DBQ 21: World War II: The Road to War

In 1939 the world was plunged into World War II because of the Munich Agreement. The Munich Agreement was an agreement regarding the Sudetenland Crisis between the major powers of Europe after a conference held in Munich in Germany in 1938. The Sudetenland was an important region of Czechoslovakia. It had over 2.5 million speaking German inhabitants, and according to the Treaty of Versailles’s rule of National Self Determination, it should be under German leadership because of this. The Treaty of Versailles was the peace treaty created as a result of six months of negotiations at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, which put an official end to World War I between the Allies and Central Powers. The Munich Agreement caused many disagreements between European countries. Collective security was a more effective response to aggression than appeasement because more European countries disagreed than agreed with the decision made during the Munich Conference for various reasons and Germany had many ways of keeping its territories under control.

Germany had many ways of keeping its people under control. Propaganda was an important factor of keeping Germans under control. Documents 10 through 15, all the documents containing pictures, are from the German point of view. “Being baptized didn’t turn him into a non-Jew” (Doc.10) shows that Jewish people will be Jewish forever, no matter what they do, according to Hitler. The second picture in this document shows that Jews can be anywhere trying to look like non-Jews. Documents 11 and 13 also show German propaganda in newspapers. In Document 12 there are multiple symbols that people would wear showing who or what they were; Jews would wear the Star of David on their clothes. One picture in Document 14 shows a man in the Olympics in Germany. This picture shows the physical characteristics of a German. The other picture in this document is of the Russian navy. It shows that that it is very industrial and very powerful. The big ship represents Russia and the small boat represents other European countries that feared Russian dominance. Document 15 is a rally for Hitler. He used rallies and other propaganda to stay in power and increase his influence and spread ideas. He also used promises to keep German people’s trust and loyalty. In Document 3, it is stated that Hitler promised to end the Treaty of Versailles. Also he sent battalions into the Rhineland’s demilitarized zone to “cast off the last shackles fastened upon [Germany] by the Treaty of Versailles” (Doc.3). Some of Hitler’s ideas are explained in Document 1. Hitler believed Germany would never “have the moral right to enter into colonial politics until, at least, it includes its own sons within a single state” (Doc.1). This means that Hitler thought that Germany would never be able to enter colonial politics until Germany had colonies of its own. He also states that oppressed territories are not reduced back to the common Reich or empire by protests, but by other territories or countries with higher military power. In the Munich Conference, Germany was allowed territory in Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia, though many countries did not agree to this.

Collective Security was a more effective response to aggression because more European countries disagreed with the decision made at the Munich Conference. Some people that didn’t approve were Winston Churchill, George F. Kennan, A. J.P. Taylor, and Keith Eubank. Document 6 was from England’s point of view through Winston Churchill, a British Conservative politician. Churchill disagreed with the decision because “keeping peace depends on holding back the aggressor.” (Doc.6). He thought that Europe needed to restrain Germany and that Britain and France together should have guaranteed security of Czechoslovakia. George F. Kennan, an American Secretary of State during the Cold War, spoke in America’s point of view in Document 7 and also disagreed. Kennan stated that the Munich Agreement was a “desperate act of appeasement at the cost of the Czechoslovak state.” (Doc.7) He disapproved with the agreement because he believed that the British Primer Minister Neville Chamberlain and the French premier, Daladier, agreed with Germany’s proposal because they wanted to avoid European war and wanted to secure a peaceful future for Europe. A British historian, A. J.P. Taylor, wrote in The Origins of the Second World War that other countries should have become involved by armed force in 1933 “to over throw Hitler when he had come to power by constitutional means and was apparently supported by a large majority of the German people.” (Doc.8) Taylor thought that if more countries became involved with this issue, Czechoslovakia would have been secure. He also believed the German people were the only ones who could “turn [Hitler] out” (Doc.8) because they were the ones that put him in power. He also stated that “the ‘appeasers’ feared that the defeat of Germany would be followed by a Russian domination over much of Europe” (Doc.8) which many people did not want.

Keith Eubank argued in Origins of World War II that stopping Hitler prior to 1939 was not an issue for several reasons. One reason being that the people and the government of Britain and France were not “conditioned to the idea of war before September 1, 1939” (Doc.9) and that Hitler had don’t nothing to threaten Europe’s peaceful future. Eubank also stated the French “feared a repetition of the bloody sacrifices of 1914-1918.” and the British wanted to appease Hitler. Not many countries had agreed with the Munich Agreement.

Appeasement was a less effective response to aggression because fewer countries agreed with the Munich Agreement. Some of Adolf Hitler’s ideas were stated in Document 1 such as needing colonies in order to enter colonial politics and that oppressed territories were not demoted to nothing by protests but by countries with stronger military forces. Haile Selassie, the emperor of Ethiopia, asked the League of Nations fro help in stopping the invasion after Italy attacked Ethiopia. When the League of Nations’ response was ineffective, Selassie stated “God and history will remember your judgment… It is us today. It will be you tomorrow.” (Doc.2). This statement is like karma; because the League of Nations didn’t help Ethiopia, it would be attacked and be denied help. This statement is in the point of view of Ethiopian people, but also for other European countries because when countries are without help, the country it asks will later be without help also, in the same situation as the country asking for its help; “It is us today. It will be you tomorrow.” (Doc. 2.).It would be very helpful if a document on Italy was provided because it would help readers understand Italy’s attack on Ethiopia and also help the readers understand Document 2 more. Document 5 is in the point of view of the British. Document 5 states why the British Primer Minister, Neville Chamberlain, favored a policy of appeasement in dealing with Hitler at the Munich Conference in 1938. The main reason Chamberlain agreed to a policy of appeasement because he wanted to avoid war. Primer Minister Neville Chamberlain wanted a peaceful Europe and didn’t want conflict between European countries. He states that he is a “man of peace” (Doc.5) and “war is a fearful thing” (Doc.5). It would also be more helpful if there was a document on Germany’s and Italy’s views of the Munich Agreement because analyzing whether appeasement or collective security was the most effective response to aggression is more difficult if only two of the “Big Four”(Doc.4) state their opinions.

In conclusion, collective security was the most effective response to aggression because more countries disagreed and were against Germany because it was threatening the peace of Europe. England, Britain, and America were against Germany acquiring land from Czechoslovakia while the Primer Minister Neville Chamberlain favored it in order to avoid war. Adolf Hitler used propaganda to maintain his power and influence people to make him and his Reith stronger. The world plunged into World War II in 1939 because of Germany, Hitler, and the Munich Agreement.





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