History - Hitler's Foreign Policy and the Origins of WWII

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  • Created on: 09-09-14 20:57

Background to Peace

-Woodrow Wilson, President, designed "14 Points" issued in January 1918

-Settlement was idealistic and for a moral cause designed to ensure postwar peace in Europe

-Copies of it were dropped behind German lines so Germans were aware. In retaliation, March 1918, Germans staged the Ludendorf springs offensive and nearly won

-March 1918 Germans imposed brutal peace treaties on Romania and Russia (e.g. the Treaty of Brest-Litousk)

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Woodrow Wilson's 14 Points

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What the Germans Disliked

-Treaty of Versailles as it didn't fit with 14 Points and they described it as "Diktat" meaning it was dictated to them on a take it or lose it basis

-The Polish Corridor as it meant they lost West Prussia and Posen, which were German and so inhabitants would be persecuted or feel they had to leave. Germany still owned East Prussia and it seemed stupid for part of Germany to be separated by Poland

-After war, last thing Germany wants is for its colonies to be taken away. After losing resources from Silesia and the Saar, they struggled to pay things like war pension

-Germans saw the Anshluss being forbidden as unfair as it was denying them self-determination

-Complained that colonies had been taken with the excuse that they were being prepared for independence

-Demilitarisation of Rhineland was seen as unfair as it was impossible for them to defend that area so although they still own it, they can't defend it.

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What the Germans Disliked

-Complained that limiting the army to 100,000 men was not enough as they wouldn't be able to defend their country or even stop serious internal unrest

-The War Guilt Clause, where the blame of the war had been placed on Germany and her allies, was unfair as the war had had further complications

Reparations of £6.6 billion were outrageous. They said they couldn't pay it and it would destroy their economy

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The Treaty of Versailles

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Making the Peace - "The Big Three"

-The BIg Three show varying specifics about what they wanted from/for Germany:

-Georges Clemenceau (French Prime-Minister):

-Wanted Alsace-Lorraine back

-High reparations

-Arms limitation on Germany

-Originally France wanted the Rhineland but settled for demilitarisation

-Poincare (French President) had wanted Germany split up into states but this was soon abandoned as too extreme

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Making the Peace - "The Big Three"

-David Lloyd George (Prime-Minister of Britain):

-High reparations, but not crippling

-Wants German colonies

-Significant, but not crippling, arms limitations particularly Naval ones

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Making the Peace - "The Big Three"

-Woodrow Wilson (American President):

-No territorial ambitions in Europe or beyond

-"Peace Without Victory"

-Approved of German disarmament but thought everyone should follow

-Reparations - not mentioned in the 14 Points at all (Although they were added after the Ludendorff Spring Offensive)

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Hitler's Aims - The Treaty of Versailles

-Treaty kept reminding Germans of their defeat in the First World War and their humiliation by the allies

-Hitler promised that if he became leader of Germany he would reverse it

-By the time Germany had Hitler in power, some terms had been changed e.g. Germany had stopped making reparation payments altogether

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Hitler's Aims - Expand German Territory

-Three aspects of this territorial expansions were:

-Hitler wanted o get back territory that had been taken away in the Treaty of Versailles

-He wanted German minorities in other countries such as Czechoslovakia to rejoin Germany

-He wanted to carve out an empire in Eastern Europe to give extra Lebensraum or living space for Germans - Hitler saw Lebensraum coming from the east, particularly Russia and the border states subject to her

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Hitler's Aims - Defeat Communism

-Hitler was anti-Communist as a matter of political principle

-He believed that Bolshevism had helped cause German defeat in WWI by encouraging German armed forces to rebel in 1918

-Bad things about Bolshevik's: (according to Hitler)

-Wiped out millions of intelligent countrymen in Russia

-Conducting the most tyrannous regimes of all time

-From a race of bestial cruelty - the Jews

-They aim to dominate and control Germany

-Hitler said that the lands taken over by Germany must be Jew-free

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Hitler's Aims - Re-armament

-Hitler began secretly drafting unemployed men into the German army as soon as he got to power

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The Events - League of Nations disarmament Confere

Stages Hitler went through to end German involvement:

1)Made a clear statement at the conference, pointing out that no other countries had disarmed during the 1920's and made the other states feel uncomfortable on the issue

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

3)June 1933 Britain produced an ambitious disarmament plan but it was rejected by the conference

4)October 1933 Hitler withdrew from the disarmament conference, and soon after took Germany out of the League altogether

-It was clever as Hitler did it subtly because he knew rearmament would cause alarm in other countries. He made offers to seem reasonable

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The Events - Non-aggression Pact with Poland (1934

-Pact agreed not to use force in settling disputes

-This strengthened Hitler's position as it gave him time and space to rearm and it also weakened the alliance between Poland and France

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The Events - Re-introduction of Conscription (Marc

-Other nations allowed Hitler to get away with rearmament as they had sympathy with Germany on the issue as they thought the limits put on Germany's armed forces were too tight

-An excuse Hitler gave for bringing in conscription was that the French had just started a two year period of conscription

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The Events - Anglo-German Naval Agreement (1935)

-Agreement allowed Germans to increase its navy to up to 35% of the size of the British army

-This made the French angry but it also undermined the Treaty of Versailles

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The Return of the Saar 1935

-Saar region of Germany had been run by the League of Nations since 1919

-In 1935, the league held the promised plebiscite for people to vote on whether their region should return to German rule

-Vote was a success for Hitler, around 90% of the population voted to return to German rule

-This was entirely legal and within the terms of the treaty. It was also a real moral booster for Hitler

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Remilitarisation of the Rhineland (March 1936)

-This was a huge gamble for Hitler as if he had been forced to withdraw, he would have faced humiliation and would have lost the support of the German army

-As France had just signed a treaty with the USSR to protect each other against attack from Germany, Hitler used the agreement to claim that Germany was under threat. He argued that in the face of such a threat, he should be allowed to place his troops on his own frontier

-Hitler knew that many people in Britain felt that he had a right to station his troops in the Rhineland and he was fairly confident that Britain would not intervene

-Hitler's commanders had orders to pull out if the French acted against them as Germany's army was no match for the French army as it lacked essential equipment and air support

-Hitler got away with this as the League of Nations' attention was on the Abyssinian crisis

-Furthermore, the French were about to hold an election and none of the French leaders were prepared to take responsibility for plunging France into war.

-They refused to help without British support so Hitler's gamble paid off

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Anschluss with Austria (1938)

-Some Austrians might have supported union with Germany because most Austrian people were German and since Austria was so economically weak, they supported the Nazis

-In 1934, Hitler had tried to take over Austria, but on that occasion Mussolini had stopped him. Four years later, in 1938, the situation had changed: Hitler and Mussolini were now allies

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Hitler's Steps for Anschluss

1) There was a strong Nazi party in Austria

2) Hitler encouraged Nazis to stir up trouble for the government

3) They staged demonstrations calling for union with Germany. They caused riots

4) Hitler told the Austrian chancellor Schuschnigg that only Anschluss could solve there problems

5) He pressurised Schuschnigg to agree to Anschluss

6) Schuschnigg asked for help from France and Britain, but was refused it

7) He called a plebiscite to see what the people wanted

8) Hitler wasn't prepared to risk this so he sent his troops into Austria March 1938 supposedly to guarantee a trouble-free plebiscite

9) Under the watchful eye of the Nazi troops, 99.75% voted for Anschluss

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The Sudetenland 1938

-Hitler promised Chamberlain that Czechoslovakia has nothing to fear

-Hitler wanted the Sudetenland as this new state, created by the Treaty of Versailles, included a large number of Germans, former subjects of Austria-Hungary

-Heinlein was the leader of the Nazis in the Sudetenland. He stirred up trouble among the Sudetenland germans and he demanded to be part of Germany

-Czechoslovakia would have potentially been less of a pushover than Austria because Britain, France and the USSR had all promised to support Czechoslovakia. Furthermore, the Czechs had a modern army and the leader, Benes, was prepared to fight

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The Munich Crisis

-September 15th 1938, Chamberlain flew to meet Hitler

-Hitler agreed to accept that he would get those parts of the Sudetenland where over 50% of the population voted to join Germany

-The British and French put the Czechs under intense pressure and compelled them to agree

-September 22nd, Chamberlain met Hitler at Godesberg only to find that Hitler now wanted to be given the whole Sudetenland, because he claimed that the Sudeten Germans were being mistreated. He would "rescue" them by 1st October

-Chamberlain said Hitler was being unreasonable; the British Navy was mobilised; war seemed imminent

-September 29th, The Munich Agreement: Chamberlain/Hitler/Mussolini/Daladier (France) agreed to give Hitler the Sudetenland. They did not consult the Czechs of the Russians

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The Destruction of Czechoslovakia

1938, they lost:

-The Sudetenland (Munich Agreement) Oct 1938

-Teschen (taken by Poland) Oct 1938

-Slovak border areas and Ruthenium (taken by Hungary) Nov 1938-Mar 1939

1939, they lost:

-The rest of the country (taken by Germany) Mar 1939

Hitler offered no excuse for his actions because there wasn't one; Appeasement was dead and Britain and France gave guarantees to Poland

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The Nazi-Soviet Pact

Hitler's attitude to Russia and Communists:

-Hitler had openly stated his interests in conquering the Russian land
-He had denounced communism and imprisoned and killed communists in Germany

Stalin's disappointment with the League of Nations:

-Stalin had joined the league in 1934
-He hoped that the league would guarantee his security against the threat from Germany
-All he saw at the league was its powerlessness when Mussolini invaded Abyssinia and when Italy and Germany intervened in the Spanish Civil War

Russia's Concerns over the Munich Agreement:

-Stalin had not been consulted about it
-He concluded that France and Britain were powerless to stop Hitler, or worse, that they were happy for him to take over Eastern Europe and the the USSR

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The Nazi-Soviet Pact

The signing of the pact:

-Stalin decided to sign a pact with Germany to buy himself time

-In Aug 1939, Molotov and Ribbentrop (the Russian and German Foreign Ministers) signed a non-aggression pact

-They agreed that Poland would be shared between them

-The Nazi-Soviet Pact was surprising as the German Nazis and Russian Communists were sworn enemies

Why did Stalin sign?

-He was not convinced that Britain and France would be strong and reliable enough as allies against Hitler

-He had designs on sections of Eastern Poland and wanted to take over the Baltic states, which had been part of Russia in the Tsar's day

-He didn't believe that Hitler would keep his word, but hoped for time to build up his forces against the attack he knew would come

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The Invasion of Poland 1939

-The Nazi-Soviet pact meant that Hitler was now free to invade Poland without fear of Russia

-On the 1st September 1939, German troops invaded Poland

-Hitler gambled that, as with Czechoslovakia, Britain and France would not go to war to defend Poland

-However, he was wrong - Britain and France demanded that Germany with draw

-When Hitler refused, they declared was on Germany

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-The policy of Appeasement: The British government in the mid to late 1930's hoped to avoid a war with Nazi Germany. They gave into a series of demands made by Hitler. They hoped he would be satisfied and stop being aggressive and invading other countries

Appeasement - to give into a demand, then no more will be made

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Arguments FOR Appeasement

-Britain did not have allies, who were prepared to fight with her against Germany in 1938

-A strong Germany was not such a bad idea, because Hitler was ready to fight Communism

-Appeasement gave Britain time to rearm. In 1938, Britain's army was small and weapons old

-Peace was very precious. After horrors of WWI, Chamberlain needed to avoid another war

-British people didn't want was in 1938, they supported Chamberlain's policy

-Hitler's demands were not unreasonable, he was just putting right unfair parts of the Treaty of Versailles

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Arguments AGAINST Appeasement

-Appeasement worried countries in Eastern Europe, if Britain and France weren't prepared to fight for the Czechs, then would they defend other countries

-Appeasement was Naive, Hitler had always intended to conquer Eastern Europe

-Chamberlain was weak, he was unwilling to make tough decisions

-Appeasement did not prevent war, it just put it off

-Appeasement gave Germany time to build more weapons

-Appeasement encouraged Hitler to be aggressive, as it made him think Britain would do anything to avoid war

-Appeasement made Germany stronger, in taking over land Germany got the factories ad raw materials it needed

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Responsibility of the War

AJP Taylor argues that the outbreak of owed as much to the "faults and failures of European Statesmen as it did to Hitler's ambitions.

Most Historians disagree because:

-it was Hitler's ambitions and determination to transform the basis of European society which caused war in 1939

-although it was not the war Hitler was planning for, evidence suggests Hitler was aiming to prepare Germany for a massive conflict with Russia in the 1940's

-the war was unquestionably provoked by Hitler's relentless pursuit of policies based on "race and space"

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