Could World War II Have Been Prevented?

Britain and France's political approach to Germany in the aftermath of World War I likely opened the door for the aggression that caused World War II, according to the Stanford History Education Group. There is no way of knowing if a different approach could have resulted in a different outcome, but it can be argued that British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain's policy of appeasement emboldened German leadership's desire to gain territory.

Germany was punished harshly for its actions in World War I, and the Treaty of Versailles, the official document that ended that war and settled debts and disagreements between the combatants, laid a heavy burden on that nation. When Adolf Hitler came to power soon after WWI ended, he wished to rectify some of what Germany perceived to be an unjust degree of punishment laid out in the Treaty of Versailles. He also had a stated goal of uniting all German speakers in Europe under a single flag. British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, hoping to avoid another devastating war, approached Hitler with a policy of appeasement, giving in to what seemed to be a limited and reasonable set of demands in hopes of preventing further conflict. Unfortunately, this plan seemingly backfired, and it arguably opened the door for Hitler's army to march through in an effort to take control of Europe, kicking off World War II.