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MHS Library | Year 10 History

World War II


World War Two was the most devastating war in human history: even though military casualties were similar to those experienced in World War One, many tens of millions of civilians were also killed during the conflict.

Estimates range anywhere from 55 - 85 million lives lost. 

But the war is often seen as a collection of different conflicts, rather than one larger single conflict, and can be divided into two key theatres: Europe and the Asia/Pacific region.

Cause 1: The treaty of Versailles

After the devastation of World War I, the victorious powers imposed a series of treaties upon the defeated powers. Among the treaties, the 1919 Treaty of Versailles held Germany responsible for starting the war. Germany became liable for the cost of massive material damages. The shame of defeat and the 1919 peace settlement played an important role in the rise of Nazism in Germany and the coming of a second “world war” just 20 years later.

You can find out the essential facts about the Treaty HERE.

Cause 2: Invasion of Poland

World War Two officially began with Nazi Germany's invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939.

Why did Germany invade? The invasion of Poland prompted war with Britain and France, but it was not the first of Germany's increasingly belligerent moves in Central Europe. 

Germany's leader at the time - Adolf Hitler - had made provocative moves to undo the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, and wanted to restore the role of Germany as a great power in the region. His agenda was founded on the political ideology of Fascism, which dictated that a nation must assert dominance (imperialism) over other countries and remain racially pure.

How to respond to a Primary Source Analysis