Linh Dan Tran
Question: Was the Wall Street Crash of October 1929 the main reason for WWII starting in September 1939?
a. Identify parameters of question
>>>”The main reason”?
Obviously, we know that there are several other reasons to have started WWII. We will, however, still inspect to what extent the Wall Street Crash had on subsequent events leading up to WWII, and attempt to link the other causes to each other in order to gain a holistic view of how WWII started.
>>>What time period should we focus on?
We should inspect some background to the Wall Street Crash (that means investigating the 1920’s), what happened during the Great Depression, what happened in Europe between the Great Depression and the outbreak of WWII (1929-1939) and what its global impact was (for example, Japan was hit hard by the Great Depression as well). WWII itself was officially from 1939-1945
>>>What was WWII? (brief definition)
WWII was the deadliest, most far-reaching conflict in the history of the world. It involved almost all the nations of the world and had the highest amount of casualties, both military and civilian. The war reparations were also staggering. It officially began in 1939 when Germany invaded Poland and ended in 1945 when the Japanese surrendered to the Allied Forces, following the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
>>>Why did WWII begin? (Main causes)
→ Japan: The Japanese were suffering from the Wall Street Crash since they relied on exporting raw materials to other nations like the USA, who did not need them anymore due to the huge surplus of materials they have during the Great Depression. The country was desperate and thus the ideas of the military leaders of the time to invade Manchuria in order to get natural resources was greatly backed by public appeal. In 1931 the Japanese invaded Manchuria (re-naming it as Manchukuo and establishing it as a separate state) and by 1938 had a strong hold on the eastern part of China. → Italy: The Italians took note of the actions of the Japanese and thus invaded Abyssinia (modern Ethiopia) in Africa, and later Albania. → Germany: Hitler wanted “Lebensraum” or living space for the German people, and sought to take Austria, Czechoslovakia, the Rhineland, and Poland (and later also sought to take Ukraine and Eastern Russia). This creation of living space, of course, would lead to the deaths of the other nationalities living within the nations he intended to invade.
Totalitarianism, specifically Fascism
→ Italy: Benito Mussolini founded the Fascist Party in Italy, and thus ruled over Italy as the sole fascist dictator from 1922 up to 1943. → Germany: Hitler set up his Nazi Party, which was supported by many German people who were desperate to find someone who will take them out of the economic hardships that Germany was experiencing. By 1933 Hitler was elected Chancellor, and by 1934 he proclaimed himself dictator of Germany. → Japan: The military was quickly extending its hold over the government, and the decisions of the militarists were influencing the nation. Hideki Tojo, the prime minister of Japan, was perhaps the most notable of these militarists. The decisions of the militarists to invade Manchuria was heavily supported and eventually brought into effect in 1931.
Fascist or totalitarian ideals valued superiority of one nation over others, which allowed them to invade the territories they deemed inferior to their own.
The Great Depression (I’m highlighting this because we need to focus on this one) This led to a domino-effect of global economic crises. Before the Wall Street Crash, many European nations were in debt to the US, creating a weak international banking structure. The US economy, which was arguably one of the most stable before the Wall Street Crash, collapsed. In the US, unemployment rates went up to 25% by 1933 (the lowest point of the Great...
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