To rearm Germany and recover its lost territories.
To unite all German-speaking people under his rule.
To expand in the east to gain Lebensraum(living space) for the German people.
To achive all these aima Hitler argued that it would be necessary to:
- destroy the power of France
- Win the friendship of Italy
- become an ally of Britain - by agreeing on control of colonies they disputed
Hitler withdrew Germany from the World Disarmamet Conference in 1933 as no other country was prepared to disarm.
He claimed he wanted peace and was prepared to disarm if others did the same.
Hitler re-introduced conscription on the grounds that other countries were increasing their arms and Germany need to be able to defend itself. (although this was against the Treaty of Versailles no Powers were prepared to do anything about it).
Britain even supported Germany's right to rearm, allowing germany to build a navy as long as it was no more than 35% of the British navy (naval agreement).
The British attitude was that if there was to be no agreement on disarmament, it was necessary to get an agreement on the one area that mattered to Britain - the navy.
The re-militarisation of the Rhineland,1936
Rhineland - demilitarised zone under Treaty of Versailles. It was still part of Germany, but no German troops were allowed there.
This was to prevent a suprise attack on France.
On 7th March 1936 Hitler ordered his troops to march into the Rhineland. As this was a clear breach of the Treaty of Versailles, Hilter feared that Britain and France would try to stop him.
Although France was angry nothing was done because France was unwilling to act alone and Britain was unwilling to act as hitler was only 'marching into his own backyard'.
This action encouraged Hitler to continue pursuing his policies.
Was the Rhineland a missed oppurtunity?
The re-militarisation of the Rhineland is seen as the last chance to oppose Hitler without going to war.
Germany's army was too weak to fight France in 1936 and Hitler realised he had taken a chance. So why was he not resisted?
- France would not act without the support of Britain.
- The British government didn't think Hitler was doing anything wrong so was not prepared to go to war to stop him.
- Britain and France were more worried that Mussolini's army had invaded Abysinnia had done little to stop him
Hitler noticed the reluctance to the League to punish Mussolini and correctly calculated that no action would be taken against him.
The League of Nations condemned Hitler's actions but did nothing about it.
Hitler offered to make a peace treaty that would last for 35 years. This was his way of calming those who wanted peace, at the same time as getting his way.
British government - treaty of versailles unfair. righting wrongs would keep peace
Preparation for Anschluss, 1934-38
The joining together of Austria and Germany was forbidden under the Treaty of Versailles.
However it was important to Hitler to have all German-speaking people united under his rule.
He tried to take control of Austria in 1914 after Austrian Nazis murdered the Austrian Chancellor.
They were prevented by the future chancellor and the opposition of Mussolini. Mussollini's threats forced the Nazis to back down and prevented Hitler from interfering.
When the Spanish Civil war broke out Hitler and Mussloini supported the facist General France.Hitler used the Spanish Civil war to give his troops battle experience.
This war brought Hitler and Mussolini closer together and led to the signing of the Rome-Berlin axis, later followed by the Anti-Comintern pact (to prevent the spread of communism).
The stage was set for Hitler's next step...
The annexation of Austria, 1938
Hitler ordered Austrian Nazis to begin campaigning for union with Germany. Riots and demonstrations followed.
The Austrain chancellor tried to arrange a plebiscite among Austrian people. Hitler moved troops to the border to prevent this from happening.
The chancellor resigned and a leading Nazi who he had been forced to put in place invited the Nazis in to restore order.
The Nazis imprisoned over 80,000 oponents of Hitler. Hitler then entered Austria in triumph and a union with Austria was estabilished on 14 March 1938.
An effectively meaningless plebiscite was held resulting in 99.75% agreeing with the Anshluss.
Hitler's sucsess another victory for his diplomacy. There was no opposition from Britain and France because they were reluctant to take any action which might lead to war.
Although plebiscite result influenced by Nazis - many Austrians wanted the unification.
He now looked to Czechoslovakia as his next target...