The causes and events of World War II are firmly
established within the concluding events of World War I, and the
rebuilding period following 'The Great War'. The bitterness caused
by the Treaty of Versailles
of 1919, and the pressure of massive war reparations enforced
on Germany by the victorious Allies, would lead the world into
a far worst conflict that it had just endured.
In 1921 the Allied Reparations Commission, mostly
dominated by the French, put the price of £7,000,000,000
that Germany should pay, and also suggested that it may not have
But by 1922 the German economy was hit with a
very high inflation and the German people were left penniless.
Even the price of a loaf of bread was thousands of marks one week,
then rose to millions the following week. By the end of 1922 the
German mark was worth nothing. The stage was set for someone to
step in and promise to lead the people out of the darkness and
ruins. It would be such a time that a desperate population would
follow anyone that would promise them work, bread and a bright
The political and economic instability of the
1920's opened the door for extreme political parties to gain support,
and then finally achieve power. In 1929 the world market crashed,
sending the world into a 'Depression'. Germany already hit with
hardship suffered more than most, due to their already unstable
Between 1930-1932 the average rate of unemployment
in Germany was as high as 33%. Hitler promised full employment
for the German people, and in successive elections Hitler and
the Nazi party gained popular support, much of the support coming
from the unemployed.
This new Nazi Germany looked for its enemies
within, and focused its hatred and violence on non-Nazis such
as communists and members of the Jewish community. It organized
boycotts on Jewish businesses as part of a terror campaign that
would escalate into the horror known as 'The Holocaust'. This
would be part of Hitler's plan to rebuild Germany, and fulfil
his dream of a thousand year Reich.....to use scapegoats to point
the finger of blame for Germany's situation. These scapegoats
would be seen as 'Enemies
of the State'.
The simple promise of "Work and Bread for
the masses" was enough for a desperate people to follow.
The National Socialist (Nazi) party's power grew within the German
parliament, and so Hitler's personal power grew. In the election
of 1930, the Nazi party became the second strongest party in the
In the 1932 election the Nazi party won 230 seats
in the Reichstag, becoming the largest party, and on January 30th
1933, President Hindenburg reluctantly offered chancellorship
of Germany to Hitler.
On 27th February, 1933, the Reichstag burnt to
the ground in mysterious circumstances. Some say by Hitler's orders
and executed by Hitler's followers, which gave Hitler the perfect
excuse to declare Marshall law, and tighten his grip on power.
At the same time the event was used to create paranoia among the
government, the media and the populace. This would create a situation
for Hitler, and the Nazi party, to exploit to their advantage.
On August 2nd 1934, President Hindenburg died
and Hitler seized his chance to further his grip on Germany. He
abolished the office of President and declared himself sole leader
of Germany. The Führer.
That very same month Hitler made the army swear
an oath to him personally, this would bring the German army under
his direct power, and they would now have to obey his every order.
In early 1935 Hitler announced conscription,
which produced a peace time army of over 500,000 men. This was
a total violation of the Treaty of Versailles, but this was nothing
new. The armed forces had been expanding under Hitler for many
years, and by 1938 the army would grow nearly seven fold.
Hitler now had an enormous power base within
Germany. He had reinstated national pride and was credited with
improving Germany's economy, although the world market was already
improving as Hitler came into power. Hitler still hungry for power
looked towards regaining territories annexed in the Treaty of
With the rearmament of the armed forces Hitler
started to test the Allies resolve. Hitler helped Generalissimo
Franco in the Spanish civil war, as Fascism started to spread
across Europe. Then on March 7th 1936 German troops moved into
the Rhineland, decreed as a non-military zone by the Treaty of
Versailles, and the Allies failed to act. On March 12th 1938,
by popular consensus of the Austrian people, the German army marched
into Austria and Hitler proclaimed Austria as part of the German
On September 29th/30th 1938, European leaders
met Hitler in Munich. Hitler promised no further territorial demands
after the return of the Sudetenland, a border area inhabited by
German speaking people. The Sudetenland land was annexed to the
new state of Czechoslovakia in 1919, the state being created directly
by the Treaty of Versailles.
Hitler's troops moved into the Sudetenland in
December, as agreed at Munich. But his promise was soon to be
broken, and his lust for expansion was soon to be continued.