World War II was the second global war to take place in history. It lasted for six years, from 1939 to 1945. A majority of the world’s countries were divided into two distinct sides: the Allies and the Axis powers.
The war directly involved more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. It was the deadliest conflict ever to be witnessed in all of human history. Below is a list of causes that led to the Second World War.
The First World War ended with the Treaty of Versailles. It was signed between the Allies and Germany. The treaty forced Germany to ‘accept the responsibility for causing all the loss and damage of the war.’ Germany was forced to pay reparations close to 132 billion Marks.
She was further forced to give up land to France and disarm itself as a nation. The Germans never forgot the humiliation the Treaty afforded them. This resentment ultimately became a key cause of World War II.
The end of the First World War left behind economic upheaval in different parts of the world, especially in Europe. It left room for dictators to rise to power and replace elected governments. This led to fascist regimes in different parts of Europe who would pave the way for conflict and war.
Before the break out of the Second World War, Japan was fast expanding its hold in different countries across the world. As an Island nation, Japan did not have the resources to sustain such rapid growth. As a result, Japan began to search for other countries whose resources could be utilized in its quest for power and control. Japanese forces invaded Manchuria in 1931 and later China in 1937.
In 1934, Hitler and the Nazi Party took control of the German government. Hitler was known as ‘The Fuhrer’, which means leader or guide. Hitler greatly resented the restrictions put on the German nation at the end of the First World War and promised to turn the country around. He allied with Mussolini (the dictator of Italy). To expand his control over other countries, he annexed Austria and invaded Czechoslovakia. This was just the beginning of his brutal expansion.
The rest of the countries were extremely tired and beaten down from the First World War and did not want to get into another fight that would deplete their resources. They initially tried to appease Hitler in an effort to get him to stop his expansionist plans.
The period just before the Second World War is known as ‘The Great Depression’. It took place in the 1930s and was a time of great economic suffering. It began in the United States of America but quickly spread to other parts of the world.
Historians and economists give various causes for the Depression, including drought, overproduction of goods, bank failures, stock speculation, and consumer debt. The Great Depression weakened global economy and created conditions ripe for conflict.
Despite the assurances Hitler had previously given to world leaders, Hitler marched into Czechoslovakia and captured the country. The Allies realized that Hitler had no plans of stopping and that only a war could stop him.
Unable to forget the humiliating defeat in the First World War, Hitler wanted to create a German state that was so powerful that the world was afraid to engage with it. The Nazi Party believed that the German people were superior to the rest of the world. The Party wanted to establish a Greater German Reich, in which they ruled supreme over other people across the globe.
After occupying Czechoslovakia and annexing Austria, the German army finally invaded Poland. The battle lasted a month before a German victory. It was the trigger that started World War II.