KQ3: Why had international peace collapsed by 1939?

OCR history on KQ3 for the first section of paper 1.

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Long term causes of the peace treaties

  • peace treaties left nations dissatisfied with what they had lost or gained
  • Germany was most dissatisifed overall with the Treaty of Versailles
  • it led to the rise of Hitler and other militaristic leaders as people turned to extreme parties who would reverse the treaties
  • Hitler's aggressive demands e.g. desire for lebensraum (living space) threatened war in Europe
  • Britain and France used appeasement in order to preserve peace
  • overall: the peace treaties led to extremist parties getting into power who had aggressive foreign policies which led to war
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How Hitler destroyed the treaty

  • left Disarmament Conference in 1933 and quit the League of Nations
  • January 1935, people of Saar voted to rejoin Germany
  • March 1935 Hitler announced Germany had an airforce and conscription
  • June 1935, Anglo-German Naval Treaty signed - Germany could rebuild it's navy to 35% of Britain's navy
  • March 1936, remilitarisation of the Rhineland, Rome-Berlin Axis signed with Italy and Anti-Comintern Pacts signed with Italy and Japan - Germany developing friendships with other extremist and militaristic countries
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  • step one of Hitler's foreign policy: Austria
  • attempted coup by Nazis in 1934 - Austrian Chancellor Dolfuss was murdered and the coup failed as Mussolini wouldn't support it
  • January 1938 Austrian police discovered Nazi plot to take over the government
  • Schuschnigg (Chancellor of Austria) tried to appease Hitler by agreeing Nazis to join his government - hoped to preserve independence
  • Schuschnigg announced a plebiscite allowing Austrians to vote on whether to remain independent or not
  • Hitler was worried about the plebiscite and so invaded in March 1938
  • April 1938 the Austrians voted over 99% to approve Anschluss (union of Austria with Germany)
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  • border between Germany and Czechoslovakia is the Sudetenland - over 3 million Germans live there and Hitler demanded it be given to Germany
  • without the Sudetenland, Czechoslovakia would be defenceless
  • 1938, Chamberlain met Hitler to give him Sudetenland if done peacefully
  • a week later, they met again and Hitler demanded the Sudetenland much sooner than was agreed, if not then there would be war
  • 29th September 1938: Munich Conference where Chamberlain, Hitler, Daladier and Mussolini met to give Hitler what he demanded and the Czechs weren't allowed to join in the meeting - they were forced to agree
  • Hitler and Chamberlain signed a treaty and it was 'peace for out time'
  • March 1939, Hitler took over the rest of Czechoslovakia
  • it was clear that appeasement had failed
  • Britain promised Poland that if Hitler invaded, then Britain would guarantee its independence
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  • in the Treaty of Versailles, Germany had lost the Polish Corridor and Danzig - Hitler wanted these back
  • Hitler and Stalin signed the Nazi-Soviet Pact in August 1939 where they would split up Poland between them which was devastating for Poland
  • Hitler could now invade Poland without the interference of the Great Powers - Britain and France were too far away to intervene
  • Hitler invaded Poland on 1st September 1939
  • Britain and France were forced to declare war two days later
  • Britain had guaranteed Poland its independence but this did not save Poland - within three weeks, it ceased to exist
  • Britain had to declare war to remain a powerful country - if it did not stick to its word, then no other nation would take Britain seriously
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  • treaty was harsh on Germany - people had sympathy for Germany
  • it avoided war - memories of WW1 were fresh and no one wanted war again
  • at the time the threat of communism was more obvious than Hitler
  • Britain wasn't ready to fight - appeasement gave Britain time to rearm


  • it was morally wrong and other countries were destroyed e.g. Czechoslovakia
  • appeasers misjudged Hitler and thought he was a rational human being
  • it meant that the appeasers missed excellent chances to stop Hitler
  • it didn't work - it just meant that Hitler kept demanding more
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