“The expansionist policies of the fascist states were the major cause of World War II”

When World War One ended on the 11th of November 1918, the world thought there would never again be such an event. However, they were proved wrong as it would only be 21 years later, in 1938 when France and England would declare war on Germany after their invasion of Poland. The expansionist policies of the fascist states were one of the main causes of World War Two, however, it can be argued that the effects of the Great Depression and the failure of the League of Nations were equally significant contributors. Combined all of these factors resulted in a disastrous world event, that would affect everyone in a devastating manner.

The Expansionist Policies formed by the fascist states and their dictators is first and foremost why World War 2 occurred. During the 1920s and early 1930s, the leaders of Japan, Italy and most importantly Germany were building their empires in order to conquer surrounding countries and enhance their nation’s power. The transition of a weak to strong Germany commenced in 1933, when Hitler became the Chancellor. He implemented an extraordinary propaganda campaign that resulted in uniting a fearless nation. Hitler’s Germany went on to conquer the land of others. Between 1936 and 1938 Hitler and the Nazi’s invaded Rhineland, prepared Germany for war and took over Austria.

In late 1938 and early 1939 German troops conquered Czechoslovakia. After these expansions of Germany’s boarders, France and Britain feared that Poland would be Hitler’s next target . With these fearful predictions France and Britain threatened Germany with war if they were to invade Poland. However, Hitler did not take this threat seriously and on the 1st of September 1939, the Nazi’s invaded Poland and on the 2nd of Germany, the world was at war once more.

Benito Mussolini was another one of the world’s most powerful dictators who conquered Abyssinia in 1934 and who was strongly supported by their powerful ally, Germany . Japan was also one of Germany’s strongest allies, as she used the same tactics to expand her boarders. In 1931, Japan’s military forced their way into China’s Manchuria and in 1932 the ‘independent’ state of Manzhuguo (Manchuko) was established. This gave Japan the important access to resources such as timber, coal, iron, oil and gold . In July 1937, the Japanese invaded China’s east and in 1940 Japan seized French Indochina. After the United States of America responded to these vicious acts, 300 Japanese planes attacked the US Naval fleet at Pearl Harbour, Hawaii on the 7th of December, 1941. The following day the United States declared War on Japan. Germany, Japan and Italy signed the ‘Three Power Pact’ in 1940.

Due to this pact, the Germans declared war on the United States on the 11th of December, 1941 therefore bringing the United States into the European war as well. Simultaneously German troops invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941. By this stage, World War Two involved many of the nations around the globe due to the expansionist policies of the fascist states. In addition to expansionist policies, socio economic factors contributed to World War 2. The 1920s had been a time of prosperity and democracy. But after 1930 there was the Great Depression , which played a role in setting the stage for World War 2. The Great Depression impacted all nations. Unemployment and economic instability caused desperation, where countries such as the United States resorted to short-term solutions that in the long run would result in catastrophic events.

The United States recalled post World War 1 loans to Germany, which angered Hitler and the Third Reich, triggering a belligerent response . Fascism grew to such an extent that during 1929 and 1939, 25 countries had become fascist states due to the desperation of the Great Depression. There for, the devastating effects that the Great Depression ensured on nations all around the world guaranteed the outbreak of the Second World War. The Treaty of Versailles and the constraints it imposed on Germany could be considered as one of the causes which drove Hitler to initiate war.

The Treaty of Versailles was signed on the 28th of June 1919, by the ‘Big Three’; Georges Clemenceau the Prime Minister of France, David Lloyd George the Prime Minister of Britain and Woodrow Wilson the President of the United States. Although the main goal was to prevent war from ever happening again (after World War 1), they all had different methods. Wilson, wanted justice and peace over force and aggression, he stated on the 8th of January 1918, “…be assured of justice and fair dealing by the other people of the world as against force and selfish aggression.” Despite, Wilson’s fair points Clemenceau was more aggressive with his demands as he wanted to punish and inflict revenge on Germany due to the damage that they had caused during World War 1. Clemenceau despised Germany and when depating with Wilso and George, hesaid, “There are 20 million Germans too many!” .

When comparing Wilson and Clemenceau they both had opposite methods of preventing war, Lloyd George however, compromised between the two stating that he wanted “justice but not revenge, that the peace must not be harsh- that if the Treaty did inflict harsh revenge on Germany that it would cause another war in a few years’ time.” And he was right. The punishments that the Treaty of Versailles inflicted on Germany was severe and caused the isolation and deterioration of the German nation. This saw the uprise of Adolf Hitler, the Nazi party and their determination to re-build their once powerful nation. The riots that they caused through-out Europe then lead to the shattering Second World War, which would wreak havoc on a global scale.

The Fascist states’ expansionist polices are definitely one of the key contributors to the start of World War 2; however there is extensive evidence that the effects from the Great Depression and the conditions of the Treaty of Versailles were also significant factors. With the loss of land caused by expansionist policies, destitution and destruction caused by the Great Depression and the punishments inflicted by the Treaty of Versailles, it comes to no surprise that on the 1st of September 1938, War was declared.