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

Compare and contrast the causes of the First World War and the Second World War

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Compare and contrast the causes of the First World War and the Second World War. Both the First World War and the Second World War were initially blamed on German aggression. There are definite similarities in the ways in which the wars broke out however it could be argued that the Second World War was a result mainly of the First, along with and the failure of the peacemakers at Versailles to make a sustainable peace treaty. This essay will demonstrate the similarities between the causes of both wars but will also show the significance of the failure of the peace treaties during the interwar years on the causes of the Second World War. This essay will argue that it was the failure of the peace settlements that directly led to WWII and that this is the main difference between the causes of the two total wars. The orthodox view on the causes of WWI is that it was due to German aggression. This can be supported by a quote from historian A.J.P Taylor who said that; "Schlieffens dead hand automatically pulled the trigger." The Schlieffen plan can be used to argue that Germany specifically wanted war; they had planned a system of mobilization very far in advance. ...read more.

Middle

In both cases of WWI and WWII feelings of nationalism played an important role in causing total war. It is interesting that it was specifically nationalism caused by the problems of WWI peace-settlements that prompted WWII. In this way it can be argued that whilst both wars were encouraged by nationalism, the Second World War was due to nationalism that actually originated from the First. Historian Michael Howard argues that the Pre-WWI Great Powers went to war "to fulfil a precise obligation which could not be abandoned without shattering consequences of national prestige, morale and interests". Without going to war, it could be argued, the Great Powers would not have kept their Great Power status. In this way it was very much imperialism that was a major cause of WWI. Another example of this can be seen in Russia who was lured into war by the Balkans, of Constantinople and the Straights. England wanted to maintain their Empire and France had ambitions in Morocco, as did Germany. James Joll argues that "war was inevitable if vital national interests were to be preserved." A major reason as to why WWII took place lies in the fact that Hitler went against the peace settlements decided at the ToV and marched into Austria in 1939 to achieve the Anschluss. ...read more.

Conclusion

In conclusion, both the cause of WWI and WWII have may similarities, both being blamed by orthodox historians as being the result of German aggression, both having roots in nationalism and imperialism and both being due to the unorganized and muddled state of Europe at the time; either due to alliance systems in pre-WWI or economically as a result of the great depression pre-WWII. This is described best by David Lloyd George post-WWI; "we slithered over the brink". President Kennedy argues that not all the blame of WWII should rest on the problems of the ToV, as war did not happen directly after it, but rather after the great depression. This shows another point of view and another difference between the two wars, how WWI came from an industrially rich Europe whilst WWII broke out in an economically weakened one. Before WWI there was no punitive settlement generating tension, but rather colonial rivalry, which in turn was not present in the run up to WWII. Both wars had similar causes, the main differences in the roots of the two World wars lie in the fact that WWII was in some ways a consequence of the failures of the ToV and in this way was indirectly connected to WWI. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our International Baccalaureate History 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 International Baccalaureate History essays

  1. Treaty Versailles Essay

    Hitler violated many terms on the Treaty because Germany didn't have the power to meet the terms. He was out to seek revenge. One problem led to another, causing a second world war after the invasion of Poland. Granted this, John Maynard Keynes claimed that another war would break out in 20 years after the First World War.

  2. The Causes of World War 1

    However, because Austria-Hungary was now fighting Russia as well as Serbia, Germany by honouring their alliance would join the war, supporting Austro-Hungarians. In 1891, France and Russia had agreed that they would support one other if they were attacked by the Germans or Austria-Hungary.

  1. How did collective security develop, in particular between WWI and WWII?

    There have been centuries of traditional diplomacy, in which countries had acted in the interest of the country; therefore it is difficult for politicians to explain why their country should intervene somewhere while the country has no benefit. Another major problem with the League was that the defeated countries of WWI were not invited into the League.

  2. Neville Chamberlain and Appeasement

    of WW1 still haunted the lives the many, and none were really interested in another bloody and tragic war. The main reason for Chamberlain wanting to prevent another future war, was the fact that Britain were too weak: "Britain ought not to take any military action in case it led

  1. The cold war - the conferences and the start of the cCold War

    wish to be drawn into the Cold War - Following especially the ideas of Pandit Nehru, there was the idea that some countries could form a Non- Aligned Group and a Non- Aligned Movement - Anti- colonialism was a particular feature of the Non- Aligned Movement; French actions in Algeria

  2. Why were the central powers defeated in the First World War

    Moreover maintaining a blockade is an expensive task. The blockade nonetheless had an effect it did help bring the war to an end however it is a long term weapon. The Germans reacted to the blockade by sending warships, U-boats and submarines in order to destroy British communications, food supplies and to kill soldiers.

  1. the causes and consequences of the spanish civil war

    In addition, another problem that resulted to the civil war was that the government tried to attack civilians thought to have too many privileges in society. But by doing this it angered all those sectors in society that had the potential to fight back - the military, large landowners (or latifundistas), industrialists and the Roman Catholic Church.

  2. Examine the Main Causes of the First World War

    This was further illustrated by the creation of the Schlieffen Plan in 1905 a military strategy against the feuding camp of the Triple Entente. Due to rising tension, the plan was brought to action and failed only making matters worse as British Empire declared war on Germany as part of

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