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Why did Britain go to war in 1939?

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Introduction

Why did Britain go to war in 1939? In 1939, Britain declared war on Nazi Germany. There were of course many different reasons for this, both in the long term and in the short term. In the long term, The Treaty of Versailles, signed at the end of World War One had succeeded only in angering Germany, as it made her feel weak and powerless, in addition to economically ruining her with the expense of rearmament. This allowed the rise of Hitler and therefore Nazism in Germany as a solution to the problems, without which the Second World War would almost certainly have been avoided. Secondly, Britain had not been strong enough to prevent this rise of Hitler, or to prevent him taking over Europe. They had not prevented Hitler from breaking the Treaty, which in itself eventually led to War. Chamberlain's policy of Appeasement had failed dismally, only succeeding in allowing Hitler to think that he could do as he pleased with Europe. ...read more.

Middle

By contrast, the Americans faced no immediate threat from Germany, and also had no territorial or economic aims, therefore the USA was keen not for revenge, but to build a lasting system of International relations, which became known as the League of Nations. The British people wanted to punish the Germans, whilst Lloyd George wanted to destroy German Militarianism, but was cautious of driving Germany to Communism. The result was a Treaty consisting of large German territorial losses such as Alsace and Lorraine, and the German colonies. The Rhineland was de-militarised, and put under Allied occupation for 15 years, and reparations to the sum of �6,600 million were to be paid to the World War One victors. The treaty left Germany bankrupt and weak, as well as angry and disillusioned. Hitler used the Treaty to gain popularity throughout his rise to dictator by gradually disobeying it, breaking the terms much to the nations delight. ...read more.

Conclusion

At first it was believed that by appeasing Hitler, i.e. allowing him to have what he wanted, it would satisfy him without the need for war, however as time progressed it emerged that this was not the case. Hitler was not satiable, the more he was allowed, the more he wanted, and the more he believed he could get away with taking. The case for appeasement can be justified by the fact that the only other option was war, for which Britain was completely unprepared after the losses of the First World War. Chamberlain believed that Germany's grievances were legitimate despite the fact that he did not trust Hitler. At Munich, although he sacrificed the support of Czechoslovakia, by ceding areas of Czechoslovakia with majority Germans to Hitler, he avoided a war for which in 1938 Britain was unprepared and may very well have lost. In Austria, Chamberlain allowed an Anschluss, a joining between Germany and Austria, which was forbidden by the Treaty of Versailles. The Austrians welcomed Hitler, so Chamberlain was reluctant to interfere. Coupled with this, Britain was too weak to interfere. ...read more.

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