Road to WWII International Relations History unit 1 GCSE Edexcel

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The Manchurian Crisis

  • In the Great Depression, Japan suffered a lot-the USA had to put taxes on trade.
  • Japanese army-powerful, with influential leaders. Japan needed raw materials, etc, so their solution was by military conquest-Japean had influence in Manchuria in China, because of building a trainline there, and the army wanted the area-it had rich supplies of resources, but the govt. didn't approve.
  • Mukden Incident-18 September 1931, part of the railway near Mukeden was destroyed by a bomb, and the army claimed it was set off by Chinese bandits and that they'd then fired on the Japanese army. The army was 'forced' to invade to 'protect' Japan. There wasn't any actual proof that the Chinese set off a bomb-could have been a deliberate attempt by Japanese army to have a reason for invasion. The Japanese govt. disapproved of this, but the people wanted it, and so the govt. had to support them.
  • February 1932-the Japanese had renamed it Manchuko and put the last Chinese emperor, Pu Yi, in control, beneath them.
  • The League: The Chinese appealed to them for help but t could be argued that Japan was just restoring order in an area where it had existing rights-might have been truthful.
  • Most countries, particularly B & F, didn't want to take action; meant spending money on troops, harming their economies. Economic sanctions wouldn't work-Japan's main trading partner was the USA, which wasn't in the League.
  • The League asked Japan to withdraw troops from Manchuria, which was ignored.
  • Commission of inquiry set up, led by Lord Lytton, who sailed to China for months to investigate, and reported a year after first action, Sept 1932, saying that Japan had acted unlawfully and should return Manchuria to China. Japan ignored the report and left the League, then invaded Chinese province  of Jehol, and 1937-full scale invasion of China.
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The Manchurian Crisis-Consequences

  • The League had failed-a permanent Council member had invaded a country and got away with it.
  • Sanctions didn't work-moral ignored, economic impossible as Japan's main trading partner was the USA. Military-no one wanted to spend money on troops.
  • At the time, it wasn't considered that serious; it was outside of Europe.
  • Other dissatisfied countries like Italy and Germany noticed this failiure, leading to other challenges to the League.
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The Abyssinian Crisis

  • December 1934 to May 1936. Mussolini-leader of Italy. Haile Selassie-emperor of Abyssinia (modern day Ethiopia).
  • Italy wanted an empire in Africa and had tried to conquer Abyssinia before, so in 1935-Mussolini started preparing to attack after border scuffles between Italian soldiers and Abyssinian troops.
  • Britain, France and Italy signed the Stresa Front, an agreement to stand together against Hitler.
  • B & F tried to negotiate with Mussolini throughout 1935 but failed in September when he successfully invaded Abssinia.
  • Selassie appealed to the League for help, and economic sanctions were imposed; no weapons, rubber or iron were to be sold to Italy. Oil was left out because they couldn't stop the USA trading. However, they didn't close the Suez canal (which would have hampered Mussolini's invasion); they didn't want to drive Mussolini into an alliance with Hitler.
  • Britain & France's double dealing-behind the League's back, their foreign ministers, Hoare and Laval made a secret agreement with Mussolini to give him 2/3 of Abyssinia if he agreed not to fight-pact leaked to the British press causing uproar-2 of the League's most important members were putting own interests ahead of League's collective security.
  • Consequences:
    • Mussolini continued his attack, and by 2 May 1936, had captured the Abyssinian capital.
    • The League was thoroughly discredited and Italy left.
    • Attempts to prevent Mussolini-Hitler alliance failed when the two leader signed the Rome-Berlin Axis in october 1936.
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Hitler-a growing Problem

  • His main ideas about foreign policy: To scrap the Treaty of Versailles, to expand Germany and to destroy Communism.
  • 1933 Rearmament: League of Nations had a Wrold Disarmament Conference-Germany had said it would accept disarmament if other countries gave up their weapons-French disagreed in fear of Germany.
  • 1935 Conscription: Hitler announced that he'd built an Airforce; Luftwaffe, and that he was introducing conscription. He wanted and army of 600,000 despite the T of V terms. The League did nothing.
  • 1935 The Saar: In 1919, the Saar (important mining area), was placed under control of the League for 15 years. When 15 years had passed, a referendum, public vote, was held to see whether inhabitants wanted to be part of Germany again. 90% voted for this, and Hitler was very pleased.
  • 1936 Rhineland: He said that demilitarisation would leave Germany prone to attack from the West so 7 March, he ordered troops there. His troops were no match for the French, so he told them to withdraw if the French showed any sign of resistance. He thought the French wouldn't act without the British-many Brits thought he was just 'marching into his own backyard' and weren't very worried.
  • 1936 Rome-Berlin Axis: Informal agreement with Italy to cooperate, later sent support for Nationalists in the Spanish Civil War.
  • 1936 Anti-Communism Pact: 'Against the Communist International' with Japan. Italy joined 1937.
  • 1939 Pact of Steel: Also the 'Pact of Friendship & Alliance'-deveopment from the Rom-Berlin Axis.
  • 1940 Tripartite Act: Japan joined the Pact of Steel-27 Sept, refferring to selves as Axis Powers. During WWII, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria joined.
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Appeasement and the Anshluss 1938

  • The policy of B & F conceding to reasonable demands in order to avoid war-appeasement. Most assoicated with Neville Chamberlain.
  • Hitler wanted to unite with Austria. In 1934, Austrian Nazis had tried to seize power in Austria, and Hitler was keen to help, but Mussolini also wanted to have influence in Austria and so sent 100,000 troops to Austrian border in case Hitler tried to invade-Hitler backed down.
  • However, in 1938, Hitler's armed forces were much stronger. Also, Rome-Berlin Axis meant Italy wouldn't stop him.
  • Austrian Chancellor Schussnigg had appointed leading Nazis to positions in the govt. hoping to end further trouble and stop German interference. However, in 1938 Austrian police found that the Nazis were planning to overthrow the govt. Schussnigg met with Hitler in February to persuade him not to give support to attempted takeovers. To make him happy, he appointed Seyss-Inquart, a leading Nazi, as minister of the interior.
  • He also announced that he would hold a plebiscite asking Austrians if they wished to join with Germany-Hitler was worried vote would go against him, so said that if Schussnigg didn't resign and let Seyss-Inquart take hs place, he would invade.
  • 11 March, Schussnigg did so. But the next morning German troops marched into Austria and met no resistance.
  • Many welcomed it. Mussolini offered no support and Britain and France didn't intervene, although many Brits were concerned that the policy of appeasement had allowed Hitler to break the Treaty again, but were reassured when Hitler held a pebliscite 10 April-99.75% of Austrians who voted said they supported the Anschluss.
  • British believed that the Treaty was too harsh in banning the Anschluss, and couldn't go to war to enforce something they didn't agree with. Hitler saw this as more proof that B & F weren't prepared to take action to stop him.
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Sudetenland Crisis September 1938

  • Why?- Hitler now had land across 3 borders of Czechoslovakia, and the Sudetenland had 3 million German speakers. He wanted to unite all Germans for a grossdeutschland. Its geographical postion was also a threat; its western border came deep into German territory. It was strong militarily and economically, with an army of 34 divisions, deposits of coal and lignite (type of fuel) and an important Skoda armaments factory. It could prove to be a difficult enemy, and most Czech military resources were in the Sudetenland, so he could weaken the country by taking the Sudetenland.
  • 1938-Hitler ordered leaders of Czech Nazis to make demands to be in the Czech government, and at first the govt. made concessions but the Nazis increased demands and then President Benes refused to make more concessions.
  • Hitler told Sudeten Germans to stir trouble with support from him so on 12 September, they began rioting. Benes crushed the rioters, but knew that German intervention was inevitable.
  • Britain and France-unwilling to go to war with Germany to help the Czechs. British PM Chamberlain visited Benes, who realised he'd get no support then agreed to transfer parts of the Sudetenland where the majority was German.
  • Hitler was told of this 22 September, wasn't satisfied-said that he'd heard that Sudeten German were 'mistreated' and that if he didn't get all of it, he'd be forced to invade to 'rescue' them.
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Sudetenland Crisis September 1938-Munish Conferenc

  • Chamberlain returned to Britain and began preparing for war, building trenches, distributing gas masks-he was determined to avoid war but couldn't see how.
  • Mussolini proposed a meeting between Britain, France, Italy and Germany-they met in Munich 29 September, and agreed that the Sudetenland should become part of Germany, but new borders were guaranteed- F&B could even congratulate themselves that they had 'saved' Czechoslovakia.
  • 30 September-Chamberlain & Hitler signed the Anglo-German Declaration, declaring to settle disputes between them by negotiation; they would never go to war again. Chamberlain: "I believe it is peace for our time."
  • Troops entered the Sudetenland 1 October. Within weeks, Hungary & Poland also took parts of Czechoslovakia where there were Hungarians and Poles.
  • Neither the Soviet Unions nor Czechoslovakia were invited to the conference and Benes resigned, disgusted.
  • Consequences:
    • Stalin saw this as another example of the Great Powers ignoring the Soviet Union. He didn't trust Britain and France, and this drove him towards Hitler.
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Road to War

  • 6 months after Munich, Hitler marched troops into Bohemia and Moravia, 2 parts of Czechoslovakia protected by Munich agreement. Hitler could no longer claim he was restoring German speakers to rightful homeland or reversing injustices from Versailles. Appeasement was dead; Chamberlain introduced conscription for the first time in peacetime Britain.
  • Memel-20 March, Hitler demanded that it be returned to Germany. 2 days later, fearing invasion, Lithuania handed over control of Memel to Hitler. The League couldn't do anything.
  • After Czechoslovakia, Hitler's next target-Poland. Germans resented the loss of the Polish Corridor at Versailles.
  • 31 March, B & F promised to guarantee Poland its independence. Approached Stalin to try to form an anti-Nazi alliance, but Stalin didn't trust them. Negotitions broke July 1939.
  • Nazi-Soviet Pact: In 1939, Stalin had recieved visits from German foreign minister, Ribbentrop and 23 August, announcement was made where they agreed not to fight.
  • Hitler didn't want to fight a war on 2 fronts, and wanted to invade Poland without fighting Stalin and continue his Grossdeutschland policy, reversing Versailles and gaining new lands for Germans.
  • Stalin wanted time to strengthen his forces befor Hitler inevitably betrayed him and wanted to regain parts of Poland historically part of Russia.
  • Chamberlain reacted to the Pact by offering support to Poland in the Anglo-Polish Mutual Assistance Pact on 25 August. Hitler was convinced B & F wouldn't go to war, and new that Stalin wouldn't mind him invading Poland. 1 September, Germany invaded Poland. B & F demanded he stop but when he didn't, they declared 2 days later. Stalin invaded 17 September and within weeks, Polish forces were defeated and Poland was divided between Germany & Soviet Union.
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Reasons for Appeasement:

  • 1938-20 years after WWI-20 million had died and economies were destroyed. Great Depression left little money for another war.
  • There was sympathy for Germany by the Brits; badly treated at Versailles, so the Rhineland, Austria and Sudetenland-reasonable. Chamberlain didn't want war 'because of a quarrel between people of whom we know nothing.' Brits agreed.
  • Western politicians-fearful of Stalin spreading communism to their countries, and Hitler was strongly anti-communist, so being on good terms with him made sense.
  • 1936-Britain not ready for war; the policy gave them time to rearm.

Reasons against Appeasement:

  • Appeasement-based on trust and honour-Chamberlain was honourable and believed that Hitler was happy with it, which wasn't true; he wanted more.
  • Hitler made more and more demands, his belief that B & F wouldn't stop him growing stronger.
  • Should B&F have broken international agreements because they weren't ready for war?
  • Hitler could have been stopped by Britain and France without war.
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