Why was the Treaty of Versailles hated?
- Germany felt humiliated by the restrictions placed on its armed forces
- Many Germans were left outside of Germany
- hypocritical, because other countries got self-determination
- Hitler was Austrian, and Germany and Austria were forbidden to unite
- again, not self-determination
- Reparations ruined the German economy and caused hyperinflation
When Hitler was elected to power, he made no secret of his objective - to overturn the Treaty of Versailles.
Step 1 - Rearmament
- When Hitler became chancellor (1933) he began to rearm in secret.
- In 1935 he held a "Proclamation to Rearm" rally.
- In 1936 Hitler introduced conscription
- decreased unemployment
- restored German pride
No-one stopped him, because:
- they thought it was fair
- a strong Germany balanced out Russia and became a buffer to Communism
Step 2 - Re-militarisation of the Rhineland
- France signed an agreement with the USSR to protect each other from Germany
- Hitler used this to claim that Germany was being threatened.
- In 1936 he simply moved his troops into the Rhineland.
Nobody stopped this because:
- they thought it was fair
- general election was coming up in France
- no-one in France was bothered about Germany whilst they were fighting an election
- the League was busy in Abyssinia
Step 3 - Anschluss with Austria
Hitler was born in Austria and wanted to bring all the German-speaking people into one country "Volksgemeinschaft".
- In 1938 Austrian Nazi Party was encouraged to stir up trouble. Demonstrations were staged in Austria, calling for a union.
- Hitler told the Austrian chancellor that only an Anschluss would solve the problems.
- Chancellor appealed for help from Britain and France but they refused
- He called a plebiscite, and set the voting age to >25, so that young Nazis couldn't vote.
- Hitler was furious, and sent German troops into Austria to "guarantee a trouble-free plebiscite".
- 99.75% voted for an Anschluss
No-one stopped this because:
- Chamberlain thought it was fair
- Mussolini had stopped the Anschluss before, but by 1938 was on Hitler's side.
Step 4 - The Sudetenland
Lots of Germans lived in Czechoslovakia. The Sudetenland was rich in natural resources and the Czechoslovakian defences were there.Czechoslovakia contained the Skoda arms factory and lots of industry. If Hitler could get the Sudetenland without a fight, the rest would be easy as it had no defences.
- After the Anschluss, Czechoslovakia asked for guarantees from Britain and France for defence if Hitler attacked. They agreed.
- Nazis in Sudetenland stirred up trouble, saying Germans were being discriminated against.
- Europe began to prepare for war
- Chamberlain intervened, and agreed to give Hitler the Sudetenland if he promised not to use force and that he had no more territorial demands.
- They agreed, and Chamberlain said "I believe it is peace in our time".
- 93% of Britains didn't believe Hitler's promise. A few months later, Hitler invaded the rest of Czechoslovakia.