The Origins of World War II 1919–1941

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Nazi Propaganda Poster

This open education resource is designed to be a collaborative textbook for teachers and students studying the origins of world war II.

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The focusing questions of this topic are:

(a) What attempts were made to establish a permanent peace after World War I? The search for security after World War I

  • the Treaty of Versailles, its intentions and the German reaction;
  • attempts at collective security: the League of Nations, Locarno and Kellogg-Briand Pacts

(b) What challenges to peace occurred in the 1930s? Fascism and aggression

  • aggression by fascist powers: invasion of Abyssinia, reoccupation of the Rhineland, Spanish Civil War; military pacts: Rome-Berlin-Tokyo Axis, German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact;
  • Asia and the Pacific: Japanese objectives in Manchuria, China.

(c) Why did war break out? The failure of appeasement in the face of aggression

  • rationale of appeasement: Anschluss and Czechoslovakia;
  • advantages of aggressors; preparation, mobility, strike power;
  • war in Europe and the Pacific: Poland, Barbarossa, Pearl Harbour.