The Origins of the Second World War

  • A. W. Purdue
Part of the European History in Perspective book series


Two statements which generations of students have been invited to discuss as essay questions encapsulate the most popular and contradictory explanations of the causes of World War II: ‘The origins of World War II lie in the Versailles Settlement’ and ‘The causes of the Second World War can be summed up in one word, Hitler’. A third thesis, which has recently gained ground, is that the First and Second World wars were inextricably linked with a common cause, the upsetting of the balance of power of Europe by the emergence of a united Germany with expansionist ambitions.


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  1. 1.
    See E Fischer, Germany’s Aims in the First World War (1967); and E. Nolte, Three Faces of Fascism.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    See P. M. H. Bell, The Origins of the Second World War in Europe (1986);Google Scholar
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    and Michael Howard, ‘A Thirty Years War? The Two World Wars in Historical Perspective’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 6th ser. (1991).Google Scholar
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    and R. A. C. Parker, Chamberlain and Appeasement (1993), who considers they ‘stifled serious chances of preventing the Second World War’.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© A.W. Purdue 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. W. Purdue
    • 1
  1. 1.Open UniversityUK

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