German Foreign Policy 1933-1939

  • Created by: Lozza8
  • Created on: 17-05-15 22:19

Cautious beginnings 1933-1935


  • Hitler was careful in his foreign policy as he wanted to be considered a peacemaker rather than a warmonger, and wanted to increase his power within Germany first, taking no chances while Germany was building up its military strength.

First move

  • 1933- withdrew Germany from the Disarmament Conference and the League of Nations, making it clear that Germany intended to rearm. However, Hitler wanted to prove he was not contemplating war, thus in 1934- he signed a non-aggression pact with Poland, demonstrating Germany had no hostile intention against its neighbours.
  • 1934- Luftwaffe (German airforce) was set up, which angered Britain, France and Italy, making them join together in the Stresa Front of 1935- Germany was left alone and made vulnerable.
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Gathering pace 1935-1937

Treaties with the Soviet Union

  • 1935- France and Czechoslovakia made treaties with the Soviet Union.
  • Hitler had two answers to this; first, he made a naval agreement with Britain allowing Germany to start building warships but allowed Britain a huge superiority in naval power. Second, he tore up the Treaty of Versailled by sending three battalions of German soldiers to reoccupy the Rhineland, this expected immediate French resistance. However, nothing happened, neither France nor Britain wanted to take any action, which might result in a war with Germany.
  • As a result, Hitler achieved success, as his policy proved generally popular with the German people. The French were now weaker military, while the Germans were able to start work on their own fortifications in the west, the Siegfried Line.

Germany and Italy

  • 1936-Hitler went further, making an agreement with Italy, forming the Rome-Berlin Axis. Hitler also set up the Anti-Comintern Pact against the Soviet Union, which was joined in 1936 by Japan and 1937 by Italy. Germany was no longer isolated, thus Hitler was able to move onto the next stage.
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Union with Austria 1938


  • Hitler had always intended to unite Austria with Germany. However, Italy and the Treaty of Versailles stood in his way. Although, Mussolini (Italian dictator) was able to solve the first problem after becoming involved in wars between Abyssinia and Spain, thus losing interest in Austria. To solve the second problem, Hitler again decided to defy the Treaty of Versailled at the earliest opportunity.

Independent Austria

  • 1930s-Austrian Nazis constantly stirring up trouble for Austrian Government. 1934- they assinated Austrian Chancellor. 1938-Schuschnigg tried to persuade Hitler to guarentee Austria would remain independant, as he feared Austria would soon be swallowed up by Germany. In response to this, he announced a referendum to give Austria to continue as a seperate state, however, this was cancelled on Hitler's orders.
  • Schuschnigg resigned and a Nazi was appointed. He immediately invited Hitler to send German troops over to invade Austria. The unification of Austria and Nazi Germany (Anschluss) gave the chance of belonging to a major power once again, and proved to be extremely popular.
  • Hitler's calculation that the Allied would do nothing was correct; France was going through a crisis of leadership and Britain again felt that Hitler's demands were not entirely unreasonable.
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Towards War 1938-1939

1938 and appeasement

  • 1938- the policy of appeasement towards Hitler from Britain and France meant that they let him have whatever they considered necessary for the preservation of peace in Europe.
  • 1938-Crisis of the Sudetenland (border area of Czechoslovakia containing 3.5m Germans); Hitler insisted that the Sudetenland should be given to Germany and threatened to go to war over it if necessary. President of Czechoslovakia asked France and the Soviet Union for help, however, the USSR would do nothing without France, and the British priminister (Chamberlain) persuaded France to stay out of trouble, as he feared if any country assisted Czechoslovakia, Europe would be plunged into war.
  • Munich Agreement 1938- Chamberlain became the peacemaker and visited Hitler three times. This lead to himself, Hitler, Mussolini and the French Priminister signing this agreement, which gave Hitler the Sudetenland and in return there would be no war. No more demands.
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Towards War 1938-1939 x2

1939 and war

  • Within less than a year Britain and France abandoned appeasement and stood up to Hitler as he had gone beyond his original aim of absorbing only Germans into the Reich, e.g. Hitler went beyond the Munich Agreement in 1939 by invading the rest of Bohemia, he was now taking over non-Germans for the first time.
  • Hitler then demanded land from Poland, in which Britain and France promised Poland support. However, Hitler did not believe Britain and France were serious, thus he now inended to go ahead with an invasion of Poland and become complacent. Although, Hitler did take a precaution.
  • August 1939- German Foreign Minister signed a non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union, by which Germany and the USSR agreed not to go to war with eachother. They also secretly decided to divide Poland between them.
  • This showed the change in Stalin's mind, as before 1939 he had hoped that Britain and France would stand firm in resisting Hitler, however, he now too believed they would do nothing, thus he made his own agreements with Germany.
  • The pact came as a terrible blow to Britain and France. Hitler crossed Polish borders on 1st September 1939, thus Britain and France declared war on Germany on 2 and 3 September.
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