Why did war break out in Europe in 1939

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Why did war break out in Europe in 1939?

        When Hitler came to power in Germany in 1933 he promised many things, his most popular promise which appealed to the people of Germany was to abolish the Treaty of Versailles. Everyone in Germany despised the treaty for obvious reasons; under article 231 Germany was blamed solely for the First World War, the fact that there was no reason for the treaty to be imposed as Ebert had now taken over from the Kaiser, it was completely unfair leaving Germany crippled, Germany had to pay reparations of £6600million, 10% of industry and 15% of agriculture was taken away, restriction of army to 100,000 men and 13% of all German land was taken away along with all of its colonies. Hitler started breaking the treaties rules straight away, rearming, remilitarising the Rhineland etc. But just how did he gain the confidence to do all this with Britain and France breathing down his neck?

        In the 1930s there were two incidents that really tested the League of Nations; the Japanese invasion of Manchuria and the Italian invasion of Abyssinia. In 1931 the Japanese invaded Manchuria in response to an attack on their railway line in South Manchuria, this is now thought to have been done by the Japanese themselves. There were in fact several reasons for invading. Japan needed raw materials such as coal, iron and oil as they were lacking. Only 15% of Japan was habitable so living space was required for the growing population, Japan was suffering from depression and many people were starving, a foreign policy success would take peoples minds off of this. Japan was left out of the Treaty of Versailles when it came to giving land away so they needed to build an empire of their own. The Japanese businesses which had developed in Manchuria were set to be lost as Manchuria looked as if it was going to join China. Japan quickly removed any Chinese forces which were there and in 1932 removed the Manchuria leader and replaced him with a puppet who would obey the Japanese. Despite the League of Nations aim to protect countries from invasion and to limit wars it did nothing. Manchuria sent a cry for help and a committee was sent to write a report about the crisis, this took over a year to write and clearly put Japan in the wrong, the report was accepted within the council with 42 votes against Japan’s 1,  but since Japan had veto powers in the League nothing could be done. The League did not act because of many problems; everyone was suffering from depression so preferred to sort out their own problems rather than help the Abyssinians. Japan was also very powerful, as proven in 1905 when a war was won with Russia, the British dared not act without the help of the French but they were too busy worrying about Germany to help. Both Britain and France traded a lot with Japan so did not want to make an enemy of them. It was clear to everyone around the world that the League of Nations was ineffective and unable to act on powerful countries because the countries within the League were too selfish. Hitler, although he had yet to come to power, looked on this and realised how easy it would be to push the League over.

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        In 1935 Italy invaded Abyssinia because Abyssinia attacked Waal Waal, an oasis, belonging to Abyssinia but occupied by Italian troops, Abyssinia decided they wanted it back and attacked. Italy responded and began invading Abyssinia. Although this was a the short term cause Italy also had several other reasons for invading. Italy was disappointed with the Treat of Versailles as it didn’t gain much land so had to gain some for itself, Italy, like everyone else, was suffering from depression and by winning a war with Abyssinia this would take peoples minds off it. Mussolini already knew how weak the League ...

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