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Taylor's Analysis of the Origins of the Second World War

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Why did A.J.P Taylor's analysis of the origins of the Second World War cause such controversy among historians ?

A.J.P Taylor was alive during the world war means that he had first hand experience of the political and social climate of that time.This provides us with an invaluable source for people today having a historian analyze the events. His personal life involved brushing with key bolsheviks, numerous socialists and nationalist, this exposure certainly contributed to the way Taylor rationalizes and interprets.

When A.J.P Taylor first published The Origins of the Second World War in 1961 it raised a storm of controversy. One of the reasons for this could be that at the time of its publication many of the survivors were still alive, still reeling from the trauma and mourning their losses. For many the book angered many viewing Taylor as a Nazi sympathizer , however closer inspection of the book reveals that he simply acknowledged Hitlers contribution to foreign policy. He shocked even more explaining that Hitler should not be held completely responsible for the war , that there was a bigger picture to this containing more key players.He describes the war as "a war which had been implicit since the moment the first war ended"1. Taylor suggests that the origin of the war was that it was part of a bugger picture and that many people were obliviously to what was happening in the shadows. In his book he says "not only to demonstrate the war-guilt of the men on trial, but also to conceal that of the prosecuting Powers... The verdict preceded the tribunal; and the documents were brought in to sustain a conclusion which had already been settled "2His aversion to the Nuremberg trials deepens his controversy as many people thought that he was simply saying that they shouldn't be held accountable. However this was another miscommunication as he simply thought the documents chosen specifically was bias and completely one sided. This goes against Taylor's ideals as a liberal and honest historian. A.J.P Taylor continues his controversial tirade by comparing Hitler to Chamberlain, in terms of ambition, however without the anti semitic aspects. Taylor was now directly attacking and blaming foreign policies and treaties for the war the most famous being Versailles. The criticism of the treaty of Versailles garnered a lot of support for Hitler , but there were many others that Taylor viewed as a stepping stone towards war. In no way though does this mean that Taylor supported Hitler at all or any of his views.

Taylor also reinstates that disregarding the obvious Hitler was a normal German man in his policies, that he was like any other statesmen hoping to better Germany.

In his book he argues that war isn't unique at all and that the war was not caused by the clashing of liberal and fascist views. That it wasn't black and white



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