The Road to the Second World War

Ref: C2338763

Unlike the First World War, the Second’s origins are virtually incontestable. Beginning with Poland, this course examines how Germany, Britain and France’s recourse to war was determined by their own agendas and discusses appeasement in the context of Churchill's statement ‘It could have been prevented […] but no one would listen’.

Course aim

Beginning with Poland’s pursuit of independence, this course explores how Germany, Britain and France became involved in the most destructive war in history, outlining the concerns and circumstances that determined their road to war.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Examine the significance of the ‘Polish Corridor’ and why Poland was the first state to stand-up to Hitler.
  • Explain why there was such a widespread sense of German injustice in the wake of the Treaty of Versailles and why was Germany’s invasion of Poland presented as a legitimate action.
  • Discuss whether Britain was allegedly ‘sanely selfish’ and why the country’s patience ran-out with Germany.
  • Identify the dilemma of French foreign policy and why the country feared a repeat of history.
  • Understand the alternative interpretations of the policy of appeasement and the different motivations for it in Britain and France.

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor
  • You will be encouraged to share your work with the group and discuss your learning

What else do I need to know?

  • Nothing else is needed

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • Although optional, any of the texts recommended by the tutor would enhance the weekly group discussions and participants' personal development.

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Become involved with the WEA in a range of voluntary work and other activities including campaigning as a WEA member
  • Become involved as a volunteer for a WEA partner or another organisation
  • You could progress to Higher Education courses. Follow link to the PEARL website for information
  • Students could enhance their research skills through engagement in local and national commemorative projects.

Download full Course information sheet

The Road to the Second World War


You can if you meet all of the following requirements:

  • are paying the standard fee or are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • are paying with a credit/debit card or are not paying a fee because of a qualifying benefit
  • have a valid email address
  • have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2017
  • have read and accept the standard terms and conditions
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