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The Drift to War in Europe 1933-39
Transcript of The Drift to War in Europe 1933-39
Hitler's Foreign Policy
Examine how Hitler's foreign policy led to WW2.
Soon after Hitler came to power, he had major success in the Saar plebiscite (vote of the people).
The Saar, a coal producing area had been given to France in the Treaty of Versailles for 15 years.
At the end of that time, in 1934, the people of the Saar voted to become part of Germany again.
But Hitler also suffered an early failure.His first attempt at uniting Austria with Germany (Anschluss) failed when Mussolini opposed him.
Mssolini feared that he would lose the land that he gained in the Paris Peace Conference, Mussolini rushed troops to the Austrian border and Hitler had to back down.
Early Success and Failure
From 1935 onwards, Hitl moved more quickly in foreign policy.
He broke the Treaty of Versailles by introducing conscription and beginning submarine construction.
Germany made an agreement with Britain whereby the number of warships they could build was limited. However, there was no limit on submarines.
Destroying the Treaty of Versailles
In 1936, Hitler took a great gamble by sending German troops to reoccupy the Rhineland.
The Treaty of Versailles forbade this. Hitler took a gamble, he decided that the Bitish wanted peace and that the French would not act alone.
This was a very important success for Hitler. It gave him the confidence to carry on with a bolder policy.
The Rhineland Re-militarised
Hitler's Relations with Mussolini
Soon after the reoccupation of the Rhineland, two events brought Hitler and Mussolini closer together - the Italian invasion of Abyssinia and the Spanish Civil War.
When Mussolini invaded Abyssinia, he was criticised by The League of Nations and all other major powers, except Germany.
In the Spanish Civil War, Italy and Germany co-operasted even more.
The good relations led to the Rome-Berlin Axis in 1936.
This agreement was important because it allowed Hitler to proceed with the annexation of Austria.
Union With Austria 1938
Hitler had always intended to unite Austria with Germany.
This was prevented by the Treaty of Versailles.
He knew if he united the two countries Britain and France would not interfere.
He forced the appointment of a Nazi as Chancellor of Austria.
The Austrian government now invited Hitler to take over Austria.
When German troops marched into the country, Britain and France took no action, and Mussolini did not object.
Hitler Goes Unchallenged
Why didn't the British take action?
The British government followed a policy of appeasement in relation to Hitler and Germany.
The government believed that if they gave in to Hitler's demands, they would prevent war.
Neville Chamberlain the British Prime Minister was responsible for this policy.
Many British leaders felt that Germany was treated too harshly in the Treaty of Versailles.
France would not act against Germany on its own.
France built the Maginot Line - a huge system of fortifications along its eastern border with Germany.
The French believed that this defensive line would prevent a German attack.
The United States was not prepared to help either Britain of France, because it was following a policy of isolation.
It hoped to avoid another war by not getting involved in another countries disputes.
The greatest test for British and French policy towards Germany came over Czechslovakiaand here the policy failed.
The Sudetenland was a German speaking part of Czechslovakia that contained about 3 million Germans.
Hitler demanded that the areas be united with Germany, but the Czech government resisted.
France supported action in favour of Czechslovakia, but Britain were more cautious.
War between Germeny and Czechslovakia seemed likely.
The Munich Conference
In September 1938, the leaders of the four major European countries - Hitler, Chamberlain, Mussolini and Daladier (France) - met at the Munich Conference to solve the problem.
The leaders agreed to force Czechslovakia to hand over the Sudetenland to Germany.
At the Munich Conference Hitler assured the other leaders that he had no further demands for territory.
But six months later in March 1939, Hitler took over the rest of Czechslovakia.
This actiononstrates appeasement was a failure.
Britain changed its policy and sped up re-armament.
The Nazi-Soviet Pact - Hitler and Stalin Agree
Britain and France were surprised at Hitler's next move.
Nazism and Communism were bitter enemies. But Hitler and Stalin did not want to fight each other yet.
They signed the Nazi - Soviet Pact in 1939.
They agreed to a ten year non aggression pact (they agreed not to attack each other).
They also agreed to divide Poland between them.
The pact helped both Stalin and Hitler.
Stalin expected that Hitler would attack some time in the future. The pact allowed him more time to prepare the Soviet army for war.
The agreement also allowed Hitler to attack Poland without the Soviet Union intervening.
The Polish Corridor
Hitler then turned his attention to Poland.
The Polish Corridor separated Germany from one of its provinces, East Prussia.
It was the only piece of land taken from Germany at Versailles that Hitler had yet to recover.
At 11.30 am on 31 August 1939, Hitler issued orders for war against Poland.