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Canada and World War 2

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The NAZIs in 1930

In the early 1930s, while Canada was in the midst of the Depression, across the Atlantic in Germany, events leading to war were taking place.

While Canadians were looking for jobs, places to stay, and ways to get out of the Depression, Germans were doing the same; They searched for jobs, places to live, and they even elected a new dictator.

Adolf Hitler.

Adolf Hitler promised to bring them out of the Depression, saying Communists and Jews were the ones to blame for it. He even had a group of "followers"; The NAZIs.

While Hitler began to take control over Germany, he began to expand into all of Europe in the early 1930s. So why did Canada not take notice of these events until 1939? For six reasons:

Memories of World War I - Memories of World War I were still fresh on everyone's mind. The last thing many Canadians wanted to think about was another war in Europe.

Pacifism - Pacifism was beginning to make an appearance in Canada. Many Canadians were disillusioned with war and worked to promote peace. Many people tried to get the House of Commons to declare Canada's neutrality in case of any future wars. The pacifists, however, were no match for the dictators in Europe.

The Great Depression - Canada was in the midst of the Great Depression. Over a million Canadians were still on relief and looking for jobs. Foreign affairs seemed to be irrelevant to Canadians who were concerned about jobs, shelter, food, and clothes.

Isolationism - Canada, as well as the United States, were following a policy of isolationism. Canada had joined the League of Nations, but never wanted to play a major role in it. When Italy invaded Ethiopia in 1935, a Minister of Justice declared, "No interest in Ethiopia, of any nature whatsoever, is worth the life of a single Canadian citizen."

Political Leadership - Canada's foreign affairs were mainly carried by the Prime Minister, Mackenzie King. King was afraid a war would divide the country as it had during World War I. King also wanted to protect Canada's autonomy it had gained from Britain.

Appeasment - King had begun to follow appeasement, and even approved of it in the Munich Agreement of 1938. King had misjudged Hitler's character in 1938; he had even visited him in 1937! King noted that Adolf Hitler was "a man of deep sincerity and a genuine patriot. He was a simple sort of peasant, not velry intelligent and no serious danger to anyone." His observations were inaccurate and a factor in Canada's lack of readiness for war.

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Created by Sarah Lucas. Final History Assignment 2005-2006.