The Causes of WWII

Please note: This is not a history of the war, it is a history of events leading to conflict in Europe and will end at Pearl Harbor, when what began as a European War truly became a World War. All efforts have been made to ensure that this is factually correct, but there may be mistakes. If anybody has nodes on events during this period, /msg me and I will hardlink them in. More writeups will follow.


One: The End of WWI and the Treaty of Versailles

War Poetry: For the Fallen; The Next War

When WWI ended in 1918 (armistice 11am, 11/11/1918), the powers involved in the war had differing motives. As WWI was ‘the war to end wars’, all involved hoped that a total war like that would never happen again. One cause of Germany’s surrender is attributed to American President Woodrow Wilson’s ‘14 Points for Peace’ Plan, which ensured that Germany would be treated well. The victorious Allied Powers all had different aims, with France (Clemenceau) wanting Germany weakened so it could never attack again, Britain (Lloyd-George) wanted Germany to pay but not become an outcast, and the USA (Wilson) lasting peace. In 1919/1920, however, when the victors and Germany met in the Hall of Mirrors (Palace of Versailles, France), Germany received a ‘diktat’, the Treaty of Versailles.

    The Treaty (critical comment alongside)
  1. Demilitarised zone along the river Rhine (Relied on German goodwill after 1920)
  2. Disarmament - no tanks, subs or airforce, 100 000 men in army (Only Germany was forced to disarm)
  3. Union of Germany and Austria (anschluss) forbidden (Ignored by Hitler in 1938)
  4. Allied troops to occupy the Rhineland for 15 years (Germany was forced to pay costs)
  5. Alsace and Lorraine returned to France (German iron ore lost)
  6. Northern Schleswig given to Denmark
  7. Poland gets West Prussia, Posen and Silesia (Division created by ‘Polish Corridor’, industry lost, seven million Germans lost)
  8. Danzig and Memel ruled by the League of Nations as mandates
  9. Germany forced to admit ‘War Guilt’ (Unfair to place all blame on Germany. The Deutsche Zeitung said in an article “...Never forget it!... today German honour is being dragged to the grave... there will be vengeance for the shame of 1919...”)
  10. Germany to pay reparations to Allies (Massive amounts of money that Germany could not pay)
The Treaty was over 200 pages long, and had 440 Articles. Germany had no choice but to sign, as the Allies threatened immediate invasion. The ex-German Kaiser, William, said “The war to end war has resulted in a peace to end peace.” German bitterness over this harsh treaty was one of the causes of WWII. Hitler (on the Treaty in Mein Kampft) said “Each one of the points of that Treaty could be branded in the minds and hearts of the German people until 60 million men and women are aflame with rage and shame...”

Onwards! The 1920s in Europe...

Sources:
  • World War II History Workbook :- Debra Francis
  • LWON - History - International Relations - The Origins of World War II :- George Bowen
  • The Treaty of Versailles (photocopy)
  • Mein Kampft :- Adolf Hitler
  • Various photocopied sheets of statistics and poetry

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