World War II 



It can be said that the 20 years after World War I were merely preparation time for countries all over the world to begin another brutal, long battle.


World War II had four main causes:


1.      Treaty of Versailles

2.      The Great Depression

3.      The Failure of the League of Nations

4.      The Rise of Militarism


1. Treaty of Versailles yitm/ww1/case_studies/

-In 1919, the Treaty of Versailles was signed after World War I.It was a humiliating Treaty for Germany because of the following reasons:

a)      it stated that Germany had to pay back millions of dollars in reparations (damage that Germany had caused during WWI)

 b)     it stated that the German army could be no greater than 100 000 men

 c)      it stated that the German navy could not build any large war ships

 d)     it stated that there could be no Germanair force

  e)      it stated that the German empire was to be divided among  the victorious allies (i.e.England took over Germanyís possessions in Africa, Japan, parts of Asia, and some Pacific Islands were given to Australia and New Zealand)


††††††††††† The idea behind the treaty was that Germany would never be strong enough to declare war on any other country in Europe.Germany was forced to sign the treaty. Adolf Hitler used the treaty to stir up German nationalism.This helped him gain political power in the 1930ís.


2. The Great Depression of the 1930ís


-In October 1929, the global stock market crashed.This began the Great Depression, and it was the biggest the world had ever seen.Millions of people all over the world, especially in North America and Europe, were out of work and had no hopes of finding work.

(i.e. Thousands of people in Halifax were out of work and had to be fed by soup kitchens.Quite likely, they received a meal of soup and bread, their only meal of the day)

††††††††††† People were going hungry all over the world until the mid 30ís.A vicious cycle had been created:

†††††††† No work=no money to buy food=no one buying food or products=no work

†††††††††† The Great Depression actually worked in Hitlerís favour.He became the President of Germany in 1934 as the leader of the Nazi party.Hitler took the opportunity to build up his military, ignoring the Treaty of Versailles.He made work for the German people and things began to turn around in his country.



3.  Failure of the League of Nations (Appeasement)

The League of Nations was the brainchild of Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States during World War I.  The League consisted of nations, including Canada, that would ban together so wars such as WW I would not occur again.  One principle of the League was collective security (if one member of the League was attacked by another power, other members of the League would send military support to the country being attacked). 

A major weakness of the League of Nations was that the United States was not a member.  Woodrow Wilson could not pass it in the U.S. Senate, therefore, one of the strongest military powers was not a member.  It was feared that the U.S. might take advantage of this power in the future. 

Woodrow Wilson firstln/955pres8.gif

4. The Rise of Militarism

-Three key events lead to the Rise of Militarism before WWII.


a)      In 1904-05, Japan defeated Russia in the Russo-Japanese War.This was the first time any Asian power had defeated a major European power.Japan went on to become a major power in the Pacific.During the 1920ís Japan had increased its military to the point that by 1931 it was able to invade the Chinese province of Manchuria, to gain control of the mineral rich area.Next, Japan began a war with China.These attacks violated the collective security of the League of Nations.However, the League did nothing to protect China.Japan withdrew form the League and overran most of Northern China by 1935.Japanís aggression weakened the League of Nations and had a profound influence on Europe.Hitler and (Italian Dictator) Mussolini sensed that other nations would avoid war at all costs.

b)     Mussolini defied the League of Nations by invading Ethiopia in 1935.Great Britain and France did not refuse Mussolini access to the Suez Canal (linking the Mediterranean and Red Seas) and along with the U.S., continued to supply Italy with vital oil supplies.

Benito Mussolini mussolini_benito.htm

c)      Hitler also defied the League of Nations.  In 1935 Hitler enlarged the German Army from 100 000 men  to 350 000 men.  Germany embarked on an intensive naval program.  They also began to build up the German Air force.  All of these actions went against the Treaty of Versailles.  Despite this fact, Britain and France did not take action against Germany.  They did not want to be involved.  At this time, Britain and France could have forced Germans out of the Rhineland, but they didn't.  This proved to be a great boost for Hitler because it convinced him that the League of Nations wasn't prepared to do anything to stop him. 

The actions of Japan, Italy, and Germany, which should have been opposed by the League were not, and dictators in these countries continued their aggressive ways until it finally led to the second World War.


Adolf Hitler columns/june98/1930.html


On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland