World War II Debates
Even though the 1920’s began with a favorable outlook for peace, towards the end of the decade and throughout the 1930’s the clouds of war were forming. Dictators arose in countries that were dissatisfied with the results of World War I. Germany, Italy, and Japan took aggressive actions, and neither the League of Nations nor the democratic countries were able or willing to stop them. British Prime Minister Chamberlain suggested the best way to deal with Hitler was the policy of appeasement. Actions were taken that moved Europe toward war. The debate over the causes of World War II provides different perspectives.
There were several factors as to why the world was plunged into World War II in 1939. At the end of WWI, the Treaty of Versailles was established. This being one of those issues having aggravated many nations. In example, reparations often ad to be paid for things like war damages as well as being forced to lessen their militaries. Both Italy and Japan were promised land- they never got the land- so ultimately this led to feeling of revenge for their anger over the situation. The Great Depression had a huge effect on Germany’s economic trouble. This caused the people to desire a leader who was not only strong but who would also be an authoritative figure for their nation. Being that authoritative figure, both Hitler and Mussolini rose to power. This triggered the beginning of WWII. Especially with the force that Hitler was willing to use when saying that Germany needed to unite all its people under one government- the Reich- to do this, he believed that they needed to fight to get what the need accomplished. This force being the “sword” (AS SEEN IN DOCUMENT 1)
Appeasement is giving into an aggressors demands so peace will be had. European countries often thought that this was the proper actions to take. Appeasement is far from an effective way to dealing with aggressions. Appeasement has to do with the aggression of the axis nations in World War II. This took place when Italy invaded Ethiopia. Eventually to conquer and avenge the loss to Ethiopians in 1896. Haile Selassie, Ethiopian king, appeals to the League of Nations. To no avail. Which was led by Britain and France, to aid in fighting off Mussolini’s forces. The League of Nations proved ineffective. This proves that Britain and France disliked any fight.
Haile wanted to stop the Italian aggression. If the aggression was not stopped, he, the aggressor, would attack others. Aggressors should not be appeased (AS SEEN IN DOCUMENT 2). As seen by Winston Churchill, the aggressor must be stopped, Britain, France, and the other countries must join together in a collective security to stop aggression. They should have stopped Hitler when he seized Austria or threatened Czechoslovakia, which was later taken over. The British government is to blame, as it weakened the League of Nations and did not build up their defenses leaving the state in a disaster. The British government also didn’t stop Germany from rebuilding the army. It is pointed out to us that Winston believed that Britain lost the chance to increase Nazi Germany. (AS SEEN IN DOCUMENT 6). (AS SEEN IN EXCERPT 7), Kennan offers his belief that appeasement was unnecessary because Czechoslovakia was strong enough to save itself. And German officials were about to overthrow Hitler.
(AS SEEN IN DOCUMENT 8), Historian Taylor defend appeasement. He also states that there was little basis for suggesting that Germans would reject Hitler since they had put him in power and supported him. Other countries were also worried about Russian expansion into Europe. Also, (AS SEEN IN DOCUMENT 5) Chamberlain suggested appeasement because he believed “good will and determination: could solve differences among countries peacefully. He said they could not fight to save Czechoslovakia because it is a small country, But he is willing to fight over big issues, Specifically, he says he will fight to stop a country that is using force to take over the world , but he does not want war and rather prefers appeasement.
Another factor includes a violation of the Treaty of Versailles, by Hitler, when sending German troops into the Rhineland as he said it was time for Germany to be treated as an equal to the rest of the countries of Europe and no longer as a defeated, punished nation. France however went to the League of Nations and asked that Germany be removed from the Rhineland diplomatically or by a stronger force if seen necessary. Western democracies were adopted with the appeasement to keep the peace. The League of Nations did not take action to terminate these attacks (AS SEEN IN DOCUMENT 3). The Munich agreement also proves that appeasement is not the answer for peace.
During the Munich Conference, Germans got the OK to occupy Sudetenland, Czechoslovakia only if to promise not to invade more countries (AS SEEN IN DOCUMENT 4). (AS SEEN IN DOCUMENT 9) Keith Eubank claims that the countries of Europe, including Britain and France, were not willing to fight because Hitler had done nothing to warrant their returning to the conditions they had suffered in WWI. All the countries had other interests and they were not willing to unite to stop Hitler. Collective security was not the route to take at this time.
Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill demanded Germany split into factions to be controlled by their respective countries and France, but Hitler refused. Allied forces and the Red Army invaded Berlin and Hitler committed suicide. America quickly ended the war in the Pacific with two nuclear weapons dropped on Japan. The War ended in the Summer of 1945. It is estimated that 50 million people lost their lives during World War 2.