Causes of World War II
Germany was worse off after WWI because of the Treaty of Versailles. Germany lost land they needed to grow food, boats they needed to bring in raw supplies from abroad and the government could not afford to pay back reparations promised to the Allied nations. The economic crisis in Germany led to significant changes in the daily life of Germans. People were literally starving in the streets. Many people in Germany were forced into prostitution or illegal activities because they had no choices. Many families were tossed onto the streets and had to beg to survive.
The people of Germany were desperate and looking for a new leader. Adolf Hitler's Nazi party promised to build a new Germany. Adolf Hitler used propaganda to convince Germans that he was a good choice that only he could solve the economic problems.
Hitler came to power by appealing to the charm and sense of national honor. He took control of the German workers party. Hitler try to take over the government in 1923 but was crushed and he was sentenced to prison. Hitler realized he needed to seize power legally. Hitler became chancellor in 1933 and created a new government he took complete control over Germany and passed the Enabling Act which gave the government the power to ignor the Constitution for four years.
Adolf Hitler had a nationalistic and militaristic response to the requirements of the Treaty of Versailles. In 1935 he began a military draft that would expand the German army and created a new Air Force. Hitler sent German troops into the Rhineland in 1936. Hitler gained new allies like Mussolini of Italy.
Nazis thought the Germans were the only true descendents of Aryans and they would create another empire like the one ruled by ancient Romans. All of their goals were to further the Aryan master race. The Nuremberg laws defined who was a Jew. They excluded Jews from German citizenship and they were required to wear yellow stars of David and carry identification.
Lebensraum upholds the right of superior individuals to gain authoritarian leadership over the masses through the theory of lebensraum or living space through expansion. The theory emphasizes the right of the strong shall rule over the weak. Mein Kampf was the book Hitler wrote while he was in jail and it outlined his basic ideas. The book was anti-semetic and anti-communism and it talked about how superior nations and individuals needed to gain authority over the masses.
Hitler had taken over Germany through the Nazi party. He set up concentration camps for people who opposed him. By 1933 Hitler had set up a totalitarian state. Hitler became sole ruler of Germany. He started Hitler youth that had 5.4 million members. In 1935 Hitler created a new Air Force and a military draft in violation of the Treaty of Versailles. He sent German troops into Rhineland in 1936. In 1936 Germany and Italy sent troops to Spain. In 1936 Mussolini and Hitler made the agreement to work together. Germany and Japan signed a pact in 1936 against communism.. He threatened Austria with invasion in 1938 and Austria gave in and let Germany annex it. In 1939 Germany signed a treaty with the Soviet Union that promised not to attack each other. Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939. Britain and France declared war on Germany after Germany invaded Poland. When Germany started adding to their military forces and taking over countries Great Britain began to practice a policy of appeasement. This policy was meant to stabilize Europe by satisfying the reasonable demands of nations.
Japan needed Chinese natural resources so they took over Manchuria in 1931. In 1937 Japan seized the Chinese capital. Japan sent troops into China but the Chinese fought back fiercely. Japan surprised everybody by attacking the United States. Japanese aircraft attacked the US naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii December 7, 1941, they forced the United States into a war. The two sides of World War II were now all in place. The Allied powers were Britain, United States and Russia. The Axis powers were Germany, Italy and Japan.
After World War I Germany was so beaten down they look for a radical leader to regain some other nationalistic pride. Did nothing when Germany started building up their military and taking over countries and this would come back to haunt them. World War II was started because of unchecked aggression by Germany.