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Western Civilization. Second World War - Essay Example

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An event as catastrophic and disastrous as a world war cannot be a result of any single cause. Like a volcano that is simmering till the inner pressures causes it to erupt, so the simmering discontent of the German people finally resulted in the Second World War…
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Western Civilization. Second World War
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Western Civilization. Second World War

Download file to see previous pages... The basic causes of war are always found in international rivalries, thwarted desires of nations, and the ambitions of their leaders. Most historians agree that the seeds of the Second World War have been sown soon after the end of the First World War. During the months and years after the First World War, political and economic events like the treaty of Versailles, the great economic depression of 1929, the rise of Nazism, and Hitler’s ambitions for German expansion were some of the causes of the war to come. The treaty of Versailles signed in June 1919 by the allied powers who were the victors of the First World War was very harsh on Germany and held the country solely responsible for the war. The German people believed that Woodrow Wilson’s fourteen points program would be the basis for the treaty, but the French president Georges Clemenceau and the British prime minister David Lloyd George bowed before the anger of their people who demanded that Germany should be severely punished for the suffering and devastation caused. The sentiment of the allies was as follows, “If these things are hardships for Germany, they are hardships which Germany has brought upon herself” (“Allied Reply”). The humiliating terms of the treaty whipped up feelings of anger and frustration among the Germans. Territorial losses, the reduction of the army and navy, and, above all, the fact that Germany was forced to accept the responsibility for having caused the war, were particularly galling. According to the treaty, Germany was forced to pay reparation for the damages suffered in the war by the victors; the map of Europe was redrawn, and parts of Germany were transferred to countries like France, Poland, Belgium, Denmark, and Czechoslovakia. The reparations that Germany was forced to pay was an added burden on the country’s already stretched finances. The German economy, in shambles after the war, was further eroded by the fact that the country had lost some of its colonies that were rich sources of income and raw materials. Besides the economic burden, Germany had lost millions of her able bodied men who would have constituted a strong work force. The people thought the government had betrayed them, so they did not trust it. The monarchy was overthrown and a new democratic republic called the Weimar Republic was proclaimed; it fell in 1933 under the onslaught of the myriad problems Germany faced. Hitler used the treaty of Versailles as a battle cry to rally the people and promised that Germany would take her rightful place as a strong nation before long. This was a balm to the wounded pride of the nation, and people were ready to back Hitler by 1933. By 1929, the German economy was just beginning to recover from the effects of the First World War with the efforts of Gustav Stresemann, Germany’s untiring foreign minister, beginning to show results. The stock market crash of 1929 that reverberated across the globe and sent financial markets around the world into a tailspin also crushed German hopes of economic recovery. The German economy, propped up by loans from America, was “only flourishing on the surface. Germany is in fact dancing on a volcano. If the short-term credits are called in, a large section of our economy would collapse” (“Weimar Republic and the Great Depression”). Just before Stresemann’s death, his words have proved prophetic. The German economy, which depended on American loans for capital, was badly hit when America needed the funds to prop up her own faltering economy after the crash. Foreign trade dried up, and German industry ground to a halt. As a result, workers were laid off, which has increased unemployment and resulted in the misery of the people just beginning to look forward to a brighter ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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