Reasons for the outbreak of the Second World War

See the John D. Clare section on the Road to World War II.

German occupation of Czechoslovakia (March 1939)

    Walsh, p.270.

The Pact of Steel (May 1939)

    On May 22nd,1939, Germany and Italy signed a Pact of Friendship and Alliance which is more commonly known as the Pact of Steel. The Pact was based on an assumption that war would break out within the next 3 years and tied German and Italian economic, military and Foreign policies together.

    The Pact agreed the following:

      that in the event of war there would be mutual assistance between the countries.

    • that neither nation would agree peace terms without the consent of the other nation.
    • that there would be discussions about war planning and operations.
    • that joint Propaganda efforts would be utilised.
    • that there would be economic co-operation between Germany and Italy.

Nazi-Soviet Pact (August 1939).

    Walsh, p. 271-2
    John D. Clare on the Nazi-Soviet Pact.

    This ‘We Teach History’ presentation is useful for understanding the Nazi-Soviet Pact but can’t be embedded.

    Stalin claimed the pact was a defensive measure, designed to buy time. Do the secret protocols of the pact (that divided up Poland and the Baltic States) support this?

German invasion of Poland, weaknesses of appeasement.

The Causes of WWII

    There were 4 Key reasons:

    1. The Treaty of Versailles solved nothing

    • it left allies feeling guilty;
    • made Hitler’s plans for self-determination look justified;
    • surrounded Germany by smaller nations that it would be able to dominate;
    • and made German people angry and supportive of Hitler.

    2. The League of Nations was weak from the beginning; it failed:

    • to stop aggression in Manchuria and Abyssinia
    • to stop German aggression and challenging the Treaty of Versailles
    • to achieve disarmament
    • to keep key participants, including Germany, Japan and Italy
    • to keep even Britain and France who, by the mid 30s, turned to bilateral agreements and to appeasement instead of collective security

    3.Appeasement encouraged aggression

    • It made Hitler think no one would dare stop him.
    • It led Soviet Russia to sign the Nazi-Soviet Pact because it couldn’t trust the west after Munich

    4. Germany was expansionist – Hitler wanted to win back all the territories lost in 1918.

    • Hitler’s Eight Steps to war (SCRAMCUP).
      See John D. Clare for a good summary.

      German soldiers meet Russian Soldiers in a T34 Tank.  In roughly two years' time they would be fighting each other and the T34 would be one of the reasons for Russia's eventual victory.
      German soldiers meet Russian Soldiers in a T34 Tank. In roughly two years’ time they would be fighting each other and the T34 would be one of the reasons for Russia’s eventual victory.

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