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Causes of World War Two

Franklin D Roosevelt

Causes of World War Two: Discover the causes and the reasons that the United States entered into WW2.

Definition and Summary of the Causes of World War Two
Summary and definition:
The Causes of WW2 were many and varied. Although the bombing of Pearl Harbor is the most famous of the causes, it was not the only reason that the United States entered into WW2. The Causes of WW2 in America were due to a long list of different events that posed a significant threat to the safety of America and its people.

The causes of WW2 that gave great concern to the US were the rise of Hitler and Mussolini, the anti-democratic dictators in Germany and Italy who supported the ideologies of Totalitarianism, Fascism and Nazism. Another serious threat was posed by Japan, another country who threatened democracy, who had established powerful Militarist leaders.

Acts of aggression towards the United States by these expansionist countries were also the causes of WW2 and the events leading to the US entry of WW2. These acts of aggression included the sinking of the USS Panay, a U.S. gunboat, by Japanese aircraft in the Yangtze River on 12 December 1937, on 4 September, 1941 the Greer became the first US Navy war ship to be fired on by a German U-Boat, the USS Kearny was torpedoed on October 17, 1941 by another German U-boat and the U.S.S. Reuben James was torpedoed on October 31, 1941 resulting in the loss of 115 of 160 American crewmen two months before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Facts about Causes of World War Two
The following fact sheet contains interesting facts and information on Causes of World War Two.

Treaty of Versailles: The 1919 Treaty of Versailles was created to ensure peace in Europe following WW1. The treaty stipulated that land was taken away from Germany, that Germany would pay for damages caused by WW1 and that Germany could only have a small army with no air force, submarines or tanks. The harsh terms caused anger and resentment in Germany.

Fascism: The ideology of Fascism with the denial of individual rights was founded by Benito Mussolini in 1924

Rise of dictators: Weak leadership in Italy, Germany, Spain and the USSR saw the rise of the dictators such as Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin and Franco

Totalitarianism: Anti-democratic countries formed governments based on the ideology of Totalitarianism governments that asserted total control over the lives of people and begin and adopted policies of expansion and aggression

Nazism: Hitler introduced Nazism based on the belief in the fascism and the racial superiority of the German people and the hatred of Jews, or anti-Semitism

Communism: Joseph Stalin became the Soviet Dictator with the ideals of Communism based on the organization of labor and the collective ownership of property

Japanese Militarism: Japanese Militarism is adopted as Japanese military officers take control of the government under the fascist General Tojo. The symbol of the state was Hirohito, the Emperor of Japan

Appeasement: The policy of appeasement (accepting demands in an effort to avoid war) failed making Hitler bolder and giving him time to build up the German army. The Munich Agreement permitted Nazi Germany's annexation of portions of Czechoslovakia

League of Nations: The League of Nations, established by the Treaty of Versailles, failed to keep the peace because not all countries had joined, it had no real power, no army and was slow to react to world events

Tripartite Pact: The Tripartite Pact was signed in September 1940 which formed the Axis powers of Germany, Italy, and Japan. The 3 countries agreed to assist each other if they were attacked by any additional power not yet at war with them. The intended target for this agreement was the United States.

Worldwide Economic Crisis: The effects of the Great Depression had spread worldwide and aggressive countries believed they could overcome their economic crisis by conquering other territories to gain raw materials and resources

Invasion: The invasion of weaker countries. Italy invades Ethiopia (Abyssinia) in 1938, Germany invades Czechoslovakia and Poland in 1939, Japan invades Manchuria in Northern China in 1931

Acts of Aggression: Acts of aggression on the United States with the attacks on the USS Panay, the USS Greer, the USS Kearny, the USS Reuben James - Refer to USS Greer, Kearny and Reuben James

Pearl Harbor: The attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

Causes of WW2
President Franklin D. Roosevelt recognized that the conflict that had began in Europe on September 3, 1939 threatened the security of the United States, and looked for ways to maintain neutrality whilst helping the European democracies without direct involvement in the war. The nation favored Isolationism and the majority had anti-war sentiments. However, the events in Europe and Asia were bringing threat of war steadily closer. And another concern was of the Soviet Union lead by Stalin, another anti-democratic dictator, and the growth of Communism.

Why the US delayed its entry into WW2
World War 2 began on September 3, 1939 but the US did not enter the war until December 8, 1941.  It's easy to imagine that the American people suddenly became involved in WW2 due to the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The list of causes of WW2 give the fuller picture. So why did the US delay their entry into WW2? Americans had terrible memories of the Great War and many believed they were 'tricked' into entry of WW1 due to the influence of profiteering US arms manufacturers on the US government. Most Americans wanted to keep out of any similar conflict and therefore supported American Isolationism. A 1935 opinion poll found that 70% of Americans believed that intervention in WW1 had been a mistake. Wars were expensive and the nation was still in the devastating grips of the Great Depression with high unemployment and homelessness. Public opinion began to change in the late 1930's due to the acts of aggression perpetrated by expansionist nations and speeches by the president such as
FDR's Navy Day Address which painted a truly terrifying picture of Hitler, Nazism and the Third Reich.

US American History
1929-1945: Depression & WW2

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