Comparing Appeasement, The League of Nations, Treaty of Versailles and Hitler as Causes of World War Two

At the end of World War One, there was nothing Europe wanted to do more then move on and prevent another war like it from happening again. Even with the attempts made by Europe to prevent another world war, the Second World War started less then 30 years later. There were many causes of this new war that even included some of the attempts to keep a new war from coming that ended up only encouraging a new war. The failure of the League of Nations, the policy of appeasement, the Treaty of Versailles and Adolf Hitler as the leader of Germany at the time are all thought to be causes of World War Two. Although appeasement and the collapse of the League of Nations were important causes of World War Two, they were not the most important causes when compared to the Treaty of Versailles and Hitler himself.

Appeasement means giving into a nation’s demands in order to avoid further conflict or war. Neville Chamberlain, the Prime Minister of Britain, is most known for using this policy when dealing with an aggressive Germany in hopes that the policy would allow Britain to avoid another world war at least until it was ready to fight again(1). Other countries were also known to use this policy of appeasement when dealing with aggressor nations. The largest example of appeasement in Europe in accordance with germany and beginning of the Second World War was the Munich Agreement made mainly between Germany and Britain which allowed Germany to have the Sudetenland from Czechoslovakia in agreement that Germany would not try and advance on any other land. Britain and France both believed that the agreement would satisfy Hitler and prevent Europe from being involved in another world war(2). Germany would end up breaking this agreement and take the rest of Czechoslovakia less then a year later. When Germany was met with no resistance from the other European nations, Germany believed that it could what it wished(3). Britain would finally declare war on Germany when Germany invaded Poland beginning the Second World War. This inability for appeasement to stop Germany for continuing to invade countries showed that the policy of appeasement failed in the very act it was supposed to achieve. It was not only Britain using the policy as stated before but other European countries that wanted to avoid war again, even if it required turning a blind eye Germany and Germany’s activities in breaking the Treaty of Versailles when occupying the rhineland between Germany and France and rebuilding its army and air force. This use of appeasement as a form of foreign policy in order to prevent war ended up only encouraging war by encouraging Germany to take without any consequences(4).
The League of Nations was an organization put together at the end of the First World War from the Treaty of Versailles to help promote peace and avoid another world war(5). Although the League was successful at the beginning of its reign, as time went on, the weaknesses of the League were exposed. After the League’s experiences with Italy and Japan(6) and it’s lack of power in regulating aggressors(7), it was not surprising that the league was unable to keep Hitler at bay, both with his territorial breaks from the Treaty of Versailles but as well as rearmament of the German Forces(8). One reason why the League was ineffective in regulating Germany was because the League had no military force of it’s own to enforce its decrees(9). The League of Nations had tried previously to stop Germany when it broke the Treaty of Versailles but was unable to stop Hitler. If the League would have been able to stop Germany, then World War Two might not have began but the League failed in its original goal when Germany finally invaded Poland which caused Britain to declare war upon Germany.
The Treaty of Versailles was the official treaty that ended the First World War in Europe on June 28, 1919. The Treaty put in place the League of Nations in order to prevent another world war as well as assigning all of the blame for the war on Germany. As a part of putting the blame upon Germany, Germany’s army is limited; the government was changed from monarchy to a democracy, German land was taken from Germany to form new neighboring countries around Germany and Germany was forced to pay reparations to the Allied nations for the damage done during the war. The German public was outraged by the terms of the treaty because for the duration of the war, the public had been lead to believe that the German’s had been winning the war(10). When the public found out that Germany had lost and then later found out that a number of representatives from the new democratic government had stabbed Germany in the back and signed this treaty, the public was outraged(11). Although it was a myth that these representatives stabbed Germany in the back made up by anti-democracy forces, it still hit home for a lot of germans who couldn’t believe the shame that was placed upon Germany for the war. This tension towards the government would end up being only the start for the Weimar Republic when it would be officially set up within Germany. As well as setting up tension for the new government in Germany, the Treaty also created a lot of bitterness from the Germans towards the Allied Nations as a whole. Some German’s believed that Germany needed to regain it’s pride and power within the world after being stripped of so much military and economic power from the treaty. This collective bitterness of the German people fostered a feeling of revenge on the rest of the world in order to recollect the power they had so recently lost.
Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany after the fall of the Weimar Republic in January of 1933(12). Hitler’s goals for Germany included restoring Germany’s former glory by ignoring the Treaty of Versailles and to expand in order to allow all German people to come into one country to live together and have Lebensraum(13). He was willing to do this at any cost in order to restore pride within the German people. Hitler also believed in a superior German race in which he watched to perfect and purify Germany and the lands around from those impure races. Since Hitler was willing to throw away relations with countries like Britain and France who supported the Weimar Republic in which he had replaced, he had no reason to go on with his goals for Germany. These territorial goals and lack of remorse for the other countries lead to the Second World War.
Although all four causes are important in the beginning of Second World War, the Treaty of Versailles and Adolf Hitler himself are more pressing and important causes then the policy of appeasement in Europe and the League of Nations. The reason the the policy of appeasement and the League of Nations rank under the Treaty of Versailles and Hitler is because the effectiveness of the League of Nations or the policy of appeasement would not have made a difference if Hitler and the Treaty of Versailles stayed the same. It was the extremity of the two later reasons the made it so that if the League was successful or the policy of appeasement was successful as well, then that would have only prolonged the time before World War Two would break out. It would still break out because of the bitterness created by the Treaty of Versailles which made it so that the German people would be always seeking revenge and want to restore a former glory whether there were obstacles in their way or not. Also Hitler himself would have kept on with his territorial gains even if met with confrontation from other european nations or by the League. Therefore it was the extremity of the Treaty of Versailles and of Hitler that would have prevailed whether the policy of appeasement or the League of Nations were to be successful or not.


1. 1 Stokesbury, James L. "World War II." World Book Advanced. World Book, 2009. Web.
6 Dec. 2009. <__http://www.worldbookonline.com/advanced/__
article?id=ar610460&st=causes+of+world+war+two&sc=1#h2>.


2. ibid
3. Eubank, Keith. The Origins of World War II. Wheeling: Harlan Davidson, 2004.
Questia. Web. 13 Dec. 2009. <__http://www.questiaschool.com/read/__
111567494>. Page 126

4. ibid 79

5. 5 "Collective Security- 1930s and the Failure of the League of Nations."
Encyclopedia of American Foreign Relations. N.p., 2009. Web. 13 Dec.
2009. <__http://www.americanforeignrelations.com/A-D/__
Collective-Security-The-1930s-and-the-failure-of-the-league-of-nations.html#ixzzo
X24LdLTc>.

6. Cannon et al. 20th Century World History. Oxford: Oxford U. Press, 2009. Print. Page 69

7. The League of Nations was unsuccessful in mediating conflicts between Japan and Manchuria after Japan invaded Manchuria in China and took it over. The League of Nations was also unsuccessful in stopping Italy from taking over Abyssinia even after trying to stop trade to Italy from other countries.

8. Layton, Geoff. Weimar and the Rise of Nazi Germany. London: Hodder Murry, 2005. Print. Page 31

9. Cannon et al. 56

10. Layton 29

11. ibid 43

12. Layton, Geoff. The Third Reich 1933-1945. London: Hodder Murray, 2005. Print. pg.8

13. Collective Security- 1930s and the Failure of the League of Nations