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History Notes

International Relations 1919-39

Were the peace treaties of 1919-23 fair?
What were the motives and aims of the Big Three at Versailles?
Georges Clemenceau (Prime Minister of France):
Wanted revenge for the damage that France had suffered, losing over 1 million men
hard justice.
Wanted to punish Germany who he believed to be responsible for the war.
Wanted general humiliation of Germany, and German land. France had been humiliated
in the Franco-Prussian war with Alsace and a large part of Lorraine taken wanted them
Wanted Germany destroyed so cannot fight again.
Wanted restrictions on the size of the German army to prevent it from being able to rise
Wanted an independent Rhineland to act as a buffer state between Germany and
Wanted strong reparations for the rebuilding of France. The war left 2 million homeless
and 750,000 homes destroyed.
In short he wanted Germany to be treated very harshly.
David Lloyd George (Prime Minister of Britain):
Wanted Germany to be punished, as Britain had lost almost 1 million men. This was
partly due to political pressure as there had been elections in Britain and MPs had been
elected promising to Make Germany Pay and Hang the Kaiser.
Britain hadnt been invaded so he was more moderate and reasonable than
Clemenceau. He wanted justice but not revenge.
Had certain selfish priorities. One being that Germany was an important trading partner
with Britain and Lloyd George didnt want to prevent future trade with Germany due to a
harsh treaty.
Also wanted to take a large share of Germanys overseas colonies to add to the British
All in all he wanted a compromise between Frances harsh idea of a treaty and
the USAs lenient idea.
Woodrow Wilson (President of the USA):
USA had suffered relatively little and in fact the US economy had benefitted from the
war through arms sales. Therefore he wasnt bitter or in want of revenge at all.
Was idealistic and determined to secure world peace.
Believed that crippling Germany would only result in revenge and another war.
Believed that all powers were responsible for causing the war, so didnt blame Germany
for causing it.
Wanted national self-determination which was the idea that the people should decide
on their own fate. He argued that land shouldnt be taken where German majorities
were evident.
Felt some pressure from millions of German-Americans who believed that Germany
shouldnt be punished.
Wilsons Fourteen Points (January 1918):
1. A ban on secret treaties between states
2. Free movement of ships anywhere in the world
3. Free trade between countries without import taxes
4. General disarmament
5. Greater independence for colonies

6. Non-interference in Russia
7. Germany to leave Belgium
8. Alsace-Lorraine to be returned to France
9. Italian borders to be settled
10. Independence for the peoples of Austria-Hungary
11. Invading armies to leave Balkans
12. Independence for the non-Turkish people of the Turkish empire
13. Independence for Poland
14. An effective League of Nations to keep the peace
In short, he wanted what he believed to be a fair (not very harsh) treaty.

The Treaty of Versailles

The Big Three debated the terms of the Treaty for five months.
Germany had no involvement at all in the discussions and on 28 June 1919, in the Hall of
Mirrors, in the Palace of Versailles, the two German delegates were only called into the room to
sign the Treaty.
Clemenceau (who wanted a harsh treaty) and Wilson (who wanted a generous treaty) clashed
over many issues due to their differences.
Lloyd George and Wilson disagreed over self-determination considering the British Empire ruled
over millions of people.
The terms of the treaty:
League of Nations:
o The first 26 articles set out the Covenant of the League.
o This was an international organisation with the purpose of resolving disputes.
War guilt:
o Article 231 stated that Germany had to accept the blame for causing all the loss
and damage of the war. This was so important because it provided justification
o Compensation could be demanded, now that Germany had accepted the blame
for causing the war. This was a sum of 6.6 billion, finally decided in 1921.
o Army reduced to 100,000 troops.
o Conscription banned.
o No tanks, submarines or military aircraft.
o Navy limited to 12 destroyers, 6 battleships and 6 cruisers.
o Rhineland (strip of land, 50 miles wide, next to France) demilitarised.
o Alsace-Lorraine to France.
o Saar coalfields to France for 15 years.
o Eupen and Malmedy to Belgium.
o Northern Schleswig to Denmark.
o West Prussia, Posen and Upper Silesia to Poland.
o Memel to Lithuania.
o Danzig was made a free city, run by the League of Nations.
o German colonies became mandates. This was because Wilson wanted them to
be controlled by the League while Lloyd George and Clemenceau wanted to
colonise them. Therefore they agreed to a compromise with Britain and France
looking after them on behalf of the League.
Other points:
o Anschluss (union) with Austria was forbidden.
o The Baltic States (Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia) were made independent.

Verdicts on the Treaty

Georges Clemenceau got:

Reparations to repair damage in France
The German army dramatically reduced in size to protect France
The demilitarisation of the Rhineland to protect France
Alsace-Lorraine and German colonies
However, he was disappointed that:
The Treaty wasnt harsher
Germany hadnt been split up into lots of small states
They only got the Saar for 15 years
The Rhineland wasnt made an independent buffer state
David Lloyd George got:
Germany was made to pay as he had promised the British people
Some German colonies expanding the British Empire
The reduction of German navy helping Britain to continue to rule the waves
However he hated that:
The Treaty was far too harsh and would ruin Germany
It would cause another war in 25 years time (in his opinion)
The Treaty was neither just nor wise
Woodrow Wilson got:
A League of Nations
Self-determination for the people of Eastern Europe
But, he was disappointed that:
Some of his Fourteen Points didnt get into the Treaty
When he returned to the US, the Senate refused to join the League and even refused to
sign the Treaty
The colonies were given no say in their future
Only defeated powers were made to disarm
Germany had to pay reparations and was blamed for the war

Why did all the victors not get everything they wanted?
Different victors wanted different things They couldnt all have what they
wanted. Britain and France didnt want a League of Nations, but Wilson insisted on little
else. Clemenceau wanted crippling reparations while Wilson and Lloyd George didnt. It
is not even that the victors didnt TRY to get everything they wanted they pushed
things to the point where in March 1919 the Conference was about to break up in
failure, and Lloyd George had to step in and push through his Fontainebleau
Memorandum (whereby he forced Wilson to accept reparations, and Clemenceau to
accept the League of Nations). So the eventual Treaty of Versailles (it is rather obvious
to say) had to be a COMPROMISE, and a compromise is by definition not getting all you
They had more than themselves to think about Perhaps if they had gone
to Versailles thinking only of themselves, some of the leaders could have got everything
they wanted. But the leaders, as Wilson pointed out in his opening speech, had much
more to do at Versailles than get something for themselves. The world was in ruins
after the greatest war ever. In Eastern Europe three great empires had collapsed and
there were literally no countries at all. The Big Three were very aware that it was their
job, not just to get what they wanted but also to rebuild the world to make it safe for
democracy. That was, especially, the vision behind Wilsons Fourteen Points and
the League of Nations; but Lloyd George, too, felt the need for justice in the peace. So
a second reason the victors didnt get everything they wanted was because they didnt
even try they had other, more noble, ambitions. Furthermore, even if they had wanted
to, the Big Three werent allowed to only think of themselves. Thousands of lobbyists
journeyed to Paris to try and get what they wanted, from the Queen of Romania, to 20
Ukrainian delegates wanting independence. They couldnt possibly ignore these.

Complexity It was always going to be impossible for the Big Three to come to an
agreement about something like reparations. How do you put an accurate figure on
reparations? Another is example is, how do you sort out the principle of selfdetermination in Hungary, which was evidently populated by Hungarians, but also
peppered with small enclaves of Germans who had emigrated there centuries earlier?
They ended up sanctioning plebiscites to let the people decide where they wanted to
live, and set up a separate committee to make a decision on reparations. Once you
hand over power in this way, youre never going to get what you want.

What was the impact of the peace treaty on Germany up to 1923?

The Treaty greatly added to bitterness and the want for revenge in Germany; the war
guilt clause was seen as unfair and the loss of colonies did not aid the balance of power,
instead displaying the greed of the peacemakers.
The Treaty tipped Germany into utter chaos when Ebert signed it in 1919. He was seen
as a November Criminal, making democracy in Germany a great struggle. This is
because there were many right and left wing opponents that hated the treaty and
attempted to stage revolutions.
The extent of the reparations meant that by 1922 Germany had fallen behind in
payments. As a result, the French entered the Ruhr (German industrial area; heartland
of the German economy) in 1923. The German workers went on strike so that nothing
was produced for the French to take. This strike meant that Germany had no goods to
trade with and no money to buy things with. Therefore, the government decided to start
printing money, and when a government prints money that it doesnt have, prices go up
and value goes down. This led to the great hyperinflation crisis of 1923 and years of
suffering for the German people.
German pride was damaged in the reduction of their armed forces, which they had been
so proud of.

Why did the terms of the Treaty anger the Germans so much?
War guilt and reparations The Germans felt that they werent the sole cause of the
war; the imperialist struggle for overseas colonies and the European alliance system
were more fundamental reasons. This unfair admission of guilt led to reparations, which
the Germans argued were more than they were able to pay, and would result in poverty
and suffering.
Diktat The Germans werent allowed to participate in discussions, and only one
written criticism was accepted. The Germans were simply presented with the treaty and
told to sign it.
Disarmament Germans argued that 100,000 men werent enough to merely maintain
order in Germany, or to defend their country, so they felt defenceless. Germany was
also the only country that was forced to disarm, which didnt keep with Wilsons
Fourteen Points.
Loss of territory Germany lost land that was both historically and culturally very
German. Alsace and Lorraine were both states with a large German-speaking majority,
and West Prussia was longstanding German territory. Loss of such land didnt keep with
Wilsons Fourteen Points either and the idea of self-determination. Loss of colonies was
also criticised, as they had little to do with the balance of power and Europe and
displayed the greed of the conquering powers. The loss of land also made Germany
poorer with the farmland of West Prussia and the industrial area of the Saar both taken.
Anschluss The forbidding of Anschluss was totally against the principle of national
League of Nations Was seen as an insult and meant that Germany couldnt defend
itself against the League.

Was the Treaty of Versailles fair?


The settlement had only removed limited amounts of land from Germany. In places like
the Polish Corridor most people werent German-speakers and saw themselves as Polish.
Alsace-Lorraine had been traditionally French so was fairly returned.
The basic strength of the German economy wasnt destroyed. Germany soon recovered
to its position as the most successful economy in Europe.
Although the German Army was hugely reduced in size, the leaders werent removed.
The army remained a powerful force in society. The generals were ready and able to
rebuild German armed forces when the time was right.
Germany clearly wasnt totally crushed. It wouldnt prevent Germany from rising again
as the economy recovered quickly and the state remained broadly intact.
The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk that the Germans had enforced on Russia was far harsher
than the Versailles Treaty, taking huge amounts of land, a quarter of the Russian
Empires population, a quarter of its industry and nine-tenths of its coalmines. This
perhaps helped to justify this treaty. The Germans were only interested in justice when
they were the victims.
It was wrong to put sole blame for the war on Germany. Other countries had been
aggressive in the years preceding 1914. One of the causes of the war was imperialism;
many countries, including Britain and France, had tried to build world empires.
The treaty punished the people instead of the rulers of Germany. Reparations hit
ordinary Germans who werent guilty.
Reparations were too high. It was believed that the figure of 6.6 billion was far more
than what Germany could afford. It was argued that Germany could afford 2 billion, but
6.6 billion would cause a collapse of the German economy, resulting in the loss of a
major European trading partner.
The Big Three hadnt allowed Germany to have any part in the negotiations of the
treaty; the Germans were simply given the treaty and forced to sign it. This lack of
discussion or consultation was considered highly unfair.
Germany had been tricked, because her government had been offered justice and
fairness by Wilson when he made his speech about the Fourteen Points. When the
Germans stopped fighting they expected to be dealt with under Wilsons terms. There
was nothing about war guilt and reparations in the Fourteen Points.
The Treaty aimed to destroy the German economy, which was a mistake, as it would do
no one any good. People throughout Europe would lose out if there were no successful
German factories of businesses.
Alsace-Lorraine was lost despite having a large number of German-speakers.
The treaty did enough to anger Germany, but not enough to permanently weaken it. The treaty
was a fatal compromise meaning that the German state remained broadly intact and the
economy quickly recovered. But, Germans would soon be seeking revenge for the harshness of
the treaty as they were aggrieved but soon in a position to challenge the outcome.

The other peace treaties

Treaty of St Germain 1919 (Austria)
Austria and Hungary were split up and separate treaties were made with each. The old Austrian
Empire had already collapsed by 1918, and this treaty was more about sorting out all territories
into new states than punishing Austria. National self-determination was broadly used to
determine where the territories should go.

Land was lost to Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Romania and Italy

Army was limited to 30,000 and navy was dissolved
Anschluss with Germany was forbidden
Reparations had to be paid

Treaty of Trianon 1920 (Hungary)

Similarly to St Germain, the main terms of the treaty were territorial. As a result of the Treaty,
Hungary was reduced so that it only included the Magyar people.

Land was lost to Romania, Czechoslovakia, Poland and Yugoslavia

Army was limited to 35,000 men
Population was reduced to 11 million
Some of the richest agricultural land was lost
Reparations had to be paid

Impact The treaty created bitterness and instability in Hungary. Democracy was again
impossible due to the treaties, and as in Germany, left-wing and right-wing militants tried to
seize power. Before the First World War, Hungary had controlled a multi-national empire, but
lost two-thirds of this territory in the Treaty. After 1920, foreign policy was dominated by a wish
to get back lost lands. To defend from Hungary, Romania, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia
formed an alliance called the Little Entente.
Treaty of Neuilly 1919 (Bulgaria)
Bulgaria had also fought on the losing side in the war.

Land was lost to Romania, Greece and Yugoslavia

The army was limited to just 20,000 men
Reparations of 100 million had to be paid

Treaty of Svres 1920 (Turkey)

The Ottoman family had ruled over a powerful Turkish Empire for many centuries, but this had
been in decline in the years before the war and the Turks fought on the losing side.

All land in Europe was lost to Greece

Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco became independent
Syria became a French mandate; Palestine, Jordan and Iraq became British mandates
Control of the Straits into the Black Sea was lost
Turkey had to disarm
Turkey had to pay reparations

Treaty of Lausanne 1923 (Revising the Turkish Treaty)

The Turkish people responded powerfully to the terms of Svres. A general known as Atatrk
led a revolution, overthrowing the Ottoman family in 1921. Once in power he used his armies to
overturn the Treaty of Svres by force, recapturing Smyrna (land lost to Greece) and
threatening to reoccupy the area around the Straits. As a result a new treaty was negotiated
with Turkey:

Most land lost to Greece was given back to Turkey

Reparations didnt have to be paid
Turkey could fortify Constantinople
Turkey could close the Straits to enemy ships if at war

Impact of the treaties on Central and Eastern Europe

There was great tension between different ethnic groups in Czechoslovakia, the only new state
in Eastern Europe that allowed free speech and democracy. Slovaks and Sudeten Germans
claimed to not be treated fairly by the Czechs.
The new Polish state was immediately involved in a series of brief wars with its neighbours, as
the Poles werent content with the borders set up in the peace treaties. Poland fought against
Germany, Czechoslovakia, Lithuania and the Soviet Union. In 1920 Poland took over the
Lithuanian city of Vilna, and by 1921 Poland had conquered a huge area of Belarus and
Ukraine. It seemed impossible to form a stable government and the country was on the verge

of civil war. Eventually the chaos came to an end in May 1926 when democracy was ended
when Marshal Pisudski seized power.
This was the right to rule yourself and created many new states in Eastern Europe.
Areas were sometimes very mixed racially
Caused small wars
Didnt apply to Germany
Created many small weak states which could be easily conquered (as Hitler proved)
Nine nations were set up (Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Hungary, Poland,
Romania, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania)
Alsace-Lorraine was given to France
Plebiscites in Schleswig, Upper Silesia and the Saar were fair

To what extent was the League of Nations a success?

The League was an association of independent states, which promised to cooperate with each
other in preserving international peace and security. Its organisation and aims were set out in
the 26 articles of the Covenant and the League came into being when the Versailles Treaty
came into effect in January 1920. It was Woodrow Wilsons most important objective at the
Versailles Conference.

The organisation of the League


42 countries at the start which had risen to 60 by the 1930s

The US Senate voted against Versailles in May 1920
The USSR didnt join the League, instead setting up the Comintern to cause revolution
Germany wasnt allowed to join as a punishment for causing the First World War
The leading members were Britain and France, helped by Italy and Japan

Assembly Met once a year. Each member state had a representative and one vote on
decisions. However, it had very little power and could only recommend certain actions. It voted
on the Leagues budget, and on the temporary members of the Council.
Council The main source of power with four permanent members. It met four or five times a
year and all decisions had to be unanimous; one country in disagreement could veto a decision.
This was the part of the League that could enforce action by:
Moral condemnation
Trade sanctions
Use of force from member states
Secretariat Civil service of the League. Carried out day-to-day business, prepared
information on problems, monitored the implementation of League decisions and informed
states of League policy. However, there were too few secretaries and it was very slow and
Health Organisation investigated the causes
international cooperation against major diseases





International Labour Organisation did much to establish standards in relation to

working hours, wages, sickness, unemployment benefit, and old age pensions
Refugee Organisation helped refugees and 400,000 prisoners of war to return to their
Mandates Commission supervised the former colonies of Germany and Turkey
Minorities Commission was active in protecting minority nationalities
International Court of Justice states were meant to submit disputes to this but
decisions didnt have to be implemented and few states entrusted in the courts ruling
Disarmament Commission had the near impossible task of persuading member states
to reduce armaments, though they had all concurred to do so when they agreed to the
covenant, and unsurprisingly made no progress



discourage aggression
encourage countries to cooperate, especially in business and trade
encourage disarmament
improve living and working conditions in all parts of the world
enforce the Treaty of Versailles

Strengths and weaknesses

Membership There were originally 42 members which grew to 60 by the 1930s. Britain
and France were the main members and were helped by Italy and Japan. These four
were quite powerful countries.
It had been set up by the Treaty of Versailles so had authority.
It originally seemed to have the ability to seriously affect an aggressor, with moral
condemnation, the ability to collectively refuse to trade and the ability to send an army.
Organisation This was a huge muddle and in a crisis no one could agree. Decisions
were very slow. Another example of this problem was the ability for a member of the
Council to veto a decision.
Britain and France werent willing to use their armies as they had other priorities. They
also often argued with each other, as they didnt trust each other.
The absent powerful countries The American Senates refusal to join the League was
perhaps the biggest weakness. Americans didnt want to get dragged into other
countries problems, damaging the League hugely. It now didnt have access to the
prestige, influence, wealth or military power of the United States. It now had to rely on
Britain and France (two declining powers). Germany was another powerful country,
which was originally banned from the League, as was the USSR.
The League had been set up by the Treaty of Versailles, so it was hated, because the
treaty was hateful.
Dictators werent going to be willing to compromise.
Moral condemnation was weak, the League had no army and countries could find ways
around sanctions.

How successful was the League in the 1920s?

The land Islands 1920
There was a dispute between Sweden and Finland about the possession of these islands, which
had been traditionally Finnish, however the population was Swedish. The League ruled in favour
of Finland and Sweden accepted this.
Silesia 1921
Germany and Poland had a dispute over Upper Silesia. The League recommended that the area
should be divided between two powers and both countries accepted this.

Austrian economy 1922

The League successfully organized a rescue plan for the Austrian economy.
Mosul 1924
The Turks demanded possession of Mosul, which had been Turkish, but was given to Iraq in the
Treaty of Svres. The League ruled in favour of Iraq and Turkey accepted this.
Bulgaria 1925
The Greeks invaded Bulgaria, which appealed for help. The League ruled that Greece was at
fault. Both sides stopped fighting and Greece agreed to pay compensation.
Germany joins League 1926
Germany joined the League as part of the Locarno settlement.
Kellogg-Briand Pact 1928
65 countries signed this, agreeing to never go to war with each other.
Danzig and the Saar
The League administered the Saarland area of Germany and the Baltic city of Danzig with great
fairness throughout the 1920s.
The League worked well to prevent leprosy and malaria.
The League attacked slave traders in Africa and Burma, freeing 200,000 slaves.
Prisoners of war
The League took home half a million World War One prisoners.
The League set up camps and fed Turkish refugees.
The League closed down four big Swiss companies, which were selling drugs.
Poland 1920
Poland took land from Russia, breaking the Treaty of Versailles, and then ignored orders from
the League to stop.
Vilna 1920
Poland seized Vilna, the Lithuanian capital. The League protested at the move and negotiated
with Poland to leave, but Poland refused and in 1923 Vilna was formally recognised as Polish.
French invasion of the Ruhr 1923
When Germany fell behind with reparations, the French invaded the industrial area of the Ruhr
and the League wasnt even consulted. France was a member of the Council so the League
couldnt do anything even though Britain disagreed with this invasion.
Memel 1923
In response to the loss of Vilna, the Lithuanians seized the German port of Memel. Lithuania
ignored League protests and it became recognised as Lithuanian.
Smyrna 1923
Turkey overturned the Treaty of Svres, pushing the Greeks out of Smyrna. The League was
unable to take any action.
Corfu 1923

Greek bandits killed four Italians who were working for the League, so Mussolini ordered Italian
ships to bombard Corfu, demanding compensation. The League couldnt agree on what action
to take because France didnt want to annoy the Italian government. In the end an agreement
was reached, but the League had no involvement in this.
Washington Treaty 1922
See below
Treaty of Rapallo 1922
See below
Geneva Protocol 1924
Britain refused to sign this French attempt to strengthen the military power of the League.
Dawes Plan 1924
This American loan gave Germany new strength as they built new factories and started to
become a big power again.
Britain objected to the 1923 conference.

The spirit of Locarno

Discussion in Washington 1921-2
The USA had refused to support the League and ignored it, organising conferences of its own in
Washington in 1921 and 1922. These concentrated on trying to limit tensions in the Pacific
(between Japan and the USA), which was precisely the sort of dispute the League was meant to
sort out. These conferences showed the world the limits of the authority of the League. The
Washington Treaty was signed in February 1922, when Britain and the US agreed to have equal
size navies and the Japanese agreed to have three-fifths of the size of each.
Rapallo 1922
There was an international conference organised by the British in Genoa. Lloyd George wanted
to find a solution to the argument between the French and the Germans over reparations and
disarmament. This was a disaster as the Americans refused to attend and the Germans and
French continued to disagree. Meanwhile, German and Soviet delegates had discussions at the
nearby town of Rapallo while the main conference was taking place. The Treaty of Rapallo was
signed in April as the governments agreed to establish friendly relations and to secretly
cooperate on military planning. News of the treaty and rumours of the secret military deal
shocked the French government. The deal enabled Germany to get hold of most weapons that
were banned under the Treaty of Versailles and as a result this treaty was a blow to the
authority of the League.
Locarno 1925
After the failure of the occupation of the Ruhr the French looked for a compromise with
Germany. This search for a compromise continued in 1925 when a major conference took place
at Locarno. The key players at Locarno were the Foreign Ministers of Britain, France and
Germany. Under the main treaty at Locarno, Germany, France and Belgium agreed to the
borders set up by the Versailles Treaty and Germany agreed to join the League of Nations.
Locarno was greeted with great enthusiasm and was seen by many as an end to the bitterness
of the war and the start of a new period of peace.

How far did the Depression make the work of the League more difficult?
24 October 1929 was the day of the Wall Street Crash. The value of American shares collapsed
and this was the start of an economic crisis that devastated the world. In the years before 1929
the American economy was by far the most important manufacturing power in the world. Many
countries relied on the USA.
American foreign policy had been isolationist before the Great Depression, but after 1929 the
US government became even more isolationist, as politicians were much more interested in

rebuilding the American economy. This even more extreme isolationism meant that Britain and
France were more cautious in dealing with dictators as they knew they didnt have the military
support of the US. Hitler and Mussolini were encouraged to think that they could be aggressive
without the risk of war with the USA.
The great powers also became very selfish, as there was unrest at home. They raised customs
duties on foreign goods entering their countries (this was called protectionism) and its aim was
to boost the demand for their own goods. It was hoped that this would create more jobs. Some
countries (such as Italy) made huge attempts to become self-sufficient. This ultimately
weakened relations between countries and the great powers of the League werent so willing to
take action (for example, in Abyssinia in 1935 Britain failed to enforce sanctions in Italy
regarding fuel as they were worried it would harm their Welsh miners).
The Depression had a huge effect in Germany. The loans they had taken from the Americans
were withdrawn and the economy collapsed. The people saw this as proof that democracy
didnt work and turned to more radical extremes. The two biggest parties in Germany became
Hitlers Nazi Party and the Communist Party. This eventually led to Hitler coming to power and
Germany rearming.
The Depression also had a great impact in Britain and France. They both made cuts as the
Germans rearmed and overtook the British in terms of arms. They were more concerned about
their empires and werent so willing to support the League financially.

Crisis in Manchuria
Why did Japan invade Manchuria?
Japan had been very hardly hit by the Great Depression, particularly because of the
collapse in the price of silk, their main export. It was believed that if the Japanese had
an empire it would help them economically. Japan could exploit such an empire for
trade, creating jobs for the Japanese people.
Although Japan was supposed to be a democracy, it was really a military dictatorship as
the army had huge amounts of power. The army was out of control and rarely consulted
the government. The army and navy desperately wanted an empire and to win military
Japan wanted an empire for extra living space. Japan is a small country without much
agricultural land, and when Manchuria was conquered, farmers were encouraged to
colonise there.
The great European powers had empires and Japan was a developed country with an
advanced industry and powerful army, so they saw no reason as to why they shouldnt
have an army.
What happened?
September 1931 An explosion occurred on the South Manchurian Railway (controlled
by the Japanese they owned what was called a 'concession', the right to run the
railway). The local Japanese army commander who was in charge of protecting the
railway claimed the explosion was the result of Chinese sabotage (in fact the Japanese
staged the whole incident). This was called the Mukden Incident and he used it as an
excuse to take control of the whole of Manchuria (northern part of China).
February 1932 The Japanese set up a new 'independent' government in what was now
renamed Manchukuo with the last Chinese Emperor, Pu Yi, as its 'puppet' ruler. In fact he
was closely controlled by the Japanese army.
Response of the League
The issue went before the League Council and the majority wanted the Japanese to concentrate
their troops at one point only, however Japan was a permanent member and was therefore able
to simply veto the proposal. This showed a huge flaw in the structure of the League. The Lytton
Commission was sent to China (by boat!!!) to investigate and after a whole year (!!!) it was
decided that it was Japans fault, by which time the Japanese were in total control. The League
morally condemned Japan, and that was it. Japan then walked out of the League.
Impact on the League

This showed how the structure of the League was ineffective

The League took far too long to act
This showed that collective security was a failure
An aggressor could simply walk out of the League, as Japan did here

Crisis in Abyssinia
Why did Italy invade Abyssinia?
Like Japan, Italy wanted an empire. They looked at the great powers of Britain and
France and they had empires, so why shouldnt Italy have one too? Abyssinia was one of
the last remaining parts of Africa that hadnt been colonised so offered a great
opportunity for Italy. It would also be economically useful to Italy as it was a rich country
with fertile lands. Furthermore, Mussolini had promised since 1922 to win significant
territory and hadnt done so yet.
Italy was a poor country and had been hit very hard by the Great Depression. Mussolini
wanted to distract the people from the hardships at home with a short glorious war.
Mussolini desperately wanted to avenge the embarrassing defeat that the Italians had
suffered at Adowa in 1896.
Italy knew that they would get away with it. The League of Nations had failed to act in
Manchuria, so why would they act here? Also, Abyssinia was one of the few remaining
places where slavery was still widely practiced, and it had been condemned by many for
this. The League wasnt going to act to defend a country like this. Mussolini also
correctly realised that the British and French were much more concerned about the
threat posed by Hitler in Europe than Italy in Africa. Italy had signed the Stresa Front in
1935 with Britain and France agreeing to contain the threat from Nazi Germany. Britain
and France would not put this pact at risk by standing up to Italy over Abyssinia.
What happened?
After a long build up of forces in neighbouring Eritrea and Libya (both Italian colonies),
and after a 'border dispute' over the Wal Wal Oasis, in October 1935 Italian forces
attacked Abyssinia.
It was expected that the war would be very short and glorious but in actual fact the
Abyssinians put up an unexpectedly tough resistance. Italy had over half a million men
involved in the fighting with modern tanks and aircraft fighting against poorly equipped
tribesmen, but they still suffered defeats. Mussolini used poisonous gas, to the horror of
people around the world. But in May 1936 the Abyssinian capital Addis Ababa finally fell
bringing the war to an end.
Response of the League
The League quite simply had to act. Italy had quite clearly done exactly what the
League was set up to stop; it was an unprovoked attack on Abyssinia. It was agreed that
sanctions were to be imposed, but these didnt go far enough. While arms sales to Italy
were restricted, there was no restriction at all on fuel sails to Italy. Italy totally relied on
imports of coal and oil as they had no fuel reserves and if this had happened Italy might
have been forced to abandon the war. However, the British didnt want their Welsh
miners to suffer economically and it was also known that whatever the League did, the
USA would just trade with Italy. Sanctions werent effective with the US. The League
could also have closed the Suez Canal, Italys main supply route to Abyssinia, which
may also have brought the war to an end. All in all there were sanctions, but by no
means were they comprehensive enough.
Even worse than this, Britain and Frances Foreign Ministers tried to reach a deal with
Mussolini, as they didnt want to fall out with him; they desperately needed him as an
ally against Germany. They planned to secretly put a secret deal to Mussolini, giving him
four-fifths of Abyssinia and most of the best agricultural land. This was to be called the
Hoare-Laval Pact but was never presented to Mussolini as it got leaked to the press. Of
course there was public outcry and Hoare and Laval both had to resign as people
sympathised with Abyssinia. This further demonstrated the weakness of the
League, showing how countries put selfish matters above the interests of the

As a consequence it led to the development of a close alliance between Hitler and Mussolini.
Before the Abyssinia crisis, in the Stresa Pact of 1935, Italy, Britain and France had agreed to
cooperate to make sure that Germany did not become too powerful. However, British and
French actions during the Abyssinian crisis (especially the sanctions) annoyed Mussolini enough
to make him look towards Hitler as an ally. This resulted in the Rome-Berlin Axis signed in
October 1936. This was an agreement between Italy and Germany to cooperate in international
affairs. The alliance between Germany and Italy was further strengthened by the Spanish Civil
War of 1936. During the Spanish Civil War, German and Italian forces (especially their air
forces) helped Franco's army defeat the Republicans. Most famously in April 1937 the German
Luftwaffe completely destroyed the Spanish town of Guernica.
Japan, Italy and Germany also signed the Anti-Comintern Pact, a step towards an alliance
between the three in the war. (The Comintern was the Soviet organisation whose job was to
spread communism worldwide)

How successful was the League in the 1930s?

USSR joins League 1934
The Soviet Union became a member of the League in 1934.
Manchuria 1931
See above
Germany leaves League
Hitler had despised the League since it was set up and withdrew Germany from it just a year
after he came to power.
Abyssinia 1935
See above

Why did the League of Nations fail?

Britain and France
They were unwilling to use their armies and had other priorities. Also, as the two most powerful
countries in the League, they didnt trust each other and often disagreed. The rule that Council
decisions had to be unanimous made decisions even more difficult to make.
Absent members
The League was greatly weakened by the refusal of the USA to join. If America had joined, the
League wouldve had more power and authority. Other powerful countries were either excluded
or chose to leave. Germany didnt join until 1926 and the USSR was excluded until 1934, by
which time Germany had left the League.
This was cumbersome, making decisions very slow.
Set up by Treaty of Versailles
The League had been set up by the hateful Treaty of Versailles meaning the League was to
always be associated with the Treaty and therefore hated too.
Great Depression
Countries acted to save their own interests and ignored the League.
Hitler and Mussolini were not willing to compromise with the League.

The reputation of the League was strongly damaged by the Leagues failures. Eventually
members ignored it and didnt bother taking it into account.
The League had no army and moral condemnation was ignored by powerful nations. People
also found ways around sanctions (often through the USA).

Why had international peace collapsed by 1939?

What were the long-term consequences of the peace treaties?
Versailles solved absolutely nothing. It left the people of the victorious nations feeling guilty, as
the treaty was too harsh. The harshness and loss of land simply made Hitlers aggression look
justified, as other countries felt sympathetic. The large number of small states surrounding
Germany, which had been created by self-determination, fell so easily as prey to Hitler. Most of
all the Treaty made Germans angry and desperate for revenge.
League of Nations (created by treaties)
Failed to achieve disarmament, eventually leading to an arms race. It was weak from the start
with structural and other aforementioned problems. The spectacular failures of Manchuria and
Abyssinia were inevitable due to this and it failed to prevent Hitler from breaking the Treaty of
Versailles. Countries left the failing League realising that a war would have to be fought. Britain
and France abandoned the collective security policy of the League, turning to appeasement.

What were the consequences of the failures of the League in the 1930s?
It proved that the members of the League were too selfish and that collective security would
never work. Consequently countries didnt take the League into account in future when
considering and invasion of another country and many members left the League having lost
faith in it.

Hitlers Foreign Policy

Destroy France
Win British support
Win Italian support
Destroy Communist Russia
To overturn the Treaty of Versailles This included rearmament and recovering lost
territories. He saw the Treaty as unjust and as a betrayal of all the soldiers during the
war. He believed that Germany had been stabbed in the back by the politicians who
were the November Criminals. He promised to overturn the Treaty and was determined
to end reparations, rebuild Germanys armed forces, reoccupy the Rhineland, and undo
the territorial settlement of Versailles.
To expand Hitler wanted to create a great German empire, which would unite all
German-speaking people under his control. He wanted to win back areas lost such as
West Prussia and he also wanted to unite with Austria and the Sudetenland of
To expand to the East This was to gain lebensraum (living space) for the German
people. He believed that Germany was overcrowded and didnt possess sufficient
natural resources or space to allow the German people to grow in numbers and wealth.
He believed this space could be in Eastern Europe. Eastern Europe was rich in resources,
home to the inferior Slavs who could be enslaved and were communists (who Hitler
hated and saw as Jew-inspired). Hitlers other option would have been to colonise but
that would have brought Germany into conflict with Britain, a conflict Hitler desperately
wanted to avoid.

Versailles was hugely helpful to Hitler. People in Germany were still furious about the way in
which Germany had been treated and were prepared to support Hitlers ambitious foreign
policy, as they wanted revenge. It also helped internationally. People like Chamberlain (the
British Prime Minister) were sympathetic towards Hitlers policy as they felt the Treaty had been
too harsh.

In 1933 Hitler withdrew Germany from the World Disarmament Conference, claiming that no
country in Europe was prepared to disarm. He pulled Germany out of the League in 1933 and
secretly rearmed for two years.
Hitlers main aims with regards to disarmament were to treble the army to 300,000 men, build
an air force (the Luftwaffe), and construct fortifications and airfields. During these two years
German produced tanks, aeorplanes and warships.
Then in 1935, he openly defied the Treaty of Versailles announcing that conscription would be
introduced. Later that year he signed the Anglo-German Naval Agreement, which meant that
Germany could now expand its navy, provided that it didnt surpass 35% of the size of the
British fleet.
By 1938 the German army had reached 800,000 men, while the navy had 21 warships and 50

Saar Plebiscite 1935

The Saar region of Germany was a massively industrial area, which had been transferred to the
League (in actual fact France) under the Treaty of Versailles.
Now, after 15 years this period had expired and there was to be a plebiscite to see whether the
people wanted to join Germany.
The result wasnt obvious as many people in the Saar were working class (possibly hostile
towards Hitler). A lot of people were also Catholic and they tended to not support Hitler.
Ultimately, as a result of a huge propaganda campaign, Hitler had a huge success here as 90%
of people voted to rejoin Germany.

Remilitarisation of the Rhineland 1936

Under the Treaty of Versailles the Rhineland, the area that bordered France, was demilitarised,
meaning that no German troops could be stationed there and no defences could be built. This
was done in order to prevent France from a surprise attack from Germany.
Hitler was determined to change this and on 7 March 1936 he ordered 32,000 German troops
into the Rhineland. This was a huge risk to take, because if he had been forced to withdraw he
would have faced complete and utter humiliation, losing the support of the German people. A
war at this stage would have unquestionably resulted in defeat for Germany. In fact, the army
was under strict orders to withdraw if they came up against any type of opposition.
However, the Allies did nothing for several reasons:
Hitler combined his aggression with a pledge that he would never break the peace of
Europe, and saying that Germany had no territorial claims in Europe.
Britain, France and the League of Nations were currently preoccupied with the Abyssinia
Britain was not prepared to risk war with Germany by standing up to Hitler and to an
extent believed that Germany should have the right to station troops in their own
territory. Without British support France would not act.
Hitler got away with a major triumph here!

Germany learnt many lessons from this:

The terms of the Treaty of Versailles could be ignored; the former allies were not
prepared to use force to uphold the Treaty.
Hitler could achieve his aims using force rather than diplomacy.
The French werent prepared to use force even to defend basic security interests on
their eastern border. They were therefore likely to be equally as unwilling when it came
to other issues.
The British were a bit sympathetic towards the Germans and their claims to alter the
terms of the Treaty of Versailles.

Spanish Civil War 1936

After a civil war broke out between the communists and the right-wing rebels under General
Franco in Spain, Hitler saw this as an opportunity to rise against communism and try out his
armed forces. In 1937, German aircraft made devastating bombing raids on civilian populations
in several Spanish cities. The destruction of Guernica was particularly terrible.
It also provided an opportunity for the German military to work closely alongside the Italian
military, so soon after the signing of the Rome-Berlin Axis and the Anti-Comintern Pact. Italy
was also in support of General Francos military uprising.

Rome-Berlin Axis 1936

Mussolini was angered by the attacks (although mild) of Britain and France on his invasion of
Abyssinia. Relations between Germany and Italy rapidly improved as the Stresa Front collapsed
and in October 1936, Germany and Italy formed an alliance promising mutual support.

Anti-Comintern Pact
Mussolini was heavily involved in the Spanish Civil War when relations between Germany and
Italy had become as strong as ever. At this point similarities were also noticed with the military
dictatorship in Japan. In 1936 Germany and Japan signed the pact and in 1937 Italy signed it
too. This pact means Anti-Communist International as it was against the Comintern, a group of
communist-led countries, led by the USSR, attempting to spread communism. The aim of the
pact was to limit the communist influence around the world, particularly from Russia.

Anschluss 1938
Anschluss means union between Germany and Austria. It was strictly forbidden under the
Treaty of Versailles but Hitler was determined to join the two countries together for several
Both countries were racially very similar and had largely 'Germanic' populations. Hitler
believed that all Germans should live in one country. This was particularly the case, after
all, as he had been born in Austria himself.
Austria was an industrialised country with a reasonably sized army. Hitler realised that
Anschluss would make Germany a more powerful country. It would also demonstrate
how he had been brave enough to defy the Treaty of Versailles.
The one country that could stand up to Hitler and prevent him taking control of Austria
was probably Italy. Italy had a border with Austria and in the past had been particularly
concerned to prevent Anschluss. In 1934, when Hitler had threatened to take control of
Austria for the first time, Mussolini mobilised the Italian army to prevent him! But by
1936, Italy was prepared to allow Hitler to take control of Austria. It was angry about the
way in which the League had treated it over Abyssinia, and in October 1936 Italy signed
an alliance with Germany. So with Italy on his side, Hitler knew he could get away with
invasion of Austria if necessary.
In fact invasion was not necessary as the Austrian government, placed under tremendous
pressure by Hitler, was intimidated into agreeing to union with Germany. Schuschnigg, the
Austrian Chancellor, tried to avoid union by organising a plebiscite (vote) in 1938 in the hope

that the Austrian people would vote against union, but when Hitler reacted by mobilising the
German army, thereby threatening Austria with war, Schuschnigg resigned. Seyss-Inquart, of
the Austrian Nazi Party took his place and he invited the German army into the country to
restore order. 80,000 opponents of union and the Nazi Party were imprisoned. Austrian Jews
were made to scrub the streets of Vienna. Schuschnigg was imprisoned. But war had been
avoided because Britain and France appeased Hitler and refused to stand up for Austrian
The situation in Austria was regularised by a plebiscite, which Hitler held on 14 March 1938.
Over 99% of Austrian voting agreed with union with Germany. In fact there was widespread
intimidation at the ballot boxes.
Hitler had once again breached a key measure of the Treaty of Versailles. Britain and France
were not prepared to face a war with Germany over Austria, considering that the Austrian
people welcomed the move. The British considered it an application of the principle of national

How far was Hitlers foreign policy to blame for the outbreak of war in 1939?
To a great extent Hitlers foreign policy caused the Second World War. Without it there would
undoubtedly have been no war.
However, there were many other causes of the war (See below)

What is appeasement?
Appeasement can be defined as giving a bully what he wants and was the approach taken
towards Hitlers aggression in the 1930s by Britain and France. The western powers were
submissive and allowed Hitler to keep breaking promises in the hope that they could somehow
avoid war.
The main steps of appeasement
1935 Accepting German rearmament (including Anglo-German Naval Agreement)
1936 Taking no action against German remilitarisation of the Rhineland
1937-9 Allowing Hitler to use German bombers in Spanish Civil War
1938 Taking no action over Anschluss
1938 Giving in over the Sudetenland at Munich
Why did Britain follow the policy of appeasement (the French couldnt act without
British support)?
Fear of another war Unemployment had been high since the end of the war and the
quality of British life had remained poor. There was great desire from the people to
avoid the ghastly scenes of the Great War reoccurring and there was also great fear of
what they believed a war c0uld mean at this more advanced stage. Chamberlain would
not have had enough public support to go to war.
Belief in the League It was believed that the League of Nations could solve any
problems so the British shouldnt have to deal with Hitler individually.
Britain needed time It was estimated that Britain would not be ready for war until
1940 and it was therefore necessary to avoid war until then in order to complete
military preparations. Appeasement bought Britain a year to rearm.
Lack of allies In the event of a war with Germany, strong allies would be needed and
Britain lacked these. France was weak and unprepared, America was strongly isolationist
and the British were reluctant to unite with communist Russia, as they believed
communism was as bad as Nazism. It was important to avoid war, as they were too
weak without allies.
Concern for the Empire The British Empire covered about one-quarter of the globe
and was vital to the government for strength. A war with Germany would threaten it as
many colonies believed in appeasement and would break off in the event of war.

Appeasement was necessary in order to avoid war and consequently the losses of
Sympathy Many people sympathised with Hitlers demands because the Treaty of
Versailles had been so harsh.
Misjudgment of Hitler Chamberlain misjudged Hitler and trusted him and his
promises. For example, he believed that the Sudetenland would be Hitlers final
Fear of communism People allowed Hitler to grow because they thought a strong
Germany could stop Russia.

Criticisms of appeasement
Appeasement against aggressors simply encouraged more aggression They
had not resisted Japan in Manchuria, Italy in Abyssinia, Hitler reoccupying the Rhineland
or Anschluss with Austria. Each time more aggression was encouraged as aggressors
believed they could get way with it. If Hitler had been resisted from the beginning he
might have been more cautious.
Loss of Czechoslovakia as an ally Through appeasement an important ally was lost
by Britain in Czechoslovakia. It had a large army and strong defences and Hitler was
now in possession of all these benefits.
War was not prevented The war began just a year after the Munich agreement.
Germany was much better prepared by then than it had been in 1936 for war, when it
could have first been stopped. Through appeasement, Germany was allowed to become
much more powerful than Britain and France.
Results of appeasement
Britain was given time to rearm
Gave Britain moral high ground when war came they knew they had done everything
to avoid it
Was a fine attempt to prevent millions of deaths at war
Hitler grew stronger
Britain was humiliated no country in Central Europe ever trusted Britain again
Millions of people were abandoned to the Nazis
Caused the war encouraged Hitler to think he could get away with anything
Was never going to stop Hitler who was determined to go to war
Was the policy of appeasement justified?
People sympathised with Hitler after the harshness of Versailles and felt he had the right
to expand
It was an attempt to avoid another war after the horrors of World War One
It was seen as a possible way of eliminating the communist threat posed by Russia
Britain was not in a position to fight with a weak army and a distinct lack of strong allies
Not justified:
They dealt with Hitler as a rational person and failed to realise that he was determined
to go to war until it was too late to avoid it
They kept believing Hitlers promises and he kept breaking them but they continued to
A number of opportunities were missed to stand up and stop Hitler because of

Munich and the destruction of Czechoslovakia 1938

Just weeks after Anschluss with Austria, Hitler turned his attention towards Czechoslovakia.
Czechoslovakia had a very strong army with 34 divisions stationed in strong defensive positions
in the Sudetenland. It also had the famous Skoda Works and large coal and mineral reserves.
Hitler wanted to take over these valuable resources.
While the majority of the Czechoslovak population was made up of Czechs and Slovaks there
were 3 million German-speaking people living in the Sudetenland (western part of the country,

bordering Germany). Hitler wanted these people to be able to live as part of a new German
Empire and, upon making his demands for territory, claimed that he was acting to protect the
Sudeten Germans from persecution from the Czechoslovak government. The leader of the
Czech Nazi Party was Konrad Henlein and he campaigned for the transfer of the Sudetenland to
Hitler also wanted Czechoslovakia as part of his policy of getting extra living space for what he
believed was an over-populated Germany.
In April 1938, against the backdrop of ever-louder protest from Sudeten Germans, German
troops began massing along the Czechoslovak border. In response the Czech government
mobilised Czech army units. France was an ally of Czechoslovakia and Britain was morally
committed to defending France so it seemed that Britain would be dragged into the war.
Chamberlain tried to avoid war by putting pressure on President Bene to grant extra rights to
Sudeten Germans but this failed to satisfy Hitler.
In September 1938 Hitler told the Czech Germans that he would support their claims to join
Germany and their response was to begin rioting in hope that the Czechoslovak government
could give in to their demands. These riots were crushed by the Czech government, outraging
Hitler and prompting him to threaten war.
Chamberlain held several meetings in an attempt to resolve the crisis. Initially Hitler demanded
areas in the Sudetenland where Germans formed the majority, but then a week later he
demanded that the whole of the Sudetenland be transferred to Germany. War now seemed very
likely and trenches were being built in London.
On 29 September the Munich Conference, which had been organised by Mussolini, took place
between Britain, Germany, France and Italy. There was no Czechoslovakian representation at
Munich. Britain and France agreed to Hitlers demands on the condition that this was the last
time Hitler would demand extra territory for Germany. With no support the Czech government
was forced to agree, with the President resigning. The Germans marched into the Sudetenland
on 1 October.
Chamberlain flew back to Britain and on his arrival waved a piece of paper, which had been
signed by Hitler, promising never to go to war with Britain. He was greeted as a hero by
terrified Brits even though Czechoslovakia had been betrayed.
Six months later Hitler proceeded to take the remainder of Czechoslovakia. The country had
been greatly weakened by the loss of the Sudetenland and many other minorities had
attempted to break away too after the Germans had managed it. There was great unrest in
Czechoslovakia with no order at all leaving it very vulnerable to attack. In March 1939 Hitler
took the rest of Czechoslovakia.

Anglo-Soviet Talks August 1939

The Soviet Union had been alarmed by the rise of Hitler and was aware of Hitlers hatred of
Russia. The USSR therefore aimed to build relations with the western powers against Germany.
However they made little progress for several reasons:
Suspicion Chamberlain didnt trust Stalin, as he was a communist dictator. Stalin didnt
trust the British and thought that they wanted to trick him into war with Germany.
Poland didnt trust the USSR but did trust Britain.
Choice Britain didnt have the ability to send troops into Poland, so if Stalin supported
Britain, Russia would have ended up fighting in Poland on Britains behalf. On the other
hand Hitler was promising him peace, half of Poland and a sphere of influence over
Eastern Europe.
Appeasement Stalin didnt believe that Britain would honour its promise to Poland and
thought that Russia would end up fighting Germany alone.
Britain delayed talks Initially Lord Halifax refused to hold talks with Russia; when an
official was finally sent he couldnt make any decisions and eventually Stalin got fed up.

Nazi-Soviet Pact August 1939

After the collapse of negotiations with Britain and France, Stalin did a deal with Hitler. It was
agreed that they would not attack each other, the USSR would remain neutral if Germany
invaded Poland and, privately, they agreed to divide Poland between them.
Why did Hitler sign it?
Hitler saw the advantage of Soviet neutrality when Germany invaded Poland. He was
worried about the potential Russian resistance. Without Russian support Britain would
have to back down over Poland and Danzig.
Why did Stalin sign it?
It gave Russia 18 months to prepare militarily for war
It gave him hope that Britain, France and Germany would wear each other out in a long
He was promised land in Poland
He felt insulted by the slowness in the negotiations with Britain and didnt trust them,
forcing him to turn to Hitler
He doubted that Britain and France would be strong enough allies against Hitler,
especially as they had failed over Czechoslovakia
This pact was instrumental in causing war. It freed up Hitler to invade Poland, as Russia would
now not stop him. It ended British hopes of an alliance with Stalin meaning that the only way to
stop Hitler now was to go to war.

Poland 1939
In response to the invasion of Czechoslovakia Britain and France guaranteed Polish
independence. This was a great change to British foreign policy as it was now Hitler who would
decide whether there was to be a war or not.
However, after British action in Czechoslovakia, Hitler believed that the two countries were
bluffing. Hitler wanted Poland in order to recover land lost in the Treaty of Versailles and wanted
to eliminate the division between Germany and East Prussia. He also invaded for lebensraum
as the superior German people could enslave the Poles and take the land.
He thought he could get away with it as he had so many times before where Britain and France
had backed down. He now had Russia on his side, the only way in which he felt he could be
stopped. The Polish army was also very weak in terms of equipment, although strong in terms
of numbers.
1 September 1939 Hitler invaded Poland
3 September 1939 Britain and France declared war on Germany

Why did Britain and France declare war on Germany in September 1939?
In February 1939 Franco won the Spanish Civil War so it seemed that Fascism was on the
increase everywhere.
On 15 March 1939 Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia so people realised that only a war would stop
In March 1939 Chamberlain and Daladier promised to defend Poland, making war inevitable
when Hitler did eventually invade Poland.
In April 1939 Mussolini invaded Albania demonstrating how Fascism was taking over and how
Fascists wanted to take over the world.

In May 1939 Hitler and Mussolini signed the Pact of Steel demonstrating how Hitler was building
up his forces for war.
The signing of the Nazi-Soviet Pact in August 1939 meant that Hitler was now free to invade
Hitler stirred up trouble in August 1939 demanding the Polish Corridor and eventually invaded
Poland on 1 September.

Causes of World War Two

Treaty of Versailles
It solved nothing. Reparations left the victorious nations feeling guilty and the defeated often
were often left crippled. It made German aggression seem justified and self-determination left a
collection of weak nations surrounding Germany, which fell easily. Most of all it left angry
Germans who wanted revenge and therefore supported Hitler.
League of Nations
It was weak structurally and in terms of nations involved, from the start. It failed to deal with
Hitler and had other embarrassing failures. It failed to achieve disarmament and countries left
it realising that war was inevitable. Britain and France abandoned it and its principles by taken
their own policy of appeasement towards Germany as opposed to collective security.
It encouraged aggression and hence war as Hitler thought that he would not be stopped. It also
led to Stalin allying with Germany as opposed to Britain because he didnt trust Chamberlain.
He was determined to fight a war and to create a German Empire. He wanted a rematch so to
speak of the First World War, which he felt the Germans had unfairly lost.
Seven steps to war
Rearmament, remilitarisation of the Rhineland, Anschluss, Sudetenland, Czechoslovakia, NaziSoviet Pact, Poland