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Causes of World War II The modern world is still living with the consequences of World War Two, the largest conflict in history, which involved every major power in the world. It killed more people, cost more money, damaged more property, affected more people, and caused more far-reaching changes in nearly every country than any other war in history. The number of people killed, wounded, or missing between September 1939 and September 1945 can never be calculated, but it is estimated that more than 55 million people perished. The war was fought mainly between two major alliances: the Axis and the Allies. Germany, Italy, and Japan were allied in 1940 and became known as the Axis Alliance. Great Britain, France, the Soviet Union, the United States, China, and others fought against the Axis alliance. There are many root causes why the war was started, but the following are the main reasons that most historians agree on. First off, the start of the war can be directly associated with Adolf Hitler's aims, beliefs and actions. Another cause that led to this tragedy was the harshness of the Treaty of Versailles on Germany. Finally, another great cause was a failure of the League of Nations to keep the peace. After World War One, Germany and its people were devastated. Its armies where either destroyed or disarmed, and the economy was in crisis. In years to come, Germany would go into a deep depression with the country's population suffering from unemployment, hunger and great instability. The country needed a leader who could bring Germany out of this tragedy, unite and rebuilt the nation. In result of this, Adolf Hitler gained power very quickly, being successful in appealing to the people and the country’s economic need. His aggressive approach along with strong nationalism characteristics pushed Germany ahead quickly. With Hitler's fast rise to power and ultimately to supreme Fuhrer of all Germany, his more personal beliefs become more evident. He believed in uniting all German speaking people and wanted lebensraum, which meant "living space". Achieving this meant re-occupying former German territory and even occupying foreign regions. In order for his aggressive foreign-policy to take place, he had to rebuild his disassembled army. By rearming, Germany benefited from a stronger economy. And by 1938, Hitler began occupying neighboring territories and countries. The first steps in his goal of world domination began to finally take place. The Treaty of Versailles was signed after World War One ended in 1918. It was a peace settlement that was divided into a number of sections; territorial, military, and financial. Germany was humiliated in different ways by the Versailles Treaty. First of, a lot of land was taken away from it. In addition, Germany was forced to limit its army to a mere 100,000 men. Also, the country was not allowed any tanks or air force and was limited to only six warships, which it later sank in retaliation to the treaty's conditions. Most humiliating was the Treaty of Versailles itself. Germany had to accept full responsibility and blame for the War, in which Germany lost millions of its own men. German leaders were not invited to the conference where the Treaty was signed and were given two choices: sign the Treaty or be invaded by the Allies. Without having any choice, they signed it, automatically agreeing to all the conditions. In result, Germany's economy crashed and the standard of living dropped significantly. This created a need for new leadership, new ideas and some sort of revenge. The Treaty of Versailles created an international origination called the League of Nations. It was set up to keep peace throughout the world and to prevent future wars from happening. It promised to solve problems through peaceful negotiations and with open dialog between countries. Although all the major nations joined the League of Nations, the United States chose not to join, and this seriously weakened it. When in 1931 Japan attacked Manchuria, the League of Nations did nothing to stop it. In 1935, Italy attacked Ethiopia, threatening war with any country that would try to stop them. Once again, the League of Nations did almost nothing to stop Italy. Thus Hitler became convinced that the League would do nothing to stop him either. If the League had prevented the first cases of aggression, the war may have been prevented. With this many factors playing a role in the causes of World War Two, one may wonder if it could have been avoided at all. On the other hand, it could have been a catastrophically unfortunate turn of events that, combined together, created a great and powerful war machine that killed everything in its way. It’s ironic, that the nations that created the Treaty to prevent a future war were blinded by Germany's actions to the last moment. Germany's anti-communism stance and its efforts on keeping communism out of Europe side tracked the allies, and prevented them from noticing the real intensions of Hitler. His abilities to turn Germany into a prosperous economic power, along with his darker ambitions, paved an unstoppable path to destruction. The events of World War Two will be talked about for centuries to come and it will undoubtedly be the greatest tragedy in modern times.
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