Presentation on theme: "Issue 4 How Successful was British foreign policy in containing fascist aggression between 1935-1938?"— Presentation transcript:
Issue 4 How Successful was British foreign policy in containing fascist aggression between 1935-1938?
The Big Picture Britain did avoid becoming involved in a major European war at this time. On the other hand, critics of British policy have argued that all Britain did was encourage Hitler to demand more and more. Britain participated in the breaking of the Versailles Treaty and the Naval Treaty. Self-interest dominated British policy over Abyssinia and, in Spain, Britain was prepared to see a democratically elected government be overthrown by a fascist dictator. Finally, Britain did nothing to protect Austria from Nazi takeover but realists argued what could Britain have done?
Aims of British Policy when dealing with Fascist aggression To avoid war To seek ways of removing grievances To use negotiation to reduce international tension To protect the Empire To try as far as possible to work within the League of Nations To seek ways to promote disarmament
Abysinnia (K) Self Interest or Collective Security - should it stand by rules of League and protect Abyssinia or was it more important to keep Italy ‘on side’ as ally against Hitler Hoare-Laval Plan - intention was to ‘buy off’ Italy with offer of territory in northeast Africa on condition Italy stopped its war. - was Italy being rewarded for its aggression?
Can Britain claim any success in its handling of the crisis? (A) Put simply – No! League shown to be weak Abyssinia was not saved Italy continued its attack until Abyssinia was defeated Britain and France shown to unreliable and deceitful when the Hoare-Laval plan was leaked Balance of power shifted against Britain Hitler was encouraged Mussolini and Hitler drifted closer together and finally Britain now had an enemy in the Mediterranean. Future dealings with Hitler would need to consider the possibility of conflict with Italy at the same time.
German Rearmament and the Anglo-German Naval Treaty (K) Opinion divided: - ‘ Germany moving down path of war again’ v what could we do about it? Hitler made a case to justify rearmament whilst terms of Treaty seen as too harsh/open to change The Agreement, June 1935 - ToV severely cut size of German navy. New treaty accepted Germany should have up to 1/3 size of British navy and be allowed to build submarines.
Could Britain claim the Naval Treaty was a success for its policy? (A) Arguably Britain encouraged further German rearmament Belief that Germany would rebuild anyway so agreement would help improve relations ToV too harsh anyway, right time to revise some of the harsher terms Through negotiation and revision of ToV, Britain hoped Nazi Germany would have no reason to be angered/feel cornered New agreement allowed Britain to ‘keep an eye’ on German rearmament and could plan how best to deal with it However, agreement confused British public – Stresa Front had condemned German military build up 2 months prior Showed Hitler could push Britain to revise Versailles and get away with it. Open to other challenges? By summer 1935, Hitler much stronger than was at beginning of year France got scared and made treaty with Russia, Britain furious. France angered by naval deal – allies within Stresa Front now divided with Italy now an enemy
Britain and the Rhineland Crisis (K) Broke Locarno Treaty – imp as Germany signed voluntarily Britain did nothing - Hitler claimed he was justified - Anger over French-Russian alliance - Public opinion – Versailles too harsh - remilitarisation was not serious threat Not a problem! Eden weakened Britain’s position British action would lose more than it gained Other concerns
Could Britain claim the Rhineland crisis was handled successfully? (A) In the short term - Britain made the best of a difficult situation Claimed war had been avoided and a grievance from the Peace settlement had been sorted British government caught ‘off guard’ by much smarter Hitler – appeared as if Hitler had taken gamble and weak democracies had let him away with it! Once again Hitler had learned a lesson about political manipulation and the willingness of Britain to appease. Longer term – Rhineland crisis sparked off a chain of events that linked Britain to France and Eastern Europe, and eventually the Czech crisis of 1938
Britain and the Spanish Civil War (K) Non-intervention Another step in the development of appeasement Not popular with communists/socialists/members of Labour party. International brigades
Could Non-Intervention be called a success? (A) Success in one way – major European war not sparked off by Spanish Civil War On other hand, Britain faced difficulties as a result of non-intervention Britain discredited as defender of democracy: rebels being treated same as legally elected government Britain made sure LoN did not take steps to help the Republic Faced very loud criticism at home from Labour Party who disagreed strongly with policy Britain & France paralysed internationally. Both appeared to lack the resolve or resources to offer support to legitimate Spanish government Confidence of Italy and Germany boosted USSR felt unsupported, started to think about their own future – Mazi- Soviet Agreement, August 1939 British public still felt effects of war even though had no part in it Yet, selfishly, most quite happy as long as not on their doorstep
Britain and the Anschluss, March 1938 (K) Britain not surprised by Anschluss Did nothing despite the terms of the ToV Opinion divided - Austria not a British problem, too far away etc vs Hitler was a bully who wouldn’t stop, appeasement just encouraged Hitler’s aggression
Was British policy over Anschluss a success? (A) In terms of resisting Fascist aggression and preparing for future, appeasement over Anschluss weakened Britain’s position Britain had for a long time been aware of Hitler’s ambitions in Eastern Europe – Lebensraum Appeasement was making it very easy for Hitler to move eastwards and seize more land in his move towards Lebensraum As a result of British inaction, no small European country had any belief that Britain or France could or would really help them Appeasement was seen as a policy to benefit Britain only and help no-one else