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What Effects The Wall Street Crash And Great Depression Had On Ww2?

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#1 ruthie

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Posted 05 May 2008 - 02:27 PM

I have to an essay on the causes of WW2 and have very little info on this bit of the topic. Could anyone please tell me a little more about it? Like, how it affected Europe as a whole? Thanks

#2 MrJohnDClare

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Posted 05 May 2008 - 08:29 PM

I think the answer to this is: 'not in any simplistic way'!

On the other hand, it is hard to imagine that the Great Depression did not start some developments which oscillated out of control eventually and contributed towards the war.

The politicians who manoeuvred and conspired and eventually ended up leading the world into war, did so in the world of the 1930s Depression. It is impossible to see how they could not be affected by the depression happening all around them.

I have addressed this in a simplistic way here: http://www.johndclar..._Depression.htm

But as to actual tangible links, suddenly you are knocking.
The most tangible connection is that Japan started building her co-prosperity sphere in the Pacific as a direct and explicit response to the depression - but that was not what led to the attack on Pearl Harbour.
Equally, German and Italian territorial expansion, and German rearmament, were a response to nationalistic, not economic determinants.

Indeed, it is very difficult to see any identifiable, measurable links between the Great Depression and the five causes WWII identified on this GCSE summary webpage.
It certainly had nothing to do with the failures of the ToV
The collapse of the LoN may have taken place duringte Great Depression, and certainly Japanese expansion was involved in the Manchuria crisis, but the underlyign causes were clearly political rather than economic.
It is possible to ascribed some of British appeasement to the depression, an Britain's lack of economic ability to rearm - but then I think it is difficult to argue that this was a very important cause of appeasement - rather it was the excuse they used because they wanted to appease Hitler for pcifist and right-wing reasons. When they eventually decided to rearm, they found it easy enough to find the money to do so.
And Hitler certainly was helped to power by the Depression, but his foreign policy was based upon ideological, not economic, grounds.

All in all, I think you would probably find it easier to argue that the Great Depression was NOT a direct cause of war than that it was.

'It formed the backdrop' is porbably your best bet.

I found little on the web. This abstract from one of those paprs you can buy was interesting:

The Great Depression and World War II, 2006.
A paper looking at the extent to which the Great Depression may have caused WWII.
2,412 words (approx. 9.6 pages), 5 sources, MLA, $ 73.95
Click here to show/hide summary

This paper attempts to explain the connection between the Great Depression and WWII by looking at how the Great Depression was brought to an end and what factors led to the outbreak of World War II, including the United States' entry into the conflict. The paper also explains that the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the immediate entry of the United States into the conflict was separate from the events unfolding in Europe. The paper concludes that the Great Depression did indeed contribute to the outbreak of WWII because, while it was a very real and burdensome economic catastrophe, the Great Depression's real significance was that it caused aggression to be overlooked until it had escalated to such enormous proportions that the only way to halt its spread was armed conflict.

From the Paper
"The end result of a world engulfed in decades of conflict was war. But as any study of history shows, conflicts do not always escalate into wars. Economic uncertainty and monetary depression do not always lead to war either. In recent years, the stock market has fallen more dramatically than the fateful dive on Black Thursday of 1929. Yet it certainly didn't result in war and barely even caused a blip on the nation's economic graphs. What must be pointed out is that the wide economic fluctuations of recent years have not occurred in a world society ravaged by conflict. Various areas of the world are always in conflict at varying times but not the widespread conquests for power that occurred just prior to World War II. So the question remains, "Did the Great Depression contribute to the outbreak of World War II, and if it did, to what extent?" It is this intersection of economic collapse and worldwide conflict that led to the outbreak of war, and on this point, the Depression contributed significantly."

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