European Alliances, Wars, Dictatorships and Depression

The decades leading to World War I had unusual alignments. The European nations were still scrambling for Asia, Africa and parts of undeveloped Europe. The situations leading to World War I and the aftermath conditions showed that greed was still alive.

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Before the World War I, many European dominant nations were still conquering other empires to get as many colonies as possible. Others were looking for a means to consolidate their ethnic groups into one state or empire (Kagan et al. 830). For instance, the Balkans and the Slavic people were fighting to belong to one realm each. The international scene was full of treaties and alignments. The previous allies changed friends.

From 1890, there were new treaties. The German Empire emerged as a political broker under Bismarck. He was focused on creating peace and building the already balkanized nation. The Vienna Congress upset the balance of power by weakening France. Russia maintained the territory it had gained before the treaty but could not get more states. Germany became the axis of peace in Europe under Bismarck. The San Stefano treaty in March 1878 gave Russia more territories in the Ottoman Empire and among the Slavic.

The Congress of Berlin reviewed the San Stefano treaty. It raised tensions between Germany and Russia. Germany signed a treaty with Austria against Russia’s attack (Willingham 300). The Triple Alliance comprised of Austria, Germany, and Italy. Germany and Russia signed the Reinsurance Treaty to remain neutral against each other in case of an attack on either of them. William Kaisser II took over the throne and changed the German policy. He competed for Britain’s supremacy in naval war.

He did not continue with his predecessor’s arrangement with Russia. France formed an alliance with Russia to defend France against Germany (Kagan et al. 830). Britain and Japan formed an alliance. Russia joined them, and this left Germany isolated. It was the culmination of the First World War.

After the World War I, many countries had to grapple with the losses they got from the war. The fighting nations had to sign the Treaty of Versailles to end the war and consider rebuilding their countries. Adolf Hitler made the Germans believe that the treaty betrayed their country (Willingham 300). It destabilized the German economy and politics. The Weimar Republic provided more democratic space for the people than the previous monarchy.

The stock market crash in America brought down Germans who depended on America for loans. The increase in international tariffs also made the international trade worse for Germany. Hitler rallied the Nazi spirit on these failures (Willingham 300). When he took over, Hitler used the Nazis to eliminate any potential threat to his dictatorship. Hitler built a strong army and began preparations to fight the Allied Nations. He killed six million Jewish people in Germany.

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He convinced the German people that they belonged to a superior race and that they would rule the world. He also banished communism from Germany. Vladimir Lenin’s forces in Russia overthrew the government and adopted the communist style of governance (Kagan et al. 830). They spread the communist idea to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The capitalist nations did not want to intervene because they wanted to prevent another war.

After Lenin’s death, Joseph Stalin, who was a staunch supporter of communism, took over. Countries still wanted to dominate their neighbors. The lack of a mechanism to control the greed of strong nations led to World War I. The desire to create strong nations led to Nazism in Germany, communism in USSR, and Fascism in Italy. They were only building up forces for another war.

Works Cited

Kagan, Donald, Ozment Steven, Turner Frank and Frank Alison. The Western Heritage: Volume 2. 11th ed. New York, NY: Pearson, 2012. Print.

Willingham, Robert Allen. Jews in Leipzig, Germany under Nazism, Communism, and Democracy. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 2011. Print.

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