The Great Powers of Europe in the 1930s

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  • Created on: 02-04-13 08:35
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THE MID 1930s
1. What dilemmas did Britain and France face in the mid 1930s?
The dilemma of how to deal with the deterioration of the international situation
Neither possessed sufficient economic or military strength to assert their
influence decisively when challenged
They also faced the dilemmas of defending large and geographically
dispersed empire
"We are a very rich and very vulnerable Empire" ­ Neville
British and French strategy was greatly complicated by the fact that their
empires were so farflung (unlike Germany and Japan etc.)
Thus, the powers were forced to adopt a worldwide strategy
2. Why had relations between Britain and France been "cool" in the early 1930s?
Britain was wary of French ambitions while the French were disappointed at
the way that Britain had withdrawn from direct involvement in Europe at the
end of the war
Britain was unfriendly towards the French imperial ambitions in the Middle
East and was not averse to some sort of colonial settlement in Germany
France in turn had proved uncooperative during the economic crisis and was
held to bear much of the blame for the collapse of the international credit
system in 1931
In 1932, Permanent Secretary of the British Foreign Office, Vansittart,
complained that France had `virtually attained the very thing that we have
traditionally sought to avoid in Europe, hegemony, if not dictatorship, political
and financial'
Chamberlain's private view that France `never can keep a secret for more than
half an hour, nor a government for more than nine months'
Until 1939, the British remained sceptical of France's value as an ally
3. What strategy did France adopt in the face of the increased German threat?
In the absence of enforceable collective security, France looked towards a
system of firm alliances to restrain Germany.
It was based on one major consideration: the need to find firm guarantees for
security in the event of the revival of German power.
Twofront containment of Germany ­ establishing a network of alliances,
some of them carrying military agreements, with the new states of Eastern
Little Entente with Poland 1921, Czechoslovakia 1924, Romania 1926 and
Yugoslavia 1927
For the League and collective action
4. What strategy did Britain adopt in the face of the increased German threat?
They aimed to steer clear of any commitment with France until 1939
Avoiding alliances in general ­ adopting an isolationist stance
Alliances were a `clear diplomatic liability'

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Felt it best to adopt pragmatic and flexible approaches to problems as they
Avoided commitment with central and southeastern European countries
Winning over enemies with realistic and reasonable policies
`Commitment to international morality'
Chamberlain's 1937 `balance of risks'
Too firm a commitment in one part of the globe might disturb the balance in
the other
5.…read more

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Why were both Britain and France in a weak position in the 1930s?
Their policy of appeasement required a level of strength that France and
Britain did not have, therefore it would be hard to take a stand against
They had been weakened by the war (especially France) and then weakened
by the global depression in 1929
11.…read more

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Why did the Soviets not move closer to Britain and France in the mid 1930s?
Despite seeing Germany and Japan as the greatest threat, Soviet leaders did
not draw closer to Britain and France partly from fear of alienating Germany
and Japan still further (partly from a belief that the western powers were
facing serious economic crisis and could not be trusted to honour and
bargain struck).
The Soviets aimed to keep out of the international arena.…read more


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