2World War II was caused in part by the Versailles Treaty that ended World War I. Why? 1. The Germans were forced to pay a huge amount of money to France in reparations for World War I. In order to pay the debt, the German government printed off more and more money, making it virtually worthless. Businesses closed, unemployment skyrocketed, and people starved.All this was happening before and during America's Great Depression.Who did the German people blame for their dismal condition?FRANCE.
52. France had forced Germany to sign the War Guilt Clause in the Versailles Treaty, saying that Germany had caused World War I, all by itself, and no one else had blame in the situation. (Even though this is false.)The German people were angered and humiliated by this, and maybe there were some Germans who wanted to get even with the ones that forced them to sign it.Who was it that forced them to do this?FRANCE
63. The Versailles Treaty provided for a new government in Germany, called the Weimar Republic. The problem was that democracy had been forced on the German people, they didn’t believe in it, and many even resented the new republic and wanted it replaced with the old system: a king (or Kaiser in Germany's case.)For this reason, the government was weak and powerless. It couldn't manage its affairs. It couldn’t take care of its people.It was basically just a matter of time before someone overthrew the government and took over.
7Another cause of World War II was the rise of totalitarian dictatorships around the world in the 1920s and 30s.In a totalitarian government, one person has control over everything that happens in the country. The individual citizen has no rights at all, and the leader, usually called a dictator, makes ALL the decisions.
10In Japan, the military took over the government, led by dictator Hideki Tojo. What did he believe? 1. Japan needed a strong, aggressive military2. Japan needed to take over other areas to have room for its people, to grow food and harvest natural resources.3. The areas Japan needed included China for its farmland, and several Pacific islands for their natural resources.Guess who owned a bunch of those islands.The US Guess who was a very close ally of China in that time.The US
13In Italy, Benito Mussolini used the brutal Fascist party to take over Italy in He and the Fascists believed a few basic things:1. A strong country should have a large, powerful military, and it should be used to take over other areas for the good of the nation.2. The needs of the nation are more important than the needs of the individual citizens.3. Power must rest with a powerful single leader and a small group of party members.4. Communism was bad and should be stopped.
15In Germany, Adolf Hitler used the Nazi Party to take control and declare himself dictator. What did Hitler and the Nazis believe in? Basically the same as the Fascists.1. One strong leader was necessary to run a country.2. A country should have a large, powerful, aggressive military.3. Extreme racism…more on that later.4. Extremely anti-communist.5. National expansion: Germany needed to grow, so it needed living space, or "lebensraum."
16Now, let's get down to this guy Adolf Hitler. Here are the facts: He was not German at all. He was from Austria, but he joined the German army in World War I where he was twice decorated for bravery and wounded twice.
18Before the war, Hitler wanted to be an artist, but he failed the entrance test to the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts twice.
19He joined the National Socialist Worker's Party after the war in Munich, and rose to leadership. He wrote a book called Mein Kampf, which gave his demented take on genetics and international affairs. What did it theorize?1. That there was one race of humans that was physically and mentally superior to all others: the blonde-haired, blue-eyed Aryans.2. That there was one race that was genetically inferior to all others, and that it was responsible for most of the trouble in the world: the Jews.3. That people that were handicapped were genetically deficient, and were made so by the mingling of the races.4. That Germany would be the new homeland for the Aryans, and as home to the superior people, it would need to expand (take over other areas.)
21By 1932, the Nazis were in control of Germany's Parliament, and Hitler, as their leader, declared himself dictator shortly thereafter.Here's the thing: the awful economic situation in Germany gave him the ability to do it. The Versailles Treaty that ended World War I, that was supposed to bring peace to the world, ruined the economy of Germany and allowed Hitler to come to power.The German people were starving. Hitler gave them food.The German people were unemployed. Hitler gave them public works jobs.The German people were humiliated. Hitler gave them an excuse.The German people were angry. Hitler gave them enemies.
22Adolf Hitler was a brilliant public speaker, and manipulator Adolf Hitler was a brilliant public speaker, and manipulator. He knew the Germans were humiliated by their defeat in World War I, so he came up with the "Stab in the Back" theory. He told the Germans that they didn't lose the war. They had won every battle. But a group of Jewish politicians had sold Germany out to the French and signed the Versailles treaty for money, and that's why they had that weak, corrupt Weimar Republic.This is all garbage. But the desperate Germans believed him.
24So Hitler began a military buildup, in violation of the Versailles Treaty. He built a huge, modern army, air force, and navy. And the whole world stood aside and let him. Why? Probably out of fear. They had just been through World War I. They didn’t want that again.
25In 1938, German troops marched into Austria and took it over, completely unopposed. The world did nothing.
26Hitler then announced that he wanted a section of Czechoslovakia, called the Sudetanland. The Czechs threatened to fight, and finally European leaders met with Hitler to resolve the crisis. Hitler promised them that he wouldn’t go after anything else if he got the Sudetanland, and the European leaders agreed to let him have it. British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain was the architect of this Munich Agreement, which pursued a policy of appeasement: give Hitler what he wants to avoid war.Chamberlain announced that he had secured "…peace in our time."The Germans occupied the Sudetanland, then shortly after, they took the rest of Czechoslovakia without firing a shot.
27Hitler then turned his sights on Poland, saying there were many German-speakers in that country. He knew that attacking Poland would most likely cause France and Britain to declare war, and that was OK with him.But he wanted to make sure their big ally would stay off his back long enough for him to deal with them. So he signed a nonaggression pact with the leader of the Soviet Union, Josef Stalin, before making any further moves. The agreement said the two countries would not attack each other, and that they would divide Poland between them.
29September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland with a new form of war: Blitzkrieg, or "lightning war." It involved rapid, violent, coordinated attacks by tanks, infantry, and planes all at the same time, in overwhelming numbers.The Poles had prepared to fight a war much like World War I. They had a good army, but it was wiped out quickly by the German army. They put all their hopes in the help of France and Britain.September 3, both of these declared war on Germany, but it took time to get their armies in the field. By the end of the month, Germany owned Poland.True to his word, Hitler allowed the Soviets to annex part of Poland.
33In April, 1940, Hitler launched a surprise attack on Denmark and Norway, then he turned on the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg. By the end of May, they all belonged to him.
34France, meanwhile, had spent millions building what they thought was the perfect defense system on the German border: the Maginot Line. This was a system of concrete bunkers and fortifications bristling with guns and artillery, pointed right at the German boundary. France filled it with soldiers, and waited for the attack to come.
36June 5, 1940, the German army pours through Belgium, around and over the Maginot Line, and invades France. Within four days the French and British armies were in open retreat, and they ran all the way to the shore of the English Channel, where they were surrounded by the Germans on the beaches of Dunkirk. They managed to slip away, though, on hundreds of fishing boats and yachts from Britain. These boats plowed through German artillery and machine gun fire to grab loads of Frenchand British soldiers, returningthem to safety in Britain.The Dunkirk Evacuation saved 330,000 French and British soldiers.That's the good news.
38The bad news. June 22, 1940, France surrenders to Germany The bad news? June 22, 1940, France surrenders to Germany. Who is left to oppose Hitler in Europe?
39Hitler knows he needs to defeat Britain, but is reluctant to invade the island from the sea. So he decides to allow his air force, the Luftwaffe, to destroy them from the air. This prolonged 9-month air war is called the Battle of Britain.The British air force, the Royal Air Force (RAF) was smaller, but very talented. In one night they shot down 185 German planes, while losing only 26.
41Every night for two months London was bombed by the Luftwaffe Every night for two months London was bombed by the Luftwaffe. But the courageous Brits slept in subway tunnels and got up every morning and went to work, bolstered by their brave new Prime Minister, Winston Churchill.
44By the end of the Battle of Britain, the Luftwaffe had lost over 2,600 planes, and Hitler had to abandon all hopes of invading Britain. This showed the Nazis could, at least, be slowed down.In honor of the valiant RAF, Churchill said "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many, to so few."
45Hitler was undeterred, however, and in June, 1941, he invaded the Soviet Union, in bold disregard for their Nonaggression Pact. The huge Soviet army, called the Red Army, was immediately overwhelmed by the German blitzkrieg, and within months, the major Soviet cities, Stalingrad, Leningrad, and Moscow, were looking into the teeth of the German army.What will save them?