6 Main Causes of World War 2

World War 2 broke out in 1939. The damage and destruction caused by this war surpassed all other wars.

Main Causes of World War 2

Dissatisfaction with the Treaty of Versailles

There was dissatisfaction in Italy and Germany with the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. Several harsh restrictions were imposed on Germany. It had a huge war indemnity and its mineral-rich areas of Saar and Rhineland were occupied by France. All German colonies in Asia and Africa were forcefully captured. Her military power was also reduced. All these harsh terms led to the emergence of militant nationalism.

Rise of Fascism and Nazism

Fascism rose in Italy and Nazism spread in Germany. Both believed in the existence of a totalitarian state and opposed democracy. While Italy under Mussolini aimed at reviving the lost glory of the old Roman Empire, Germany wanted to re-establish the prestige of Germany in the international field. This could be done only by fighting wars. World War 2 thus became inevitable.

Policy of Appeasement

The policy of appeasement refers to overlooking the aggressiveness of other countries. It means to accept the hostile demands of an aggressive nation to gain peace. The policy of appeasement was followed by Britain and France towards Germany and Italy as they thought that the terms of the Treaty of Versailles were very harsh for the two nations. Britain and France also wanted to check the growth of communism. They feared that Germany might become a communist power. Thus, they took no action when Germany militarized Rhineland and captured Austria and Czechoslovakia.

Japanese Invasion of China

The Japanese government was following the policy of expansionism. It occupied Manchuria despite the opposition of the League and was showing aggression in other parts of China. No action was taken when China appealed to the League for help. Japan had joined the Berlin–Rome–Tokyo Axis to further expand its power in the region. It also conquered the British and American territories in China. The western powers followed the policy of appeasement as they thought that Japanese aggression would further weaken China.

Failure of the League of Nations

  • The League of Nations was created after the First World War to prevent future wars. USA refused to join the League, and the powerful member nations followed the policy of appeasement and were not interested in maintaining the principle of collective responsibility.
  • The terms of the Treaty of Versailles created discontent in Germany and Italy. The league took no action against the offending countries when Poland seized a part of Lithuania in 1920 ,Japan captured Manchuria (China) in 1931 ,Italy annexed Ethiopia (Africa) in 1936.
  • As a result, many small nations lost faith in the League, and they entered alliances with other countries to protect their interests.

Immediate Cause of World War 2

Invasion of Poland by Hitler

The invasion of Poland by Hitler in September 1939 was an immediate cause of World War 2. He occupied Poland because of the following reasons:

  • The Treaty of Versailles divided Germany into two parts. A part of the German land route to Poland and the Port of Danzig were conceded to Poland. Germany wanted to regain its lost territories.
  • As the city of Danzig was mainly inhabited by the Germans, Hitler could easily connect with East Prussia.
  • Germany accused Poland of committing atrocities against German nationals in Poland.

On 1 September 1939, the German armies marched into Poland. When France and Britain gave an ultimatum to Germany, the latter attacked France. On 3rd September, France and Britain declared war on Germany, marking the beginning of World War 2.

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