Second World War (1939 – 1945): Causes and result

  • The First World War came to an end in 1918 and the Paris Peace conference was held in 1919.

  • Only the victorious nations alone were invited and the defeated countries were badly treated.

  • Failure of League of Nations ultimately led to the rise of dictatorships in Germany, Italy and Japan.

  • The formation of Rome, Berlin, Tokyo Axis led to the Second World War.

Causes of the Second World War

1.Treaty of Versailles

  • Germany was defeated in the First World War and forced to sign a harsh and humiliating treaty.

  • The German people decided to take revenge for their humiliation. In fact, the Second World War was a war of revenge.

  • Therefore, the Treaty of Versailles had in itself the seeds of the Second World War.

  • Italy was disappointed that it was denied territory promised by Britain and France.

Second World War Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo2. Rise of Dictatorships

  • The inter-war period also known as period of dictators’ witnessed the rise of dictatorships in Europe.

Hitler in Germany:

  • Hitler, the leader of the Nazi Party took full advantage of the weakness of the Republican Government and brought the government under his control.

  • He started aggression and captured Austria and Czechoslovakia.

  • At last he attacked Poland and World War II started.

Mussolini in Italy:

  • Italy felt that it was betrayed in the Paris Peace Conference.

  • Mussolini started the Fascist Party. In 1922 he captured power and became a dictator.

  • He also followed an aggressive foreign policy.

General Franco in Spain:

  • In Spain, General Franco defeated the Republican Government and established his dictatorship.

  • In this effort, he was assisted by the armies of Hitler and Mussolini.

Tojo in Japan:

  • Japan became a partner of Hitler and Mussolini by signing the Rome- Berlin -Tokyo Axis.

  • This alliance disturbed world peace and the Second World War started.

3. Japanese Expansionism

  • In 1931 Japan invaded Manchuria for raw materials.

  • The same year, Japan began to attack China, with full-scale war breaking out in 1937 in the Sino – Japanese War.

  • In 1938, war broke out between Japan and the Soviet Union in what were known as the Soviet-Japanese Border Wars.

4. Anti-Communism

  • Under communism, all means of production are controlled by the government, as are property, the media, and all other aspects of society.

  • The 1930s saw the rise of many totalitarian regimes; but most people chose fascism over communism.

  • Hitler exploited people’s fear of a Communist takeover in Germany to rise to power in 1933.


  • In the Paris Peace conference Germany was forced to disarm itself.

  • The German Government demanded disarmament of the victorious powers, in the same way as she had been disarmed.

  • As they refused, Germany under the dictatorship of Hitler increased its military strength.

  • Owing to the huge increase in armaments and the development of militarism, the Second World War became necessary.

6. Nationalism

  • Nationalism is the belief in the superiority of one’s own nation over all others.

  • In the extreme, it can lead to major conflicts between nations.

  • Hitler, Mussolini and Japan’s Tojo each touted their nation’s ability to dominate all others in the years leading up to WWII.

7. Imperialism

  • The policy of imperialism was one of the causes for the Second World War.

  • It was this same feeling of imperialism which played a dominant role during the First World War.

  • Germany and Japan, who were more imperialistic than the Allied powers, simply ignored the decisions of the Paris Peace Conference.

  • Hitler occupied Rhineland, Austria, Memel, Czechoslovakia and incorporated them into German territory.

  • Japan attacked Manchuria and captured it from China. Mussolini occupied Abyssinia and launched a series of aggressive activities.


  • Germany was deprived of all her colonies at the Paris Peace Conference.

  • Italy was dissatisfied with the treatment of Allied Powers. Japan, a powerful Asiatic country wanted to have colonies to enrich its resources.

  • It is in these circumstances Germany, Italy and Japan decided to follow aggressive foreign policy. These aggressive actions ultimately led to the Second World War.

Second world warSecond World War begins

  • According to the decisions taken in the Paris Peace Conference, Poland had been made an independent kingdom.

  • East Prussia was separated from Germany and now, Hitler wanted to unite East Prussia with Germany. Hitler invaded Poland on Sep 1, 1939.

  • Great Britain declared war against Germany on Sep 3. Thus Second World War started.

  • In April 1940, Germany captured Denmark and Norway. In May 1940, Holland and Belgium were conquered. Germany attacked France and captured it in June 1940.

  • Italy fought against the British forces in North Africa. Mussolini attacked Greece and captured it with German support.

  • After the fall of France, Britain was left alone. Hence, Hitler wanted to attack England by air. There was continuous air force attack on Britain.

  • But the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Churchill saved England. Germany could not conquer Britain.

  • Germany made a mistake of invading the Soviet Union, despite a non-aggression pact.

  • One of the important battles was the Battle of Stalingrad. For 5 months the battle went on. It involved 2 million men, 2000 tanks and 2000 airplanes.

  • The invading German army was driven back. In Feb 1943, about 90,000 German soldiers surrendered. This was a turning point of the war.

  • In December 1941, Japan attacked the Pearl Harbour. This tragedy dragged the U.S.A. into the war.

  • General MacArther was made the supreme commander of the Pacific region. Lord Mountbatten, the Commander of South East Asia drove the Japanese from Burma.

  • In Africa, Abyssinia was conquered by the U.S.A. from Italy. The Italian Somali land was also conquered.

  • The British General Montgomery captured Libya from Germans. He also conquered Tripoli and entered Tunisia.

  • In 1942 Algeria fell. In 1943 Sicily was captured by the British and U.S. troops.

  • North Africa was cleared of Italian and German troops. The mainland of Italy was attacked.

  • There was a revolt in Italy and Mussolini was arrested, but he managed to escape with German help.

  • In Sep 1943, Italy surrendered unconditionally. Mussolini was captured and killed by his own people in April 1945.

  • In 1944 the Allied forces entered into France and displaced the German army from France.

  • After that the Allied forces attacked Germany from the Southwest. Russia invaded Germany from the East.

  • On 2 May 1945 Russian army entered Berlin. Hitler committed suicide. Germany surrendered.

  • Even after the surrender of Germany, Japan continued the war. USA dropped two atom bombs on Hiroshima (6th Aug) and on Nagasaki (9th Aug). Following this Japan surrendered on 14th August 1945.

  • The Second World War was over. At the end of the war, some 13 million Europeans were killed and 17 million civilians had died as a result of the fighting.

  • All major cities were in ruins. Agriculture was ruined. People of the entire world had to face untold miseries, directly or indirectly.

Results of the Second World War

  • In this war, about 15 Million soldiers and 10 million civilians lost their lives.

  • Multi – polar world became bi – polar world.

  • Introduction powerful new weapons, culminating in the first use of nuclear weapons.

  • It is remembered as “The Good War” because despite the destruction, death, and devastation, the war helped usher in a new world order, one in which Hitler’s Third Reich in Europe was no more, and some of history’s most heinous crimes had been exposed and resisted.

  • In the United States, wartime mobilization pulled the American economy out of depression, employing millions.

  • Second World War also marked the beginning of the end of colonial Empire of the European countries in Asia and Africa after second world war.

  • One by one, in the decades following the war, colonized peoples all over the world would gain their independence.

  • In these ways, as historian Jay Winter has argued, 1945 marked the moment when the world broke from its past and moved toward a new era.

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