Emily Wu, celebrated war correspondent reports directly from Britain on why Britain went to war!

Read more about the causes of World War Two from Maria Oikonomopoulou!

The countries that supported the league of Nations were France, Britain, Japan and Italy. Many other countries followed like Sweden, Switzerland, Greece and Czechoslovakia.


Militarism was an issue which plagued Europe and the world in the 1930s. In Japan, Germany and Italy, militarism was very popular and dominated the governments.

Militarism is the belief of a government or people that a country should maintain a strong military and be prepared to use it aggressively to defend or promote national interests. This impacted Britain because it caused severe geopolitical effects like Germany, they were afraid that Germany would take all the land and be too powerful. Italy was battling to control the Mediterranean, Britain thought that Italy might block their access to their colonies in Asia by not allowing them to go through the Suez Canal.

Militarism was strongest in Germany because it was established by Adolf Hitler. People were growing desperate, so they turned to extreme parties like the Nazis who promised a solution to the ongoing economic crisis. Hitler rose to power through the Nazi Party, which was an organization under his leadership. He made Germany very militaristic because he strongly disagreed with the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. This was because he found them unfair since Germany was not included in the discussion of the terms.

The Nazi Party was founded in 1919, and promoted discrimination against Jews and expressed disagreement with the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. Throughout the 1930s, Hitler grew bolder, invading Rhineland in 1936 and then Austria next in 1938. Then, he announced that he would take control of the Sudetenland, which is a part of Czechoslovakia.

The Great Depression affected Japan greatly, and led to a rise in militarism. Because Japan exported luxury goods, such as silk to countries like America, which was affected by The Great Depression, it could not afford them anymore so the value of Japanese exports dropped by 50%. The militarism’s direct consequences to the economy were that the government was spending a lot of money on the military and not helping the country so the economy couldn’t grow. That led to militarism because they couldn't get what they needed, therefore, they had to fight for it.

Britain did not rebel against the rising militarism, for example, they did not act against Japan when it invaded parts of Asia. Nonetheless, the invasion was a problem for Britain since its colonies that were near Asia and Japan were threatened. Britain didn’t act against Japan to protect its vulnerable colonies. This made Italy more confident attacking Abyssinia because there was a minimal threat of punishment. Indeed, the invasion was not punished. The most serious consequence was that Germany grew more confident as it invaded Austria, Poland, and Czechoslovakia. Therefore, Britain was forced to enter a war against them.


Appeasement was thought of by British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, who thought he could placate Hitler by appeasing him.

Appeasement means giving someone what they want to stop their behavior or actions. It started in the 1930s.He allowed Hitler to take a small part of territory in Czechoslovakia without starting a war. He also succeeded in making Hitler promise that all future arguments would be settled through non-violent ways. A few months later, Hitler broke his promise and snatched all of Czechoslovakia. They wanted to avoid war, they hoped that he would be satisfied with his expansion of German land, so they tried appeasement instead of starting a war with Germany.

Appeasement helped Britain by giving them time for rearmament and recovery. It also gave the government time to focus on the problems at home instead of using all the money on war. It was beneficial to Britain but it also made Hitler even more powerful. Appeasement did not stop the war, it only delayed the war. Postponing the war only gave Hitler more time to increase his amount of power.

Appeasement ended on the 15th of March, 1939, when Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia even though he made a promise for all future arguments to be resolved peacefully.

"Do you think appeasement was a good idea?" The news reporter asked British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain. "Yes, I think appeasement was a good idea because it bought us some time for rearmament and recovery." He responded.

The League of Nations

The League Of Nations was a group of nations that worked together to keep peace, it started on the 10th of January, 1920.

After the vote, the American public refused to join, so, the League did not have the power it needed to enforce rules, this was one of the reasons that made the League Of Nations fail.

Another reason why the League failed, was that it was not representative enough, with no more than 65 member nations at any time. The interests of the leading members (particularly Britain and France) often outbalanced the smaller, less powerful members. Also, the League had no troops of its own, and the decisions it made were often made slowly.

After Japan invaded Manchuria in 1932, the League eventually decided to support China over Japan after a long period of time of decision making, so Japan left the League. Also, when Italy invaded Abyssinia in 1935, the League made a quicker decision to go against Italy, so, the country quit the League and continued its conquest. Another country that left the League was Germany in 1932, once Hitler officially announced their departure.

Britain was partly responsible for the failure of the League of Nations because of the Hoare-Laval Plan. France and Britain were caught making a secret agreement about giving Abyssinia to Italy. By 1938, France and Britain were ignoring the League Of Nations and trying appeasement instead.

These crises made the league lose all control it had before, and it was powerless against Germany after 1935. After these catastrophes, the League was thought to be weak and powerless, eventually stopping operations in 1939 and ending on the 20th of April, 1946.

The news reporter met up with Haile Selassie, Emperor of Abyssinia. Hailes Selassie was asked what he thought of the League of Nations. He thought that it was impossible how 52 nations would be so afraid of a single aggressor.

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Rationing had begun in Britain, meaning all of the British had a food limit to a certain amount of food. This had to begin due to the fact that the British were low on food supplies because of the bombing so everyone had a restriction on the amount of food they receive.

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The Treaty of Versailles

The Treaty Of Versailles required Germany to pay a huge amount of money called reparations.

Because Germany had lost the war, the treaty was very unpleasant against Germany, Germany was forced to “Accept the responsibility” of the war damages the Allies suffered. The Treaty of Versailles was one of the reasons for World War Two, it made Germany want revenge and attack other countries. The Treaty of Versailles was signed at the Hall of Mirrors, which is in The Palace of Versailles.

When the treaty terms were announced in June 1919, there was a mixed reaction, the general opinion in Great Britain was that the treaty was fair and probably should have been more serious. Many Britons sympathized with Germany as they felt Germany had been treated unfairly following its defeat in 1918.

David Lloyd George, who was Prime Minister during the war, wanted to see Germany pay for causing the war. Even though he didn't like the Treaty, he liked the fact that Britain got German colonies and that the small German navy helped British sea-power. He hated the treaty because he felt that the treaty was too harsh and might start another war in 25 years time. The treaty made Germany want to get revenge because they felt that it was unfair that they were not included in discussing the terms of the treaty.

The Great Depression

The Great Depression started because of a stock market crash in October 1929 sent Wall Street into a panic and wiped out millions of investors.

Over the next several years, consumer spending and investment dropped, causing companies to fire workers. During a depression, people would go homeless and most would lose their jobs.

The consequences of the Great Depression were horrible, a third of all banks failed, international trade fell by 65%, unemployment rose to 25% and homelessness increased. One of the consequences of the Great Depression on Britain was money, they couldn’t afford to attack Germany so they had to try appeasement. By the end of 1930, unemployment had more than doubled from 1 million to 2.5 million and exports had fallen in value by 50%. People were losing their jobs and growing desperate, so they turned to extreme parties like the Nazis who promised a solution to the economic crisis. The Great Depression was more severe in the United States and Europe. The Great Depression ended in March 1933.

The news reporter asked Woodrow Wilson, "What do you think of the Treaty of Versailles?" "I think that the treaty is fair as Germany should accept the responsibility of World War One. Fair adjustments to colonies and reductions to trade barriers will prevent another world war." He claimed. "Do you think there will be another world war and why?" The news reporter asked. "Because of the Treaty of Versailles, there will not be another world war," Woodrow replied. He was wrong as the treaty angered the Germans and they became more aggressive.

Causes of World War Two

On September 1st, 1939, World War Two started. It started when Germany invaded Poland, causing Great Britain and France to declare war on Germany.

It was also because of the Treaty of Versailles, Germany thought that the treaty was unfair towards them so they wanted revenge. The rise of militarism also contributed to the start of the Second World War. Japan invaded Manchuria, while China had a civil war, as they didn't have enough natural resources like oil, rubber, and lumber. Japan then turned Manchuria into a puppet state called Manchukuo. On the 7th of December, 1941, Japanese Forces bombed the U.S. Naval Base at Pearl Harbour in anticipation of a war with the US. 

War broke out in Asia because Japan needed natural resources such as oil, rubber, and lumber so they had to invade Manchuria, which is in Asia. The Second Sino-Japanese War, which involved Japan and China, started on July 7th, 1937, and ended on September 9th, 1945. This also affected America, who joined the war on December 7th, 1941 because of the bombing of Pearl Harbour, which killed 2,403 people.

In 1918, World War One ended as Germany officially surrendered on the 11th of November, 1918. A year later, the Treaty of Versailles, involving Britain and France aiming to maintain peace, was signed on the 28th of June, 1919.

Throughout the 1920s, Britain was already struggling to pay for the effects of the first world war. Ten years later, Britain and France were greatly affected by the Great Depression as it halved the values of the British exports as well as plummeting Britain's industrial areas into poverty. By the end of 1930, unemployment had more than doubled to 20%. The Great Depression not only made Britain and France weak, it also made Japan and Germany more aggressive by not letting them trade. Japan is an island with few natural resources so it relied heavily on foreign trade. The Great Depression made countries no longer trade silk with Japan so they had to invade other places for natural resources.

Hitler then rose to power in 1933 through the Nazi Party which was founded in 1919. The group promoted discrimination against Jews and expressed disagreement with the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. People were growing desperate because their economy was falling apart, so they turned to extreme parties like the Nazis who promised a solution to the economic crisis.

During the 1930s, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain devised the policy appeasement. Chamberlain let Hitler take a small part of Czechoslovakia and made him promise that all future arguments would be settled through non-violent ways. A few months later, Hitler broke the agreement and captured all of Czechoslovakia. Hitler's invasion of Czechoslovakia and Poland made Britain and France join the war, starting World War Two.

When a soldier from the army was asked what it felt like to be in war, he believed that it was horrible and that he felt vulnerable and scared at all times. Also, the soldier does not believe in fighting as it is deadly but does so to help his country.


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20th Century History for Cambridge IGCSE Revision Guide

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