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What caused World War II to break out in 1939?

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World War II broke out in 1939 because Germany invaded Poland, but there is a long background leading up to the conflict.

Since Hitler's rise to power in 1933, the western allies in Europe, primarily Great Britain and France, had followed a policy of appeasement. Instead of using their militaries when it would have been easy to do so to oppose Hitler's aggressive land grabs in central Europe, they allowed them to take place.

Part of the rationale was that the a strong Germany would provide a protective bulwark against possible Soviet aggression, a country the west greatly feared. If the USSR decided to attack to spread communism, they would run up against a strong, large, and very heavily militarized German state, which would help shield France and England. In addition, the western European nations were still reeling financially and politically after the disaster of World War I. They knew that the public was fed up with warfare and wanted to avoid another major conflagration.

However, when...

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