Failure of Disarmament in the 1930s

Why disarmament failed in the 1930s

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Disarmament Conference

In the 1930s there was increased pressure for the League of Nations to do something about disarmament - Germany was still furious that no other nations had been forced to disarm when they had

Because of the Manchurian Crisis the League realised they needed to do something so in Feburary 1932 the Disarmament Conference was under way

By July it had produced resolutions to prohibit bombing of civilians and chemical warfare and also limit the size of artillery and the tonnage of tanks - however, it was not said how this would be achieved and the ways of prohibiting this eg. not producing chemical warfare was not agreed to - this didn't look promising

However, there was a bigger problem - what to do about Germany. It had been in the League for 6 years and it was accepted that they would be treated more equally than in the Treaty of Versaillies

The big question was should Germany rearm up to the level of other countries or should the other nations disarm to the level of Germany - the first option was agreed could not happen but many people were reluctant at the second option too

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Timeline of Events in Germany

July 1932 - Germany tabled proposals for all countries to disarm down to its level - when the conference failed to agree they walked out

September 1932 - The British sent the Germans a note that went some way to agreeing equality but the superior tone of the note made the Germans angrier

December 1932 - An agreement was finally reached to treat Germany equally

January 1933 - Germany announced it was coming back

February 1933 - Hitler became Chancellor of Germany and immediately started to rearm Germany secretly

May 1933 - Hitler promised not to rearm Germany if 'in five years all other nations destroyed their arms'

June 1933 - Britain produced an ambitious disarmament plan

October 1933 - Hitler withdrew from the Disarmament Conference and soon after took Germany out of the League of Nations

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Failure of Disarmament

  • By now all the powers knew that Hitler was secretly rearming Germany so they also began to rebuild there armaments
  • Because of this the Disarmament Conference struggled for another year but then ended in 1934 as it was agreed it was pointless
  • The Conference failed for many reasons - some say it was doomed from the start as no one was serious about disarmament and others thought there were other factors at work
  • It didn't help that Britain and France - the two major powers of the League were divided on the issue as many British people thought the Treaty of Versailles was unfair
  • In 1935 the British signed a agreement with Germany saying they could build up there navy to 35% of the size of the British navy - Britain did not consult its allies or the League  about this
  • It looked like each country was looking after itself and its self interest and ignoring the League of Nations
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