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What did Hitler do? Fulfilling his election promises to tear up the Treaty of Versailles, Hitler made a number of moves in 1933-6 before his decisive move.

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Presentation on theme: "What did Hitler do? Fulfilling his election promises to tear up the Treaty of Versailles, Hitler made a number of moves in 1933-6 before his decisive move."— Presentation transcript:

1 What did Hitler do? Fulfilling his election promises to tear up the Treaty of Versailles, Hitler made a number of moves in 1933-6 before his decisive move into the Rhineland (1936) he: withdrew from the League of Nations and Disarmament Conference (1933); tried unsuccessfully to stage a pro-Nazi coup in Austria (1934); won a plebiscite on the future of the Saar, which voted 90% to be German (1935); announced German re-armament, including an air-force (1935) and conscription (1936); agreed an increase in Germany’s navy with Britain (1935), allowing Germany to have as many submarines as Britain, and 35% of its ships (Anglo-German Naval Agreement) How did Hitler’s enemies react? In only two cases was there serious opposition to these moves. First, Mussolini’s objections prevented Hitler taking over Austria in 1934 (he later did this in 1938, sheet 7). Second, Italy, France and Britain formed the Stresa Front in 1935 in response to re- armament to demonstrate their concern. However, for the most part, these countries either made token protests or even endorsed Germany’s moves (the Anglo-German Naval Agreement was a British agreement to Germany re-arming, contrary to Versailles). The USSR’s response to all of this was finally to join the League of Nations in 1934. Why did his enemies do so little? In some cases, Hitler did nothing wrong. For instance, the Saar plebiscite was part of Versailles - it was only Hitler’s propaganda that was problematic. In other cases, Britain and France were motivated by distraction from domestic problems (e.g. Depression), sympathy for Germany, feeling that Versailles was too harsh (e.g. why should Germany alone be disarmed?) and cynical calculation (Britain was happy for Germany to re-arm its land forces, provided it did not challenge the Royal Navy, thus the Naval Agreement). ORIGINS OF WORLD WAR TWO 5. Early German breaches of Versailles (1933-6) Significance: Hitler’s early moves were relatively small, and mostly non-territorial. However, they set a powerful precedent for revision of the Treaty of Versailles, making it more difficult for Britain and France to object on principle to later revisions (e.g. Rhineland re-militarisation (1936) and Anschluss (1934)). Only Italy and the USSR stood up to Hitler in any meaningful way. Past paper examples: Describe how Hitler took over the Saar and Rhineland in 1935-6 (6 marks)

2 What was the problem? The Treaty of Versailles had de-militarised the Rhineland: the strategic stretch of German territory between the Rhine river and the French border. Allied occupation had ended, but Germany was not allowed any troops there. What did Hitler do? On 7 March 1936, he marched a small army into the Rhineland to re-militarise it. They had orders to retreat if challenged by France (which they weren’t). Having done this, the border with France was swiftly fortified, to consolidate this gain. What was the British and French response? This was a clear breach of Versailles, as well as the 1925 Treaty of Locarno, and Hitler expected France to react with force, as in 1923 when a late reparations payment had led to the Ruhr occupation. However, Britain and France made weak verbal protests and did nothing. The League of Nations condemned the action, but did nothing. Why did they do so little? Both powers were pre-occupied with events in Abyssinia (see sheet 4), which also reduced the League’s appetite for doing anything and its credibility. Britain felt sympathy for Germany being unable to place troops in its ‘own backyard’, and was unwilling to fight over this. French forces were organised in a defensive rather than an offensive way behind the Maginot Line forts, making a response difficult. France was also politically unstable, as it was throughout the 1930s. ORIGINS OF WORLD WAR TWO 6. Rhineland Re-militarisation, 1936 Significance: The Rhineland is a key precedent for further German aggression. It was a vital part of the Treaty of Versailles, effectively giving France a physical barrier (the Rhine) against the German army. Letting Hitler re-militarise with so little protest was a clear signal that Britain and France would not oppose further action. Some (e.g. Churchill) see the Rhineland as a missed opportunity to confront Hitler: his army was weak and clearly in the wrong. However, in Britain and France, public opinion was firmly against confrontation over this issue. Past paper examples: Which made world war more likely: Abyssinia or Rhineland? (10 marks) Describe how Hitler took over the Saar and Rhineland in 1935-6 (6 marks)

3 Why was Austria important to Hitler? He was Austrian, and wanted all Germans united in a Greater Germany. He also wanted to overturn the Treaty of Versailles, which forbade Anschluss (German/ Austrian union). What happened? In 1934, Hitler had tried and failed to orchestrate Anschluss via a pro-Nazi coup, after having Austrian Chancellor Dolfuss murdered. Italy forced him to back down. But by 1938, he was allied with Mussolini due to working together over Abyssinia and the Spanish Civil War. Hitler encouraged the Austrian Nazi party to demonstrate violently for Anschluss. The Austrian Chancellor resisted, promising to hold a referendum, but Hitler’s mobilization of his forces led to the chancellor agreeing to appoint an Austrian Nazi in charge of the police. This led to a crackdown on opponents, and to a German occupation and annexation on 14 March, greeted by cheering crowds of Austrians. His move was endorsed by a rigged referendum. How did other countries react? Italy supported Hitler, as noted above. Britain and France issued the same kind of weak protests as over the Rhineland, choosing to believe Hitler’s promise that his actions had no implications for Czechoslovakia - a country now surrounded by German territory. Once again, neither Britain nor France felt that they could or should intervene with military force in a German country to prevent National Self-Determination (Germans being ruled by Germans), not least given the increasing strength of the German military. ORIGINS OF WORLD WAR TWO 7. Anschluss with Austria, 1938 Significance: This was Hitler’s first large territorial gain (the Saar (1935) being small, and the Rhineland (1936) being part of Germany already). It made it much easier for Hitler to continue with his aggression towards the borders left by Versailles, both geographically (as he now surrounded his next target, Czechoslovakia) and politically (as he now had a precedent for territorial change to unite Germans). Britain and France allowed him to set this precedent with virtually no protest: each time they did this, the German army was stronger next time, as was the principle that they would allow him to revise the Versailles Treaty. But even before Austria, the Rhineland had clearly given him this signal. Past paper examples: Which was a greater threat to world peace: Manchuria or Anschluss? (10 marks) What does Source A (not shown) tell us about the Anschluss? (3 marks)

4 What was the Sudetenland and why was it important? It was an area on the borders of Czechoslovakia largely inhabited by ethnic Germans. The border had been drawn in the Treaty of St Germain, 1919 (Austria-Hungary’s Treaty of Versailles). It contained much industry and strong mountain defences against Germany. After Anschluss, it was surrounded by Germany. France and the USSR had treaties to defend Czechoslovakia in the event of attack. What happened? As in Austria, Hitler used a local party (Henlein’s Sudeten German party) to stir up trouble. Riots in May 1938 were put down by the Czechs, but Hitler increasingly backed their demands for self-determination. After a failed attempt at mediation between them and Benes’s Czech Government by Lord Runciman (British), Hitler promised more support. This led Neville Chamberlain, British PM, to fly to Germany to try and negotiate a deal to avert war by dealing directly with Hitler. He agreed a deal that allowed the transfer of some territory, and managed to get the French and Czechs to agree this. But Hitler upped his demands at a second meeting, and war looked inevitable. Then Mussolini proposed a four power conference to resolve this, which took place at Munich (29-30 September). This agreed a modified plan to transfer Sudeten areas to Germany, which took place from 1 October - a day when Britain and Germany signed a new peace deal. Why did Britain pursue this course? Chamberlain feared another war like the First World War, and did not see why Britain should fight to prevent National Self-Determination for Sudeten Germans. Britain was not ready for war, and could not have prevented Czechoslovakia being overrun. It was not clear at the time that Hitler’s wanted more than just to unite Germans. Critics of this ‘appeasement’ policy (e.g. Churchill) saw it as a cowardly missed chance to fight Hitler. ORIGINS OF WORLD WAR TWO 8. The Sudeten Issue (Munich Conference), 1938 Significance: There is a heated historical debate here. Some see Chamberlain as the betrayer of a small democracy, postponing war to Britain’s disadvantage and being fooled by Hitler. It was particularly cynical to exclude Czechs and Russians from the Munich conference. It encouraged further aggression (e.g. in 1939). Others see it as a policy that made sense at the time, when Hitler’s ambitions were not clear, and that it gave Britain vital time to re-arm (e.g. the RAF). Past paper examples: Describe how Chamberlain prevented war in September 1938 (6 marks) Which was more important in Hitler’s success: Versailles or appeasement? (10 marks)

5 What happened? Having taken the border defences of Czechoslovakia via the Munich deal of 30 September, the rest of Czechoslovakia ‘lay naked’ before Hitler’s armies (Churchill’s words). On 12 th March 1939, Hitler invaded the rest of the Czech portion (Bohemia and Moravia), claiming to have been invited in. The rest was split up into a supposedly independent state (Slovakia) and territory for Hungary. What was the response from Britain and France? Both were shocked by this blatant breach of Munich and of the principle of National Self- Determination. At first, Chamberlain appeared to be trying to hold onto his old policy. But pressure from public opinion (e.g. newspapers) and Cabinet colleagues seems to have persuaded him that enough was enough. Within a few days (31 March), Chamberlain had agreed a joint Anglo-French military guarantee of Poland, Hitler’s obvious next target (German grievances about Danzig, Posen, Upper Silesia and West Prussia were among the most bitter resentments about Versailles). This treaty, which was reaffirmed just days before World War Two, is widely seen as being the end of Appeasement, and the treaty which brought Britain and France into World War Two, when Poland was invaded by Germany in September 1939. However, as with Czechoslovakia, Britain and France were not geographically able to defend Poland: they needed an ally nearby. The obvious candidate was the Soviet Union. But Britain and France failed, over the summer of 1939, to persuade Stalin to join their Polish guarantee. Instead, in August, he signed the Nazi-Soviet pact (Sheet 10) which guaranteed Russian neutrality in the face of the inevitable German attack on Poland. ORIGINS OF WORLD WAR TWO 9. Invasion of Czechoslovakia / Polish Guarantee (1939) Significance: With the invasion of the rest of Czechoslovakia, Hitler clearly departed from the much-supported principle of National Self-Determination, by taking over an area that was not full of Germans. At this point, it became clear that his goal was to win Lebensraum (Living Space) in the East, of which this was a first step. Thus, Britain and France finally saw Hitler’s true colours and stood up to him, by guaranteeing his likely next victim. This can be seen as the first step towards inevitable war, and the end of appeasement, which had failed.

6 What were relations normally like between Nazi Germany and the USSR? Very cold. They hated each other’s ideologies. The Axis pact between Italy, Japan and Germany was actually called the ‘Anti-Comintern’ Pact, to combat the influence of the Comintern organisation. The USSR joined the League of Nations to fight fascism. What happened in 1939? At the end of March, Britain and France guaranteed Poland against Hitler (see sheet 9). They then tried to get the USSR to join this guarantee, with various missions going to Moscow over the summer. Historians differ as to whose fault it was that agreement was not reached. Instead, on 23 August, a Nazi-Soviet Pact was unveiled. What did the pact say? The public part was a non-aggression treaty between Germany and the USSR. The secret element of it agreed a division of Poland, so that when Germany invaded from the West a week later, the USSR soon followed to swallow up Eastern Poland. Why did Stalin and Hitler sign it? Hitler’s motivation is more obvious. As a cynical, deceptive politician, it suited him to fight a war on just one front, leaving Russia till later (1941, Operation Barbarossa). Stalin did seem to consider an alliance with the West. But he suspected that Britain and France wanted him to bear the brunt of the fighting, and thus for Russia and Germany to destroy each other. In the end, Hitler had more to offer Stalin (peace and Poland) than Britain and France, which remained capitalist countries, suspicious of the USSR and opposed to its ideas. Stalin was also still angry with the West for leaving the USSR out of the Munich conference, and had just appointed a more cynical Foreign Minister (Molotov) to replace the more pro-Western Litvinov. ORIGINS OF WORLD WAR TWO 10. Nazi-Soviet Pact (August 1939) Significance: The Pact made war inevitable, as it meant that Germany could invade Poland without fear of the USSR retaliating (especially given the rewards promised to the USSR in the secret element of the deal). This, coupled with the Anglo-French guarantee of Poland, ensured a World War would begin when Hitler invaded Poland ten days later. Past paper examples: Which event made war more likely: Czech invasion or Nazi-Soviet Pact? (10 marks) Which was bigger threat to peace: Rhineland or Nazi-Soviet Pact? (10 marks)

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