Documents and Readings in the History of Europe Since 1918

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Date: 1948

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World History

CHAPTER 11

The Outbreak of War, 1939

246.

BASIC CAUSES OF THE SECOND WORLD WAR

1

In summary, then, the war of 1939 was caused, basically, by these circumstances: The disillusionment and humiliation following military defeat in the First World War filled many Germans with a desire for revenge. Then, the awkward tactics of the republic, an unhappy policy of alternating intransigeance and concession on the part of the former Allies, and the effects of the world depression brought to power in Germany a group whose impelling philosophy it was to establish its hegemony over the continent and eventually beyond the confines of Europe. Meanwhile the British and the French, both intent on maintaining conditions as they were, followed divergent international policies. They drifted apart diplomatically at a time when, from a realistic point of view, they should have co-operated to implement by force of arms the system which they had set up by force of arms. As time went on, there developed a great game of diplomatic bluff, with Germany and Italy playing as partners on one side and Great Britain and France playing as partners on the other. The Soviet Union sat by as an interested observer, leaning now to one side and then the other, determined not to become a pawn no matter how the game progressed. And when at last one side called the other’s bluff, the consequence was war. Poland, as it happened, was the unhappy victim of the critical move in the ghastly game played in the spring and summer of 1939.

1 W. C. Langsam, The World Since 1914, 6 ed., New York, 1948, p. 733. By permission of The Macmillan Company, publishers.

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Chicago: W. C. Langsam, ed., "The Outbreak of War, 1939," Documents and Readings in the History of Europe Since 1918 in Documents and Readings in the History of Europe Since 1918, ed. Walter Consuelo Langsam and James Michael Egan (Chicage: Lippincott, 1951), 846. Original Sources, accessed September 24, 2021, http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=71ZSFZWD5R1NE8K.

MLA: . "The Outbreak of War, 1939." Documents and Readings in the History of Europe Since 1918, edited by W. C. Langsam, in Documents and Readings in the History of Europe Since 1918, edited by Walter Consuelo Langsam and James Michael Egan, Chicage, Lippincott, 1951, page 846. Original Sources. 24 Sep. 2021. originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=71ZSFZWD5R1NE8K.

Harvard: (ed.), 'The Outbreak of War, 1939' in Documents and Readings in the History of Europe Since 1918. cited in 1951, Documents and Readings in the History of Europe Since 1918, ed. , Lippincott, Chicage, pp.846. Original Sources, retrieved 24 September 2021, from http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=71ZSFZWD5R1NE8K.