Causes of the Second World War
There was devastating world war for about 20 years and 9 months after the end of the first world war. It was started from 1st September 1939 A.D. and ended on 12th September 1945 A.D. It spread worldwide causing huge loss of lives and properties. This war is known as the second world war in the history of the world. This war was fought between two hostile groups. Germany, Japan, Spain and Italy had an alliance, called Axis power. Similarly, Britain, America, France and the USSR were in another alliance called Allied Power.
The Major Causes of the Second World War
- Violation of Versailles’s Treaty by Germany: The treaty signed between the Allies and Germany at Versailles palace of France on 28th June 1919 A.D. is known as Versailles Treaty. This treaty was signed to end the first world war. This treaty was one-sided treaty which extremely humiliated Germany. Germany was compelled to follow the terms of treaty. At the time of signing the treaty, The German Times, a daily newspaper published the news under the heading, “VERGEANCE GERMAN NATION. Today a calumnious treaty will be signed in a glass mansion. Don’t forget it.” This developed the feeling of revenge among the Germans since the beginning. Unexpectedly, there was rise of Hitler in a short period in Germany. He started breaching the terms of Versailles treaty. He extended the military power and established arms manufacturing industries. German soldiers were sent back to Rhineland in 1936 A.D. These activities of Hitler caused the second world war.
- Rise of Dictators: The first world war ended causing acute economic crisis and unemployment problems in the world. This led to frustration among the people in many countries. The citizens of the European countries were in search of such supreme leaders who could handle the nation as per their sentiment. Amidst such situation, Adolf Hitler in Germany, Benito Mussolini in Italy, General Francisco Franco in Spain and Joseph Stalin in Russia came into power with the slogans of extreme nationalism.
Once they came into power, they started to launch dictatorship. They spread up militarism and demonstration of weapons. They did so to warn and challenge other countries. They also spread the slogan of ultra-nationalism.
Hitler aroused the sense of patriotism and assured for reunification of Germany as in the past. He competed in the election of German parliament held in 1933 A.D. His National Socialist (Nazi) Party won the election with majority seats. Hence, Hitler became the Chancellor in the German parliament. He suspended the constitution, took all country’s power in his hand and ruled as a dictator. He made it mandatory for all German youth to join military service. This made democracy weaker in the world. Thus, rise of dictators became one of the causes of the Second World War.
- Fear of Communism and the Policy of Appeasement: While the first world war was being fought, there was a revolution in Russia in 1917 A.D. It was called October Revolution. This revolution also called Bolshevik Revolution as it was led by Bolshevik Party leader Vladimir Lenin. After this revolution, communism was established in Russia. Russia made good progress through this system in short period of time. This also influenced the European countries. Britain and France were not satisfied. Britain was afraid of losing its supremacy. Thus, Britain adopted the policy of appeasement wishing alliance of Germany to attack on Russia so that it would lost its power. France supported Britain in this case.
- Unholy Alliance of the Nation: In order to stop the spread of communism in Europe, Germany signed a treaty with Japan in 1936 A.D. called Anti-Comintern pact. Italy joined the pact in 1937 A.D. It was then called Rome-Berlin-Tokyo Axis. Japan wanted to stop the spread of communism in China through the Axis. These countries in Axis took the imperialism policy and started to extend their empire. Japan invaded Manchuria of China. USA, France and Britain did not pay attention in their invasion thinking that they will stop the spread of communism in the world. But these countries in Axis continued to fulfil their interest threatening the world. Therefore, the countries such as France, Britain, Romania, Yugoslavia and USA also formed another group for their security. Soon after the group was formed, Russia joined them. Then, the second world war began.
- Spanish Civil War: There was a civil war in Spain in 1936 A.D. fought between Republicans and Conservatives. General Francisco Franco mobilized army to suppress the movement. Italy and Germany supported him. It was golden opportunity for Germany and Italy to test their military power and ability of weapons. Franco got victory in war and joined the anti-communist alliance of Germany. This encouraged the countries of Axis power. Then, the Second World War broke out.
- Failure of the League of Nation: League of Nation was an international organization established on 10th January 1920 A.D. The main aims of it were to settle disputes among the countries and maintain peace and security in the world. Us president, Woodrow Wilson was the initiator for its establishment. But, America itself did not take its membership. Other permanent members started to invade other countries violating its principles and policy. Japan invaded Manchuria in 1931 A.D. It also gave up membership of League of Nation in 1933 A.D. Italy also invaded Ethiopia in 1936 A.D. Germany another powerful country also quitted membership of League of Nation. It also invaded Austria and Czechoslovakia in 1938 A.D. and 1939 A.D. respectively. Russia captured Finland. The League of Nation could neither control its members nor take any action against their act. Finally, the failure of League of Nation led second world war.
- Economic Crisis: After the end of the first world war, there was a severe economic crisis in the world. Poverty increased, agricultural production decreased and industries were almost closed. The people were victimized with the problems such as unemployment, inflation and shortage of food. This made the life of the people more difficult. Such difficulties increased the dissatisfaction and frustration among the people. Similarly, the unemployed youths joined the military and armament. This finally caused the second world war.
- Immediate Cause (Attack on Poland by Germany) : According to the Versailles Treaty, two important territories of Germany, Danzig and Polish Corridor were given to Poland. Germany wanted to reach Baltic sea through these places. Therefore, Hitler demanded these two territories from Poland. But Poland refused to return the territories. At the same time, Hitler signed a treaty with Russia on 23rd August, 1939 A.D. This is called Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact. They made agreement not to attack each other for ten years. They also agreed to divide Poland and annex its parts in their country. Then, on 1st September 1939 A.D., Germany made a sudden attack on Poland from both air and land. This sudden attack was called “Blitzkrieg” in Germany and “Lightening War” in English. Since the same day, the second world war started.
The Main Events of the Second World War with Dates
Year in A.D. Day and Month
- 1939 1st September Germany attacked Poland and the second world war commenced.
- 3rd September Britain and France declared war against Germany as it refused to stop war against Poland.
- 1940 9th April Germany attacked Denmark and Norway.
- 30 April Japan joined the second world war siding Axis power.
- 10th May Germany attacked Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg.
- 17th May Germany attacked France.
- 10 June Italy declared the war against Britain and France.
- 10 July Britain started to take part in the war.
- 28th October Italy attacked Greece.
- 1941 6th April Germany attacked Yugoslavia and Greece
- 21st April Greece surrendered
- 22nd June Germany attacked Russia
- 1st September Italy attacked Egypt
- 7th December Japan attacked American ships at Pearl Harbour.
- 8th December USA declared war against Axis Power countries such as Japan, Germany and Italy
- 1942 27th February Ocean War at Java
- 4th May Battle of Coral Ocean
- 4th June Battle of Midway
- 1943 3rd September Italy surrendered to the Allies (but it was made public on 8th September 1943)
- 1944 25th August United force of Allied nations such as Britain, Russia and France freed Paris captured by Germany. Germany suffered a great loss.
- 1945 17th January Russia invaded Warsaw of Poland
- 12th April Death of US president Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S/ Truman elected as the US president
- 28th April Mussolini murdered
- 30th April Hitler and his beloved Eva Braun committed suicide
- 7th May Germany surrendered at Rheims
- 6th August America dropped atom bomb named Little boy on Hiroshima, Japan
- 9th August America dropped second atom bomb named Fat man on Nagasaki
- 12 September Japan surrendered and the world war II ended.
Glimpse of the Lesson
- Versailles treaty humiliated Germany and sowed the seed of the second world war.
- Adolf Hitler in Germany, Benito Mussolini in Italy, General Francisco Franco in Spain and Joseph Stalin in Russia came into power with the slogans of extreme nationalism and ruled as dictators.
- Worldwide economic crisis, spread of communism, Spanish civil war, failure of League of Nation are other major causes of the second world war.
- The Germany demanded Danzig and Polish Corridor from Poland but Poland refused it. Therefore, Germany attacked Poland on 1st September 1939 A.D. Then, the second world war started.
(1) Japan and Italy fought first world war from Allied Power but they joint Axis power in the second world war. Search the reasons from different sources and discuss in the class.
(2) How did the American policy of neutrality cause the second world war? Discuss in the class to find the answer.
(3) When a journalist asked the great scientist Albert Einstein what kind of weapons would be used in the third world war, he replied, I don’t know about the third world war but if fourth world war takes place stone weapons will be used.” What is the meaning of his reply?
(1) Give very short answer to the following questions
(a) What do you mean by policy of appeasement?
(b) When was the League of Nation formed?
(c) Name the countries of Rome-Berlin-Tokyo Axis.
(d) Which counties fought from the Axis power in the second world war?
(e) When did USA join the second world war?
(2) Give short answer to the following questions
(a) Do you think that there wouldn’t be second world war if the Versailles treaty was fair? Justify your answer.
(b) Why is the raise of dictators a main cause of the second world war?
(c) “Hitler’s nature and activities are responsible for causing the second world war.” Justify.
(d) Introduce League of nations in your own words and explain why its failure was responsible to cause second world war.
(3) Give long answer to the following questions
(a) What are the main causes of the second world war? Explain any two of them.
(b) Explain the role of Britain, Russia and France in causing the second world war.
Consequences of the Second World War
The second world war began from 1st September 1939 A.D. after Germany attacked on Poland. In the beginning of the war, Germany achieved great success. It defeated countries of Allies power such as France, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Denmark, Norway, Belgium and Netherlands. Similarly, Japan also had supremacy over East. It invaded east and south-east Asia and reached up to India. America requested to stop invasion. But Japan denied to do so. Japan attacked on Pearl Harbour, Hawaii island of America. On 7th December 1941 A.D. Then, America joined the second world war from the side of Allies power. It declared war against Axis power on 8th December 1941 A.D. The Axis power countries were becoming weaker as they had already fought a long war. They had to fight with newly joined powerful country, America.
Germany surrendered on 8th May 1945 A.D. after Hitler committed suicide. Germany was also divided into west Germany and East Germany. Japan alone continued war against 44 countries. America dropped Atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6th and 9th August 1945 A.D respectively. Finally, Japan surrendered to the Allies on 12th Sept 1945 A.D. and the second world war ended.
The Major Consequences of the Second World War
- Unprecedented Loss of Lives and Properties: The second world war was more disastrous than the first world war. Many advanced and sophisticated weapons were used. Most destructive bombs like Atom bombs were dropped. Millions of people were killed. An estimate shows that 22 million people were killed and 34 million people were injured. About 1100 billion dollars were spent in the war. Many developed cities, industries and factories were destroyed. Cultivable land was converted into desert. Many people were made homeless. They were made refugees.
- Polarisation and Cold War: The countries of the world became weak in terms of economic and military power after the second world war. But America and the Russia emerged as the most powerful countries. America made a great economic progress by supplying war equipment to the European countries during the war. On the other hand, Russia had a huge military power. Therefore, it could spread its political influence in the world.
These two countries were different in political ideology. America was a capitalist country and just opposite of it, Russia was a communist country. They started criticizing each other. Because of their influence in the world, polarisation started into two blocks i.e. communist and capitalist. Russia led the communist block and America led the capitalist block. They did not declare war against each other. However, they started unhealthy competition. Thus, cold war started in the world between these two powerful countries. This remained up to 1989 A.D.
- Establishment of Competitive Organizations in the Name of Economic Reconstruction: The western European countries and America established North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1949 A.D. This organization was established to check the spread of communism in Europe. It also aimed to promote mutual defence and collective security. On the other hand, Russia established Warsaw Pact Organization in 1955 A.D. It was established at Warsaw, the capital of Poland. Russia and the countries of eastern Europe joined this organization.
After the end of second world war, European countries needed to be reconstructed promptly. But they did not have economic resource for it. Then, American president Truman made an announcement to give economic assistance to the ‘free people’. This is popularly known as Truman Doctrine. The main aim of this was to stop spread of Communism in Europe. Very soon, US secretary of State, George Marshall prepared a plan to provide economic aid to the European countries which were in capitalist block. This is known as Marshall Plan. America spent about twelve and half billion dollars on Marshall Plan to build European economy. Similarly, Russia also established an organization to provide economic assistance to the member countries of Warsaw Pact, called ‘Council for Mutual Economic Aid (COMECON)’. This organization was established under the leadership of Molotov, the foreign minister of Russia. Therefore, COMECON is also called the Molotov’s Plan. Such competitive organizations supported European countries for their reconstruction after the second world war.
- End of Colonialism and Wave of National Movement: Imperialistic countries of Europe such as Britain and France became weak after the second world war. They could not control their colonies. Then, national movement against colonialism spread in Asia and Africa. The colonized countries such as India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Egypt got independence from British Empire. Similarly, the French colonies such as Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos got independence. This encouraged the people to fight against the undemocratic system for establishing democracy. Thus, the wave of national movement took place all over the world.
- Establishment of United Nation Organization (UNO): When the Second World War was going on, the heads of the leading countries were trying to stop the war. They had several meetings to discuss about permanent peace in the world. The Allied countries had a meeting at London, on 12th June 1941 A.D. The meeting issued a declaration appealing for the end of the war and enhancement of world peace and cooperation. This is known as London Declaration. After three months, Franklin Roosevelt, American President and Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister met on a war ship in the Atlantic Ocean on 14th August 1941. They discussed the measures for restoring permanent peace and security in the world. Finally, they signed a treaty to establish a world organization to fulfil their mission. This was known as the Atlantic Charter.
Likewise, many meetings were conducted and declarations were made for establishing a peacekeeping organization in the world. Finally, the representatives of 50 countries had a meeting at San Francisco from 25th April to 26th June 1945 A.D. and signed the Charter of the United Nations Organization. Later, Poland signed on the charter. After signing by 51 countries on the charter, United Nations Organization was established formally on 24th October 1945 A.D.
- Establishment of Non-Aligned Movement: The Non-Aligned Movement is an international organization. It was founded in 1961 A.D. by the neutral countries that were not formally aligned with any major power bloc existed after the second world war. The founder members of the organization were Jawaharlal Nehru of India, Sukarno of Indonesia, Josip Broz Tito of Yugoslavia, Gamal Abdul Nasser of Egypt and Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana. This organization was formed based on the panchasheel, a set of five principles. The five principles are:
- Mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.
- Mutual non-aggression.
- Mutual non-interference in domestic affairs.
- Equality and mutual benefit.
- Peaceful co-existence
Initially, it had only five members. It has 120 members up to the date. It has become the second largest organization after UNO to include the countries of the world.
Role of Nepal in the Second World War
Nepal did not take part directly in the second world war. But it participated in the war on behalf of Britain like in the first world war. Juddha Shumsher, then prime minister had sent 8000 Nepali soldiers to India under the leadership of Bahadur Shumsher. Britain recruited one lakh Nepalese in India during the war. Altogether 2 lakhs and 50 thousand Nepali soldiers participated in the war. Among them, 7544 Nepalese youths were killed and had disappeared. Similarly, 23,655 were injured in the war. Nepal had a huge loss of Nepalese youths in the war. The Nepalese fought in the war bravely and achieved the tittle of ‘Brave Gorkhali.’
Nepalese soldiers fought against Germany and Japan on behalf of British government. They fought in Cyprus, Greece, Syria, Lebanon, Italy, Palestine, Iraq, Singapore, Malaya and Burma. They demonstrated bravery, honesty and dedication in the war and impressed British and opponent armies. Being happy, Britain awarded Juddha Shumsher with the full honorary designation of ‘General of the British Army.’ British Government provided lump-sum rupees of 3 crore and 33 lakhs to Nepal as a mark of her gratitude. Britain also promised to continue paying one lakh rupees to Nepal which had been paid from the first world war. Some of the Nepali soldiers were also awarded with supreme medals of Britain, “Victoria Cross” and “Military Cross.” The Nepali soldiers who participated the war could experience the development with democracy. Then, they helped in mass revolution to end Rana rule in Nepal.
Glimpse of Lesson
- The second world war began from 1st September 1939 A.D. after Germany attacked on Poland. It was ended on 12th Sept 1945 A.D. after Japan surrendered to the Allies.
- America dropped Atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6th and 9th August 1945 A.D respectively. This made Japan to surrender to the Allies Power.
- There was a great loss of lives and properties during the second world war. About 22 million people were killed, 34 million people were injured and many buildings and industries were collapsed. About 1100 billion dollars were spent in the war.
- Marshal Plan and COMECON were established to provide economic aid to the countries of Europe for reconstruction.
- United Nations Organization was established on 24th October 1945 A.D. to unify the countries of the world.
- Altogether 2 lakhs and 50 thousand Nepali soldiers participated in the war. They fought from the side of Britain. Therefore, Britain awarded Nepali soldiers with supreme medals such as ‘Victoria Cross’ and ‘Military Cross.’
- British Government also provided a sum of 3 crore and 33 lakhs rupees to Nepal.
(1) “The cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were destroyed not by America but by the atomic power.” Discuss in the class and note down the best ideas brought in the discussion.
(2) Draw an outline map of the world and locate the countries involved in the second world war and the places where major events took place in it.
(1) Give very short answer to the following questions
(a) What do you mean by cold war?
(b) When was the United Nations Organization formed?
(c) Who signed the Atlantic Charter?
(d) Why did Germany surrender the war?
(2) Give short answer to the following questions
(a) How do discussion and understanding help to pacify the war? Explain your answer in four points.
(b) Why did Hitler commit suicide? Give your logic in four points.
(c) What is Panchasheel? List out the principles included in it.
(d) Write about the formation of United Nation Organizations in brief.
(3) Give long answer to the following questions
- Compare the causes and consequences of the first and second world wars and write your opinion in a short paragraph by analysing the facts.
- Write about the involvement of Nepali in the world wars and write your opinion in four points whether Nepal would involve in the wars if there were no Rana rule or not.
“It is said that no power of nation has permanent enemy or friend in politics.” Meet a historian nearby your school or house and request him/her to evaluate the background of First and Second world wars, hostile alliances of the countries and its effects. Then, prepare a short report of your studies on the following titles.