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Long Term Causes of World War II

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"Examine the a) long-term causes and b) short-term causes of the Second World War."

The average person on the street would say Germany is to blame for the Second World War. However, to what extent can we blame Germany for the war? Foreign countries did in fact play a major part in the interwar years and their role as peacemakers can be viewed as a cause of the Second World War. This essay will look at the long-term causes and the short term causes of the most damaging war this world has ever faced.

The Treaty of Versailles was one of the long-term causes of the Second World War. The Treaty was a result of the First World War and was to come up of ways to prevent another war from breaking out and to find out whom to blame for the war and how much each country owed. During the conference Germany was not invited to the US, Italy, France and Britain blamed Germany for the war and gave Germany a harsh treatment for the outbreak of the war. It was decided that Germany was to pay for reparations for all the damage, which occurred as a result of the war. Limitations on military and air force were also agreed on.

These harsh treatments did not contribute to a less aggressive Germany. The fact that they put limitations on Germany's army and forced them to pay for reparations gave Germany even more reason for they hatred to the major powers in Europe. It is of course understandable to see why the Powers would want to weaken Germany, but the question is of course to what extent was their degree of harshness towards Germany was necessary. They could for instance only have put restrictions on Germany instead of ridding them of all their resources and land. Their stripping of Germany left no room for economic improvement in the country, which eventually allowed Hitler so exploit the horrible conditions in the country and help him to his rise in power.

One of the League of Nations aims was to promote international co-operation and peace. The co-operation within the League was to be proven inefficient because their lack communication. The League did not react aggressively in any way to Italy's invasion of Abyssinia and Japan's invasion of Manchuria. The league's failure to prevent this from happening, worked in Hitler's advantage. This proved to him that he could invade and conquer land without too much foreign involvement by the League. The cause of the League of Nations failure to co-operate and prevent situations like this from happening was an extremely important cause of the Second World War. By not intervening Italy and Japan's invasions, Hitler could now predict the same would happen to him. Italy had a fascist leader hungry for power and so was Hitler. Since the League did not intervene in Italy's conquering of land, this boosted Hitler's confidence because Hitler could easily relate himself to Mussolini. Another factor which might undermined the League was the absence of some of the major powers. The US never joined the League and USSR joined very late. The absence of the superpowers probably made the League look weak in Germany and Hitler's eyes and was therefore not threat for Hitler's plans of expansion.

Appeasement was one of the short-term causes and reasons for the outbreak of war. The appeasement policy was carried out by Britain and was a result of their realization to the harshness of the Treaty of Versailles. Appeasement was to allow Germany to do what they wanted to some extent. Britain was there to make compromises and Britain's behalf. Britain saw this as a way of maintaining peace in Europe by allowing Germany to expand. This was in fact a significant short-term cause to the outbreak of war. Since Britain allowed Germany's expansion they indirectly allowed Germany to carry out their interwar years plans. By allowing Germany to conquer Czechoslovakia


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