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Within the context 1814 1939, to what extent could the Wall Street Crash be considered the main economic cause of World War II between 1919 1939?

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Introduction

Hannah Jarvis Within the context 1814 ? 1939, to what extent could the Wall Street Crash be considered the main economic cause of World War II between 1919 ? 1939? ?History proves that dictatorships do not grow out of strong and successful Governments, but out of weak and helpless ones? (Franklin D. Roosevelt) It is a widely held opinion that the Wall Street Crash was the primary economic cause of World War II considering the impact it had globally. However, due to the complex nature of World War II, defining one main cause which determines whether or not the said war will occur is extremely difficult and is a much debated topic amongst historians. One must consider, not only the main catalyst causes like the Wall Street Crash, but also long term factors which have built up over time to cause widespread unsettlement; factors such as the economic weaknesses of the Weimar Republic, the economic infringements the Treaty of Versailles put on Germany, and the Nazi?s appealing economic policies, such as Autarky. With such a combination of economic factors all pushing for the same destructive outcome, it is imperative to look beyond the 20th century in order to find patterns through history to prove that economic causes are at the root of all international disorder. When discussing the Wall Street Crash and its implications in bringing about World War II, it is imperative to consider how it not only devastated the American economy, but also how it sent a whirlwind of disturbance and stress throughout Europe, followed by a complete state of ?weltschmerz?, or ?world pain?. Succeeding World War I, countries such as France and Britain were borrowing money from America, in order to finance post-war reconstruction. By 1919, Europeans owed the United States more than $10 billion and Calvocoressi writes ?...the turning off the American tap-... because of the collapse of those markets - throttled Europe?s economies?[1] In particular, depression hit Germany with particular ferocity due to its reliance on American loans, ...read more.

Middle

These treaty terms put substantial pressure on the French economy, however unlike the Treaty of Versailles, the Second Treaty of Paris was accepted by the French population and the established Government remained in power until 1848. Also, it should be noted, without feeling the need to descend into war. This shows how a harsh economic treaty isn?t always followed by a global war, and displays a route of which Germany could have taken after Versailles. It is therefore indisputable to think that the economic burden the peace treaty imposed on Germany was not a main cause for the Second World War; especially when compared to the economic disaster of which the Great Depression was. Another economic factor which must be considered is Hitler?s own policies; which appealed to the German people because it offered to restore Germany to its former power and pre-war economic stability by any means necessary. Hilderbrand accedes this point ?By demanding a ?stronger? foreign policy and hoped to offer their supporters not only economic but above all psychological recovery from the defeat suffered in the world war?[16]. Naturally the German population would undoubtedly take that opportunity; Shirer agrees with Hilderbrand by explaining ??many of whom were attracted not only by Hitler?s fanatical nationalism but by the prospects he held out for an Army restored to its old glory and size in which there would be opportunities.?[17] Such opportunities included more job prospects due to his rearmament and work creation policies; which would alleviate the residual problem of mass unemployment caused by the Great Depression. Both historians recognise the appealing nature of Hitler?s economic policies, however the reasons for why Germany was so accepting towards Hitler?s policies must be considered; one can only approbate this as being the considerable economic effects of the Great Depression. The tantalizing policies which Hitler presented enraptured those who also felt unjustly treated and suffered under the economic hardships the Versailles Settlement presented. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, in this instance the Wall Street Crash should be the undisputed catalyst in bringing about World War II, due to it being at the root of all other factors. (3,843) ________________ [1] ?Total War?, Peter Calvocoressi; Guy Wint (Penguin Books) [2] ?The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich?, William Shirer (Simon and Schuster Inc) [3] ?The Great Depression?, Lionel Robbins (Transaction Publishers) [4] ?Total War?, Peter Calvocoressi; Guy Wint (Penguin Books) [5] ?Unemployment and the Great Depression in Weimar Germany?, Peter Stachura (Palgrave Macmillan) [6] ?The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich?, William Shirer (Simon and Schuster Inc) [7] ?The Global Impact of the Great Depression 1929-1939?, Dietmar Rothermund (Routledge) [8] ?The Global Impact of the Great Depression 1929-1939?, Dietmar Rothermund (Routledge) [9] ?Foreign Policy of the Third Reich?, Klaus Hilderbrand (University of California Press) [10] ?The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich?, William Shirer (Simon and Schuster Inc) [11] ?Total War?, Peter Calvocoressi; Guy Wint (Penguin Books) [12] ?Treaty of Versailles? June 28th 1919 (Article 232) [13] ?Total War?, Peter Calvocoressi; Guy Wint Penguin Books) [14] ?Total War?, Peter Calvocoressi; Guy Wint (Penguin Books) [15] ?The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich?, William Shirer (Simon and Schuster Inc) [16] ?Foreign Policy of the Third Reich?, Klaus Hilderbrand (University of California Press) [17] ?The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich?, William Shirer (Simon and Schuster Inc) [18]?Foreign Policy of the Third Reich?, Klaus Hilderbrand (University of California Press) [19] ?Total War?, Peter Calvocoressi; Guy Wint (Penguin Books) [20] ?Bismarck and the State?, Hans Rothfels [21] ?The Global Impact of the Great Depression 1929-1939?, Dietmar Rothermund (Routledge) [22] ?Unemployment and the Great Depression in Weimar Germany?, Peter Stachura (Palgrave Macmillan) [23] ?Total War?, Peter Calvocoressi; Guy Wint (Penguin Books) [24] ?A History of the Weimar Republic?; Erich Eyck (Harvard University Press) [25] ?A History of the Weimar Republic?; Erich Eyck (Harvard University Press) [26] ?A History of the Weimar Republic?; Erich Eyck (Harvard University Press) [27] http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/weimar_depression_1929.htm [28] ?From Kaiser to Fuhrer: Germany 1900-1945? Geoff Layton (Edexcel) ...read more.

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