Hitler's Foreign Policy and the Origins of the Second World War

explaining everything that happened from Hitler's aims to what Hitler actually did and the outbreak of the Second World War

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  • Created on: 18-02-12 13:32

Hitler's aims in foreign policy

Abolish the Treaty of Versailles

  • Many Germans and Hitler believed that the Treaty of Versailles was unjust
  • He hated the Treaty and called the Germans who signed it "The November Criminals"
  • The Treaty was a constant reminder to 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 he came to power some of the terms had already been changed e.g. Germany had stopped paying reparations, restore Germany's pride
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Expand Germany's Territory

  • The Treaty of Versailles had taken away territory from Germany
  • He wanted to unite with Austria
  • He wanted other minorities in other countries such as Czechoslovakia to rejoin Germany (wants to unite all German-speaking people)
  • Carve out an empire in eastern Europe to give extra living space for Germans "Lebensraum" - living space e.g. Poland, East Prussia, Austria, Czechoslovakia
  • Hitler thought the Germans were the Master Race (superior)
  • He thought the Master Race were all Aryans
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Defeat Communism

  • A German empire carved out of the Soviet Union would also help Hitler in one of his objectives - the defeat of Communism or Bolshevism (Russian Communism)
  • Hitler was anti-communist
  • He believed that Bolsheviks helped to bring about the defeat of Germany in the First World War
  • He also believed that they wanted to take over Germany
  • German empire would be called the "Third Reich"
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The Munich Putsch, 1923

  • By November 1923 Hitler believed that the moment had come for him to topple the Wiemar government
  • The government was preoccupied with the economic crisis
  • Government = Wiemar Republic
  • Hitler impressed the judges that he and his accomplices got off very lightly
  • Hitler was only given 5 years in prison, even though legal guidelines said high treason should carry a life sentence
  • In the end, Hitler only served 9 months of the sentence


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  • In 1924, Hitler used his time in prison to write an autobiography, Mein Kampf (my struggle), which clarified and presented his ideas about Germany's future
  • While he was in prison he came to a conclusion that the Nazis would not be able to seize power by force. He would have to be elected
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German Rearmament

  • In 1926 Germany had been allowed to join the League of Nations
  • In October 1933 Hitler withdrew Germany from the League and from the Disarmament Conference
  • This suggests that Hitler's intention was to rearm
  • His excuse for rearming was that other countries in particular France were not disarming so he needs to rearm
  • In March 1935 Germany introduced conscription
    • The number of warships in 1932 = 30, in 1939 = 95
    • The number of aircraft in 1932 = 36, in 1939 = 8,250
    • The number of soldiers in 1932 = 100,000, in 1939 = 950,000
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Why did Britain and France not act?

  • Many people in Britain thought that the Treaty was unfair and should be changed
  • The French wanted to enforce the Treaty but couldn't do anything without Britain's help
  • By early 1936 the Stresa Pact had collapsed and Italy had started to form an alliance with Germany
  • Even if you decided you had to stop Germany how would you do it without provoking something worse?
  • In 1934 USSR (Soviet Union) joined the League because they were afraid of a strong Germany
  • Britain was more worried about Communism in USSR
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Ten-year non-aggression Pact

  • In 1934 Hitler signed a Ten-year non-aggression pact with Poland, which guaranteed the boundaries of Poland
  • In forming the non-aggression pact with Poland, Hitler broke with tradition
  • Relations between Germany and Poland had never been particularly good
  • The pact was to keep up the appearance of non-aggression and buy Germany time for rearmament
  • However, this satisfied the Poles that Hitler would not try to take back the Polish Corridor
  • This pleased Britain, who saw it as further proof that Hitler's aims were peaceful, as it meant that Germany had accepted the frontier with Poland set up at Versailles
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Failed Anschluss

  • Later in 1934 Hitler encouraged the Austrian Nazi Party to rebel and this resulted in the murder of the Austrian Chancellor, Dollfuss
  • It looked as if Hitler's aim of the reunification of Germany and Austria (Anschluss) was going to be achieved
  • But it was prevented by Mussolini moving his army to the frontier of Austria and guaranteeing Austrian independence
  • Hitler realised that his army was not strong enough, so he backed down and denied any involvement with the Austrian Nazi Party
  • Hitler hadn't fully rearmed yet or introduced conscription
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Anglo-German Naval Agreement and Rearmament

  • More successful for Hitler, but Britain helping to dismantle the Treaty by signing the Anglo-German Naval Agreement in 1935 which the French were angry about, but there was little they could do
  • Hitler's willingness to sign it was further proof of Britain's peaceful intentions
  • The Treaty limited the German navy to 35% of the strength of the British fleet, but did not include submarines
  • By signing this agreement, Britain had agreed to Germany rearming
  • Britain felt that if there was to be no agreement on disarmament, then it was important for Britain to limit the size of the German navy
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  • It was a success for Hitler because the agreement weakened the Stresa Front as Britain had not consulted France and Italy, and it led to Germany proceeding with rearmament without opposition
  • By 1938 the German army had reached around 800,000, the navy had 47 U-boats and the air force had over 2,000 aircraft
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The Return of the Saar

  • In January 1935 a plebiscite was held in the Saar to decide whether it should remain under the control of the League of Nations, return to Germany or join France
  • The Saar was inhabited by the Germans, so the result was never in any doubt
  • 90% voted to rejoin Germany
  • 8% wanted to remain under the control of the League
  • 2% wanted to join France
  • Nazi propaganda made great use of this
  • Victory in the plebiscite was publicised as the removal of one of the injustices of Versailles
  • It was greeted with great celebration in Germany
  • Hitler announced to the World that all cause of grievance between France and Germany had now been removed
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  • The return of the Saar was not illegal
  • Hitler had kept within the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, which had provided for a plebiscite to be helped after 15 years
  • The coal in the Saar is going to make Germany great
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The Remilitarisation of the Rhineland - March 1936

  • On 7 March 1936, Hitler took his first big risk by moving troops into the Rhineland area of Germany
  • This was against the Treaty of Versailles and the Locarno Pact, which the German government had willingly signed in 1925
  • Hitler followed up the remilitarisation with promises that Germany would sign a 25-year non-aggression pact and had no further territorial ambitions in Europe
  • Britain, France and the League of Nations should have acted against Germany
  • Germany was condemned by the League but, when a vote was cast, only Soviet Russia voted in favour of imposing sanctions on Germany


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  • France had signed a Treaty with the USSR to protect each other against attack from Germany called "Mutual Assistance Pact"
  • Hitler was gambling whether he got the Rhineland or not - however Germany was prepared to pull out because France had a bigger army
  • The Germans in the Rhineland welcomed the soldiers
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  • No action was taken against Hitler because Britain and France were occupied about Mussolini's invasion of Abyssinia
  • The French government was divided and not prepared to act without the support of Britain. However, what could Britain do
  • Britain felt that Hitler was doing nothing wrong
  • The Treaty of Versailles was unjust and therefore Hitler was right to change it
  • Germany was only moving troops into its own territory. It was not like Mussolini, who had invaded another country
  • No one wanted war and people took far more notice of Hitler's promises
  • At the end of March, Hitler held a vote in Germany on his policies: 99% of those who voted were in favour of them
  • Hitler created jobs, in and outside of Germany
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Results of Remilitarisation

  • Hitler's confidence rose due to him successfully reversing the Treaty of Versailles. The main remaining territorial grievance of Versailles was Danzig and the Polish corridor
  • Hitler's position in Germany had been strengthened. He had proved to be right and his army and ministers wrong. Although his ministers opposed, he held his nerve and was successful
  • It led to the signing of the Rome-Berlin Axis with Mussolini. Italy and Germany were to cooperate in their support for the fascist General Franco in the Spanish Civil War of 1936-39. This gave Hitler an opportunity to test his armed forces, weapons and tactics and gave both German and Italian troops experience of War.
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  • The remilitarisation of the Rhineland followed by the signing of the Rome-Berlin Axis meant the end of the attempts of Britain and France to keep Mussolini as an ally against Hitler. Both countries had shown their unwillingness to oppose the aggression of the dictators
  • There was some movement towards rearmament in Britain
  • French security was not affected because the French had begun the building of the Maginot Line, a vast series of fortifications on the border between France and Germany
  • Together with the Abyssinian Crisis, it marked the end of the League of Nations as a means of keeping peace
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Why did Hitler want Anschluss

  • The union of Austria and Germany (Anschluss) had been forbidden by the Treaty of Versailles.
  • Hitler was born within the boundaries of Austria and had stated in Mein Kampf that he felt the rightful place of Austria was in a union with Germany
    • The Austrian people were mainly German - unite all German-speaking people
    • Resources, e.g. army, economic resources - iron, steel, gold, iron ore
    • Broke Treaty of St Germain and Versailles - shown how powerful Hitler is and getting support
    • Makes Czechoslovakia vulnerable
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Why was he able to achieve it?

  • In 1934 the Austrian Nazis, encouraged by Hitler, had tried to seize power after the murder of the Austrian Chancellor Dollfuss
  • But on that occasion Mussolini had stopped him. Mussolini had been prepared to give support to Austria
  • By 1938, the situation had changed: Mussolini was now allied with Germany and occupied in the Spanish Civil War, so he was unlikely to give help to Austria
  • Hitler and Mussolini were allied through the Rome-Berlin Axis
  • One of Hitler's aims was to unite all German-speaking people under his leadership, and the Austrians were German-speaking
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  • The Nazi Party remained strong in Austria and early in 1938 there were rumours of another Nazi plot to overthrow the Austrian government
  • The Austrian Chancellor, Schuschnigg, appealed to Hitler for help to end the plotting
  • Hitler refused and, instead of helping, he put pressure on Schuschnigg and forced him to appoint Seyss-Inquart, the leader of the Nazi Party in Austria, as Minister of the Interior, in charge of the police force
  • This was followed by a series of riots and demonstrations by the Nazis in Austria, encouraged by Hitler
  • In spite of his position, Seyss-Inquart supported the demonstrations and did nothing to stop them
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  • Schuschnigg made a bold move to end the disturbances and try and save the independence of Austria
  • He called a plebiscite on whether the Austrian people wanted to remain independent or not. This alarmed Hitler
  • There were many Austrians who favoured the Anschluss because they felt that the Austrian economy was too weak to remain independent, but Hitler was not prepared to take the risk
  • It was clear to everyone that Schuschnigg had defied Hitler by calling the plebiscite without his permission and he could not afford anything other than an overwhelming vote in favour of unification with Germany
  • To make certain that he got this, he kept in control, Hitler moved German troops to the border and forced Schuschnigg to call off the plebiscite and resign from office
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  • All through the crisis, Schuschnigg had probably expected Britain and France to give assistance to Austria
  • When it was clear that this was not going to happen and wanting to avoid bloodshed, Schuschnigg resigned
  • Hitler didn't invade Austria
  • Seyss-Inquart replaced Schuschnigg as Chancellor and invited the Germans into Austria to restore order
  • The German army entered on 12 March 1938
  • First of all, opponents of Hitler were eliminated - including Schuschnigg
  • Around 80,000 were rounded up and placed in concentration camps
  • Seyss-Inquart handed over power to Hitler and Anschluss was proclaimed
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  • On 14 March Hitler processed in triumph through Vienna. Hitler goes to Austria
  • This was followed by a plebiscite in April in which 99.75% of voters agreed to the Anschluss
  • Hitler could claim that he was only fulfilling the idea of self-determination expresses in Woodrow Wilson's 14 Points - (Good Propaganda)


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  • Britain and France protested but did nothing; the League of Nations was not consulted
  • Although Anschluss was against the Treaty of Versailles, Britain had sympathy with Germany because the Austrians were German-speaking and German in tradition and culture; moreover the Austrians had shown what they wanted in the plebiscite
  • The British government also feared Communism in the USSR more than it did Nazism and welcomed a strong Germany because it saw it as a barrier to the USSR and Communism
  • Hitler's anti-communist beliefs strengthened this view
  • Once Austria and Germany are united they are called Greater Germany
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Anti - Comintern Pact, 1936-37

Fascist - Germany, Japan, Italy


Soviet Union (USSR) - Communist

The aim of the pact was to limit Communist influence around the world. It was particularly aimed at the USSR which was communist and Hitler wanted to wipe out Communism

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Results of Anschluss

  • A triumph for Germany - Hitler now had the resources of Austria at his disposal. This included the army as well as economic resources of iron and steel
  • Another "injustice" to Germany of the Treaty of Versailles had been overcome without opposition. Hitler's confidence continued to grow
  • Germany now possessed land on three sides of the Western part of Czechoslovakia - the Sudetenland - which was inhabited by over 3 million German-speaking people
  • It proved the value of Hitler's alliance with Mussolini
  • Anschluss was not unpopular in Austria. Although the plebiscite results were exaggerated by the Nazi presence, many Austrians welcomed being joined to the glory of the new Germany
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  • Czechoslovakia looked to be in danger from Germany after the Anschluss due to it being virtually surrounded by Germany, so now for Germany it would be an easier country to obtain
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Why did Britain and France follow a policy of Appe

Appeasement: the name given to the policy of attempting to avoid war by making concessions to avoid war. It is particularly associated with British policy towards Hitler in the 1930s.

This policy is always associated with Neville Chamberlain, Prime Minister (1837 - 1940). However appeasement probably started before this, e.g. The Anglo-German naval Agreement in June 1935.

Stanley Baldwin was Prime Minister before Neville, so actually appeasement started when he was PM.

They were both from the Conservative group.


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Reasons for Appeasement

At least Hitler is standing up to Communism (Fear, Public Opinion)

  • Hitler was not the only concern of Britain and its allies
  • They were more concerned about the spread of Communism and particularly about the dangers to world peace posed by Stalin, the new leader in the USSR
  • Many saw Hitler as the buffer to the threat of spreading Communism

The attitude of Britain's Empire (Public Opinion)

  • It was not at all certain that British Empire and Communism states (e.g. Canada) would support a war against Germany
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The USA will not support us if we stand up to Hitler (Economic, Military Reasons, Fear)

  • American leaders were determined not to be dragged into another war
  • Could Britain and her allies face up to Germany without the guarantee of American support?

We must not repeat the horrors of the Great war (Fear, Public Opinion)

  • Both British and French leaders vividly remembered the horrific experiences of the First World War
  • They wished to avoid war at almost any cost
  • E.g. Spanish Civil War - bombing in Guernica
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Britain is not ready for war (Military, Economic Reasons)

  • The British government believed that the armed forces were not ready for war against Hitler

Our own Economic problems are a higher priority (Economic Reasons)

  • Britain and France were still suffering from the effects of the Depression
  • They had large debts and huge unemployment


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Hitler is right - The Treaty of Versailles is unfair (Public Opinion)

  • Many felt that the Treaty was unfair to Germany
  • They assumed that once these wrongs were put right then Germany would become a peaceful nation again
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What was wrong with Appeasement

It encouraged Hitler to be aggressive

  • With hindsight, you can see that each gamble he got away with encouraged him to take a bigger risk

It allowed Germany to grow too strong

  • With hindsight, you can see that Germany was not only recovering lost ground: it was also becoming much more powerful than Britain or France


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It scared the USSR

  • With hindsight, you can see how the policy alarmed the USSR
  • Hitler made no secret of his plans to expand eastwards
  • Appeasement sent the message to the Soviet Union that Britain and France would not stand in Hitler's way

It put too much trust in Hitler's promises

  • With hindsight, you can see that Hitler often went back on his promises
  • Appeasement was based on the mistaken idea that Hitler was trustworthy
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The Sudetenland 1938, Which country was most worri

  • Czechoslovakia, unlike the leaders of Britain and France, Edvard Beneš, the leader of Czechoslovakia, was horrified by the Anschluss
  • He realised that Czechoslovakia would be the next country on Hitler's list for takeover
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Do you think that Beneš was reassured by the guara

  • Beneš probably knew that Britain and France were not prepared to stand up to Hitler
  • Even though Britain and France said that they would defend Czechoslovakia if Hitler invaded
  • In the past there was no evidence that they stood up e.g. the Rhineland
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Why did Hitler want to take over Czechoslovakia

  • Chamberlain asked Hitler whether he had designs on Czechoslovakia and was reassured by Hitler's promise - Despite what he said to Chamberlain, Hitler did have designs on Czechoslovakia
  • Czechoslovakia was inhabited by 3 million German-speaking people
  • It had strong, well-fortifies frontiers especially in the west
  • Hitler had always hated the Czechs as he saw them as members of the Slav Untermenschen - the sub-humans - and inferior to Germans
  • Czechoslovakia had defeated the Germans in 1934, 3:1 in football world cup


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  • Beneš knew that without the Sudetenland and its forts, railways and industries, Czechoslovakia would be defenceless
  • Bordering Poland, so it would be easier to take over
  • More raw materials e.g. iron and steel. Skoda armaments factory in Czechoslovakia
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What excuse could Hitler use to intervene in Czech

  • The Sudeten Germans were the excuse
  • Hitler encouraged Henlein (who was the leader of the Nazis in the Sudetenland), to stir up trouble - to campaign for independence and riots broke out
  • Hitler promised Henlein that he could depend on the support of Germany
  • In May 1938, Hitler made it clear that he intended to fight Czechoslovakia if necessary
  • There is considerable evidence that the German army was not at all ready for war
  • Even so the news put Europe on full war alert
  • He claimed it was self-determination and Germans being badly treated by the government in the Sudetenland
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Why should Czechoslovakia be a more difficult coun

  • Unlike Austria, Czechoslovakia would be no walk-over for Hitler
  • Britain, France and the USSR had all promised to support Czechoslovakia if it came to war
  • The Czechs themselves had a modern army
  • Beneš was prepared to fight, he knew that without the Sudetenland and its forts, railways and industries, Czechoslovakia would be defenceless
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Why were tensions so high in Europe over the summe

  • All through the summer the tension rose in Europe
  • If there was a war, people expected that it would bring heavy bombing of civilians as had happened in the Spanish Civil War, and in cities around Britain councils began digging air-raid shelters
  • Magazines carried advertisements for air-raid protection and gas masks
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What happened at the first two meetings between Hi

  • On 15th September 1938, Chamberlain flew to Germany to find out what Hitler wanted and met him at Berchtesgaden
  • The meeting appeared to go well
  • Hitler moderated his demands, saying he was only interested in parts of the Sudetenland - and then only if a plebiscite showed that the Sudeten Germans wanted to join Germany
  • Hitler told Chamberlain that he wanted all German-speaking parts of the Sudetenland to join Germany
  • Chamberlain thought this was reasonable
  • He felt it was yet another of the Treaty of Versailles that needed to be addresses
  • Chamberlain seemed convnced that if Hitler got what he wanted, he would at last be satisfied
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  • Chamberlain got the support of France for this and Britain and France forced President Beneš of Czechoslovakia to accept the deal. 
  • Beneš realised that if he could not demand on the support of Britain and France if Hitler invaded; only Soviet-Russia promised to help Czechoslovakia
  • On 19 September the French and the British put to the Czechs their plans to give Hitler the parts of the Sudetenland that he wanted
  • Chamberlain then returned to Germany and, on 22 September, met Hitler at Godesberg
  • Hitler was taken by surprise; he did not expect Chamberlain to persuade France and Czechoslovakia to accept his demands. So he asked for more
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  • He said he "regretted" that the previously arranged terms were not enough
  • To justify his demands, he claimed that the Czech government was mistreating the Germans in the Sudetenland and that he intended to "rescue" them by 1 October
  • Chamberlain told Hitler that his demands were unreasonable
  • Hitler wanted all the Sudetenland.T
  • here would be no plebiscites
  • Chamberlain, disappointed, returned to London and Britain prepared for war
  • In London, preparations were made for defence against air raids: trenches were dug, children evacuated and gas masks given out


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  • It was at this moment that Chamberlain received a note from Hitler inviting him to a conference of four powers to be held in Munich
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Why was a final meeting held at Munich on 29th Sep

  • With Mussolini's help, a final meeting was held in Munich on 29 September
  • While Europe held its breath, four powers were represented at this conference: Chamberlain, Hitler, Mussolini and Daladier (France)
  • No representatives from Czechoslovakia or the USSR were invited
  • On 29 September they decided to give Hitler what he wanted
  • They announced that Czechoslovakia was to lose the Sudetenland
  • They did not consult the Czechs, nor did they consult the USSR
  • This is known as the Munich Agreement
  • Hitler said the Sudetenland was "last territorial land"
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What did Hitler and Chamberlain sign on September

  • At Munich on 30 September it was agreed that the Sudetenland would become German
  • Britain and France guaranteed the remaining part of Czechoslovakia
  • The Czechs were forced to accept this
  • Chamberlain then met Hitler privately and Hitler agreed to a declaration that Britain and Germany would never go to war again and that consultation not war would solve all future disagreements between them
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What happened on October 1st 1938

  • Chamberlain returned to Britain with a piece of paper in his hand with Hitler's signature on it declaring that Britain and Germany would never go to war again
  • Also German troops marched into the Sudetenland
  • At the same time, Hungary and Poland helped themselves to Czech territory where the Hungarians and Poles were living
  • The Czechs had been betrayed
  • Beneš resigned on the 5th
  • But the rest of Europe breathed a sigh of relief Chamberlain received a hero's welcome back in Britain, when he returned with the "piece of paper" - the agreement - signed by Hitler
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  • Chamberlain probably received a "hero's welcome", because it seemed he had bought peace, there would be no war. Before people were panicking and so people were relieved when there was peace
  • The Munich Agreement seemed to be a triumph because Chamberlain knew there would be a war bu knew Britain was not ready, so he put it off for a while. He bought more time to rearm
  • However Britain,France and Czechoslovakia could have tried to stop Hitler especially if they worked together
  • The mnain critic of the three was Churchill of the Munich Agreement
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The Collapse of Czechoslovakia (March 1939)

  • Czechoslovakia had been seriously weakened by the Munich Agreement
  • In early 1939 the Slovaks encouraged by Hitler started to press for independence
  • The Czech president Hacha then invited Hitler "in to restore order" as the country was almost in chaos
  • Hacha had no choice in this matter
  • As a result of this most of the rest of Czechoslovakia came under German control
  • Czechoslovakia people were not German-speaking people, so Hitler could not claim self-determination
  • Hitler has now moved into Lebensraum (living space)
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The effect of Hitler's takeover of Czechoslovakia

  • It marked the end of appeasement: Hitler could not justify taking Czechoslovakia. Hitler could not argue that he was reversing the wrongs of the Treaty of Versailles
  • Hitler had proved to Chamberlain that he would not be trusted Chamberlain felt personally upset with Hitler as  he not only broke the Munich Agreement but had also broken the promise personally with Chamberlain to consult Britain before taking action that could lead to war
  • Lithuania was forced to surrender the province of Memel, which had a mostly German population
  • Hitler made it clear that he wanted the restoration of Danzig
  • Britain did not help Czechoslovakia, but supported by France, signed an agreement with Poland promising to help Poland if it was invaded
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  • Mussolini, Hitler's ally, conquered Albania
  • Britain guaranteed the independence of Romania and Greece
  • Conscription was introduced into Britain during peace time
  • Hitler strengthened Mussolini by signing Pact of steel
    • Strong agreement between Hitler and Mussolini in May
  • Hitler withdrew Germany's non-aggression Pact of 1934 with Poland and the Anglo-German Naval Agreement of 1935
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The Nazi-Soviet Pact - August 24th 1939

NB: This can also be called the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and the 10 Year Non-Aggression Pact

By the 1930's Russia should be referred to as the Soviet Union or the USSR

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After Czechoslovakia which area of land did Hitler

  • After Czechoslovakia Hitler wanted the Polish Corridor and Danzig, where the German-speaking people are
  • Danzig was once part of Germany
  • It links Germany with East-Prussia
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Which country did he feel might stop him

  • USSR (Stalin)
  • Russia is to the East of Poland
  • Poland is in between Russia and Germany
  • Poland has some Russian-speaking people - Stalin has an interest
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Why was Stalin worried about Nazi Germany?

  • Hitler had openly stated his interest in conquering Russian land
  • Stalin had been very worried about the German threat to the Soviet Union ever since Hitler came to power in 1933
  • Hitler had denounced Communism and imprisoned and killed communists in Germany
  • Hitler calls the Russians Slavs, Russia is inferior to Germany
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What had Stalin done in the 1930s to give him more

  • Stalin had joined the League of Nations in 1934, hoping the League would guarantee his security against the threat from Germany
  • He signed a Treaty with France in 1935 that said France would help the USSR if Germany invaded the Soviet Union called the Mutual Assistance Pact
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Why was Stalin fearful and suspicious of Britain a

  • The Munich Agreement in 1938 increased Stalin's concerns
  • He was not consulted about it: Stalin concluded from the agreement that France and Britain were powerless to stop Hitler or, even worse, that they were happy for Hitler to take over eastern Europe and then the USSR
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Why was there no alliance between USSR, Britain an

  • Britain and France didn't like Communism, they wanted to keep their empire
  • They think it's worse then Fascism
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Why did Stalin sign the Nazi-Soviet Pact on August

  • They agreed not to attack one another
  • However, they didn't actually meet, it was the foreign minister from each country that agreed with Hitler's and Stalin's agreement
  • Privately, they also agreed to divide Poland between them 
  • Stalin was not convinced that Britain and France would be strong and reliable enough as allies against Hitler
  • He did not believe Hitler would keep his word, but he hoped for time to build up his forces against the attack he knew would come
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What did this pact say?

  • The USSR and Germany agreed not to interfere against the other power in the event of a war
  • Everyone (the world) knew that Hitler and Stalin signed a pact saying they would not fight for 10 years, the secret part was that they would divide Poland between them
  • Stalin also had designs on large sections of eastern Poland and wanted to take over the Boltic States (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania), and Finland which had been part of Russia in the Tsar's day
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Why did Hitler sign the Pact?

  • So the USSR couldn't sign a pact with Britain, and so Hitler could invade Poland
  • Hitler presumed it would prevent Britain from opposing his attack on Poland
  • Poland can offer no resistance
  • He thought Britain would back down as it had at Munich, especially as Danzig was clearly German and the Polish Corridor separated Germany from East Prussia
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How did this pact lead to the outbreak of War in E

  • It cleared the way for Germany's iinvasion of Poland
  • On 1 September (a week after Nzi-Soviet Pact, which was on 24 August), the German army invaded Poland from the west
  • On 17 September Soviet forces invaded Poland from the east
  • Poland soon fell
  • If Hitler was planning ahead at all, then in his mind the next move would surely be an attack against his temporary ally, the USSR
  • He was certain that Britain and France would not go to war over Poland
  • But Hitler's triumph was spoilt by a nasy surprise
  • Britainn and France did keep their pledge
  • On 2 September they declared war on Germany
  • Hitler had started a war, but it was not the war he had in mind
  • It was too soon and against the wrong opponents
  • Hitler had taken a gamble too many
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