Road to the Stresa Front

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German-Polish Non Aggression Pact

  • signed on the 26th April 1934.  
  • The Pact seemed like an act of statesmanship. 
  • Moved away from the USSR and commited to the Rapallo Treaty. 
  • However, it risked the popularity within Germany as it meant agreeing to the occupation of territory which Germany though was their's. 


  • France began to search for allies in Italy and the USSR to contain Germany. 
  • The USSR joined the League of Nation in September 1934 as threatened by Hitler. This marked an end in their isolationist policy. 
  • Mussolini didn't want a resurgence of Germany power as it was a threat to Italian powers as well as to the state of Austria. He wanted Austria to stay independent to act as a buffer between Germany and Italy. Mussolini was more concerned about South of Tyrol which had 500,000 German speaking citizens living there. 
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Austrian Crisis

  • 25th-30th July 1934. 
  • The Austrian Nazi's who were encouraged and supported by the Germany embassy in Vienna attempted a coup d'etat which killed the Austrian Chancellor Dullfuss. 
  • Mussolini sent 100,000 troops to the border to ensure that Hitler didn't take advantage of the chaos in Vienna. This allowed the Austrian government to stabilise the situation. 


  • In 1935, Italy and France signed a pledge of co-operation against German threat to Austria. In return, Mussolini was given a free hand in the economic matter in Austria. France also signed a treaty of Mutual assistance with the Soviet which was reinforced with a Soviet-Czechoslovakia agreement. 
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January 1935-March 1935

January 1935. A SAAR Valley plebscite was held which has 80% of German coal. 90.9% of the population voted for unification with Germany. 

March 1935: Hitler declared that Germany now had an airforce, introduced conscription and had increased the army from 100,000 men as stated in the Treaty of Versaille to 500,000, five times more than the Treaty allows. However, between 1932-33, the Luftwaffe had been increasing so by 1935, they had 2,500 planes. Hitler went on to claim that the Luftwaffe was stronger than the RAF. 

This meant that when John Smith, foreign secretary at the time, when to visit Hitler, he had no bargaining chips to arrange a miltary treaty to further limit German rearmament. This was as a result of the White Paper which stated that Britain would begin to rearm and that France was increasing their terms of conscription. John Simon didn't want a navy or an arm race. 

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Stresa Front

  • April 1935
  • Present was foreign secretary from Britain, France and Italy. 
  • Collectively they condemned Britain's actions and pledge to maintain the treaties and  any resist would be met with force.
  • Re-affirmed support for the Locarno Treaty.
  • Made a pledge to preserve Austrian independence. 
  • Stresa meant a firm alliance against Hitler and commited themselves to action if Germany violated any of the terms of the Treaty of Versaille. 
  • John Simon was concerned that Britain was being dragged into a military alliancen which meant that Germany would feel encircled. 
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Anglo-German Naval Agreement

  • June  1935
  • Allowed Germany to build their submarines up to 45% of the British.
  • German navy could increase up to 35% of the Royal Navy. 
  • Approved by the Admirality, Foreign Office and the Cabinet. 
  • It helped Britain achieve the aims of their foreign policy: no naval race, focus on Japan in the Far East, improve Anglo-German relations and avoid a war. Britains navy was still twice the strength of Germany's navy. Britain imported half of its food resources. 
  • dealt with German grievances as well as Britain being able to control Germany's rearmament. 


  • France felt betrayed especially since it had been signed on the anniversairy of the Battle of Waterloo and Britain's decision had not been discussed with either Italy and France. Made France feel as though Britain and Germany was ganging up on them. 
  • German Naval disarmament had failed due to French stubborness and many British politicans were angry at France's encricirling policy e.g agreement with the USSR. 
  • Despite Nazi Germany not being popular in Britain especially with the Left, the public didn't agree with overthrowing Hitler by force. 
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Consequences of the Anglo-German Naval Agreement

  • This was Sameul Hoare first action as foreign minister. His justification was that since Germany had already been violating the Treaty of Versaille by building a fllet, it would be well to have that fleet limited. However, instead of praising Germany action, Britain should have condemned it as it violated the Stresa Front which had only been signed in April 1935 and undermined the Treaty of Versaille. 
  • It represented an example of the fault of appeasement. 
  • Only Robert Vansittart doubted Hitler's sincerity, but still though the treaty was worthwhile. 
  • Mussolini began to think of Britain differently.It confirmed Britain's cynicism and self- interest. Laval was so disgusted that he believe there was more to gain from Mussolini then there was from Britain. 
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