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Was the failure of the League of Nations the most important reason for the outbreak of war in 1939?

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Introduction

Was the failure of the League of Nations the most important reason for the outbreak of war in 1939? There are many causes for the outbreak of the Second World War. These include the failure of the League of Nations, the Treaty of Versailles, Hitler's actions and so on. Some of them are more important then others and are mostly linked with another cause. The failure of the League of Nations was one of the main reasons for the outbreak of war. It exposed weaknesses which encouraged Hitler to invade. The League had failed to resolve the major political disputes. There were a number of such incidents but the most important ones were the Manchurian Crisis, 1931 and the Abyssinian Crisis, 1935. In 1931, the members of the League failed to take decisive action when Japan invaded Manchuria. The League did not apply sanctions because without America (Japan's main trading partner) it would not have had much effect. Member nations were unwilling to contribute troops to a League of Nations force, so the League had no effective way of compelling other countries to accept its decisions. ...read more.

Middle

Versailles was the peace treaty made at the end of the First World War and another cause of the Second World War. It caused a lot of resentment in Germany, as it was seen by its people (and by other countries) as extremely harsh. Germany had to pay a large amount of reparations, which it could not afford to do so since the War had also damaged the German economy. The Treaty demanded disarmament of Germany and demilitarisation of the Rhineland. Germany lost territory for example Sudetenland was given to Czechoslovakia; West Prussia to create the Polish Corridor. All these harsh terms helped the Nazis to gain powerful support as they offered the German people alternatives. The Nazi Party promised to abolish the Treaty of Versailles. This was important because without support, German could not have taken the major step to war. Another cause was the changing perceptions of the Versailles Treaty. Many countries started to feel that they had been too harsh with the terms. Britain decided to follow a policy of appeasement - this is a policy of trying to avoid war by negotiating agreements with dictators, which give in to some of their demands when under threat. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, after years of Appeasement, Hitler did not really believe that Britain and France would risk war by resisting him. The Nazi-Soviet Pact was yet another cause of the Second World War. Although Hitler was convinced that Britain and France would not go to war over Poland, he was not so sure about the USSR. Stalin had always felt threatened by Germany, so he decided that Russia's best interests would be better served by an agreement with Germany. On 24 August 1939 Hitler and Stalin signed the Nazi-Soviet Pact. They announced that they would not attack each other. Privately they agreed to divide Poland between them. With the threat of USSR out of the way, Hitler was now confident of success. On 1 September the German army invaded Poland but to Hitler's surprise, France and Britain declared war on Germany. It would be difficult to determined whether the failure of the League of Nations was the most important reason that led to the outbreak of war in 1939 as there were many other important causes which are all linked together. For example, without the Treaty of Versailles there might not have been the League of Nations at all. Also there would not have been as much resentment towards the League. ...read more.

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