Causes of World War II After 4 years of war, World War I left its toll on on the European so much so that the economic depression and unresolved land disputes following the war triggered World War II. In September 1939, Hitler invaded Poland to demand
Germany's Lebensraum, the essential living space Germany felt entitled to after the damage done to Germany by the demands of the Treaty of Versailles. Germany's aggressive invasions showed Britain and France that Europe's attempts to appease Germany had failed. As a result, Britain and France declared war on Germany, which began what would soon become World War II.
Although the immediate cause of World War II was provoked by Hitler’s rampage to acquire land starting from Austria, to
Sudetenland of Czechoslovakia, to the rest of Czechoslovakia and finally Western Poland, there were many long term causes and postwar policies that brought Europe back to inevitable war. World War II was caused by the harsh provisions of the Treaty of
Versailles, the failures of appeasement, and the economics of the great, world wide depression.
The harsh provisions of the Treaty of Versailles caused WWII because they provoked German nationalism and militarism On June 28, 1919, major countries gathered to end the war against Germany and to negotiate terms of their defeat. One of the main terms of the treaty was that Germany pay reparations in the amount of 6600 million to repair the damage of the war.
Even without the burden of reparations, Germany buckled under its own depression; With crushing inflation, the skyrocketing cost of food and basic necessities and high unemployment, the Germans had to sign the peace agreement or else face war against the allies. The Germans saw these terms as unjust and vowed revenge. Soon after, in the 1930s, the problems in the treaty would become the target of Hitler's National Socialists' Party as it began to articulate the revenge and national pride that Germans wanted to hear.
In 1919, the American President Woodrow Wilson and some other international powers wanted to attach an overseeing international body to the Versailles Treaty called the League of Nations. Wilson included The League of Nations in his Fourteen
Points and gave a speech to persuade other countries to not overly punish Germany. At the peace Conference Wilson was overruled by France's Clemenceau and Britain's LloydGeorge. The American Senate rejected the League of Nations and
Fourteen Points for other reasons; many Americans felt that America's membership in the international body of the League could draw America into more of Europe's problems. America remained isolationist and did not sign the League, and while other countries in Europe did join the League, the League was never effective and could not stop the outbreak of World War II. Since
a decision among nations needed to be made before the League acted, action was delayed and ineffective. Even when a decision is finally reached, the League of Nations lacked an army to stop Hitler's invasion of Czechoslovakia or Poland. In conclusion, the
Treaty of Versailles was a failure because it not only overburden a resentful Germany with the guilt of World War I and costly reparations, it failed to provide the structure for a governing body to stop future aggression.
Another longterm cause of WWII were the ineffective appeasement policies of British Neville Chamberlain who had followed in the logic of Woodrow Wilson that Germany might be given a chance to recover or that it could join mature negotiations. When Hitler had taken power, though, Germany could not be trusted and many advisors to Chamberlain made that case. Hitler had taken the Rhineland in 1936 and Austria with Anschluss in 1938. Then came Czechoslovakia and Poland.
Chamberlain, nevertheless, addressed all of Britain in a 1939 speech to say. "I believe after my talks with Herr Hitler that, if only time were