Why Did World War II Happen?


There is no one answer to this question as there were a variety of factors that led to the outbreak of World War II. Some of the main reasons include the rise of Nazi Germany and its aggressive expansionist policies, the failure of other nations to stop German aggression, and the unwillingness of the major powers to compromise which led to a series of escalating crises.

In the early 1930s, the global economic system was still recovering from the effects of the Great Depression, which had begun in 1929. At the same time, Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party were rising to power in Germany. Hitler had a vision of creating a "Greater Germany" that would dominate Europe, and he began to put into place a series of policies designed to achieve this goal. In March 1938, Hitler annexed Austria in a move that was widely condemned by the international community. This was followed by the German occupation of the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia in October 1938. The Sudetenland contained a large population of ethnic Germans and Hitler claimed that he was merely protecting their rights. The appeasement policy of the British and French governments meant that they did not take strong action against Germany in response to these aggressive acts. This only served to embolden Hitler, and in September 1939 he invaded Poland. This finally led to Britain and France declaring war on Germany, and thus began World War II.