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
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.