persblog.be – The World in English suppl. – to MAIN PAGE
persblog.be – Edition 2014.06.24 – One of the causes of the outbreak of the second world war was ‘The Treaty of Versailles’ settling how Germany had to pay for the damage caused during the war. “The Germans could not afford to pay the money and they voted to power a man who promised to rip up the Treaty. His name was Adolf Hitler.”
Although the outbreak of the second world war was triggered by Germany’s invasion of Poland, the causes of the war are more complex. One of the causes was ‘The Treaty of Versailles‘.
The leaders of England, France, Italy and the US met to discuss how Germany was made to pay for the damage the war had caused. They forced Germany to sign the disastrous treaty. According to historyonthenet.com: “The German people were very unhappy about the treaty and thought that it was too harsh. Germany could not afford to pay the money and during the 1920s the people in Germany were very poor. They voted to power a man who promised to rip up the Treaty. His name was Adolf Hitler.”
The main terms of the ‘Treaty of Versailles’ were: the ‘War Guilt Clause’, stipulating Germany should accept the blame for starting WWI; payment of reparations for the damage caused by the war; disarmament and territorial clauses – The industrialized Rhineland had to stay neutral, and land was taken away from Germany and given to other countries.
Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in January 1933. Almost immediately he began secretly building up Germany’s army and weapons. In 1934 he increased the size of the army, began building warships and created an air force. In 1936 Hitler ordered troops to enter the Rhineland. At this point his army was not very strong and could have been easily defeated. Yet neither France nor Britain was prepared to start another war.
Post war era in Germany: the ‘Weimar Republic‘
Hitler’s next step was to begin taking back the land that had been taken away from Germany. In 1938, German troops marched into Austria. The Austrian leader asked Britain, France and Italy for aid. Hitler promised that Anschluss was the end of his expansionist aims and not wanting to risk war, the other countries did nothing.
Hitler did not keep his word and six months later demanded that the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia be handed over to Germany. England let Hitler have it, provided that he promised not to invade the rest of Czechoslovakia. But in 1939 he invaded the rest of that country. Neither Britain nor France was prepared to take military action. Moreover, a growing fear of communism made its leaders hope that Germany would serve as a buffer to it. That same year German troops invaded Poland.
Meanwhile German’s European ally, Italy, invaded Ethiopia in 1935 in the so-called ‘Second Abyssinian War’.
Meanwhile in Asia, in 1931, Germany’s ally, Japan, invaded Manchuria in China, an area rich in minerals and resources. China appealed for help. The Japanese government were told to order the army to leave the Chinese region immediately. However, the army took no notice of the government and continued its conquest.
A second world war was inevitable.
Beside the disastrous ‘Treaty of Versailles’, the second world war was made possible due to the weakness of the European politicians and of the ‘League of Nations’ – predecessor of the United Nations – a growing fear of communism, ‘The Great Depression’…