Why was the world plunged into WWII in 1939, what is the most effective response to aggression, appeasement, or collective security?
The 1920s began with a favorable outlook for peace, however towards the end of the decade, clouds of war began to form. Aggressors began to take charge and strong feelings of nationalism arose. Fascist leaders such as Benito Mussolini of Italy and Adolf Hitler of Germany also helped lead Europe into the outbreak of a war and into a new era.
Intimidation from Fascist leaders was a factor that led to the illogical events of World War II. Adolf Hitler, chancellor of Germany, justified his barbaric actions on his attempt to benefit the “superior” German race. The effects of his ambitions were displayed during the Munich Conference in 1938. Hitler invited the Prime Minister of Britain and the Premier of France and demanded that the Sudetenland become part of Germany. Due to France and Britain’s fear of another war, Hitler’s demand was accepted. The appeasement, or agreement in order to maintain peace, at the Munich Conference was said to have “saved Europe from a world war,” as stated by William Shirer. Contrary to Shirer, Europe would still be involved in war and things would only get worse.
The loss of power and respect for the League of Nations after World War I also had a lot to do with the limits of some aggressors and ultimately help lead to the outbreak of World War II. Under leadership of Mussolini, Italy invaded Ethiopia in 1935. Due to the fact that the League of Nations lacked armed forces, Haile Selassie’s plea to the League had little effect. The League’s weakness was further displayed after Hitler repeatedly violated the Treaty of Versailles and went on to send German troops to take over Czechoslovakia in 1939.
Collective security, or a system in which nations act together to stop aggression, is the most effective response to aggression. Appeasements can, and have been broken, and there is no security in solely having the word of an aggressor whose ambitions are leading his nation into chaos. Appeasement was preferred during the road to World War II because it would “save the peace of Europe for a generation,” according to Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain.
Many actions were taken that moved Europe towards war. Many people did not feel as if these actions posed potential problems for Europe. As expressed earlier, “Hitler had done nothing that any major power considered dangerous.” For every action, there is a reaction, and although the reaction was not a favorable one, a lesson must be learned from it.
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