `disappeared�, either assassinated or sent to concentration camps. Having crushed opposition in Germany at large, Hitler turned his attention to stifling the last vestiges of dissent in his own party. In the `Night of the Long Knives� of 30 June 1934, over a hundred leading Nazis were murdered, including Gregor Strasser, R�hm, and Kurt von Schleicher and his wife. All power now passed to the National Socialist executive, which, for all practical purposes, meant Hitler himself. When Hindenburg died in August 1934, Hitler was declared his successor but abjured the title of Reichspr�sident in favour of F�hrer and Kanzler (chancellor). The Holocaust From the moment Hitler came to power he instituted a reign of terror against Jews, homosexuals, Romanies, and political opponents. Anti-Semitic measures were introduced in stages, starting with boycotts of Jewish businesses in April 1933 and culminating in the full horror of the extermination camps and the `final solution� in 1941. Official propaganda was directed against Jews, stoking up popular hatred as in the organized terror of the Kristallnacht when Jewish businesses and property were attacked by government-sponsored mobs on 9 November 1938. Jews were increasingly marginalized by a combination of vicious propaganda and anti-Jewish laws, such as forcing all Jews to wear yellow stars, making them visible targets for both official repression and private hostility. Once World War II started, these policies were carried into the countries Germany occupied and by 1941, there was a network of extermination camps, mainly in Poland. The Holocaust reached its height after the Wannsee Conference of 20 January 1942, a meeting of top Nazi officials who developed a systematic policy of efficient extermination. There are no definitively accurate figures for the number of people exterminated by the Nazis but it is reckoned that by the end of the war some 6 million Jews had ...read more.


When the USA entered the war after the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, four-fifths of the world was now ranged against Germany. Decline 1942-43 Hitler's New Year message for 1942 showed a marked decline in buoyancy, although the German armies were still a powerful force, and in the early half of 1942, the German armies in the USSR reached the Volga at Stalingrad while Erwin Rommel was threatening Cairo and Alexandria in North Africa. Yet before the autumn was past Rommel had been routed at El Alamein and the Soviets had destroyed von Paulus's 6th Army before Stalingrad. Hitler began to speak less of German victory than of the inability of the Allies to defeat Germany, and he soon faced new crises. Mussolini was deposed in July 1943 and Italy capitulated to the Allies. 1944 After the German armies had been driven out of the USSR, and with the D-Day landings in Normandy in June 1944, it soon became clear that the Allies would not, as Hitler had promised, be `driven into the sea�. The German `opposition�, led by army generals and supported by industrialists, liberals, and even elements of the left, attempted a coup d'�tat, the July Bomb Plot. The signal was to be the assassination of Hitler, but the bomb which was placed in his headquarters by a staff officer named von Stauffenberg did not kill him and the coup failed. It succeeded only in bringing about Hitler's most savage purge: thousands of men and women were executed who were not even necessarily implicated in the plot, but who might conceivably have led another rising. Himmler took command of the army inside Germany so as to tighten the Nazi grip on it. However, as the year wore on, the Allies steadily closed in from all sides. 1945: defeat As the Allies pressed into Germany in April 1945, Hitler married his mistress, Eva Braun, on 29 April 1945 and both then committed suicide in the air-raid shelter under the ruined chancellery in Berlin the following day. It is generally considered that their bodies were subsequently burned in the courtyard. ...read more.

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