Causes of WW2



Rise of fascism, Italy (1922), Germay (1933)

  -Expansionist threat to other powers, agression by fascists destabilizes Europe = causes conflicts

*League of Nations (not cause but failed to prevent war)

  -No U.S., no real power, G.B. and Fr. are dominant but self-interested

  -Allow Natonalist states to expand, more concerned about communism and protecting empires.

Nazi expansionism

  -Lebensraum- ideological aim to gain territory, destabalizing 


 -Giving what want to avoid major conflict, (Rhineland 1936, Austria 1938, Czechoslovakia 1938)

 -Encouraged Hitler to more action and emboldened to challenge Western powers. 

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Legacy of Treaty of Versailles

  -Wanted back lost territory (Sudetenland, East Prussia, Danzig, Malmady, Posen, Alsace-L).

  -Anger and bitterness of public, legitamate reason to expand

*Nazi aims for lebensraum

  -Expand into Slavic lands in East (USSR + Poland) living space for master race

  -Anschluss wih Austria

  -Threatens European balance of power

Italian desire to be a Great Power through expanding empire

  -Abyssinia (1936)= destroys Stresa front pushing Italy into Rome-Berlin axis 

  -Gained land in Balkans+ N. Africa= encourages fascist axis to be more agressive

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Treaty of Versailles, reparations (6.6 billion) and Great Depression (1929-33)

  -Causes economic instability in Germany, crucial to Nazis rise to power

*Nazi economic recovery through military expenditure

  -1934- New Plan, 1936- 4 year plan

  -Centralized government based on rearmament and military expansion in preparation for war (autarky)

  -Militraization makes war possible and popular, justification for expenditure and hardships

Western powers in 1930's unwilling to challenge Hitler to potential cost 

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Short-term events

* Appeasement (1936-38), for war too unprepared, expensive and unpopular with public

  -Rhineland (Oct- 1938)

  -Czechoslovakian crises, Munich conference (March 1939)

     -Also marks end of appeasement, guarantee Poland support if invaded

* Nazi- Soviet pact (August 1939)

  -Stalin simply buying tie, war is inevitable but not ready for it

  -Hitler, avoiding war on two fronts

*Invasion of Poland (1st September 1939)

  -Too risky to not try and stop Hitler now

  -Declare war (3rd Septmeber).

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* Hitler's agressive foregin policy main factor

  -Strong Nazi ideology ,eg. Lebensraum and nationalist support

*However, appeasement can be seen as enabling this, didn't prevent war when still possible

*Economic factors contributed, but ultimately as a result of military expenditure, simply symptom of Nazi militarism

*Short-term events, by the time Poland was invaded war inevitable, Nazi expansionism left other powers no choice.

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