Causes of the Second World War
Germany was defeated in the First World War. She was not invited to the Paris Peace Conference. Germany was forced to sign a harsh and humiliating treaty. German territories were taken away from her. She was deprived of her colonies. Her navy was completely disbanded. Her army was reduced considerably. The Weimar Republic was not in a position to solve the post-war problems. The German people decided to take revenge for their humiliation. In fact, the Second World War was a war of retaliation. Therefore, the Treaty of Versailles had in itself the seeds of the Second World War.
The inter-war period witnessed the rise of dictatorships in Europe. The inter-war period is otherwise called the period of dictators. Germany, Italy, Spain and Japan witnessed the rise of dictators. In Germany, the Weimar Republic was weak. Hitler, the leader of the Nazi Party took full advantage of the weakness of the Republican Government and brought the government under his control. He started aggression. He captured Austria and Czechoslovakia. At last he attacked Poland and World War II started.
The same condition prevailed in Italy also. Italy felt that it was deceived in the Paris Peace Conference. Mussolini started the Fascist Party. In 1922 he captured power and became a dictator. He also followed an aggressive foreign policy. The spirit of dictatorship arose in Spain and Japan also. In Spain, General Franco defeated the Republican Government and established his dictatorship. In this effort, he was assisted by the armies of Hitler and Mussolini. Japan became a partner of Hitler and Mussolini by signing the Rome- Berlin -Tokyo Axis. This alliance disturbed world peace and the Second World War started.
The failure of the disarmament efforts after the First World War was a major reason for the outbreak of a new War. In the Paris Peace conference Germany was forced to disarm itself. The German Government demanded disarmament of the victorious powers, in the same way as she had been disarmed. As they refused, Germany under the dictatorship of Hitler increased its military strength. Owing to the immense increase in armaments and the development of militarism, the Second World War became inevitable.
The policy of imperialism was one of the causes for the Second World War. It was this same feeling of imperialism which played a dominant role during the First World War. Germany and Japan, who were more imperialistic than the Allied powers, simply ignored the decisions of the Paris Peace Conference. They made their efforts to expand their respective territories. Hitler occupied Rhineland, Austria, Memel, Czechoslovakia and incorporated them into German territory. Japan attacked Manchuria and captured it from China. Mussolini occupied Abysinia and launched a series of aggressive activities.
There was also a race for colonies among the European countries in order to obtain raw materials and markets for their industrial growth. This trend continued among these powers even after the First World War. Germany was deprived of all her colonies at the Paris Peace Conference. Italy was dissatisfied with the treatment of Allied Powers. Japan, a powerful Asiatic country wanted to have colonies to enrich its resources. It is in these circumstances Germany, Italy and Japan decided to follow aggressive foreign policy. These aggressive actions ultimately led to the Second World War.