Sunday, June 12, 2011

Causes of WWII— Treaty of Versailles, Failure of the League of Nations, and Policy of Appeasement

The Treaty of Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles made at the end of WWI was a major cause of the Second World War. The Treaty of Versailles had severe conditions and demanded Germany to pay a huge amount of money for the damages that they had done to the victorious countries. The treaty also demanded Germany to give up a fairly large amount of industrial land, making it harder for Germany to earn the money that it needed to pay the victorious countries. Germany could not pay off the enormous debt, and was in economic ruins. As a result, there was political instability, and this allowed the Nazi Party to rise because the socialist party seemed to have had the solution to hunger and economic problems. Also, one of the clauses in the Treaty of Versailles was that the Germans had to accept full responsibility for the First World War, and this was a huge humiliation for the Germans. As a result, the Nazi Party—a party that made calls to the German pride and blamed the problems on minority groups—gained more support from the proud Germans. In short, the Treaty of Versailles created a context in Germany in which the Nazi Party was able to gain more support from the people. And by allowing the Nazi Party to rise, the Treaty of Versailles had planted the roots of the Second World War.

The Failure of the League of Nations



The failure of the League of Nations also contributed significantly to the Second World War. After WWI ended, countries such as Canada, France and Britain
formed the League of Nations, an international organization intended to maintain world peace. The League of Nations was supposed to stop aggressor countries from attacking other countries. However, it failed to do so. It did nothing when Japan invaded Manchuria in 1931, and it also did not do anything when Italy invaded Ethiopia in 1935. Because of the league’s failure to do anything during these two aggressions, Germany decided to test the organization itself—it remobilized the Rhineland, a territory in which it was not supposed to have any troops. In 1936, German soldiers were ordered by Hitler to march into the Rhineland with empty rifles, and to retreat if the French army attacked. Once again, France and the League of Nations did nothing when they were supposed to do something, and Hitler’s plan became successful. Had the French and the League of Nations told the Germans to retreat from the Rhineland, Hitler’s bluff would have been revealed and he may have been overthrown, preventing him from carrying out the rest of his plans and preventing the Second World War. Therefore, the failure of the League of Nations was an important cause of the Second World War.

The Policy of Appeasement


Another important cause of the Second World War was the policy of appeasement. The policy of appeasement was basically the policy to give into the demands of an unfriendly power—Germany—to prevent hostilities. This was very similar to the failure of the League of Nations. As countries were all preoccupied with their own problems, they did not want to add more problems to themselves and did not bother to interfere with Germany’s plans—they just let Germany do whatever it wanted. Germany remobilized the Rhineland, annexed Austria, and then took over the Sudetenland from Czechoslovakia. Then, when Germany took over the rest of Czechoslovakia and the world finally realized what Germany was up to, it was already too late. By taking over Austria and Czechoslovakia, Germany had gained tremendous military and industrial power, and had thus become a lot more powerful. Had the rest of the countries not adopted the policy of appeasement and had they stopped Germany from taking over Austria and Czechoslovakia, Germany’s plan would not have gone successful and it would not have been able to fight in a war as huge as the Second World War. The policy of appeasement allowed Germany to execute its plans successfully and to become extremely powerful, and therefore it was a significant cause of the Second World War.

44 comments:

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