Causes of World War II


League of Nations set up


To keep world peace

Treaty of Versailles

June 28, 1919

War Guilt Clause - Germany should accept the blame for starting World War One

Reparations - Germany had to pay £6,600 million for the damage caused by the war

Disarmament - Germany was only allowed to have a small army and six naval ships. No tanks, no airforce and no submarines were allowed. The Rhineland area was to be de-militarised.

Territorial Clauses - Land was taken away from Germany and given to other countries. Anschluss (union with Austria) was forbidden.

League of Nation fails


Not all countries joined the League.
Although the idea for the League of Nations had come from Woodrow Wilson, there was a change of government in the United States before the signing of the treaty and the new Republican government refused to join. As a punishment for having started World War One, Germany was not allowed to join and Russia was also excluded due to a growing fear of Communism. Other countries decided not to join and some joined but later left.

The League had no power.
The main weapon of the League was to ask member countries to stop trading with an aggressive country. However, this did not work because countries could still trade with non-member countries. When the world was hit by depression in the late 1920s countries were reluctant to lose trading partners to other non-member countries.

The League had no army.
Soldiers were to be supplied by member countries. However, countries were reluctant to get involved and risk provoking an aggressive country into taking direct action against them and failed to provide troops.

Unable to act quickly.
The Council of the League of Nations only met four times a year and decisions had to be agreed by all nations. When countries called for the League to intervene, the League had to set up an emergency meeting, hold discussions and gain the agreement of all members. This process meant that the League could not act quickly to stop an act of aggression.

International Economic Depression


Rise of Nazi and Fascism


The political ideology of fascism can be briefly decribed as a right-wing dictatorship. However, when spelled as "Fascism" with a capital F, it refers to the specific regime in 20th century Italy under Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini. Nazism, which was the predominant ideology in Germany from the 1930's to the 1940's, can be viewed as a more specific type of fascism (with a lower-case f). Not all fascists are Nazi's, but it would be all but required to support fascist ideology in order to be a true Nazi. Fascists are not necessarily racist, which is contrary to the anti-semetic doctrines which are at the core of Nazi ideology.

The Great Depression

October 29, 1929



People believed Jews were bad. Propaganda was used for this.

Hitler becomes Chancellor of Germany


Almost immediately he began secretly building up Germany's army and weapons. In 1934 he increased the size of the army, began building warships and created a German airforce. Compulsory military service was also introduced.

Nazi Dicatorship

January 30, 1933

Hitler ordered German troops to invade Rhineland


German army was not very strong and could have been easily defeated. Yet neither France nor Britain was prepared to start another war.

Hitler demanded back land (Parts of Austria)

March 1938

The Austrian leader was forced to hold a vote asking the people whether they wanted to be part of Germany.

The results of the vote were fixed and showed that 99% of Austrian people wanted Anschluss (union with Germany). The Austrian leader asked Britain, France and Italy for aid. Hitler promised that Anschluss was the end of his expansionist aims and not wanting to risk war, the other countries did nothing.

Munich Agreement - Appeasment

September 1938

Demanded back Sudetenland

September 1938

Neville Chamberlain, Prime Minister of Britain, met with Hitler three times during September 1938 to try to reach an agreement that would prevent war. The Munich Agreement stated that Hitler could have the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia provided that he promised not to invade the rest of Czechoslovakia.

Hitler invaded rest of Czechoslovakia

March 1939

Hitler was not a man of his word and in March 1939 invaded the rest of Czechoslovakia. Despite calls for help from the Czechoslovak government, neither Britain nor France was prepared to take military action against Hitler. However, some action was now necessary and believing that Poland would be Hitler's next target, both Britain and France promised that they would take military action against Hitler if he invaded Poland.

German troops invade Poland

September 1 1939

Peal Harbor is attacked


Invasion of the Soviet Union

June 1941