The war in Europe was caused by the German invasion of Poland and the war in Asia was triggered by the Japanese invasion of China. Searching for more fundamental causes is more complicated and becomes intertwined with friendus to "What could have prevented World War 2?" and "What chains of events led to WW2?" On September 1, 1939 Hitler sent troops into Poland after repeatedly being told NOT to try and take over neighboring countries by Britain and France. They declared war on Germany September 3, 1939.
Here are friendus and opinions from Wikifriendus Contributors about the causes of World War 2:
German and Japanese Agendas
The key cause of the war in Europe was Hitler's agenda of conquest and Japan's expansionism.
Failure of the Treaty of Versailles:
The treaty signed after World War I treated Germany very harshly and was greatly resented by the German people.
- The size of Germany's military was severely restricted.
- Germany lost territory in Europe and was forced to give up territories from its overseas colonies.
- Germany was ordered to pay $33 billion in reparations (war damages).
This left Germany with grievances. In the Great Depression, which hit Germany early in 1930, unemployment was at terrible levels. Hitler made it his responsibility to defy all of the charges made on Germany through the Treaty. He re-armed the nation, built up a massive army, re-militarized the Rhineland, and threatened neighboring states. It was obvious he was preparing for war.
Appeasement, Isolationism, and the Failure of the League of Nations:
- The Treaty of Versailles was seen as particularly unfair by those Germans who accepted the myth that Germany was never defeated on the battlefield in WWI - a myth propagated by Field Marshals Hindenburg and Ludendorff, even though they were the two who told the government to seek an armistice. Yet the treaty itself is not what started WWII (though it didn't stop it from happening). Rather, it was the unwillingness of Great Powers such as Great Britain and France, along with the the League of Nations, to uphold the treaty provisions. When Germany announced that it had an air force; that they were re-introducing military conscription; that they were re-occupying the demilitarized Rhineland; and that they had reached a naval agreement with Great Britain that allowed them to build a navy thirty-five percent the size of Great Britain's (roughly the size of France's) -- the League of Nations only provided paper protests and the Versailles treaty became as dead as a doornail. WWII was started not only by Hitler's aspirations, but by an enfeebled West which did not comprehend the magnitude of its inaction.
- Leading up to the war, some European countries had weakened their own military forces (Denmark had basically disarmed itself, which made it the almost ideal trampoline for German forces into Norway) or had grown wary of enforcing the Treaty of Versailles despite the fact that a known madman had come to the helm in Germany.
- At the end of World War I, the victorious nations formed the League of Nations for the purpose of airing international disputes, and of mobilizing its members for a collective effort to keep the peace in the event of aggression by any nation against another or of a breach of the peace treaties. The United States, imbued with isolationism, did not become a member. The Soviet Union was not admitted till 1935 ... The League failed in its first test. In 1931, the Japanese, using as an excuse the explosion of a small bomb under a section of track of the South Manchuria Railroad (over which they had virtual control), initiated military operations designed to conquer all of Manchuria. After receiving the report of its commission of inquiry, the League adopted a resolution in 1933 calling on the Japanese to withdraw. Thereupon, Japan resigned from the League. Meanwhile, Manchuria had been overrun and transformed into a Japanese puppet state under the name of Manchukuo. Beset by friction and dissension among its members, the League took no further action. Also in 1933, Adolf Hitler came to power as dictator of Germany and began to rearm the country in contravention of the provisions of the Treaty of Versailles. He denounced the provisions of that treaty that limited German armament and in 1935 re-instituted compulsory military service. That same year the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini began his long-contemplated invasion of Ethiopia, which he desired as an economic colony. The League voted minor sanctions against Italy, but these had little practical effect. British and French efforts to effect a compromise settlement failed, and Ethiopia was completely occupied by the Italians in 1936.
- Hitler re-militarized the Rhineland in 1936. It was a dangerous venture, for Britain and France could have overwhelmed Germany, but, resolved to keep the peace, they took no action. Emboldened by this success, Hitler intensified his campaign for Lebensraum(living space) for the German people. He annexed Austria in March 1938, and then, charging abuse of German minorities, threatened Czechoslovakia.
- In September 1938, as Hitler increased his demands on the Czechs and war seemed imminent, the British and French arranged a conference with Hitler and Mussolini. At the Munich Conference they agreed to German occupation of the Sudetenland, Hitler's asserted last claim, in the hope of maintaining peace. This hope was short lived, for in March 1939 Hitler took over the rest of Czechoslovakia and seized the former German port of Memel from Lithuania. There followed demands on Poland with regard to Danzig (Gdansk) and the Polish Corridor. The Poles remained adamant, and it became clear to Hitler that he could attain his objectives only by force. After surprising the world with the announcement of a nonaggression pact with his sworn foe, the Soviet Union, he sent his armies across the Polish border on Sept. 1, 1939.
The US policy of isolationism:
- Leading up to World War II, the United States of America maintained a policy of isolation. The United States focused little attention on any conflicts occurring outside of their borders.
Fascism, Nationalism, Totalitarianism, and Collectivist Ideology:
- Fascists fully support the military and feel war is acceptable in achieving national goals. Because of this, Italy and Germany were prepared to follow this policy and expand and form empires of their own. Germany wanted to unite the dominant German "race." This led to the Czech crisis.
- Extreme fear of Bolshevism, deliberately encouraged by hard line nationalists, like Hitler and Mussolini. Hitler saw it as his mission in life to eliminate Bolshevism and what he saw as its "biological root," the Jews.
- The war was caused by the expansionist desires of Hitler, Mussolini and the Japanese imperialists.
- Germany, Italy and Japan wanted to conquer new territories and enslave or exterminate the peoples living there.
Economic Depression and Instability:
- The Great World Depression in 1929 became a very important cause of the war. It sent the German economy into a great disaster, causing a humongous number of unemployed people. In the book Causes and Consequences of World War Two it is written that, to the Germans, Hitler was now a strong, determined, and efficient leader who knew exactly where he was going. But did the people actually know where he was leading them? No, the people believed that Hitler was leading them out of the depression; but, in actuality, Hitler's motives were different from what the people thought they were. He used the Great Depression to connive his way into authority. His real motives were to abolish the Treaty of Versailles, expand German territory, and dominate Europe and the whole world. In order to achieve these goals he first wanted to conquer France and Russia while he was still on the same side as Italy and Britain. He believed that Italy and Britain would stay to his side until he began the full destruction of the Jews.
- If there had been no Great Depression, do you think World War 2 would still have happened? The political climate created by this depression allowed dictators such as Hitler to rise to power.
- Japan was trying to gain natural resources to feed its industry. Japan has almost no natural resources itself. It attacked the US to "clear the way" for its conquest of American, Dutch, British, and Australian colonies and gain their resources.
- Britain and France's treaty with Poland expanded what might otherwise have been a 'local' war into something much bigger. If they had instead decided to not fulfill their obligations under the treaty the war in Europe might very well have ended up with just a war between Germany and Russia.
- The view that the Versailles Treaty was too onerous, and that this is the cause of World War II, is an American high school history teacher's myth. It is a view that can be traced to the isolationists of the 1920s, who declared that World War I had been a mistake, and resisted American preparations for and involvement in World War II right up until Pearl Harbor. Although the Versailles Treaty imposed monetary reparations on the Germany, Allied assistance to the Weimar Republic, both through the Dawes Plan and through investment in Germany during the 1920s, greatly exceeded the reparations taken from Germany under provisions of the Versailles Treaty. Readers would do well to revisit a forgotten treaty, the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk (March 1918), to see what peace conditions imperial Germany imposed on Russia (the Soviet Union) as the price of peace after the Russians were defeated and forced out of the war in 1917.
- Commonly held underlying causes for WWII are nationalism, militarism, and unresolved territorial issues. Fascist movements emerged in Italy and Germany during the global economic instability of the 1920s, and consolidated power during the Great Depression of the 1930s. In Germany, resentment of the Treaty of Versailles, the belief in the Dolchstosslegende, and the onset of the Great Depression fueled the rise to power of the militarist National Socialist German Workers Party (the Nazi party), led by Adolf Hitler. Meanwhile, the Treaty's provisions were laxly enforced from fear of another war. Closely related is the failure of the British and French policy of appeasement, which sought to avoid war but actually encouraged Hitler to become bolder and gave Germany time to re-arm, and the USSR's signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact which freed Germany of fear of reprisal from the Soviet Union when Germany invaded Poland. The League of Nations, despite its efforts to prevent the war, relied on the Great Powers to enforce its resolutions, and was unable to prevent the start of The Second World War.
- Japan in the 1930s was ruled by a militarist clique devoted to becoming a world power. Japan invaded China to bolster its meager stock of natural resources. The United States and Great Britain reacted by making loans to China, providing covert military assistance, and instituting increasingly broad embargoes of raw materials against Japan. These embargoes would have eventually forced Japan to give up its newly conquered possession in China because the Japanese would not have enough fuel to run their war machine; Japan was faced with the choice of withdrawing from China or going to war with the United States in order to conquer the oil resources of the Dutch East Indies. It chose the latter, and went ahead with plans for the Greater East Asia War in the Pacific.
- Germany invaded Poland , therefore Britain and France declared war on Germany on Sept, 1939. The USA entered the war on Dec.7, 1941 when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor.
- As for the Pacific War, Japan had long been coveting Mainland resources, invading China and (en route) Korea for centuries. Under the guise of The Co-Prosperity Sphere (8-Lands Under One Umbrella), Japan plotted an imperial takeover of Asia and the Pacific a la Western Imperialism less than a century earlier. The US opposed this movement and placed embargoes on Japan. Searching for supplies and rebelling against US intervention, Japan embarked on its Oriental conquest. Hoping to keep the US Air Force out of Japan's way, Adm. Yamamoto led the attack on Pearl Harbor.
- Some historians, such as Arno Mayer, see the two World Wars (at least in Europe) as essentially one war with a twenty-year truce. However, this view should not be taken literally. One of Arno Mayer's key points is that throughout the period from about 1900-1945 the traditional elites (especially the aristocracy) were having immense difficulty preserving their position in industrialized societies and were keen to divert conflict abroad, and away from domestic politics. This was a key factor in the enthusiasm for nationalism. The rise of Communism from 1917 onwards was seen as a particularly powerful threat.
- Hitler invaded Poland, Britain and France then declared war on Germany.
In Europe: the Nazis' desire for boundless expansion. The war was triggered, as stated above, by the German invasion of Poland in September 1939. Another important factor was the long-standing Nazi ambition of destroying Bolshevism. This, together with the desire for expansion, led to the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941.
In Asia: the Japanese regime's desire for massive expansion in Asia and the Pacific. This (initially separate) war began in 1937 with the all-out Japanese invasion of China.
The Japanese attack on the U.S. (Pearl Harbor, 1941) and the subsequent German declaration of war on the U.S. in effect combined these two wars into one war.
Obviously, for longer term causes one would have to go further back. In Europe, WW2 arose from German resentment about the result of WW1; it was essentially a re-run.
There was no distinct cause; there were many factors that contributed:
- Aggressive Nationalism
Countries weren't just thinking "I'm better than you", but "I'll beat you up to prove it."
- There were dangerous tangled alliances
- Collapse of Collective Security
There was no "Planet Police Force" like the USA. claims to be now. No one was stopping the "evil" that was being done.
- Violation of Human Rights
People who were in power greatly abused it and no one stopped them. Not to mention the Totalitarian Dictatorships; they denied even the slightest
Countries were allowing others to do whatever they wanted in the hopes that what they did would be all they wanted.
- Failure of the USA. to get involved sooner
It was the USA. that emerged victorious and the world's superpower. If they hadn't declared neutrality, the war would have been over sooner. The intention of FDR (president at the time) was to offer "Cash and Carry" to the nations of the world to protect the USA. from getting involved and help themselves out of the depression. In my opinion, this would have been accomplished as well if we had declared war off the bat, the economic boost would have been the same.
One of the main reasons is the Treaty of Versailles
, but the bad economy
in countries and appeasement
also played a pretty big role.
One of the main reasons is the Treaty of Versailles
, but the bad economy
in countries and appeasement
also played a pretty big role.
One of the chief causes of WWII was the Treaty of Versailles, signed in 1918 by Germany after their defeat in WWI. This put strict rules on Germany. For example, Germany was not allowed to have a standing army over 100,000 men and were limited a very small Navy and practically no Air Force. Also, this Treaty put the guilt of World War I onto Germany, as they had to pay for war reparations. Poverty became rampant and the economy struggled awfully. For example, before WWI, four marks were equal to one dollar. After the war, it took four billion marks to equal one dollar. When the German people saw Hitler, they saw him as a strong leader that would lead Germany to it's previous greatness. This is mainly how he was able to commit the atrocities that he did while under the public eye.
Because Hitler is an ass.....Thats all Because Hitler is an ass.....Thats all