• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

What Were the Reasons For the Outbreak of the Second World War?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

What were the reasons for the outbreak of the Second World War? One of the most important reasons for the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 was the Treaty of Versailles. This was because the Germans felt humiliated by the conditions placed on them. The German people saw their country as a powerful state, which demanded respect. The military restrictions placed upon them by the Treaty cut their army and navy and abolished their air force. This effectively removed the power they thought they commanded. The shock of this was magnified by the German leaders pretending that their forces were winning, right up to the last few weeks. This was easy because news was almost non-existent from the front line, and any that did leak through was heavily censored. The Treaty also cut the German territory by 13%, losing with that 10% of the population. On top of all this, the Germans were forced to accept full responsibility for the outbreak of war, and to pay �6600 million in reparations. The Germans were absolutely furious with the constraints placed upon them because they had agreed to the armistice, thinking that the Treaty would be based on Woodrow Wilson's 14 Points, which the Germans felt were more reasonable. Opponents to the Treaty were to argue that as the German people had not had a say in the composition of the Treaty, they were under no obligation to abide by it. So, when Hitler and the Nazi Party appeared on the scene, promising the abolition of the Treaty of Versailles, support was widespread and huge. ...read more.

Middle

But when no resistance was forthcoming, Hitler saw he had used force, and no one had tried to stop him. The second short term cause the policy of appeasement. This was the slightly odd ideal that meeting their demands could pacify the dictators. This was, looking back on it, a very serious mistake and it merely encouraged them to make even more demands. Appeasement is often linked to the British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain. However, it was widely agreed in British political circles by as early as 1930 that the Treaty of Versailles could not be totally upheld, therefore it was imperative that an agreement with Hitler was made to pacify Germany for the foreseeable future. There were arguments for appeasement. For example, the British public accepted that the Treaty was too harsh. They also wanted to find peaceful solutions to Germanys problems, but the most important argument for appeasement was the simple fact that Britain could not fight Germany. They were just not ready. The re-armament program was not introduced until 1936, and was not expected to be completed until 1940. When the Czechoslovakian Crisis arose in 1938 (explained as the next major short term cause in the next paragraph), Britain needed more time to rearm, and by giving into Hitler at Munich, they bought themselves another year before war broke out, and they were (just) ready for Germany. However well appeasement worked as a quick fix solution, it did not work even in the short term. To start with, the leaders at Munich in 1938 totally misjudged Hitler. ...read more.

Conclusion

On the face of it, the pact seemed like a simple non-aggression pact, but it contained several hidden clauses. The Soviet Union agreed not to interfere when Hitler invaded Poland, and to let him have a free hand in Western Europe. In return, Hitler would allow Stalin to occupy eastern Poland and would not interfere if he wanted to occupy the Baltic States and Finland. The pact had left Britain and France initially on their own. Hitler couldn't believe they would go to war over Poland, but his resolve was definitely shaken by the signing of the Protection Agreement between Poland and Britain on August 25th 1939. Britain and France would not be able to back out of this as they had done with Czechoslovakia. If they did so, they would no longer be considered major world powers. This alliance did not really change a lot though, and Hitler had recomposed himself after a couple of days, and on September 01st he ordered the invasion of Poland. Britain and France ordered Hitler to call off the attack. Of course Hitler refused and the Allies declared war on September 03rd 1939. It took only 3 weeks for Hitler's armies to claim Poland as their own, and two weeks into the offensive, the Soviets invaded Poland from the East, as well as occupying Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia. This was the single most important cause for the Second World War. Britain and France did not want to fight, they wanted to negotiate. Poland had seen what had happened to Czechoslovakia through negotiating and didn't want to go the same way. Britain and France had to honour the agreement with Poland, for their own benefit as much as anything else, so war had become inevitable. 1 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Germany 1918-1939 section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Germany 1918-1939 essays

  1. Was the policy of appeasement the most important reason for the outbreak of the ...

    After the failure of appeasement which had allowed Hitler to gain much land, Britain and France had had enough of giving in to his demands. They anticipated that Hitler was going to invade Poland (as Germany had surrounded Poland on three fronts after taking Czechoslovakia)

  2. To what extent can it be argued that appeasement was the cause of the ...

    a relatively small force, and greatly increase their striking force on the northern bank." Eden is clearly stating that the remilitarisation of the Rhineland was indeed a clear threat to France and international peace but he still maintained that appeasement should be followed but only from a position of strength.

  1. Was the failure of the League of Nations the most important reason for the ...

    This made people to connect it with the harshness of the Treaty and so led to a lack of trust in the League of Nations. For example the Germans were bitter that they had to accept the total blame for starting the war and hated the fact they had to

  2. The Italian Conquest of Abyssinia: How far was the LoN to blame?

    I WONDER WHAT I HAVE TO DO THIS TIME." There are a number of ways in which sources A and B differ and allow the viewer understand the problems of peacekeeping in the 1930s. Firstly, a major difference between the sources is how each country is represented.

  1. How far was HItler to blame for the second world war?

    He soon became a dictator, a person with complete control, they outlawed all political party's and any one who spoke out was murdered. They also tried to teach the teens on Hitler's beliefs, they chanted Nazi slogans and told them they had the power to control Germany.

  2. Was Appeasement A Mistake?

    By sending troops into the Rhineland and having Austria and Sudetenland to her advantage, Germany had surrounded herself with strength and protection from invasion. She also gained soldiers, weapons, gold, iron ore, coal, and armament factories from Austria and Czechoslovakia.

  1. What were the causes of World War II?

    I therefore think that it was a big cause to WWII. Since the league supposedly was to keep everything together, but still didn't, people would use it. Hitler is the main example. He realized very quickly how weak they are and knew that they are not an enemy.

  2. How did Appeasement lead to the outbreak of the Second World War ? The ...

    The majority of Britain felt that an new face was in order with new ideas, Chamberlain was the face and certainly had ideas. Over the next two years Chamberlains Conservative government came very well known with the foreign idea later known as appeasement Chamberlain believed in the good old fashioned way: appeasement.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work