World War II Lecture #1: The Causes of World War II (1919-1939)


An episode of collective madness orchestrated by three lunatic dictators, World War II had three main causes at its root. The first was “the German problem” that dominated Europe from the rise of the kaisers in 1871 through World War I. Adolf Hitler made that nationalist arrogance an even bigger problem when he added the energizing but destructive Nazi ideology to Germany’s politics and culture. And he used both of those pokers of pride to stoke the fire of lingering anger over how World War I ended for the Germans. Learn more about those factors that influenced World War II, as well as the agendas behind it and the depth of destruction that resulted, in debut episode of our series.

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The enormity of World War II in history is staggering. It encompassed 17 different wars, included conflict on every continent, and led to three great holocausts in Germany, China and Russia. Fifty million to 70 million people were killed, more than in any other war or any other event in European history since the Bubonic plague. “World War II permeates history in the 20th century, and it permeates the past, present and future of Western civilizations,” says Victor Davis Hanson. Explore the war through his insights in our six-part lecture series.


This product is Lecture #1 in a six-episode series on World War II. It is online streaming video sold through