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Day 24 – Q 3. How far can the German military aggression during the interwar period be held responsible for the outbreak of WWII? Critically examine.  

3. How far can the German military aggression during the interwar period be held responsible for the outbreak of WWII? Critically examine.  

द्वितीय विश्व युद्ध के प्रकोप के लिए इंटरवार अवधि के दौरान जर्मन सैन्य आक्रमता को कितनी दूर तक जिम्मेदार ठहराया जा सकता है? समालोचनात्मक जांच करें।


Years after World War I but before World War II is referred as interwar period. It is also the period when the Nazi Party and Adolf Hitler took control of Germany. After rising to power in Germany, Hitler began to carry out aggression towards other nation-states in Europe and Hitler carried out actions that went against the general terms of the Treaty of Versailles. The Western European democracies of Britain and France did not want to enter into a military conflict with Germany at this time as both had been reducing their armies and ability to wage war. This lack of will to fight pushed both countries towards the policy of appeasement which involved giving into the demands of an aggressive country in the hopes that the aggression could be contained.


German military aggression during the interwar period responsible for 

the outbreak of WWII

  • Remilitarize the Rhineland – In March of 1936, Nazi Germany remilitarized the Rhineland under the direction of Adolf Hitler.  France was angered by the move but lacked the ability to respond and did not have the support of Britain. This lack of a response by both Britain and France to the remilitarization of the Rhineland only confirmed for Hitler that he would not be challenged as he expanded his aggression.
  • Annexation of Austria – Germany annexed Austria in 1938. The Treaty of Versailles forbid Germany from uniting with Austria but Hitler, who was born in Austria, wanted to unite all Germany speaking people under his control. Britain and France protested the move by Germany but did not respond in any meaningful way, which furthered Hitler’s belief that the Allied nations would not stop his aggression.
  • German aggression towards Czechoslovakia in 1938 – Czechoslovakia, as a country, was created after World War I and parts of it included German-speaking people, such as the Sudetenland.  Again, Hitler pressured Europe with his military aggression in the goal of uniting all German-speaking peoples under the control of the Nazi’s. A two-day conference in Munich was held in 1938 in which the leaders of Britain, France, Italy and Germany met to discuss Germany’s desire to take over the Sudeten region. Western powers allowed Hitler with no resistance to take over the Sudeten region, on promise that Germany will not seek any more territory in Europe. Germany soon took control over the remainder of Czechoslovakia through a series of invasions.
  • Invasion of Poland – German forces invaded Poland on September 1st, 1939. This action was what finally caused the Allied nations to stand up against Germany and Britain and France both declared war on Germany on the 3rd of September.  Europe was again at war, only two decades after the end of the First World War.​

Some historians have argued that if the British and French had acted earlier than the German invasion of Poland, then they may have been able to stop Hitler and the Nazi’s and avoided the devastation of World War II.

Other reasons responsible for the outbreak of WWII

  • Treaty of Versailles – that punished Germany for causing World War I in 1918. It humiliated and angered Germany. 
  • Economic downturn – Hyper-inflation hit Germany hard in 1923-4 and facilitated the early development of Hitler’s career.
  • Aggression by other countries – for instance Japanese militarism against China, Italian aggression against Ethiopia
  • The failure of appeasement policy of Britain and France. 
  • Failure of League of Nations – in its mandate to prevent a second global conflict.
  • Axis alliance – formed by Germany, Japan and Italy. 
  • Agreement between Germany and the Soviet Union in August 1939 to divide up Eastern Europe. 


German military aggression during the interwar period was enabled by many other factors. It cannot be considered as the only driver of WWII. 

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