A Summary of the Causes of World War II
The causes of war have long been a source of mystery, but many ideas have been developed along the lines of what causes war. It might be said that the most spoken of causes for wars are as follows:
A common enemy to a nation
An outside threat to a nation
Mob mentality, or the power of inspiration in the masses
Inspiration by some other outside cause
All of the above can be tied many times over to Hitler and Nazi Germany, as I have demonstrated below, in listing the major causes:
- Anti-Communism (outside threat and a common enemy); many of the forces which Hitler was able to bring under control in Germany were actually opposed to Nazi rule, but accepted the rule, if only as temporary, for the greater goal of eliminating the spreading Bolshevism in Russia. Hitler often expounded upon these ridiculous fears in his propaganda , promising an end to Bolshevism and the threat of communist takeover.
- Anti-Semitism (outside threat and a common enemy); Anti-Semitist policies of Nazi Germany were closely tied to Anti-Communism and the "Red Scare," and the Jews were blamed for Bolshevism and its spread. Anti-Semitism, too, was magnified in German lands by the use of subtle and not-so-subtle propaganda.
- Adolph Hitler's charisma (inspiration); when studying the causes of World War II, perhaps the most baffling aspect of the Nazi rise to power involves the leader himself. Hitler seemed to have a hold over his people by use of a steady and unwavering charisma. Even when the war was inevitably to belost and the people of Germany were disgusted with the entire war, many blamed the other Nazi leaders, never removing Hitler from his pedestal. Furthermore, Hitler had a strongly developed understanding of the desires of the German people, and was always able to aim his promises in exactly the right directions.
- The Propaganda used by the Nazi party (Mob mentality); again, Hitler and Goebbels made explicit use of the mob mentality to rally the masses behing the Nazi flag. Hitler stated many times that the only way to use propaganda effectively was to aim it at the stupidity of the masses rather than the intellectuals. He used short slogans repeated again and again to drive ideas home into the minds of his followers. More importantly, however, Hitler staged massive Nazi support rallies such as the Nuremburg Rallies in November each year, in which the people could look around and see how many "fellow countrymen" were upholding the ideals of the Nazis. This mass support Hitler used to demonstrate the power of the Nazi government, and to encourage continued support for the Third Reich.
- The idea of the November Criminals and the Treaty of Versailles (A common enemy to the nation); again, while the Treaty of Versailles had been a thorn in the sides of Germans for almost twenty years, Hitler was an opportunist when it came to building upon this shame and humiliation. Not only did he denounce the powers who had written the treaty, trying to hold Germany down, but he blamed the signing on Jewish-Bolshevik rule.
- The ideals of the Aryan race and subhuman races (a common enemy to the nation); in adding to his ideas of the evil and sub-humanity of other races, such as the Slavs and Jews, Hitler gave a sense of pride to all Germans, who, he claimed, were innately superior.
- The Lost Generation from World War I (Mob mentality); World War I had produced an entire generation of youth who had gone into a war of an extent which none could have guessed. This youth had no training in peace time careers, and, when the first Great War ended in 1918, knew nothing but the art of war. Thus, the "Lost Generation" of German youth, displaced by its own society, played a major role in supporting Nazi rule and the onset of WWII, as well as many of the brutalities which occurred under Nazi occupation of other countries.
- The Great Depression, Dawes Plan and German Reparation Payments (Inspiration -- in rebuilding Germany to its former glory); Hitler was able to add to the sense of pride which many felt at the acknowledgement of their "pure and superior Aryan blood" by claiming responsibility for the growing economy after the Great Depression and the Treaty of Versailles. The inspiration of a new German nation rebuilding itself to its former glory, in addition to the security of finally having jobs and food, tempted many possible resistors of Nazi rule to ignore the regime.
For more information...