What were the events that led up to World War 2 and how did they affect the war?
The events that led up to WWII are nearly all directly linked to what happened in WWI. The Treaty of Versailles left Germany paying reparations to other countries for what they did, and it left them with military restrictions (in fact, at the onset of WWII, Hitler had to completely recreate their once great Navy). It took a very large portion of their agricultural lands, which made it hard for Germany to pay off the debt. By the time all reparations were paid, Germany felt a boom in their economy, and then the U.S. took away their support, which once again left Germany alienated. In the time after WWI, Hitler had joined (initially as a spy) a German Working Man's party. His extremist views and enthusiasm quickly escalated him to leader of this party. The short boom in economy Germany had felt left the people of Germany unwilling to listen to extremist views, which dissolved Hitler's party as well as several others. With the now slowly breaking economy, Hitler took his chance and used his extremist views to eventually take control of the country. Hitler succeeded Hindenburg as leader of Germany on August 19, 1934.
The European countries underestimated the extent of Hitler's ambitions. He was well respected for single-handedly recreating the German economy, and no one thought he would actually spark another World War, especially after the horrible aftermath of the first. They were wrong. Britain and France both caved to Hitler's demands initially at the Munich Conference; they gave him back lands that had large German populations. The reason they caved in was, for one, Britain and France wouldn't stand up to Germany without the support of the other. Both of them were fearful of another World War, especially France, which had taken heavy casualties during that time. Hitler then began to re-militarize Germany, beginning with the rearmament of its citizens. He then re-militarized Rhineland, which had been free of military presence since WWI. By re-militarizing Rhineland, Hitler was able to put his military directly on the border of France. Once again, Britain and France wouldn't stand up to him without the support of the other; in truth, they could easily have defeated the small army of 30,000 men.
Hitler invaded the Soviet Union, making it all the way to Moscow before being stopped by Russian forces. Hitler knew of impending war and so he allied himself with the Soviet Union, which not only gave him more force but also gave him resources, which in the Soviet Union were plentiful. Again, this was good for Germany because of impending war. Hitler didn't want to be fighting Britain and France in the south and the Soviet Union in the east. The final act that truly started the war was when
the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany attacked neutral Poland, which forced both France and Britain to come to Poland's aid.