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.
Backwards to ‘Effects of the Treaty of Versailles’
Two: The 1920s in Europe
In 1920, the League of Nations was established as a peace-keeping organisation,
and originally comprised of the signatories of the Treaty of Versailles. It had a
general assembly in Geneva, a Council (four permanent members, four
non-permanent members), the International Court of Justice which met at The
Hague, and the Covenant of the League had clear steps against aggression:
- Members were guaranteed against invasion
- All disputes to be settled peacefully, if possible
- If one member was attacked, it would be regarded as an attack on all members
- All trade and financial ties would be cut with the aggressor (sanctions
- League members would make an army to defeat the aggressor
However, the League, which had been invented by US President Woodrow Wilson
did not include the US
and relied on Britain
The French during this time did not feel comfortable on the issue of security,
although the League at that time was doing well, and there had been little protest of
the Treaty of Versailles. It made several defensive treaties with countries around
- 1920 - Belgium
- 1921 - Poland
- 1924 - Czechoslovakia
- 1926 - Romania
- 1927 - Yugoslavia
In 1928, France also began building the Maginot Line
(steel and concrete
fortifications along French/German border).
The first major stirring in Europe after the ‘diktat’ Treaty of Versailles was the
Ruhr Crisis in 1923, when the German government defaulted on the harsh reparation
payments, unable to pay any longer. French troops occupied the Ruhr (major
German industrial area) until the amount due was paid. The German government
called for passive resistance, and a general strike began. The German currency and
economy collapsed, and the government became bankrupt. Out of control inflation hit
Germany - a gold mark (January 1922) was worth 48 paper marks, but but October
1923, it was worth 1 205 358 227 paper marks. The Nazis under Hitler revolted
(1923 Munich Putsch). The Allies agreed that a long-term solution was needed, so
the American made Dawes Plan (US loans to Germany who gives reparations to
Allies who pay back US war loans) began.
Loan-based peace and prosperity brought recovery of a sort. Nazi support in
Germany dropped away, pacifism grew. However, this ‘stability’ was pretty fragile -
it depended on continued loans from Wall Street.
In 1925, the Treaty of Locarno guaranteed the French/German border. If either
side broke the agreement, Italy and Britain would defend the attacked party. In
1926, Germany finally joined the League of Nations, and in 1928, 65 counties signed
the Kellogg-Briand Pact, renouncing war.
By 1929, Europe was hopeful, and peace seemed realistic. The Young Plan of
that year reduced the reparations, and disarmament conferences were being held, and
had been for a while. Germany’s economy had recovered, and Europe prospered... but
all relied on American loans, and when the Wall Street crash and the Great
Depression began, peace and prosperity were threatened.
Onwards! International Relations Crises in the 1930s...
- World War II (History Workbook) :- Debra Francis
- LWON - History - International Relations - The Origins of World War II :-