What events set the stage for World War II  to begin in Europe?  

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mkoren eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There were several events that led to the outbreak of World War II. One event was the Versailles Treaty, which was very harsh on Germany. Germany had to pay the Allies $33 billion in reparations. They also had to accept the responsibility for World War I. Germany resented these harsh actions, and when Germany struggled economically in the 1920s, Adolf Hitler vowed to get revenge.

Other events that led to the start of World War II were the aggressive actions of Germany, Japan, and Italy coupled with the lack of an Allied response to these actions. Germany began to build up its military, which was done in violation of the Versailles Treaty. In 1936, Germany moved its military into the Rhineland, which also violated the Versailles Treaty. Japan invaded Manchuria in 1931 and invaded China in 1937. Italy invaded Ethiopia in 1935. Germany annexed Austria in 1938. The Allies had little to no response to all of these actions, mainly because the Allies were also dealing with effects of the Great Depression and weren’t prepared to go to war so soon after World War I ended. When Germany wanted to annex the Sudetenland in northwest Czechoslovakia, the leaders of Britain and France agreed to give Germany this land in return for a promise to take no more land, with an agreement known as the Munich Pact.

World War II became much more of a reality in the late 1930s. Germany broke the Munich Pact in 1939 when Germany took the rest of Czechoslovakia. The leaders of Great Britain and France responded by saying any more aggressive actions would lead to war. Germany signed a non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union in August 1939. This agreement would prevent a two-front war for Germany. In September, Germany invaded Poland leading to the start of World War II.

There were many factors that contributed to the outbreak of World War II.