The origins of World War II (1939–1945) in Europe can be traced back to the end of World War I (1914–1918). After the armistice of 1918, Germany was forced to sign the Versailles Treaty. Germany had to pay reparations to the Allies. Germany lost a great deal of territory and had to limit the size of its military. Also, it had to accept blame for beginning WWI. This treaty destabilized postwar Germany and helped pave the way for the rise of Adolph Hitler.
Hitler became chancellor in 1933 and gradually became a dictator. He ignored the Versailles Treaty by rearming Germany; violated the Treaty of Versailles by sending troops into the Rhineland in 1936; helped Francisco Franco win the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939); and seized Austria, the Sudetenland, and the rest of Czechoslovakia.
The British and French failed to stop Hitler's aggressive moves in the 1930s. Instead, they followed the policy of appeasement: they gave in to Hitler's demands in an effort to avoid another world war....
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