World War II is, arguably, the greatest war that the world has ever experienced. It was more costly, affected almost all countries all over the world, caused more people to suffer, and caused more changes worldwide than any other war in the history of the world.
The exact number of people who were directly affected by the war, that is those killed, displaced, wounded, etcetera, has never been established but an approximate 55 million people died in the war.
Countries that took part in the war were more than 50, with men fighting all over the world. Although the World War II effective date is not known for sure, its causes are known. This paper is an examination of the causes of involvement of America and Germany in the WWII.
After the end of WWI, countries were left broke, and without arms. This led to rearmament strategies by countries like Japan, Germany, Italy and Britain. Britain was particularly led by Chamberlain in strategizing after WWI. But most of the armies in these countries had been greatly reduced in numbers after WWI, and Germany had a better position to win any upcoming war.
Knowing this, Adolf Hitler did not sleep on the chance. He looked to expand the territory of Germany by conquering neighboring countries. On the other hand, Britain, led by Chamberlain tried to team up with France in giving diplomacy a chance on Adolf Hitler, about his unending quest for conquering countries.
This was done in the famous appeasement that a score of critics blame for starting WWII and abating the killing of Jews by Germans in concentration camps during the Holocaust (Levy 67). However, people who blame the start of WWII to appeasement, spearheaded by Chamberlain, miss the point that people who abandon diplomacy are the ones to blame for atrocities like the ones experienced in the WWII. In the case of WWII it was Hitler since he had rejected the appeasement proposed by Britain and France.
As evidenced in the above paragraph, the main reason why Germany got involved in WWII was Hitler. He is, in fact, said to be the person responsible for the start of the war. Hitler was acquiring territories with an insatiable greed.
Levy makes it clear that, “World War II happened because Hitler was wedded to an irrational course of unlimited expansion” (67). It all started with the reoccupation of the Rhineland by German troops. The Rhineland was used by the French as a buffer zone against attacks by the Germans, and during the Treaty of Locarno parties agreed that the Rhineland would be demilitarized.
This treaty was signed willingly by the Germans. Therefore, by sending troops to the Rhineland, Germany was violating the treaty of Locarno. This raised concern from the French, although they were not prepared to use military action against the Germans, but they were equipped for retaliation.
After consultation with other parties in the Treaty of Locarno, specifically Britain, France resulted to talks. Britain had no problem with Germans reoccupying their former territory, although this was unsafe for France. All that Britain cared for was that the French were not supposed to launch military attacks since doing this would lead to Britain supporting France under the provisions of the Treaty of Locarno (Henderson 16).
After German’s occupation of the Rhineland was successful, and France and Britain had done nothing about it while advocating for appeasement, Hitler became overconfident of his abilities.
This is because Germany had no sufficient military facilities, and thus if France and Britain had intervened about German’s occupation of the Rhineland, Germany would have been forced to retreat.
After this success in Rhineland occupation, Hitler made two political alliances in the year 1936. These were alliances with Japan and Italy. Hitler then started extending his success in Rhineland to other lands that were taken away from Germany.
He started by sending troops to Austria. After Austria became part of Germany, Hitler promised to stop his expansionist ambitions. He however broke this promise by claiming part of Czechoslovakia, in contravention of the Munich Agreement. Chamberlain agreed to Hitler’s demands but warned him against invading the rest of Czechoslovakia. Neither Britain nor France intervened at this point in time for fear of starting a war. They however knew that Hitler would target Poland next.
France and Britain promised to intervene if Hitler took this step. Chamberlain held the belief that, with this promise, Hitler would shy away from Poland. However, the British Prime Minister was wrong because Hitler troops were reported to have invaded Poland on the first day of September 1939. This officially led to the start of World War II, with both Britain and France declaring a unified war against Germany (Henderson 17).
The prospects of the America joining WWII were very low. This is because America had passed a bill for neutrality in international conflicts in the year 1936. After the WWI, America did not want to be involved in any other war. With Hitler’s continued expansionism into Belgium, Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands, and with France falling to Germany, America got nervous.
This is because the French people and the British people were the allies of America. America then started building its military. American isolationism started to end with the exchange of its defense materials with Britain in a bid to fight fascism. This battle led to “the Battle of the Atlantic” (Kelly 1). In this battle, German U-Boats were attacking American ships believing that they were transporting military equipment to Britain. This phenomenon lasted throughout the Second World War.
The event that brought about the involvement of America in World War II was the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese. Roosevelt had announced that America would no longer provide gas and Iron for trade with Japan, who badly needed them in their war with China.
This was followed by the aforementioned bombing of the Pearl Harbor in which thousands of people lost their lives and military equipment was destroyed. Americans then got involved in the war in Europe and the Pacific. After the declaration of war, as a result of the Pearl Harbor bombing, on Japan, the allies of Japan namely Italy and Germany, and Japan itself declared war on America. Due to these events, America had to strategize.
Germany was the greatest threat to the US and thus America formed a strategy that dictated that attacks would be focused on Germany first. To prove German’s lethality was the occurrence of the Holocaust as the war progressed, in which more than 9 million people, Jews, were killed. The Holocaust only ended after the defeat of Germany in 1945, when the survivors were freed from concentration camps.
Henderson, Richard. Hitler and the Rhineland, 1936: A Decisive Turning Point. History Today Publications.
Levy, James. Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement policy as the cause of World War II is one of history’s myths. Primedia Special Interest Publications, 2006. Print.
Kelly, Martin. “Overview of World War II: The Origins of World War II”. 2011