The Origins of the Second World War

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

Abstract

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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Notes

  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
  3. 2.
    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
  4. 3.
    A. Lentin, Lloyd George, Woodrow Wilson and the Guilt of Germany (1986), p. 132.Google Scholar
  5. 4.
    See V. Suvorov, The Icebreaker (1992).Google Scholar
  6. 7.
    F. Fischer, From Kaiserreich to Third Reich (1986), p. 84.Google Scholar
  7. 8.
    E. Eyck, A History of the Weimar Republic, vol. 2 (1967), p. 25.Google Scholar
  8. 9.
    See, for instance, K. Hildebrand, The Foreign Policy of the Third Reich (1973).Google Scholar
  9. 10.
    M. Brozart, The Hitler State. The Foundation and Development of the Internal Structure of the Third Reich (1981);Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    and H. Mommsen, ‘National Socialism: Continuity and Change’, in Fascism, ed. W. Laquer (1976).Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    See T. Mason, ‘Labour in the Third Reich 1933–39’, Past and Present, vol. 33 (1966).Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    B. H. Klein, Germany’s Economic Preparations for War (1959).Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    This view has been persuasively argued by R. J. Overy in ‘Hitler’s War and the German Economy. A Reinterpretation’, Economic History Review, 2nd ser., vol. 35 (1982).Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Two recent and divergent views of Chamberlain’s policies are provided by John Charmley, Chamberlain and the Lost Peace (1984), who sees Chamberlain’s policies as rational and realistic;Google Scholar
  15. 14.
    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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