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Causes of World War 2
Transcript of Causes of World War 2
Germany invades Poland in September of 1939; this action violates the Munich Agreement as well as the terms established by the Treaty of Versailles
September 1938 Appeasement: Sudetenland
Is appeasement the cause?
The case for:
-If Britain (Neville Chamberlain) and France (Edouard Daldier) had stopped Hitler in the demilitarized zone in 1936, he may not have had the motivation to challenge the league.
-Once France and Britain Met Hitler's demand for the Sudetenland, he realized they would not stop his aggressive actions.
The case against:
Those involved in appeasement were not responsible for the unrealistic terms negotiated at the Paris Peace conference.
-Nor were they responsible for the economic crisis that pulled states away from aggressive foreign policy.
Blames Chamberlain for failing to challenge Hitler.
A.J.P. Taylor argued in 1961 that Hitler was an "opportunistic statesman rather than a 'clear planner in foreign policy, which meant that appeasing him simply encouraged him to be bolder in seizing new opportunities to expand."
Evidence now suggests that Chamberlain's policy of 'hoping for the best while preparing for the worst' allowed Britain time to re-arm until they were in a position to be able to challenge Hitler.
If we see Hitler as Taylor says as a person without a plan than Chamberlain is to blame.
-Do you think Hitler had a plan or was he an opportunist as Taylor suggested?
The Failures of the League of Nations:
-Established in 1920 in Geneva following the Paris Peace Treaty to establish world peace.
-Germany and Russia were excluded.
-The US Senate refused to join the League.
: Settled disputes between Finland and Sweden over Aland; improved international labor conditions and reduced Tropical Diseases.
1931 Japanese invasion of Manchuria. -The league took over a year to address Chinese concerns.
-1935 Abyssinia invasion by Mussolini.
Economic and Political
Short Term Causes:
-October 1929 Wall Street stock market crashes.
-This impacted international loan payments established by the Dawes Plan, effectively bringing the Weimer Republic to its knees.
-huge unemployment in Germany led to popular support for Hitler and radical Nazi party.
-Depression encouraged aggressive expansionist policies.
-Extreme right wing nationalism
-It also weakened collective security.
A source of resentment and future strife.
Treaty of Versailles:
2) German leaders signed assuming 14 points would be utilized.
3) German Army reduced to 100,000 men.
4) Loss of overseas colonies
5) Lost Posen, West Prussia, Upper Silesia to Poland, East Prussia was separated and Danzig was placed under the leagues control.
6) Alsace and Lorraine, Memel to Lithuania
7) Saarland was given to League administration.
8) Rhineland demilitarized
9) Article 231 blamed Germany exclusively
10) Reparations of 6,600 million Pounds.
11) Union with Austria forbidden.
-with a lack of financial and political strength 'appeasing' Hitler became policy.
1) 1933 Hitler becomes Chancellor
2)1933 Hitler leaves the League.
3) 1934 Hitler signs 10 year peace pact with Poland (Encourages British appeasement policy)
4) Hitler reintroduces conscription
5) Anglo-german Naval treaty (Britain undermines Treaty of Versailles in order to reduce German battleships.
6) Germany remilitarizes the Rhineland
7) 1936- Rome Berlin Axis in Spanish Civil war
8) 1938 Germany occupies and annexes Austria Neville Chamberlain hoped to renegotiate a Treaty to 'prevent the worst.'
-15th September- Hitler and Chamberlain meet over Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia and negotiate terms.
-22 September: Hitler rejects the deal at subsequent meeting at Godesberg, demanding Sudentenland
-30 September: Hitler accepts Italian mediation and at Munich, Britain and France accept his terms handing over the Sudetenland. Benes (Czech Prime Minister not consulted)
-1939- European Arms race has begun
Hitler's Foreign Policy aims and Objectives:
Mein Kampf (1924-5)
1) Overthrowing Versailles Treaty (rearming and recovering lost territory)
2) Lebensraum in Eastern Europe
3) Uniting all German-Speaking people in his "New Germany'
4) Creating a racially 'pure' German state.
Evidence for implementing his plan:
-1933 Germany leaves the League of Nations
-1935, announced a 550,000 German Army and introduced conscription.
-1935, Anglo-German Naval Agreement to allow larger Navy.
-March 1936, re-militarized Rhineland
-1936-7, supporting Franco in Spanish Civil War
-1938 anschluss (union) with Austria.
-1938, Sudetenland after Munich Agreement.
-1939 Czechoslovakia taken
-1939, Nazi-Soviet Pact and invasion of Poland.
Orthodox View of Hitler's Foreign Policy
-Hugh Trevor-Roper stressed that Mein Kampf provides clear evidence of long-term goals of a blueprint of 'future action,' which is consistently followed once Hitler comes to power. This argument holds that Hitler's desire for expansion caused World War II.
Revisionist View Point:
-A.J.P. Taylor argues that Hitler is a spur-of-the-moment man of improvisation and that he could have been stopped by Britain and France.
-He dismisses Mein Kampf as wishful day-dreaming, and Hitler simply took advantage of the opportunities presented to him.
A middle ground position:
Alan Bullock argues that Hitler had clear Long Term plans that he implemented using opportunistic methods and tactics. His actions may not show a master planner, but he had objectives that he met overtime.
But what made this war possible?
1) What does John Keegan argue is the cause of the war in his book "The Second World War?"
2) How does this contribute to a comparison of the 1st and 2nd World War?
Write answers on a sheet of paper after completing the reading.
The Causes of War in the Pacific Theater
The Pacific theater of war has its roots in the mid 19th century when Japan began rapid industrialization, which allowed them to increase their armies and industries.
Japan required more raw materials to industrialize, and China provided the perfect location as its nation descended in chaos at the end of the Manchu Quing Dynasty.
January 1915 Japan issued China a list of 21 demands that included handing over Manchuria and Shandong and China allow Japanese advisers in the government. The treaty of Versailles awarded Japan control over former German territories in Shandong.
Japan was denied Manchuria at the Treaty of Versailles.
During the Washington Naval conference of 1921-22 Japan had to withdrawal its forces from China.
The depression created an increase in traditional Shinto beliefs and Emperor worship.
Japan as a society rejected western capitalists viewpoints, yet required more natural resources.
Manchuria had the most accessible source of raw materials. (coal, iron ore, bauxite, and soya). September 1931 at height of economic depression the Japanese army in Guandong staged an explosion on Japanese owned railway. This was used as a pretext to invade.
Japan left the league of nations and ignored foreign protests.
The league took a year to file a report about the invasion and consequently it could not be stopped.
By 1937 a large scale invasion of China had began. This was made possible because of a Chinese government divided amongst nationalists and communists.
China 1937: The Marco Polo Bridge incident 2nd Sino-Japanese war/Rape of Nanjing
On July 7th, 1937 an incident occurred between Chinese and Japanese soldiers in Wanping, a town outside of Beijing. It is reported that the Japanese were carrying out routine exercises and fired some practice rounds, which made the Chinese soldiers nervous. The Japanese noticed that one of their soldiers was "missing" and demanding the authority to enter Wanping to search for him. The Chinese agreed to do the searching while being accompanied by a Japanese officer. The Japanese infantry decided to push into Wanping which started a chain reaction of increased military presence.
On July 8th the Japanese Army attacked the bridge. Although the Chinese were able to push back the Japanese the government decided this was justification to send in hundreds of thousands of Japanese troops. This marked the start of the 2nd Sino-Japanese war.
Rape of Nanjing
December 13th 1937 marked a 6 week campaign of mass murder and rape of hundreds of thousands of Chinese.
The exact numbers vary between 150,000 to 300,000 due to the destruction of records by the Japanese.
Notes on the Road to Pearl Harbor
The World at War Episode 6.
Orthodox Perspectives of the Treaty of Versailles
James Joll, "Europe was divided by the peace conference into those who wanted the peace revised (Germany, Italy, Japan and Hungary) and those who wanted it upheld (France, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia), and those who were not that interested (the USA and Britain)".
Revisionist perspectives of Versailles
Ruth Henig argued that the treaty was a "creditable achievement", but one that failed because of economic and social problems, divisions between the Allies, and reluctance of leaders to enforce the treaty. The failure to do this meant a stronger Germany, and further indecision in the form of appeasement meant war.
Paul Kennedy the settlement worked, but it was crushed by militarism of Italy, Japan and Germany as well as ineffectiveness of governments due to the Great Depression and its effects.
Orthodox View of the League of Nations
E.H. Carr stated that "self-determination and collective security were unworkable idealistic principles, and the settlement failed to address the 'German problem'."
Revisionist perspectives on the League of Nations
Paul Birdsall argued that the US refusal to commit to the League of Nations undermined its success, and the idea of a united democratic front supplying 'collective security.'
Historians views on the impact of the Great Depression
Richard Overy, "No single factor was more important in explaining the breakdown of the diplomatic system in the 1930s than the world economic crisis."
Reparations blamed for World war 2
Economist J.M. Keynes denounced the reparation clauses in the treaty by saying that "such pressure upon the German economy threatened the stability of the whole European economy."
Alternative views: E.Mantoux argues that the productivity of German industry during the 1930s, especially armament manufacturing, showed that the levels of reparations set in 1921 were after all within Germany's capacity.
A.J.P. Taylor viewed Versailles as crushing, harsh and lacking in moral validity, as no Germans accepted it and all wanted to overturn it. From this perspective, the Second World War was "a war over the settlement of Versailles; a war which had been implicit when the First World War ended because the peace-makers had not solved the German problem."