The Origins Of The Second World War

2510 words - 10 pages

February 17th, 2010In 1955, Thomas Desmond Williams argued that there were too many historians studying the origins of the Second World War . Although Williams' point claims some merit, he was merely referencing what he believed to be a "misallocation of scholarly research." Contrary to William's advice, given the sheer magnitude of event, many historians flocked to research its true origins; for the Second World War was a global catastrophe, causing millions of deaths and changing the balance of power in the world forever. Naturally, the topic concerning its origins is therefore popular, among historians, due to the varying accounts of its origination; while A.J.P. Taylor argues that it was "a war over the settlement of Versailles" , Dr. Ruth Henig contrarily claims that the treaty was "a creditable achievement" . Such is the argument among historians, leaving the causes of the Second World War generally unknown. Due to the ambiguity of the origins of the Second World War, it is necessary to analyze the historical causes in order to arrive at the most direct and dominant causes of the war, while ignoring the innumerable minor causes. The most common analysis includes the 1919 peace settlement, in particular the Treaty of Versailles, as being one of the main causes. In the final signings of the Treaty of Versailles, Marshal Foch predicted that the treaty "is not peace. It is an armistice for twenty years" . The reparations that Germany was forced to pay after its loss in the First World War had an immense effect on the coming of the Second World War; a foreboding collapse of the German economy caused an upset amongst the German people that could, "Only be quelled by an iron-fisted leader". This was coupled with the world's own economic crisis, in which P.M.H. Bell believes to have "destroyed a situation offering a real chance of evolution towards a stable European peace" . The First World War evidently caused irreparable damage to the economies of countries involved in Europe, and economic relations in the international system were consequently strained. However, the final factor that plays possibly the most significant role in explaining the origins of the Second World War is Hitler. According to Jonathan Wright, there is "no lack of material on Hitler's intentions" , which can be clearly summarized in one line when Hitler stated that "Germany will either be a world power or there will be no Germany" . Historians, including Alan Bullock, and German scholars, such as Klaus Hildebrand, all agree that Hitler propelled a "conflict for world mastery" . While the Treaty of Versailles inspired the will of the German nation to go to war, the world economic crisis propelled almost every other nation to eek out a form of neo-imperialism to benefit their economy, Hitler acted as the necessary casus bellus of the Second World War. It can therefore be justifiably said that the origins of the Second World War are centered and based upon the Treaty of...

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