Brief Review in Global History and Geography

Roots of Conflict: The World at War

Document-Based Essay

This task is designed to test your ability to work with historical documents and is based on the accompanying documents (1–8). Some of the documents have been edited for the purposes of this question. As you analyze the documents, take into account both the source of each document and any point of view that may be presented in the document.

Directions: Read the documents in Part A and answer the questions after each document. Then, read the directions for Part B and write your essay.

Type in your answers in the text boxes following each question below. You can then e-mail them to your teacher.

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Historical Context: The first half of the twentieth century was shaped by two global conflicts.

Task: Using information from the documents and your knowledge of global history and geography, write an essay in which you compare and contrast the causes of World War I and World War II.


Document #1

The Triple Alliance, 1882
The Triple Alliance, 1882

1. What countries were members of the Triple Alliance?

Document #2

Germany Increases Its Military Strength
Germany Increases Its Military Strength

2. How do Germany's actions exemplify the steps taken by several European powers before the outbreak of World War I?

Document #3

"No I am not sorry. I have cleared an evil out of the way. He [Franz Ferdinand] is a German and an enemy of the South Slavs. He treated them badly. … Every day a high treason trial. Every day it went worse with our people. They are impoverished. … I killed him and I am not sorry. … I regarded him as an energetic man who as ruler would have carried through definite ideas and reforms which stood in our way. … For union [of the South Slavs] one must sacrifice many lives, and it was for this reason that Franz Ferdinand fell. Nevertheless, the main motive which guided me in my deed was: the avenging of the Serbian people. … I am a nationalist. I aimed to free the [Yugoslavs]. For I am a [Yugoslav]. This is to come from intimidation—from above. … As far as Serbia is concerned, it is her duty to free us, as Italy freed her Italians."
—Gavrilo Princip, testimony at his trial for murder and treason (October 1914)

3. What role did nationalism play in Princip's actions?

Document #4

  • Germany must give up all of its colonies to the Allies, who will divide them amongst themselves.
  • The German army will be limited to 100,000 volunteers. Military conscription is forbidden.
  • Germany must accept total blame and responsibility for starting the war, as well as all damages caused by the war.
  • Germany must pay $33 billion in reparations to the Allies.

—Provisions of the Treaty of Versailles (1919)

4. How did the Treaty of Versailles affect Germany?

Document #5

Axis alliance

5. What countries formed the Axis alliance in 1936?

Document #6

"Germany has an annual increase in population of nearly nine hundred thousand souls [people]. The difficulty of feeding … [these] new citizens must grow greater year to year and ultimately [finally] end in catastrophe, unless ways and means are found to forestall [keep away] the danger of starvation and misery in time. …
     The National Socialist movement must strive to eliminate [end] the disproportion [difference] between our population and our area … between our historical past and the hopelessness of our present impotence [powerlessness]. …
     We National Socialists must hold unflinchingly [firmly] to our aim in foreign policy, namely, to secure for the German people the land and soil to which they are entitled on this earth."
— Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf (1923)

6. How does Hitler suggest he will use imperialism to solve the problem of Germany's rising population?

Document #7


7. With what characteristics of the Italian fascist state would Hitler agree?

Document #8

"Before a new world appears, there must be a deadly fight between the powers of the West and the East. This theory is realized in the American challenge to Japan. The strongest country in Asia is Japan and the strongest country that represents Europe is America. … these two countries are destined to fight. Only God knows when it will be."
—Okawa Shumei, member, Japanese Army General Staff (1925); quoted in Iris Chang, The Rape of Nanking (1997)

     "War with America is inevitable … a war of decision in which we can devote ourselves to the great task of unifying the world."
—Ishiara Kanji (1930); quoted in Michael Montgomery, Imperialist Japan (1987)

8. What did Okawa Shumei and Ishiara Kanji think about future relations between Japan and the United States?


Directions: Using information from the documents provided and your knowledge of United States history, write a well-organized essay that includes an introduction, several paragraphs, and a conclusion.

Historical Context: The first half of the twentieth century was shaped by two global conflicts.

Task: Using information from the documents and your knowledge of global history and geography, write an essay in which you:

Compare and contrast the causes of World War I and World War II.

Guidelines: When writing your essay, be sure to

  • address all aspects of the Task by accurately analyzing and interpreting at least four documents.
  • incorporate information from the documents in the body of the essay.
  • incorporate relevant outside information throughout the essay.
  • richly support the theme with relevant facts, examples, and details.
  • write a well-developed essay that consistently demonstrates a logical and clean plan of organization.
  • introduce the theme by establishing a framework that is beyond a simple restatement of the Task or Historical Context and conclude the essay with a summation of the theme.

When you're done, your answers to your teacher.