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  • Created by: nheron
  • Created on: 10-05-16 14:11

Hitler's Foreign Policy Aims

Destroy the Treaty of Versailles, re-arm Germany and recover its lost lands

Bring every German speaking person and place under German control

Expand eastwards to gain living space (lebensraum) for German people

Destroy the communist USSR

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Hitler's Aims Significance

Hitler’s aims involved aggression or threats towards other countries – there was no other way that the objectives could be achieved

The aims depended on being able to displace other people with the force of a strong military

The aims were also quite ambitious and would need to have some sort of international support along the way

The aims involved going against the Treaty of Versailles

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How Hitler Overturned the Treaty of Versailles (1)

Through rearmament – between 1932 and 1939 Germany increased its warships from 30 to 95, its military aircraft from 36 to 8250, its soldiers from 100,000 to 950,000 and the percentage of government spending on armaments from 1% to 23%. Germany also introduced conscription in 1935 and got Britain to make a Naval agreement also in 1935 (allowed Germany to have a fleet no larger than 35% of the British Navy) – many British people thought the Treaty of Versailles was too harsh and Germany was justified in many of the things she wanted to do

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How Hitler Overturned the Treaty of Versailles (2)

Through trying (needlessly)to ensure that the Saar was returned to Germany – when the Plebiscite (vote) on whether to return to Germany was due in 1935, the Nazis mounted a huge campaign to convince the Saarlanders to vote for a return to Germany, beating up communist opponents and gathering an army of stormtroopers on the border (disbanded after threats from Britain and France) – 90% of Saarlanders voted for a return to Germany which Hitler and the Nazis saw as not only a great success but a justification for further attacks on the Treaty of Versailles

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How Hitler Overturned the Treaty of Versailles (3)

Through re-militarising the Rhineland in 1936 – on 7th March 1936 32,000 troops marched into the Rhineland with orders to retreat if Britain and France opposed them (which did not happen); Britain and France were too occupied with Mussolini and Abyssinia, the League was too weak to stop him and the British Government was now certain that the Treaty of Versailles had been unfair – when Hitler offered to make a 25 year peace treaty this backed up the feeling that he might be justified in what he was doing

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How Hitler Overturned the Treaty of Versailles (4)

Through forming an Anschluss (Union) with Austria – after the murder by Austrian Nazis of the Austrian Chancellor in 1934, Nazis tried to take control but were prevented from doing so, largely by the threats of Mussolini. Italy and Germany both supported the fascist General Franco in the Spanish Civil War which gave Hitler an opportunity to try out his military hardware and gain the respect (possibly fear) of Mussolini and this resulted in the Rome-Berlin Axis of 1936 and the Anti-Comintern (anti-communist) Pact with Italy and Japan in 1937. This gave Hitler confidence and in 1938 he took advantage of a plea for support from the Austrian Chancellor (Schusnigg) to demand Nazi positions in the Austrian government. Schusnigg opted for a vote on Anschluss instead, prompting Geramn troops to mass on the border and Austrian Nazis to riot. Schusnigg resigned and Germany was invited to enter to restore order – imprisoning 80,000 opponents of Hitler. Hitler himself entered Austria on 12th March 1938, the vote was held and 99.75% of Austrians voted in favour of the Union

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Overturning the Treaty of Versailles Significance

Hitler had been able to overturn the Treaty of Versailles with ease, giving him encouragement and confidence to pursue his remaining foreign policy aims

Germany now had a strong military to back the aggressive foreign policy

Precedents had been set for unifying German speaking peoples

Hitler had met little or no resistance from Britain or France, again convincing him he had either support or would not have to face any retaliation

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British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s response to the failures of the League of Nations

Appeasement after 1937 involved  negotiating with Germany, giving way to reasonable demands in return for concessions from Hitler

The Foreign Secretary before 1938, Anthony Eden, believed these concessions should be something measurable like disarmament

Chamberlain and his Foreign Secretary after 1938, Lord Halifax, were prepared to accept promises and assurances

The policy can be said to be cynical and selfish – giving way on things which did not directly affect Britain at the expense of other countries’ interests

The aim was to bring Hitler back into international diplomacy and it was never obvious that Hitler was bullying Chamberlain, he simply did not fulfil his promises

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Appeasement Significance

Appeasement allowed Hitler to get his own way without appearing overly aggressive, it also encouraged him to ask for and demand more

When promises were broken, other action (military) seemed more and more likely from the British

Resulted in the weakening of Czechoslovakia

Resulted in Hitler's occupation of Czechoslovakia and therefore Britain and France's declaration of support for Poland

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Czechoslovakia 1938-39 (1)

Czechoslovakia was a strong country with a large army, strong military defences in the Sudetenland, Skoda armaments factories, large deposits of coal and defence agreements with the USSR and France

Czechoslovakia was mostly populated by two races, the Czechs and the Slovaks

Hitler wanted Czechoslovakia as part of his Lebensraum policy, he thought it justified because Czechoslovakia’s borders were a reminder of the post-war peace settlements

Three million German speakers from the old Austro-Hungarian empire lived in Czechoslovakia, mostly in a crescent area on Germany’s south eastern border called the Sudetenland

Hitler encouraged the leader of the Czech Nazi Party (Konrad Henlein) to demand better treatment for the Sudeten Germans – however this was obviously not enough for Hitler and in April 1938 German troops began massing on the Czech border, the Czechoslovakian army was mobilised and crushed rioting by Sudeten Nazis, prompting Hitler to threaten war

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Czechoslovakia 1938-39 (2)

On 15th September Neville Chamberlain met with Hitler and then persuaded the Czechoslovak government to transfer the parts of the Sudetenland most heavily populated with German speakers to Germany – Chamberlain informed Hitler on the 22nd September but Hitler demanded the whole of the Sudetenland, Chamberlain refused to give in at this point

On 29th September, Mussolini persuaded Hitler to attend a conference in Munich involving Germany, Italy, France and Britain – but not Czechoslovakia; the four countries agreed that the Sudetenland would become part of Germany immediately and Britain and France forced Czechoslovakia to accept, allowing Hitler to take formal control on 1st October

The Munich Agreement weakened Czechoslovakia by taking away its defences and industrial areas, leading to a loss of territory to both Poland and Hungary and provoked the Slovaks to demand more rights – this led the new Czech president (Emil Hacha) to appeal to Hitler for help, leading in turn to Nazi Occupation by invite on 15th March 1939

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Czechoslovakia Significance

Hitler was now totally convinced that he could act on his foreign policy aims without fear of opposition from Britain and France

Chamberlain now changed his mind about Hitler, he no longer saw him as simply wanting to overturn the unreasonable Treaty of Versailles but as being aggressively intent on further conquests

Britain and France had now given up on the policy of appeasement, Britain in particular being determined not to let other countries down and to prevent further Nazi expansion

In April 1939, Britain and France promised to help Poland if it was attacked by Germany

The British government now introduced conscription for the first time ever during peace time – a clear indication that the country was preparing for the likelihood of war

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The Nazi-Soviet Pact

The Treaty of Versailles had awarded Poland a slice of land which had previously been Germany called the Polish Corridor which cut East Prussia off from the rest of Germany; the free city of Gdansk (Danzig) was inside the Polish Corridor but home to German-speaking people

It seemed likely that this would be Hitler’s next target but neither Britain nor France were really in a position to defend Poland – they would need the support of the USSR (Communist Russia)

The British and Soviet governments discussed forming an alliance through the summer of 1939, Poland feared the Soviets as much as the Germans and did not want to involve them, the British disliked Soviet Communism and tried to delay as long as they could and Josef Stalin lost patience with the British

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The Nazi-Soviet Pact (2)

On 23rd August 1939 Germany and the USSR signed the Nazi-Soviet Pact, agreeing not to attack each other and promising in secret clauses to attack and divide up Poland between them

Neither the USSR nor the Germans were ready for war at this point and so a pact meant that for the moment at least they could not afford costly confrontations with each other

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Nazi Soviet Pact Significance

Hitler was now certain that without the support of the Soviet Union, Britain and France could not fulfil their promise to defend Poland – especially given the ease with which he had taken Czechoslovakia

Hitler now did not have the German problem from the First World War – he would not have to fight a war on two fronts due to the pact which made him bolder and more aggressive

The pact made invading Poland inevitable and Britain and France had promised to defend Poland making their intervention in some form even more likely

The German Army invaded Poland on 1st September 1939 – Britain declared war on Germany on 3rd September, France doing the same soon after

Without this final episode, the Second World War may not have occurred in the way it did – although previous events may have led to something else which sparked off a conflict…

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