updated on March 14th, 2019
What were the Causes of World War II ?***
- World War II, like the earlier war, started in Europe and assumed the character of a world war.
- The fascist countries wanted to re-divide the world for imperialist gains and thus came into conflict with the established power.
- We know that Germany was politically, militarily and economically shattered by the Treaty of Versailles. She sought revenge and was ready to have a trial of strength with the Allied Powers.
- The position of Italy was no better. Though Italy joined the Allied Powers during World War I with the hope of imperial gain, she did not gain any colonies after the war. She lost nearly 600,000 people during the war.
- Both the Fascist and Nazi Parties glorified war and promised to their people that they would bring back the lost glory of their countries through war. They began to follow an aggressive policy of expansion through conquests.
- Germany annexed Rhineland in 1936, Austria in 1938 and Czechoslovakia in 1938, while Italy attacked Ethiopia. This resulted in social tension and conflicts among European nations.
- By signing the Rome-Berlin-Tokyo Axis, these three powers (Italy, Germany, Japan )committed support to each other. Japan was given a free hand to expand control in Asia and the region of the Pacific while Germany and Italy would have a free hand in Europe.
- The success of the Soviet Union alarmed the Western Powers.
- Being capitalist countries, they wanted to check the spread of Communism.
- So they adopted a systematic policy of favouring Italy and Germany, who were anti-communists.
- This policy is referred to as the Appeasement Policy.
- German army which was restricted to 100,000 soldiers after World War I increased her strength to 800,000 soldiers without any protest from the western powers.
- Even when Hitler put aside the Treaty of Versailles and annexed Rhineland and Austria, the western powers remained silent spectators.
- In 1937, CivilWar began in Spain between the popularly elected Government and the fascist leader under General Franco. Hitler supplied arms and ammunition to overthrow the democratically elected Government in Spain.
- The Soviet Union appealed to England for collective action against General Franco. When the whole world sent support to the existing government, England and France did not take any action.
- This Appeasement Policy reached its climax when Hitler invited the Prime Ministers of Britain and France to Munich in August 1938.
- The Munich Pact was signed by them in 1938, allowing Germany to annex Sudetenland in the Northern part of Czechoslovakia.
- Later, the whole of Czechoslovakia was annexed. The Policy of Appeasement strengthened the fascist powers.
- It was now clear that Britain and France wanted Germany and Italy to act against the Soviet Union.
- To stall these plans, the Soviet Union signed a pact with Germany by which both agreed not to attack one another.
- This gave her some time to prepare for future confrontation while Germany obtained the neutrality of the Soviet Union.
- The scene was set for World War II when Germany attacked Poland on 1 September Britain declared war on Germany on 3 September 1939.
What were Consequences of the War II ?****
- The war came to an end in September 1945.
- This was the most destructive war in human history. It caused unprecedented loss of life, property and resources. Big buildings were razed to the ground and thousands of people were uprooted from their homelands.
- The German Jews were either exterminated or sent to concentration camps.
- The Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were almost wiped off when atomic bombs were dropped on them.
- The danger of nuclear holocaust was one of the major consequences of the war. Germany was divided into four zones, each under the control of one of the victorious powers.
- The Nazi Party was banned and the German army disbanded.
- Japan was placed under US supervision. In 1949, when the monarchy was re-established, US troops were withdrawn.
- Imperialism weakened with the USA and the Soviet Union emerging as superpowers.
- The world was now divided into two power blocs – the Communist Bloc headed by SovietUnion and the Western Bloc headed by the USA.
- The tension and unarmed conflict that developed between these blocs started the Cold War which continued for a very long time.
- A major impact of the war was the foundation of the United Nations Organisation (UNO)
- The world has since then undergone many changes. Its political map has changed. A large number of nations of Asia and Africa who had suffered under colonial rule are now independent.
- Together they are now a major force in the world.
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