World War II

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Causes of World War II

Summary:

The causes of World War II include the Treaty of Versailles' harsh terms on Germany, the rise of fascist leaders like Hitler and Mussolini, economic instability from the Great Depression, aggressive expansionist policies by Axis powers, and the failure of appeasement and the League of Nations to maintain peace.

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What caused the start of World War II in Europe?

There are two ways to answer this. 

First, WWII started in Europe because Germany invaded Poland.  When Germany did this, France and the United Kingdom declared war on Germany.  This started the war.

Second, we can look at the deeper causes that brought the war about.  The main cause was German anger over the Treaty of Versailles that ended WWI.  That treaty had been very harsh on Germany.  It caused many Germans to want to throw it off and retake their "rightful" status as a great power.  This helped bring Hitler to power and his aggressive foreign policy culminated in the invasion of Poland.

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What caused the start of World War II in Europe?

The main factor that led to the start of World War II was the general unhappiness with the international status quo on the part of the Germans and the Japanese.  Both of these countries felt that they were not being fairly treated by the international community.

For the Germans, the cause of this unhappiness was the Treaty of Versailles.  The treaty assigned all the blame for WWI to the Germans.  Furthermore, it punished them very harshly for the war.  It forced them to pay reparations, to give up much of their territory, to reduce the size of their military, and to endure other humiliating conditions.  Because of this, the Germans were eager for revenge and eager to change the international system.  This is why they took the actions that started the war in Europe.

For the Japanese, the cause of this unhappiness was a desire for a larger empire.  Japan felt it needed more of an empire to supply it with resources it did not have on its home islands.  It also felt that it should have an empire commensurate with its status (in its eyes) as a great power.  It was angry about the fact that it was not being allowed to have an empire by the European powers.  For these reasons, it took the actions in China, Vietnam, and finally at Pearl Harbor, that started the war in the Pacific.

Thus, the overall factor behind the start of the war was dissatisfaction with the international status quo on the part of Germany and Japan. 

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What caused World War II?

There were two reasons for the start of World War II.

First, and most importantly, there were three countries, two of whom were major powers, that were very dissatisfied with the status quo in the world after World War I.  These countries were Germany, Italy, and Japan.  Germany had been on the losing side in WWI and had been harshly punished by the Treaty of Versailles.  It wanted to get back to what it saw as its rightful place as a major power.  Italy and Japan had been at least nominally on the winning side in WWI, but they did not feel that they were being treated like true powers.  They did not, for example, feel that they had empires that were large enough.  When countries are unhappy with the international status quo, wars can come about. 

Second, this was a time when war was still seen as an acceptable tool of foreign policy.  Today, war between rich countries such as Germany and France is unthinkable.  This is particularly true of wars whose main purpose is to take territory by force.  In the 1930s, this was not yet the case.  Our worldwide attitudes had not yet changed to the point where they are today. 

Thus, the unhappiness of Germany, Italy, and Japan, coupled with attitudes that were more accepting of war, caused WWII to happen.

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What caused World War II?

The major cause of WWII was that Germany and Japan, in particular, were unhappy with the way things were in the years after WWI.

Germany was very unhappy because it had lost WWI and had had harsh terms imposed on it by the Treaty of Versailles.  Germany felt that it should still be a major power and did not like having territory taken away and being refused the right to have a strong military (among other things).  These grievances made Germany want to change things.

Japan had not lost in WWI, but it felt the need for a larger empire.  It invaded China and wanted more.  It felt that the US would try to prevent it from getting the empire that it wanted and needed.  

The desire of Germany and Japan to change the world order (and the desire of countries like England and the US to prevent the changes) led to WWII.

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What caused World War II?

The main causes were the rise of fascist regimes in Germany and Italy and a imperialist, militarist regime in Japan. Germany and Japan destabilized Europe, and Asia, respectively through military aggression. Germany's actions led to war with Great Britain and France, and ultimately the Soviet Union and the United States. The United States represented a serious threat to Japanese strategic dominance in the Pacific, and when Japan attacked the US Pacific Fleet anchored at Pearl Harbor in December of 1941, it led to war in the Pacific. Hitler's Germany subsequently declared war on the United States, pulling the US into the European war as well. 

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What caused World War II?

The basic cause of World War II was the fact that the three Axis powers were generally unhappy with the status quo in the world after the end of the First World War.  These three countries pushed to change the international system leading the Allies, eventually, to go to war.

After WWI, Italy, Germany, and Japan (particularly the last two) were unhappy with the international order.  Germany was extremely unhappy with the degree to which it had been punished by the Treaty of Versailles.  Japan felt that it was not being given its due as a major power.  It felt that it was being denied the sort of empire that European countries were allowed to have.  Italy, too, felt that it deserved more than it had.

These three countries, therefore, started to push to rectify things.  Germany took Austria and Czechoslovakia and eventually invaded Poland.  Italy invaded Ethiopia.  Japan invaded China and later entered Indochina after France surrendered to Germany.  Ultimately, of course, it attacked Pearl Harbor in an attempt to prevent the US from interfering with its attempts to take an empire.

The invasion of Poland and the attack on Pearl Harbor were too much of a threat to the status quo.  The Allies reacted to these actions by going to war.

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