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What caused World War II to break out in 1939?

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isabel17 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted October 22, 2012 at 4:56 PM via web

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What caused World War II to break out in 1939?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 22, 2012 at 5:05 PM (Answer #1)

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The immediate cause of the outbreak of WWII in Europe in 1939 was the German invasion of Poland.  England and France had guaranteed that they would protect Poland’s borders as they were in 1939.  When Germany invaded, France and England kept their promise and declared war.

The broader cause of the war was German aggression and French and British appeasement.  Germany, under Hitler, had been trying to expand and create what it saw as a Greater Germany that included all ethnic Germans.  The French and British had simply allowed this expansion, not doing anything when Germany annexed Austria and then took Czechoslovakia.  Since the allies did not act, Hitler was emboldened to take Poland as well, not believing England and France would go to war.

However, England and France decided they could no longer back down and they went to war when Germany invaded Poland.

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