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Roads To War Essay

4507 words - 19 pages

Roads to War: The Origins of the Second World War 1929-1941
An Uneasy Peace 1929-35 The “New Era”: Hopes for Peace in 1929 Locarno and the New Era – with the increased tension over the French/Belgian invasion of the Ruhr Valley, the European statesmen met in Locarno, Switzerland and reached a series of agreements (1925). France, Germany, and Belgium agreed to respect each other’s borders and Britain and Italy agreed to enforce the terms of the agreement. This relieved France and Belgium’s concern over another German invasion (as in WW I) and Germany’s concern of a French/Belgian invasion (Ruhr). In effect, Locarno removed many ...view middle of the document...

The Limitation of the League – not every nation belonged (US – isolationist policy, USSR – saw it as anti-communist); and no proof that the League could settle problems between major powers. The Great Depression– October 1929 shares on the NY Stock Exchange fell to an all time low. Thousands of businesses went bankrupt and countless lost life’s savings. This led to policies of “Protectionism” – raising tariffs on foreign goods coming into your country to increase the demand for domestic goods. This undermined the concept of collective security that lay behind the League. This also spurred social unrest due to massive unemployment. People blamed their governments and were willing to support extremist parties who promised solutions. This would lead to a collapse of democratic governments (think of our reading and the unstable democracies).
The Problems of Empires – Britain and France left WW I controlling nearly 1/3 of the globe. This caused envy amongst nations who wanted to expand (think of Germany pre-WW I). In particular, the Italians believed they deserved more colonies (having been with the allies) and resented not receiving any of Germany’s African colonies, and Japan(also with the allies) desired colonies near home. As the Depression expanded, Britain and France were able to limit its impact through colonial trade and Italy, Japan and Germany began to think that they too could be helped by colonies. What this ignored was Britain and France’s need to commit large military forces to the colonies to stifle native unrest (which meant that they would not be quick to agree to world peace or disarmament).
Japan, Manchuria and the League, 1931-33 The Attraction of Manchuria – Japan had expanded to four areas around China (including Formosa and Korea), but wanted Manchuria due to its great size, lack of population, and its “wealth of forestry, minerals and agricultural products.” Japan created a railway company to exploit these resources. By 1931, Japan controlled most of Manchuria’s economy and kept a large army in south Manchuria. As Japan’s economy suffered the impacts of the depression, social unrest spread to the army which believed that new colonies would lead to greater raw materials, trade and jobs. Manchuria was the obvious choice (an infrastructure already in place). Japan Invades Manchuria – The Japanese military in Manchuria, against government orders, plotted to take over Manchuria by blowing up a portion of the railway and blaming the Chinese. They then used the explosion as an excuse to occupy part of Manchuria in September 1931. After China complained, the League ordered Japan to withdraw and Japan’s representative agreed. However the army continued its advance into Manchuria and by the end of 1931 declared it a...

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