Have as many of the following resources available for students in class or in the library as possible.


The best simulation is based on good research. At the least, students need to examine and compare and weigh the analyses of different interpretations of the origins of the war, both in Europe and in Asia.

Items to use as a starting point:

William Shirer, Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, is a 'traditional' view. Given Hitler, says Shirer, there could be no peace.

Winston Churchill, The Gathering Storm, Vol. I of his epic history of the Second World War, is exceptionally readable and tells a story similar to Shirer's. Students should evaluate this item carefully and critically as written after the fact by a major participant.

AJP Taylor, Origins of the Second World War, is absolutely opposed to Shirer. Hitler stumbled into war, and would have done anything to prevent it.

Joachim Fest, Hitler, tends to support Taylor's view. Fest has a tremendous understanding of the situation in Germany in the 1930's, and of the personality of Hitler. A quick and short version is in Fest's The Face of the Third Reich.

John Toland, Hitler, is less of a psychological study of Hitler than is the Fest but tends to support the Fest view.

Sir Alan Bullock, Hitler, in between the Taylor and the Fest. Later articles by Bullock move toward the Taylor view.

Liddell Hart, History of the Second World War, shows in the first chapter that Germany was not militarily strong in late 1939, compared to England and France. This raises a question about Hitler's real thinking: If he wanted to go to war and really planned to, why was the German army so limited in September 1939?

Norman Rich, Hitler's War Aims, says Hitler was concerned mostly about building an empire for Germany in Eastern Europe and Russia, and that these goals were tied to destroying 'the Jewish conspiracy,' and the communist state in Russia, a part of that conspiracy as Hitler understood it.

"Protocols of the Elders of Zion" is the basic document in Hitler's thinking about the Jewish-communist conspiracy.

Henry Ford, The International Jew. This is the Henry Ford of the American Model T fame. He promoted the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" in this book which he published and calculated in the United States.

Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, are Hitler's writings as of the early 1920's.

John Toland, The Rising Sun, gives an overview of the Japanese situation and decision making in the 1920's and 30's especially related to Japanese foreign policy during this period.

Jawaharlal Nehru, The Discovery of India, gives a good overview of the growing desire for independence of colonial peoples.

Keith Eubank, editor, World War 11: Roots and Causes, has a number of selections from longer articles and books debating the issues about the origins of the war.


"Ghandi" (the motion picture) gives a very clear view of imperialism from the Indian viewpoint.

Frank Capra, "Why We Fight" (series of films financed by the American government to promote the war effort) shows the American view of the causes of the war, as told to the public during the war. These might be compared to "The Triumph of the Will," Hitler's classic 1934 film (and, as the source of some of Capra's footage, a good comparative study has been produced) Students might be interested to know that the American government would not allow the American public to see "Triumph" until some years after the war was over.


Churchill Archives Centre
For speeches by the major European leaders on September 1 and 2, 1939

WWII: Early Campaigns

Text of the Nazi-Soviet Pact

The National Archives of the United States
NARA has its own search engine for captured German documents dealing with the origin of the second world war. The Archives also has American documents dealing with American and British relations in 1939, at the start of the war in Europe.

Russia Today
A growing number of Soviet documents are at Russia Today. Many of the documents have only fairly recently been released, and so are not really gathered as of yet. Thus, students can do some really original research.

Conclusion Questions for discussion and/or essay writing:

What were the major issues blocking peace?

What were the separate and distinct interests of the different groups?

What would you share with negotiators from the US Government to the Middle East, Bosnia, Russia, Africa, about the difficulties of coming to a peace agreement?

Could World War II in Europe have been prevented?

What seems to have been the crucial point (the 'fail safe' point) in the beginning of the second world war in Europe --before which, peace could have been obtained; after which, it was too late?