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Why Did War Break Out In 1939?

1341 words - 6 pages

Why Did War Break Out In 1939?IntroductionThere wasn't just one main cause or reason for the outbreak of war in 1939. In fact, it was the build up of many different factors that led to the Second World War. The following are the factors that led to war:The rearmament of GermanyGerman rearmament began after Hitler left the 1932-34 Geneva Disarmament Conference. He stated that as the victors of WWI would not disarm to his level, he would rearm Germany to their level. By 1935 rearmament was well underway. This involved conscription and munitions factories.Rearmament alarmed the French who, feeling insecure, reinforced the Maginot line (built between 1929 and 1934). This line of steel and ...view middle of the document...

The Rome-Berlin AxisOriginally Mussolini did not want to be Hitler's ally and in 1935 talks were held with Britain and France at the Stresa Front, but these amounted to nothing when Anthony Eden of Britain threatened oil sanctions against Mussolini during the Abyssinian crisis. This caused the Rome-Berlin Axis in 1936. Mussolini and Hitler strengthened their alliance by signing the Pact of Steel (May 1939).Britain's policy of appeasementNeville Chamberlain became British Prime Minister on the 28th May 1937, and followed the policy of appeasing Germany He believed that all Hitler wanted to do was unite German-speaking people. In doing so, Hitler would break the Treaty of Versailles by gaining lands that had been taken away from Germany. But Chamberlain did not believe Hitler would start a war, or even go beyond regaining German lands. Churchill disagreed, quoting from Mein Kampf (1924) where Hitler had written that Germany must regain lands 'in the East ... by the power of the sword.' Chamberlain had misinterpreted Hitler's aims.The Anschluss with AustriaAustrian Fascists wanted to unite with Germany but Schuschnigg, the Austrian Chancellor, wanted Austria to be independent. He was unable to gain support from abroad, and so agreed to meet Hitler in Berlin. He was persuaded to accept Hitler's henchman Seyss-Inquart as Minster of the Interior. Rioting in Vienna increased under Seyss-Inquart's leadership and Schuschnigg resigned. Seyss-Inquart invited Hitler to assist him and on the 13th March 1938 troops from the Wermacht entered Austria. In a plebiscite on the Anschluss a vote of 99.75% in favour was recorded. The vote was rigged by biased questioning. Hitler made it seem that he had been invited into Austria; in fact he had forced Austria into the union.The SudetenlandAfter WWI, the Sudetenland, a German-speaking state was added to Czechoslovakia, and so the country gained 3 million German-speaking people. After the Anschluss the Sudeten German leader, Konrad Henlein, demanded a union with Germany. Unable to receive help from France, the Czechoslovakia had to mobilise alone. Fearing war, Chamberlain met Hitler on three occasions at Berchtesgaden, Godesburg and at Munich, (29th September, 1938), where the Munich Agreement was signed. This was signed by the German, Italian, British, and French leaders: Hitler, Mussolini, Chamberlain and Daladier. Benes, the Czechoslovakian leader, was not even present. The agreement said:§ Hitler could take the Sudetenland the following day without a plebiscite;§ Hungary and Poland could take border districts from Czechoslovakia;§ Britain and Germany would never go to war.On his return to England, Chamberlain...

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