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Higher Level History Notes
The Russian people are descendants of the ‘Rus’ who are thought to be a mixture of
Scandinavian and Slavic origin and settled in that region out of ± 800 AD
A major legacy of the Byzantine Empire for the Russians was the eastern orthodox or Greek
With the decline of Byzantium came a wave of conquest from the East, the Mongols until the
century (Tatars). To a large extent, the Mongols allowed Russians to maintain their way of
- Slavic based languages including writing system (Cyrillic)
- Orthodox religion
The Russians adopted much from Asian culture and this led western Europeans to think less of
Geographically Russia was isolated from the rest of Europe:
- Entirely land locked (mostly)
- Huge Plains of Eastern Europe prevented overland travel
During these early years there were a series of muscovite princes based in Moscow and called
themselves Tsars. By the 17
century the Romanov family became the ruling dynasty:
- Alexander I (1801-1825)
- Nicholas I (1825-1855)
- Alexander II (1855-1881)
- Alexander III (1881-1894)
- Nicholas II (1894-1917)
Under the rule of Peter the Great (1689-1728) Russia grew greatly in size and entered the
The Russia of 1800 was one of the greatest autocracies in Europe where:
- The Tsar’s rule was absolute
- There was a small, but powerful landowning elite
- The vast majority of the population existed in a state called serfdom
Serfdom: refers to the legal and economic status of peasants (serf).
In Russia Serfdom practically equaled slavery
- In 1646, landowners registered peasants living on their land. From then they are
considered property of the estate.
- Serfs could not leave the estates unless sold or relocated by owner
- Serfs could not marry who they wish
Background to Anti-Semitism
Hostility and prejudice against Jewish people
The Jewish people have a long history of discrimination in Europe. They were expelled from the
Promised Land by the Romans, so, many Jews settled throughout medieval Europe.
- Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD
As the church in Rome grew in power, the persecution of the Jews also grew. This caused many
Jews to move to Eastern Europe, where at that time, the Orthodox Church was more tolerant.
During the reformation (1500s), the climate of religious intolerance grew. Protestants were also
guilty of anti-Semitism, with Luther himself being very hateful towards Jews.
Every major European country experienced waves of anti-Semitism in which Jews had limited
rights/ were driven out of countries/ slaughtered by the thousands. By the late 19
Russians actually adopted this violence against Jews as official policy approved by government.
These sanctioned campaigns are known as pilgrims.
By the late 19
century many Europeans believed the myths and propaganda that had grown to
blame the Jews for almost every conceivable social/economic/political problem.
Background of Alexander I
Alexander I (1801-1825) had taken Russia through a turbulent period in terms of foreign affairs,
- Napoleonic Wars and the congress of Vienna
- The attempted revolutions of the early 1800s in Europe
During his reign Russia grew geographically with Alexander securing most of Poland, Finland
and Bessarabia. Domestically Alexander I did very little to improve Russia’s social or political
development. The death of Alexander I in December 1825 gave anti-autocracy conspirators
their cue to plan a revolution
The Decembrist Revolt
As the revolt took place on the first day of Nicholas I’s reign, he was inheriting the legacy of
Alexander I, his eldest brother.
Although a miserable failure, this revolt marked the first political movement directed against
established system of Russian Imperial Autocracy. Prior to this point the position of the Tsar
was never questioned by any inside Russia.
The leaders of this revolt were not united in their arms, however they all agreed that Russia
needed some significant changes
- Some were calling for a constitutional monarchy
- Others wanted to get rid of the Tsar altogether and establish a republic
- Some wanted the emancipation of the serfs, as well as judicial reform
- The leaders of this revolt were a handful of army officers who had seen a more
liberal world while in the west during the Napoleonic wars, they wanted these same
kind of reforms for their own country
Nicholas I (1825-1855)
“Orthodoxy, Autocracy, Nationalism”
Nicholas’ upbringing and training had prepared him for the military, not ruling Russia. Nicholas
was opposed to any political reform or change in Russia and was convinced that military
discipline was needed to control Russia. This was due to:
- His personality which was very rigid and controlling
- His suspicions about any dissent after the December Revolt
- Political climate in the rest of Europe
Russia’s Domestic Scene
To stamp out any opposition to the autocracy, Nicholas established a secret police (Okhrana)
which quickly became notorious for its brutality. He viewed education and universities as the
nourishment of subversive ideas, so he closed down many schools.
Nicholas did nothing to improve the economy, which became weaker than other European
Russian Foreign Affairs
Having the largest empire in Europe, both in terms of mass and population, Nicholas felt he had
a special position and role in European politics. He saw himself as the guardian of the status
quo, and as such thought it was his responsibility to use his great army to put down any liberal
revolts in other autocratic empires. He did this successfully in 1848 in Hungary where his armies
crushed a revolt against the Habsburgs.
Like all previous Tsars, Nicholas had visions of Russian expansion to the south east along the
black sea. However, it was this goal that ultimately saw his demise in the Crimean War of 1855.
Serfdom in Russia
Impact on the population:
- Kept them uneducated and illiterate
- Very little awareness of politics especially at the national level
- Were very dependent on their surfs and lacked a strong work ethic (lazy!)
- A small minority felt guilty exploiting their fellow human beings
Impact on the country:
- Due to restrictions of moving off, the Land lords holdings, serfs did not tend to
migrate to cities
- This hindered the development of towns and industries
- The reduced economic development in turn stunted the development of a middle
class which is typically the moderating influence of a society
- Because there were very few people with moderate or liberal ideas, when new ideas
did develop they tended to be quite radical
The Eastern Question
During the 19
century Europe was dominated by the great powers
- Italy (after 1859)
- Germany (after 1871)
After the defeat of Napoleon in 1815, these powers worked together in a system called “The
concert of Europe” or the “Congress system.” The goal of this system was to maintain the
balance of Power in Europe and the rest of the world.
This goal was threatened by the fact that the Ottoman Empire was in decline which meant
possible changes to the European map.
In the 19
century the great powers had interests in the geographical area of the Ottomans
a. Didn’t want Russian warships to be able to exit the Black Sea via the Aegean
b. Didn’t want the Balkans states, who were pushing for independence from the
Ottomans, to fall into the hands of the Russians
c. Wanted to ensure that their shortened route (via the Suez Canal) stayed in
Ottoman hands not Russian hands
a. Wanted the straights (dardinel and
b. Viewed themselves as the natural heir to rule the Balkans
a. Was in a very precarious situation because there were many ethnic groups
within their borders that were seeking independence
b. Hope Ottoman Empire would maintain control over the Balkans, lest newly
independent would cause minorities in Austria to want to do the same
a. Was interested in trying to gain trade and influence in Egypt
The Crimean War (1853-1856)
This was the first war involving most of the great powers since 1815. It marked the beginning of
the end of the balance of powers
- Diplomatic concerns over long standing eastern question lay behind the conflict
- The more immediate ‘fuse’ lay in the conflict about which European powers should have
control over the interest of Christians and Christian sites within the Ottoman Empire
- Nicholas I was not prepared to hand over his ‘protectorate’ of some 12 million orthodox
- When negotiations failed, Russia occupied the Ottoman territories of Moldovia and
Wallachia in an attempt to win control over the religious issue
- The Turks protested and in 1853 declared war on Russia
The Russians were very successful against the Turks and in March 1854, France and Britain felt
compelled to help the Ottomans against what they saw as a Russian threat. Britain and France
attacked Russia’s ‘soft underbelly’, the Crimea, and that is where the fighting largely contained.
Russia’s home court advantage of a larger army and shorter supply lines were eventually
outweighed by the greater ineptitude of her military leaders and the poor training/equipment
of the soldiers. With the fall of Sevastopol, in September of 1855, and the Austria ultimatum,
the Russians surrendered in January 1856 with the treaty of Paris signed shortly thereafter.
Significance of Crimean War
Marked some major changes in warfare:
- Artillery and rifles replacing cavalry and bayonets
- The scale of casualties was large some 675,000 men died
- Field hospitals and army nurses introduced
- First war covered live in the newspaper
Marked the end of the congress system that had kept the peace of Europe for some 40 years. It
showed everyone that Russia was weak and forced the new Tzar to implement a program of
Until 1905 Russia was an absolute monarchy. This is the way the Tzars wanted it and kept it that
way through the control of these institutions
1) The bureaucracy, which acted as a personal staff to the Tzars, rather than as civil
servants to the nation
2) The police force, which was divided into two branches
a. One to maintain law and order among the people
b. One to protect the state from the people
3) The army which traditionally stayed out of politics. They simply followed the
order of whoever was in power
4) The landed gentry who had no real function within Russia. They were essentially
a parasitic class having money but no responsibilities.
5) The Orthodox Church, which was used as a tool to educate Russians in ‘correct’
The Development of the Intelligentsia
The Intelligentsia- who were they?
They were educated Russians that were open to Western ideas and were obsessed with
Russia’s destiny. Students, university graduates, people who had leisure time to read (wealthy)
Also included a new generation of educated Russians coming from the children of the rising
merchant class- it wasn’t just the aristocracy and landed gentry
The Decembrists of 1825 were the forerunners and martyrs of the Intelligentsia during the
reign of Nicholas I not much had changed with regard to reform within Russia. Nicholas I
banned all open discussion on the subject of reforming Russia and thus those interested were
forced underground to discuss their ‘dangerous’ ideas. This led some to become more radical in
their desire for change. By the time of Alexander II they became known as the Intelligentsia.
Because they were educated, they saw themselves as above the Russian masses and therefore
took on the role of ‘social engineer’ trying to build a perfect society.
The more extreme Intelligentsia dreamed of molding a whole new society which made them
hostile towards reforms. The Russian masses did not tend to support them and their
Significance of 19
century Russian Intelligentsia
They were the only group that raised and debated questions concerning serious political and
social change in Russia
This group included some of Europe’s foremost literary giants
Introduction to the reforms of Alexander II
Social reform was needed because:
o There were fears of wide-spread peasant revolt
o The immobile peasants population was impairing attempts to industrialize
o The general level of education was far lower than in the other Great Powers
Political and Economic reform was needed because:
o After the humiliating Crimean defeat the Russian administration needed to be
o Crimean War left the Russian economy strained
o Serfdom was no longer economically advantageous
Military reforms were needed because:
o The Russian army was poorly equipped, poorly supplied and poorly trained
o The army was too large and was taking up between 40 and 50 percent of Russia’s
o The existence of a large, trained, armed group of peasants was dangerous given
the general mood of unhappiness within the serfs
Alexander said to the nobles:
“It is better to abolish bondage from above than to wait for the time when it will
begin to abolish itself from below”
The reforms of Alexander II
In 1858 Alexander II stated his aims for reform:
Stage 1: The peasant must immediately feel that his life has improved
Stage 2: The landowners must immediately be reassured that their interests are
Stage 3: The government must never be weak in maintain law and order
The first major reform was the Emancipation Act of 1861 which took the form of 22 separate
pieces of legislation between 1851 and 1863 resulting in:
Serfs being given the right to marry, own property and set up in business
Serfs still being tied to the mir
o The mir- a peasant commune where the land was owned commonly, controlled
paternalistically (oldest man)
o The mir acted as the unpaid civil service collecting taxes
Serfs having to pay redemption payments for the next 49 years
Judicial reforms were passed to create the image of equality before the law with:
o Open courts and jury trials
o The introduction of justices of the peace and a bar of lawyers that gave the
peasants two sources of legal support
o Officials could only be tried under special circumstances and with the
o Military courts retained their own jurisdiction
o Ex-serfs were restricted to special courts and the governments kept informal
pressure on the judges to comply with official policies and attitudes
Elected districts and provincial assemblies called Zemstva (zemstvo in singular) were
created and represented the first form of popular involvement in the government of
Although all classes of men could vote/enter, the assemblies were dominated by the
The zemtsva had limited powers over public health, public education and prisons, but
the provincial governor could veto their decisions if they were deemed to be ‘contrary’
to the laws and the general welfare of the state
“Zemstva = baby step towards democracy”
Other reforms included:
1) The introduction of a public budget of government finances
2) Universities having greater autonomy over their curricula and opening up admission
to lower class
3) Restrictions on vodka production and sales were lifted
4) Legislation was introduced to limit censorship
5) Military service became compulsory for all classes and the term of service was
reduced from 25 years to 6 years
After the Polish rebellion in 1863, Alexander began to follow the advice of more reactionary
people and became more repressive.
Background to 19
“After 1815 the combined forces of industrialization and of the French Revolution led to the
multiplication of doctrines and movements of many sorts.”
Absolute monarchism and reaction began to challenge with new ideas
Conservationism, nonetheless, remained strong
Support of traditional institutions: Autocracy, Church, Nobility, Military
Opposed the idea of a constitution or representative government
Supported a parliamentary/ representative form of government
Not as supportive of traditional institutions
Made up of businessman and enterprising landowners, so naturally they supported
capitalize free enterprise
Called for a radical solution to the problems of society: The whole population should own and
control the ‘means of production’, rather than private individuals
Grew out of the Enlightenment faith in progress, belief in the basic goodness of human race,
and concern for social justice.
There were many different groups of socialists that were influenced by a number of writers,
one of the most significance being Karl Marx. For Marx the entirety of human existence could
be boiled down to an economic struggle between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’.
Eventually the proletariat (urban poor) would rise to power and overthrow the bourgeoisie and
then all would live happily (and equally) after…
Under the Marxist model, societies pass through stages of development. The last stage was
socialism, but that was preceded by capitalism.
Radical Response to the Reforms of Alexander II
Members of the Intelligentsia saw Alexander’s reforms as a fraud.
Initially their goals were not outrageous—they wanted land for the people, union and a
parliamentary style government. However, as they met more fierce reaction from the tsar, they
become more radical.
Populism (Narodnost) (1960s and 1870s)
They had great faith in the peasants as a political force
They believed that Russia should follow a unique path to socialism by using the existing style of
communal peasant living – the mir
They were also influenced by a strong anarchist streak believing that the deed of violence was
the ultimate expression of practical politics.
Populism then split into two factions
1) Those following Lovrov who proclaimed the peaceful movement of “Going to the People”
2) Those following Bakunin who believed that the peasants were ready to overthrow the
Lovrov, prevailed and the summer of 1874 was known as the ‘Mad Summer’ when thousands of
wealthy students left their studies to go out to the country side and ‘prepare’ the people.
With the failure of ‘Going to the People’, another movement emerged known as “Land and
Liberty”, led by Chaikovtsi and Plekhanov, which saw massive demonstration organized
Out of “Land and Liberty” came a more radical group called “The People’s Will” whose goals
a) Murder the Tsar
b) The violent destruction of the state
c) The redistribution of economic power on socialist lines
Their use of terror alienated the populists from the liberals and from the public at large.
Nonetheless, they did inspire all the revolutionaries from the 1870s onward by their challenge
The Social Revolutionaries (SR’s)
Growing out of the populist movement were the radical ideologies of Nihilism and Anarchism
Later, in the 1890s, various radical groups formed the social Revolutionary party, led by
The party gained support by recruiting from the growing urban workforce, all the while
maintaining the destruction of the tyrant system as their goal
The party was riddled with internal conflict and splits between left and right elements
A) Anarchists—wanted to continue in the tradition of political terror and assassination
B) Revolutionaries—who allocated a more moderate stance of co-operating with other
parties in working for an immediate improvement in the condition of the workers
Between 1900 and 1905 the terrorist faction dominated and were responsible for over 2000
After the 1905 revolution the situation charges
The Social Democrats (Marxism) (1898)
By the 1880s, with the failure of other movements, many intellectuals began to consider
Marxism. Marxist theory received a boost in Russia in the 1890s due to the ‘great spurt’ of
industrialization that occurred of that time making the fulfillment of a proletarian revolution
seem possible. Plekhanov was one of the earliest leading figures in the Russian Marxist
Like other political movements, those that followed Marxism in Russia often ended up
quarrelling with each other over doctrinal issues. Some found Plekhanov too theoretical in his
approach and urged more active revolutionary policies
The most outstanding spokesman for this viewpoint was Vladimir Ulyanov (AKA Lenin!!!) Lenin
promoted the idea of a small revolutionary elite to lead the masses rather than a broad
grouping of progressive, reformist and anti-tsarist elements.
Russia at the Turn of the Century
The total population was about 125 million, made up of more than 20 ethnic groups
o Russians (56 million)
o Poles (8 million)
o Jews (5 million)
The people of the Russian Empire Lived in a highly stratified social structure which saw a great
underdevelopment, of the commercial, professional and proletariat class.
Peasants remained outside of active participation in Russian citizenship.
Russia was rich in oil and minerals. By 1900 Russia had only recently begun to industrialize
under Sergei Witte, Russia’s finance minister.
Witte focused heavily on developing communications and transportation as a prerequisite to
industrial growth. By 1913, with the help of foreign investment, Russia was the world’s fifth
largest industrial nation. However, considering Russia’s size and resources, its manufacturing,
as well as agriculture output was low
The opposition to Autocracy
a. Liberal minded men had continued to work through the Zemtsvo system towards
making piecemeal local reforms
b. Between 1895 and1905 Russian liberalism had broadened its base to include the
new industrial professional classes
c. By 1902, under the reactionary Minister of the interior, Plehve, the system of
local government was eliminated and Nicholas had publicly called hopes for a
constitutional parliament a ‘senseless dream’
d. However, liberals continued to meet and even formed a coherent political party
called the Liberation league
a. Was led primarily be empires living in Western Europe
b. Leaders and members of the various socialist groups met to organize themselves
in congresses held in Western Europe
c. Out of these meetings came a split in the social Democrats
The Russo-Japanese War
Given the repressive social, political and economic situation, by the early 20
Russian people were ripe for radical change. Recognizing this, the government looked in deflect
attention from its internal troubles as well as gain prestige by expanding its eastern frontiers in
Asia. It was believed that a short, victorious war would give the Russian government back the
support of the people.
There had existed some tension between Russia and Japan for control of Manchuria and the
Korean peninsula. Russia used this tension to justify a war with Japan which resulted in the
Russo-Japanese war of 1904-1905. It took less than a year for the Japanese to soundly defeat
the Russians on land and at sea.
The 1905 Revolution
The poor performance in the Russo-Japanese war brought to the surface discontent that had
been brewing for a time. In January a series of strikes and anti-government demonstrations
occurred throughout Russia.
On January 22 1905, about 200,000 unarmed workers marched to the Tsar’s Winter Palace in
St. Petersburg to petition the Tsar fore forms aimed at achieving a better system for
distribution of food and employment opportunities. This petition, written by a priest, Father
Gapon, was really about social issues.
Initially the protests of 1905 were not political. When the marchers neared the palace, the
officers at the gate panicked and opened fire. This day became known as “Bloody Sunday” and
was the spark that ignited the 1905 Revolution because it:
Caused many of those people who had still respected the Tsar to hate him
Increased support for revolutionaries in that they claimed (albeit illegitimately)
leadership roles in the ensuing unrest
1905 Revolution Continued
Started a wave of riots, strikes and murders in the empire. Caused many non-Russian areas to
start to demand independence.
In May 1905 news of the Baltic Fleet defeat further fueled unrest. In June there were mutinies
within the navy. In October a general strike brought the nation to a standstill and the Tsar was
forced to make some concessions.
Political Reactions to the Chaos of 1905
As the unrest continued throughout 1905, various political groups were also establishing
The Kadets (constitutional democrats)
This was the largest and most radical of the liberal parties. They wanted Russia to develop as a
constitutional monarchy in which a democratically elected national assembly would restrict the
powers of the Tsar.
This was part of the liberal intelligentsia, containing:
o Progressive landlords
o Smaller industrial entrepreneurs
o Professionals and academics
Paul Milyukov was a prominent Kadet
Were the voices of the conservatives among the liberals?
They were mainly drawn from large commercial, industrial and landowning interests
These workers’ councils were formed at the spontaneous initiative of workers in an attempt to
co-ordinate strikes and other activities. Although the original goal of these soviets was to push
for better working conditions, some revolutionaries quickly realized potential for political
purpose. Lev Trotsky, an independent socialist sympathetic to the Mensheviks, became the
leader of the St Petersburg Soviet.
The Tsar’s Response
The government recognized that some concessions had to be made, but in giving ground, they
intended to divide the opposition
A) The October Manifesto was designed to placate the liberals. It Promised:
a. The creation of a legislative Duma, elected by a wide franchise
b. Fundamental civil liberties
B) The next concession was the Peasants Manifesto which promised to:
a. Abolish the collective responsibilities of the Mir. Thus giving peasants
individual ownership of land
b. Cancel all pre-existing tax debts
c. Cancel all redemption fees after January 1907
Immediately the general lawlessness and number of land seizures dropped
C) With only the proletariat left to worry about, the government changed from a
position of concession to one of suppression
a. They used the troops that had returned from the far east to destroy the
b. By December 1905 the soviets had all been disbanded
The Dumas, 1906-1914
“I have a constitution in my head, but as to my heart, I spit on it.” -Nicholas II
The Fundamental Laws
Issued in May 1906, these laws were to be the basis for the new ‘constitutional’ government.
They were contradicted the October Manifesto in several ways:
By affiring that ‘supreme autocratic power’ belonged to the tsar
Declaring that the Duma would have two chambers, one elected, one appointed by the
The appointed chamber would have the power of legislative veto
Declaring that the Tsar would have exclusive control over foreign affairs
Through article 87 giving the Tsar the right to rule by decree during emergencies
“Although with a few broken ribs, the stardom came out of the experience of 1905 alive and
strong enough.” - Trotsky
The First Duma (April- June 1906)
The liberal and reformist parties who immediately voiced their dissatisfaction with the
fundamental laws and demand further reforms dominated the First Duma.
The Tsar would not tolerate this and dismissed the duma after less than 3 months. During this
time he also appointed Peter Stolypin as Prime Minister who dealt harshly with those calling
out for revolution.
The Second Duma (February- June 1907)
Saw a decrease influence of the middle (Kadets) and an increase in strength for both the left
and right. However, they were too critical of the government and dissolved after 3 months.
Rather than eliminating the duma altogether and thus risk
a. More domestic chaos and
b. Losing international support
Stolypin introduced restrictions to the electoral system which would ensure a more docile
% of population Representation in the Duma
Peasants 80 50
Propertied 20 50
1907 and onwards
% of population Representation in the Duma
Peasants 80 20
Propertied 20 80
Stolypin was a firm supporter of the autocracy, however, the realized that in order to save it, a
large degree of reform was needed. Although his views and actions won him enemies on both
sides of the spectrum, even they confessed that he was an honest, courageous and honorable
man. After ensuring that the revolutionary chaos was quelled through suppression and terror,
he turned to reform.
Stolypins strategy was to nurture the conservative outlook amongst the peasants that would
act as a counter- revolutionary force. He did this agricultural reforms which led to the further
growth of a new class of wealthy peasant, the Kulaks, who were loyal to the Tsar. However,
there is evidence to suggest that these reforms did not go far enough to make a real change to
the social and economic structure of Russia. Stolypin was assassinated in 1911 by a SR who was
also an Okhrana agent.
Problems Plaguing Russia to 1914
A) Foreign Debt
a. Although Witte’s policy of obtaining foreign investment and loans to expand
industry helped in the short term, in the long run Russia could not cope with the
B) Rural Life
a. I terms of social and economic improvements, not much had happened since
C) Urban Life
a. With the introduction of social insurance and trade unions after 1905, conditions
did improve, but not enough to deal with the rabid urbanization
b. The harsh methods used by the government to deal with strikers increased
D) Political Life
a. Growing revolutionary tendencies
b. Continued political stagnation due to the reactionary views and ineptitude of the
E) Foreign Affairs
a. Russia now had WWI to fight which brought social, political and economic chaos
Throughout these years Russia was in constant turmoil and chaos. The people’s grievances
Disappointment over the limitations of the Duma
The terrible working conditions of the Proletariat
The peasants still had to pay high taxes and rents
The harsh winter of 1917 also added to the misery of the people
The effects of the WWI
It seemed as though only the tsar and those he took advice from failed to take note of the
extreme distress of the Russian People
The Role of Rasputin in the Downfall of Tsardom
Rasputin was a peasant who:
o Claimed to be a holy man with supernatural powers
o Was a drunker and a womanizer
o Became a trusted member of the royal court
o Came to have considerable power due to his strong influence over the tsar
o Brought great shame and scandal on the royal family
o Became the focus of much hatred on the tsarist system
On December 29, 1916, in an attempt to save the Monarchy, a group of aristocrats’
The Great War and its impact on Russia
Russia entered WWI on August 1, 1914 when Germany declared war on her. Initially the war
was greeted with great enthusiasm and a sense of nationalism that united Russia. WWI
impacted almost every part of Russian society, ultimately, some historians say, heading to the
demise of the autocracy.
Socialists and WWI
Prior to the outbreak of WWI, there was a high level of unity between socialists from different
countries across Europe. The obvious socialist response to WWI would have been to:
a. Welcome it as the conflict that would usher in the utopian era (Marx)
b. Not participate, but rather prepare for the post-war era
However, in 1914 ‘socialists internationalism collapses into hostile nationalism’. Rather than
seeing each other as members of the same ‘class struggle team’, many socialists saw
themselves in terms of their nationality and chose to support their country rather than the
socialist movement. Lenin was a rare exception. His response was “Revolutionary Defeatism”
He proposed that soldiers stop fighting because they were really only fighting for the ruling
classes, not for the people. Defeat in WWI, according to Lenin, could mean Civil War, within
countries and it was out of this chaos that worldwide socialist revolution could erupt
March (February) Revolution
20,000 steel workers locked out, other workers strike in sympathy
Thousands of women demonstrate calling for bread, bringing even more workers out
Large crowds are repeatedly dispersed by police and soldiers
250,000 workers on strike, Petrograd are paralyzed.
Tsar orders army to end strikes
Troops fired on crowds, killing 40.
Duma advises Tsar to form a new government
Tsar orders Duma to disband
Soldiers in Petrograd perform mutiny
Duma refuses to dissolve, instead it forms itself into a 12 man committee to take over
the government of Russia
Now named the Provisional government
Workers re-established Petrograd Soviets
Tsar Telegrams the Duma offering to share power, Duma refuses
Army generals telegram the Tsar informing him of the withdrawal of support from the
Petrograd Soviet issues order no.1 which deprives all army officers of authority, giving
it instead to the elected representations of the soldier
Tsar leaves army headquarters for Petrograd to take control
The Tsar’s train is stopped 250km from Petrograd by revolutionaries
Nicholas II abdicates in favor of his brother
Grand Duke Michael renounces the title
300 years of Romanov rule ends
The Provisional Government
Initially this body was quite liberal (center-right) in its composition, but became increasingly
The three main parties were the Kadets, and the Social Revolutionaries and Mensheviks. The
Socialists parties became frustrated, and thus more open to radical ideas, with what seemed
like the governments lack of action.
The Provisional Government main concerns were:
1) To continue the war
2) To set up a western-style parliamentary government
3) Land Reforms
However to continue the war was inevitable as during this time Russia’s economy relies on their
allies loans and if they were to surrender they must pay reparations. Also, the chaos of the war
prevented for a proper election to take place, thus there wasn’t a chance to set up a western-
style parliamentary government. Finally, land reforms could not be made because of large
population of the country out in war
The Provisional Government under attack
With the government’s determination to continue the war, it was decided that a major
offensive against Austria was needed. The “June Offensive” was a miserable failure and sparked
This grew into the “July days” which saw Petrograd workers, soldiers and sailors rioting to have
the soviets be given the role of becoming the government. The Bolsheviks played a significant
role in these riots. On July 8, the provisional government appointed Alexander Kerensky as its
new prime minister in the hope that he could quell the riots.
Kerensky was a logical choice to try to unite the ever more left wing government because he
o A member of the Duma (made him acceptable to liberals)
o Minister of Justice in the provisional government
o Minister of war in the provisional government
o A socialist revolutionary
However, neither the right, nor the extreme left (Bolsheviks) found him acceptable
In July, Kerensky was successful in putting down the riots by labeling the Bolsheviks as German
Collaborators. This was so because Lenin used German railways to reach Russia and received
money from the German government for Bolshevik growth. The military was also used to arrest
and harass the leaders of the demonstration.
However, General Kornilov, commander in-chief of the army wanted even more counter-
revolutionary actions. Kerensky knew that this would bring the Provisional Government into a
potential war situation with the Petrograd Soviet, and therefore did not agree with Kornilov.
As a consequence, in August Kronilov tried to mount a military attack against the Soviet and the
provisional government which was known as the Kornilov Revolt. Kerensky’s only option was to
use the leftists to defend Petrograd, which resulted in:
a. Using agitators to destroy the loyalty of Kornilov’s soldiers
b. Using workers to deny Kornilov use of the railways and telegraphs
c. Releasing Bolsheviks that had been jailed in July
d. Arming the Petrograd Soviet, including the Bolshevik Red Guards
Initially the Petrograd Soviet established itself as the supervisors of the Provisional Government
to ensure that the interests of the soldiers and workers were guarded
However, the Petrograd Soviet gained in importance because:
o The Provisional Government often times failed to take action
o New Soviets were springing up in other cities and looked to Petrograd for leadership
o ‘Soviet Order Number 1’
Initially moderate socialists had a bigger influence on the Petrograd Soviet, however as the year
wore on it became more radical, eventually being taken over by the Bolsheviks.
The Bolsheviks Takeover the Soviets
After the abdication of Nicholas II, Bolsheviks in exile returned to Petrograd
Prior to the return of Lenin, The Bolsheviks were willing to work with other socialists
When Lenin arrived back in April, he declared that the March Revolution had created a
bourgeois republic and called for the overthrow of the Provisional Government
Lenin planned to use the Soviets as the tool through which the Bolsheviks would take
over the state
However, his ‘April Theses’ succeeded only in isolating the Bolsheviks from other
The non-Bolshevik members of the Soviet decided instead to work with the Provisional
Government- which had the unfortunate effect of connecting them to the failures of the
This, along with the increasing radicalization of the masses, made the Bolsheviks more
The Bolsheviks also had the advantage of German Funding with which to produce
propaganda and build an army of their own- Red Guard
Although the Bolsheviks suffered a setback during the July days, they capitalized on the
situation in August after the Kornilov Revolt
By early September, the Bolsheviks had become the majority in most of the Soviets and
began making plans for the takeover of the state
The Collapse of the Provisional Government / (The October/November/Bolshevik Revolt)
“The Bolsheviks did not seize power, it fell into their hands”
Was November 1917 a coup by the Bolsheviks, or an abdication by the Provisional
Since the March Revolution, Lenin’s unswerving aim was to overthrow the Provisional
Government and seize power
By September he was calling for an immediate seizure
He felt this urgency because:
1) There was an all-Russian Congress of Soviets planned for early November
a. There was no guarantee that this meeting would result in support for a
revolution, so Lenin wanted to take over power before the meeting
2) The Constituent Assembly was to be elected in November and again, there were no
guarantees of Bolshevik electoral success
3) Lenin feared another, potentially successful counter-revolutionary attack
4) After the Kornilov Revolt, Bolshevik popularity was at an all-time high, and Lenin
wanted to capitalize this
However, Lenin had to work hard to convince the Bolshevik control committee that an
immediate attack was wise
Kerensky suspected that a Bolshevik attack was imminent and began to act against the
Bolsheviks on November 6
Lenin took this as the cue to begin the revolution
The groundwork had already been laid by Trotsky through the formation of the Red
Guards and the Military Revolutionary Committee (MRC)
Combat forces of the Bolshevik Party- initially made up of fairly elderly men recruited
from the workers in the factories
Military Revolutionary Committee
Set up by the Petrograd Soviet in late October to organize the defense of Petrograd
against the Germans or another reactionary attack
It was the only effective military force in Petrograd and Trotsky controlled it.
On the night of November 6/7 the Red Guards and the MRC secured strategic locations
throughout Petrograd and were able to announce at the meeting of the All Russian
Congress of Soviets that the Revolution was complete
The Bolsheviks “Get Organized”
At the All Russian Congress of Soviet, the Bolsheviks announced the structure of their
The Sovnarkom would consist of 14 commissars all of whom were Bolsheviks, and Lenin
was the chairman
The Mensheviks and the Right Social Revolutionaries did not agree with this and walked
out of the meeting in protest
At these meetings Lenin also declared that there would be peace and land
The Bolsheviks Early Struggles
After the defeat of the Provisional Government, the Bolsheviks initial opposition came
from the left- the Mensheviks, Kadets and Social Revolutionaries
The Treaty of Brest- Litovsk, March 1918
Central Powers – Germany, Austria-Hungary, Ottoman Empire, Bulgaria
Armistice – an agreement to stop fighting so that a peace treaty can be made
The Bolsheviks asked the central powers for an armistice in early December
However, the German demands were very high and this caused further confusion and
division among the left in Russia, even among Bolsheviks
Bukarin argued that they should fighting and that would encourage the outbreak of a
workers revolution in Germany
The Bolsheviks continued the debate about whether to make peace or not, hoping that
revolution would break out in the rest of Europe
Meanwhile, the Germans resumed hostilities against Russia, and by February 1918 they
had occupied the Ukraine and were even threatening Petrograd
Therefore, on March 3, 1918, the treaty of Brest-Litvosk was signed with very high cost
for the Bolsheviks:
a) They lost; Poland, Finland, Estonia, Lithuania and parts of the Ukraine
c) The support of many Russians, especially the Social Revolution whose base of
support was in the Ukraine
However this enabled them to:
a) Keep the army’s support
b) End hardship at home
c) Give their new government a bit of ‘breathing space’
The Formation of the Cheka
Formed on December 20, 1917
On August 30, 1918, Fanny Kaplan, a Right SR assassin, seriously wounds Lenin with 3
On the same day, another SR assassin kills M.S. Uritsky, President of the Petrograd
Other attempts were made against Trotsky, V. Volodarsky and Bakharin
With tensions rising inside Russia, the Bolsheviks felt it necessary to from a body to
‘combat counterrevolution and sabotage’
With this group, the main instrument of Bolshevik repression, the revolution entered a
period known as the Red Terror.
Felix Dzerzhinsky was the director of the Cheka during these early years.
The Cheka was responsible for the assassination of the Tsar and his family on July 16,
The Russian Civil War, 1918-1921
Foreign Reaction to Bolshevism in Russia:
Frustration and anger from the allies that Russia dropped out of the war
Anger from foreign investors, especially the French, that all foreign debts incurred by
the Tsarist government were now void
Fear from all capitalist governments that there would be a spreading of the revolution
to the rest of Europe.
Foreign Actions toward the Bolsheviks:
Various countries gave support to Russian forces fighting against the Bolsheviks
The new Russia was excluded from the League of nations
At the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, the boundaries of the new Russian state were
The peacemakers decided to build a dam against the spread of Communism
o This was known as the cordon sanitaire and included Finland, Estonia, Latvia,
Lithuania, Poland and Romania
The newly recreated Poland declared war on the Bolsheviks in an attempt to gain the
Ukraine in 1920
Domestic Reactions to Bolshevism:
Mass exodus of people not wishing to live under Communism
Counter-Revolutionary “White” movements:
o An “All-Russian” government in Siberia which came to be dominated by admiral
Kolchak, a strong reactionary
o The formation of a ‘Volunteer Army’ in southern Russia under Generals Kornilov
In Moscow and Petrograd Social Revolutionaries took up arms against the Bolsheviks
Ukrainian peasants called “Greens” fought both the Reds and the Whites for Ukrainian
Regions such as the Caucasus, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan tried to get their
There was a short lived attempt at Siberian independence.
“The anti-Communist Russians represented every hue of the political spectrum”
During this time, the left wing were filled with the Mensheviks and SR’s, the right wing were
filled with white reactionaries such as Kornilov and on the middle there are anti -Bolsheviks
as well such as the Kadets.
From the radical Mensheviks to the liberal Kadets and all the way to the reactionary Whites,
the political spectrum was filled with anti-Bolshevik groups.
The ‘allies’ were using White generals like dogs to take down the Bolsheviks
A. They had gained popular support because of their reforms, whereas the Whites had lost
a. They could be associated with the Tsar, landlords and foreign intervention
b. The harsh treatment of the people in the lands that they had captured
B. Trotsky and his outstanding military leadership of the Red Army.
C. The Reds held a strategic location:
a. Moscow and Petrograd with their factories
b. The railways allowed them to quickly move their supplies and troops
c. Their area held the majority of the population
D. The Cheka was effectively used to hunt down people who sympathized with the Whites
and to force the peasants to hand food over to the government
E. The Bolsheviks were united in fighting for a single purpose and for their very survival
a. They had strong leadership with Lenin and Trotsky
b. The Whites lacked unity in purpose and central leadership
F. War communism kept the Red Army supplied with food and weapons. It involved:
a. Nationalization of all factories with more than 10 workers. Sovnarkom decided
what each factory would produce.
b. Tight military type control over all workers.
i. Labor conscription was introduced (can’t choose your own job)
ii. These measures caused discontent among the workers and a fall in
c. Peasants were forced to give all surplus food to the state with no opportunity to
make profit (requisitioning). This caused:
i. Food shortages in 1919-1920
ii. Full scale famine by 1921 which was made worse by bad weather and
d. Food clothing and fuel rationing was introduced in the cities
e. As the money lost value due to overprinting, many formerly cash payments such
as rent, fares, etc. were abolished
In some instances people were expected to barter for their goods instead of
Results of the Civil War:
1. The survival of Bolshevik rule
2. The extension of Bolshevik rule over a wider area
3. Huge loss of life
4. The permanent Soviet fear that the capitalist powers would seek to destroy the
5. Famine, industrial collapse and the New Economic Policy
1. Colonial independence movements began to see an ally in the Bolsheviks
Why did Lenin place so much emphasis on trying to get colonies to rise up against their
1. Colonies were prone to propaganda because they were unhappy
2. European countries would be weaker without the resources coming from the
By 1922 the communist party was the only legal political party in the USSR (Bolsheviks =
communist party now)
Communist party members became the favored class in the USSR
Within the party, Lenin had banned all opposition groups (ban on factionalism)
Although the government appeared to represent the will of the people as expressed
through their Soviets, in reality Soviet Russia had become a one party state ruled by a
Under the new constitution of 1923, Russia became the Union of Soviet Socialist
Autonomy was given to the republics in:
Cultural issues such as use of language, education and folkways
The administration of justice
The organization of agriculture
Federal authority was retained over:
The New Economic Policy (NEP)
By 1921 it was apparent that the Russian proletariat was opposed to the dictatorship of the
proletariat as can be confirmed by the
Large scale anarchist revolts of 1920-1922
The Kronstadt mutiny of March 1921
Lenin realized that he would need to make some drastic changes to save his government
His NEP represented a temporary return to a capitalist economy with the main goals to:
Improve agricultural productivity
Overcome the famine
When recovery was assured, all would revert back to state control
Grain requisitioning was replaced by a tax, but only on about half the amount that had
been previously requisitioned, AND any surplus could be freely sold for profit.
An agrarian reform law ensured that small landowners (not the peasants) would keep
their land; therefore the peasants remained dispossessed wage earners, while the
landowners (Kulaks) gained in wealth.
Small factories were turned back over to capitalists who were known as NEPmen or neo-
bourgeois. (Larger industries remained in state hands.)
A limited amount of private commerce with foreigners was allowed
The government made several trade agreements with other countries under the NEP.
The impact of the NEP
Although there were some improvements in agricultural production, there were still some
o The increased production caused a fall in the price of agricultural goods which
combined with increased prices for manufactured goods resulting in the ‘Scissors
Crisis’ with the peasants being very disgruntled.
o The free operation of the market system in agriculture was not ideologically
sound for many party members.
Growth in industry:
o Iron production increased
o Coal and textile production doubled
Transport and communications showed slow improvement
A money system was reintroduced
The state tightened its control over banking, transport, foreign trade and large-scale
In order for a Marxist system to succeed, production levels and distribution networks
must be sufficient to meet the needs of all people before the move to collective or
cooperative ownership can take place.
Under the NEP these improvements were taking place, but because the system was
essentially capitalist, it was also creating a mentality which would resist collective or
This meant that in order for a move to collective or cooperative ownership to take
place, force and coercion would need to be used
Why do art and literature exist?
Expression of creative essence of the human soul (God)
People who have nothing better to do.
Enrich cultural heritage.
Its inherent human nature.
Fulfill our artistic needs.
To express feelings and emotions
To hyperbolize everything.
What do you think of the notion that artistic expression had to serve the state?
You can’t censor spirit; you can’t censor love.
Respond to Marx’s claim that religion is the ‘opium of the people’ and that it only existed in
order to deaden the pain of life.
Lenin tried to eradicate religion. He was not ultimately successful. Why do you think that is?
o Humans have an innate need to place their faith in something bigger than
themselves (Religion: God. Atheism: humanity)
Women and Family
Love is a bourgeois concept based on a false view of the relations between the sexes
and between parents and children.
The state should be responsible for the raising of children.
The Power Vacuum Lenin Left by Lenin
Lenin’s death left a vacuum in the leadership of the Communist Party
Possible successors included:
o One of Lenin’s earliest Bolshevik comrades
o Leader of the Petrograd Soviet
o First president of the Comintern and member of Politburo
o Early Bolshevik who spent time in exile in Siberia
o More moderates than others in that he was willing to work with other socialist
o Early Menshevik, didn’t switch to Bolshevism until May 1917
o Chairman of the ST Petersburg soviet during the 1905 revolution and the
Petrograd Soviet in 1917
o Organized the MRC which was the force behind the October revolution
o Became Lenin’s commissar of foreign affairs responsible for taking Russia out of
o Became Commissar for war and organized the Red Army to fight the civil war
o Member of the Politburo
1924-1929 – The Power Struggle
Ultimately Stalin was successful in becoming the absolute dictator of the USSR through:
Behind the scenes maneuverings as General Secretary
Manipulating factions within the upper levels of the party
Eliminating all possible opposition, both within and outside of the party
Factions and issues
Stalin working to fill the party at all levels with his supporters
Lenin died, his testament revealed that he wanted Stalin removed as General Secretary
Stalin formed a triumvirate with Kamenev and Zinoviev against Trotsky
They agreed to suppress Lenin’s testament and quickly establish the ‘Cult of Lenin’
Stalin moved all Trotskyites in the Party to posts far from Moscow
Trotsky was calling for:
o Party reform
o Continued World Revolution
o Rapid industrialization
o An end to the NEP
Stalin supported NEP and ‘Socialism in one country’
Trotsky was forced to resign as Minister of War
The triumvirate fell apart
Stalin joined with Bukharin and other right-wing members of the Politburo who wished
to continue with the NEP and a gradual shift to industrialization
Stalin attacked Zinoviev and Kamenev on matters of policy, so they joined forces with
Zinoviev was expelled from the Politburo and Comintern
Trotsky and Kamenev were expelled from Politburo
Trotsky was expelled from the Party and exiled in Central Asia
Stalin turned on Bukharin and had him removed from the Politburo, Pravda and the
Stalin ended the NEP, moved towards rapid industrialization and began the campaign
against the Kulaks
Trotsky was expelled from Russia
Stalin was in supreme control
Stalin’s rise to power in the Soviet Union was more a matter of luck than of ability.
The Elimination of Dissent
Stalin realized his methods and policies were bound to bring criticism and dissention,
two things he could not tolerate
Therefore, he set out to systematically remove any threat to himself- real or imagined
This became a campaign of terror known as the great purges that reached their climax
The murder and subsequent show trials for the murder of Kirov in 1934 began this
Millions of Soviet citizens were executed or sent to the prison camps (Gulags) of which
the secret police were the administrators
The Party – 70% of those in the 1934 Central Committee were executed in the next 5
Ordinary delegates: 1,108 of 1,966 were arrested or executed in the next 5 years
The purges also decimated the command of all parts of the military
A KGB report to the Politburo in 1960 said that between Jan. 1935 and Dec. 1941, 19.8
million people were arrested of whom seven million were shot
The purges were successful in crushing all opposition to Stalin and producing a climate
of fear and suspicion in which any criticism of the regime was impossible.
Styles of Government
Nicholas II- autocracy
Provisional government – democracy
Stalin – communism
The Great Terror
The historiographical controversies
State versus societal control over the terror
How planned was the terror
Number of victims
Byproduct of Marxist-Leninism? Or a unique product of the time?
What purpose does it serve?
The Totalitarian model
Stalin’s terror was rooted in Lenin’s Bolshevik past
The terror was intentionally initiated by Stalin to further his own agenda:
o Eliminating rivals
o Consolidating his dictatorship
o Modernizing the USSR
The terror was a smooth running operation
Leading historians: Conquest, tucker, pipes.
Revisionism: the Conflict School
Rather than Stalin at the apex of the totalitarian pyramid, there were opposing groups
and key figures within the Party.
This is still a top down model.
Leading historians: Cohen, Getty
Revisionism: the Social Model
The masses played the greatest role in shaping Soviet history.
While Stalin initiated change, the regime only had limited control over the outcome of
The terror provided the peasantry the opportunity to settle old scores, assign blame for
disasters and further their own ambitions.
‘Socialism in One Country’
To transform the USSR into a highly industrialized state, able to compete with more
advanced countries and of putting up a good fight against aggression by capitalist
The use of economic plans, which encompassed all fields of economic activity in all parts
of the country.
These came to be called the “five year plans” and were begun in 1928
Before Soviet industry could be transformed, Stalin had to ensure the success of Soviet
agriculture in order to:
a) Feed the increasing number of urban industrial workers
b) Produce surplus for export in order to generate foreign currency needed for
investment into industry
Collective Farms would be the vehicle through which agriculture would be transformed
a) It would facilitate the use of modern methods and machines
b) There would be a surplus of labor that could move to the heavy industries
c) Collectivization would strengthen the grip of the government on rural life
d) Ideologically it fit with communism as it would end the ownership of private
property and the inequality of incomes
The Kulaks resisted collectivization fiercely.
The government responded by eliminating the kulaks as a class. They used the poorer
peasants, the police and the military in this class warfare.
The first and most common collective farms, which came under, the state plans
In addition to the vast collective fields, farmers were allowed small private lots to farm
for their own use
There was an obligation to provide the state with a fixed quota of produce per year in
order to receive payment for work
State farms where peasants were hired as workers of the state
They were paid wages regardless of the harvest; however, all produce went to the state
They had to use their wages to buy food and other necessities
The break with the NEP was a “preemptive strike of the central party-state apparatus”
Soviet society and Culture under Stalin: The reversal of radicalism (compared to under Lenin)
3. Women and the family
4. Legal matters
6. Art and literature
Stalin controlled his political system and exerted ruthlessness. Through this he had a successful
and effective regime. His agriculture policies caused problems but his industrial policies were
Although his crimes were unjustified. He is now viewed in a more realistic manner other than a
mass murderer dictator. The central power had no control over the scattering of local
authorities and therefore the result has often failed or blown out of proportion.
European Diplomacy and The First World War (1870-1919)
Post Napeleonic Europe
Forces Shaping European Politics:
Conservatism or Reaction
The Peace of Vienna
Once they had defeated Napoleon, the major European powers were determined to
restore order, keep peace and squelch the ideals of the Revolution.
To decide on the best way to do this, they came together in a meeting called the
“Congress of Vienna” in 1815.
Main figures at the Vienna Congress:
o Metternich of Austria
o Castlereagh of Britain
o Alexander I of Russia
o Hardenberg of Prussia
o Talleyrand of France
Principles of the Congress of Vienna
All former ruling families should be restored to their thrones
The map of Europe was redrawn to ring France with stronger countries
This principle ensured that countries that had suffered loss of land under Napoleon
would be compensated and that no important power suffered a loss as a result of
the Congress’ work
4. The restoration of the Balance of Power in Europe
The distribution of military and economic power that prevents any one nation from
becoming too strong
Highlights from the Congress of Vienna:
There was no great, long lasting war in Europe for the next 100 years
Nationalist groups in Italy and Poland were frustrated by the fact that they were
placed under hated foreign rule
Nationalist groups in Austria were frustrated because they were denied self-
The German desire for national unity came closer to fulfillment
Britain was recognized as the strongest European imperial nation
Both Prussia and Russia gained in influence further west in Europe
The Great Powers agreed to hold future congresses to review the political situation
and enforce the peace
The Peace of Settlements of 1814-1815 Reading Summary:
Possession of colonial islands
Peace in Europe for 100 years.
Nationalism and Liberalism was thwarted
Prussia and Russia shifted powers westwards
The Concert of Europe
After the Congress of Vienna ended in June of 1815, the major participants wanted to
ensure that the Balance of Power they so carefully established would last
So in November 1815 the four members of the Grand Alliance came together to form
the Quadruple Alliance. (Later, in 1818, France joined and it was called the Quintuple
Through this Alliance System they hoped to work together, by meeting periodically, to
avoid major wars and to suppress any emerging nationalism and/or liberalism.
This Alliance System came to be called ‘The Concert of Europe’ and Metternich was the
driving force behind it
This was a forerunner of the more modern international organizations dedicated to
The Long Term Causes of WWI
- The general atmosphere nurtured through new means of communication:
The increase in literacy and mass printing techniques caused newspapers and
magazines to be widely read
The often promoted nationalistic stories
Examples of aggressive nationalism:
A. Germany, under the leadership of Otto von Bismarck, had fought a series of wars
aimed to unify the German states:
a. 1864 defeated Denmark
b. 1866 defeated Austria
c. 1871 defeated France
- The German Empire came into being in 1871.
- Germany was very proud of its new position and was looking to extend its
power and territory.
- In 1980 Bismarck was forced to resign by the new German Kaiser, Wilhelm II.
- Kaiser Wilhelm set the German empire on a ‘New Course’ (nueu Kurs) in
terms of a more aggressive foreign policy then what Bismarck had been
B. The French were still bitter about losses from the 1870-71 Franco-Prussian War and
wanted revenge for the loss of Alsace-Lorraine
a. As the largest Slavic country, Russia felt a duty to lead and defend all Slavs.
mic and Imperial Rivalries
- Most European countries felt threatened by Germany’s rapid economic growth
- Italy (unified in the 1860s) and Germany wanted to catch-up with the other Great
Powers to become ‘World Powers’. Imperial rivalry in Asia between Russia and
Japanese had brought the first war between major powers since the 1870s in the
form of the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05.
3. Militarism and the Arms Race
Militarism is a situation in which a nation’s military has too much influence on its
How does a country come to the point where its military has too much influence?
a) Which part of the population supports a big military? Weapons manufacturers.
They make money by selling weapons – thus they are rich – thus they have a lot
of say in politics. Of Prussia it was said: other states have an army, in Prussia,
the army has a state.” Junkers…
b) Also, weapons manufacturing was good for the countries economy.
Look at page 44 of Pope and read all the info regarding Source F
The rise of militarism grew partly out of the ideas of Social Darwinism and the
‘survival of the fittest’. (The strong got what they wanted as shown by Prussia
against Denmark, Austria and France, and Italy in losing in its African imperialist
As international rivalries intensified, each country believed that they needed to
keep their armed forces stronger than any potential enemy.
This led to:
Conscription, compulsory military service
An arms race
Look at military spending figures on page 20 of Pope Look at chart on page 20-21 of
65 million population 40 million population
18 million tons of steel 5 million tons of steel
190 million tons of coal 40 million tons of coal
From a British cartoon at the time:
“We must build a bigger navy than the enemy will build when he hears we’re building a
bigger navy than he’s building.”
The arms race was encouraged by the new technologies of the Second Industrial
Revolution (Alfred Noble – explosives technology applied to small caliber weapons,
especially machine guns and heavy long-range artillery, new iron-clad ships, and
railways essential for mobilization)
The fiercest competition was the naval rivalry between Britain and Germany.
Germany’s strength, under Bismarck, lay in its army. Bismarck had wanted Germany
and Britain to be friends – “A land rat has no quarrel with a water rat”, but the
Kaiser didn’t like the fact that Britain was so much stronger navally and also saw a
strong navy as a means to acquire more colonies.
Look at pages 40-41 Source B info. And pages 42-43 Source D.
In 1906 Britain launched a new kind of super-battleship called the H.M.S.
Dreadnought which became the standard for all battleships of this era
Soon Germany was producing Dreadnoughts of their own and the race was on.
(When the war broke out in 1914 Britain had 28 and Germany had 18, although the
quality of the Germany ships were slightly better.
Kaiser William II boasted:
“All the long years of my reign, my colleagues, the monarchs of Europe, have not
paid attention to what I have to say. Soon, with my great navy to endorse my words,
they will be more respectful.
o “Fear of war gave military leaders more influence with governments turning
to the generals and admirals for advice on matters of peace and war.
o The overall effect of militarism is that it increased the tensions between the
Great Powers and led to a cyclical process that was difficult to stop.
4. The Entangling Alliances
(By the 1870 the Metternich system, of Balance of Power was in serious danger
because of the emergence of Italy and Germany. Nations of Europe began to deal with
this new political situation by forming alliances. They were acting in pride, competition,
revenge and fear of each other.)
By 1907 the alliance system threatened the peace because it divided Europe into
two armed camps. (Triple Alliance & Triple Entente)
(The process by which this came to be began in 1870 with the creation of Italy and
Germany and the defeat of France in the Franco-Prussian war.)
Pre-War Crises – Short-Term Causes
A. Morocco, 1905
Germany vs. France
In 1904, with the formation of the Anglo-French Entente the British recognized French
interests in Morocco.
Although the Germans themselves had no interest in Morocco, they saw an opportunity
to use Morocco as a tool to split up the new entente. Would Britain really support
In March 1905 Kaiser Wilhelm on a visit to Tangier declared that he was in favor of a
fully independent Morocco and called for an international conference to discuss the
future of Morocco.
Although the French Foreign Minister, Delcassé, opposed the meeting, the Germans
were able to force it to go ahead, scoring a diplomatic victory.
At the meeting (January 1906), however, while Moroccan independence was affirmed,
France was given control over the Moroccan police and state bank.
Germany, not France was isolated diplomatically.
The Entente was strengthened.
British suspicions of Germany increased which:
a. Led to closer ‘military conversations’ between Britain and France
b. Led to an entente between Britain and Russia
B. Bosnia-Herzegovina, 1908-09 (‘first’ Balkan Crisis)
(Russia vs Germany and Austria-Hungary; Austria-Hungary vs Serbia)
Bosnia-Herzegovina was mainly populated by Serbs but had been occupied by Austria
since the Congress of Berlin 1878.
There was a Turkish revolt in 1908 and Austria used this excuse to annex Bosnia-
Herzegovina from the Ottoman Empire. Wheeling and dealing by the Austrians to beat
Russia in their own game…they were each looking for concessions in the Balkans and
Russia walked away with not.
Russia had by this time turned their attention back towards Europe, especially the
Balkans after their sound defeat in the Russo-Japanese War.
The Serbs also wanted to claim Bosnia and were backed by the Russians to the point of
Russia was forced to back down because Germany offered military support to Austria
and Russia was at that time too weak to go against Germany and Austria. (A strategy
Germany tried again in 1914.
Russia lost face and some Serbs started to doubt Russia’s commitment to them.
The Serbs continue to claim Bosnia and their hatred of Austria grows.
The rift between Germany and Russia grows.
In an attempt to weaken Austrian influence, Russia encourages formation of the Balkan
League. (Dedicated to uniting Slavs in the Balkans)
C. Morocco, 1911 (Agadir Crisis)
Germany vs. France - supported by Britain
The Sultan of Morocco was having problems with rebels.
France sent their army in to occupy Morocco and stop revolts.
Germany protested and sent gun boat (Panther) to Agadir for a show of strength.
(Supposedly to protect German commercial interests.)
Britain supported France and both countries prepared to go to war, but Germany
backed off in return for concessions in central Africa. (They didn’t get much because
Britain was so keen on helping the French in order to make sure that Gibraltar didn’t fall
into German hands.)
Diplomatic defeat for Germany and further sensitized Britain and France to the ‘German
France given freedom to act in Morocco.
D. First Balkan War, 1912-13
Serbia, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Greece (The Balkan League) vs. Ottoman Empire
Serbia was looking for a port on the Adriatic coast – Russia supported this, Austria didn’t
The Balkan states decided to attack the Ottoman Empire while they were at war with
Britain and Germany were able to restrain their alliance/entente partners, thus the war
Balkan League drives the Ottoman Empire out of the Balkans.
The Balkan states could not decide how to divide up the land they conquered and this
led to war amongst them.
E. The Second Balkan War, 1913
Serbia, Greece, Romania, Ottoman Empire vs. Bulgaria.
Following the First Balkan War, Bulgaria claimed more territory (Macedonia) than the
Serbians were willing to let them have.
Both Greece and Serbia want Albania.
Serbia, Greece and Ottoman Empire attacked Bulgaria
Russia supported Serbia’s claim to Albania.
Austria wouldn’t allow Serbia to grow in strength by taking Albania.
Independent nation of Albania is formed
Serbian nationalism is thwarted and thus fanned
Russia looks weak because they backed down from Austria again. (The Balkan Slavs are
really starting to lose confidence in Russia)
Serbia did enlarge its territory and power which becomes a big threat to Austria
The Turks asked for help from the Germans to reorganize their military, thus allowing
the Germans to greatly increase their influence in the Ottoman Empire
F. Berlin to Baghdad Railway
There was another factor behind all the tension in the Balkans, and that was the
fact that Germany had hopes of dominating the region through their influence
with the Ottomans.
Therefore it was in Germany’s best interest to prop up the Ottoman Empire
instead of letting Austria and Russia basically divide up the Balkans.
G. Assassination at Sarajevo, 1914
(The July Crisis)
Serbian Nationalism vs. Austria; Austria and Germany vs. Serbia and Russia
Serbia resented the fact that Bosnia had gone to Austria. They, and many Slavs within
Bosnia wanted to join Serbia to form a larger Slavic nation. These people were willing to
fight Austria for it.
Within Bosnia there was an underground group called the Black Hand whose goal was to
unite Serbs living under Austrian and Turkish control
Austria was trying to stamp out this Slavic nationalism before it led to the disintegration
of the Empire
Russia realized that if it abandoned its Balkan Slavic brothers again she would lose all
influence in that region
Archduke Francis Ferdinand was the heir to the Austrian throne
After several unsuccessful assassination attempts, the Archduke and his wife were shot
by Gavrilo Princip, a member of the Black Hand. (June 28,1914)
Austria were furious and asked the Germans where they stood on this issue
The Kaiser gave the Austrians a ‘Blank Cheque’
Austria issued an ultimatum to Serbia (July 23) which would effectively mean the end of
Russia pledged its support for the Serbs and the Serbs put their trust in Russia.
World War One
H. Mobilizations and Military Timetables
Technology, especially industrial and military infrastructure played an important role in
the outbreak of hostilities in 1914
Moving all the men and equipment to the fronts required the redirecting of all
transportation and support facilities for this purpose
This required a highly planned and coordinated effort and therefore came under the
leadership of the military generals who were generally bellicose in every country.
Due to the size of the Russian Empire, as well as her relative industrial backwardness,
and the fact that she faced two potential enemies on her borders, they had more
difficulties when planning their mobilizations.
Once an army was mobilized it was particularly difficult to change those directions
If a nation was mobilizing against you on your borders you had to react because if you
didn’t they would have the offensive advantage if war was declared.
Pope 55, 80, 33
Lowe 101, 113
Russia’s Balkan Policy, Pan-Slavism
Serbia involvement with Black Hand, wrong to want all Serbian people
Serbia embarked on a policy of instilling revolutionary ideas into the Serb subjects of the
Serbian press stir up their readers to hatred or contempt towards Austria-Hungary
Large number of agents are employed in carrying on by every means the agitation
Decision for ultimatum: Take new and urgent steps at Belgrade with a view to inducing
the Serbian Government to stop the incendiary movement that is threatening the
security and integrity of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy.
Why did the Austrians attempt to eliminate Serbia as a sovereign state?
Serbia was a threat to the Austro-Hungarian Empire because they were an expansionist force in
the Balkans and they were sparking revolutionary ideas to the already crumbling Austro-
Hungarian Empire. Serbia also agitated Austria-Hungary by assassinating the heir to the throne,
Archduke Franz Ferdinand.
Why did Russia decide to risk war by mobilizing in support of Serbia?
Russia was losing grip on their influence in the Balkans as in previous affairs they have failed to
help their Slav brothers. Russia also had a firm idea of Pan-Slavism; they were obliged to help
their Slav brothers, Serbia. Russia wanted and needed the Balkans for access to the Bosporus
and Dardanelles; therefore they could not risk losing influence in the Balkans. Nicholas II hoped
to improve the nationalism in Russia. Germany’s actions surrounding the assassination also
influenced Russia’s decision to mobilize in support of Serbia.
How did the Germans become involved in a dispute that apparently had little to do with them?
Germany was growing rapidly and they wanted to expand. Beginning with the unification of
Germany, they wanted to show the world their strength. They began to want colonies in order
to become super world powers. Germany’s expansion motives (Weltpolitik) led to them
become involved in the dispute. They were also under alliance with Austria-Hungary and they
were obliged to support Austria-Hungary. Russia was threatening Germany with their economic
potential and Germany wanted to finish off Russia sooner rather later. They were also hoping
that Britain would not get involved in this affair.
Why did the French decide to mobilize their troops when war broke out in the east?
The French were furious after the Franco-Prussian War as they lost Alsace-Lorraine. Thus, they
mobilized at the opportunity for revenge and to reclaim Alsace-Lorraine. France also had an
obligation as they were under alliance with Russia.
Why did the British choose to go to war for the sake of Belgium? Or did they?
The British had an obligation to protect Belgium in a treaty they signed. As Germany invaded
neutral Belgium, they had to come in the aid of their allies. Another more likely reason is that
the British were scared that if Germany claimed France, they would have access to the English
Channels. Britain also wanted to maintain the balance of power, as they were scared of
Germany’s expansionist force.
What happened to the Italians?
The Italians backed off the Triple Alliance after stating that their Alliance was defensive, thus
they were not bound to the Alliance. The Italians then observed the war and decided to enter
the Entente side, which seemed to be winning.
Is it not true that the war within Europe was really a contest to see who would be master
Partly. It added to the tension; Moroccan crisis. Other factors contributed more to the war.
Beliefs and Attitudes about War in 1914
Although unpleasant and dangerous, war was a legitimate instrument of politics.
A war would be short, lasting only a few weeks or months and decided in a few great
Some leaders saw in war the potential to unite their populations and take the focus off
of their own internal problems. (Austria-Hungary and Russia)
Many saw war as the vehicle through which a new social order could be established and
thus it was highly desirable and exciting. (Socialists/Communists)
The Outbreak of the War in the West
The Schlieffen Plan
The underlying rationale as that at some point Germany would face a war on two fronts,
against France and Russia.
It was designed to quickly knock out France and then fight Russia at a slower pace.
It was designed to avoid attacking the heavily wooded and mountainous parts of
Eastern France (Ardennes Forest)
Rather they would attack through Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg using a very
strong right-wing to encircle Paris
Reasons for Failure:
1. The plan was revised before 1914 by Colonel von Moltke because he feared the
French offensive Plan 17 (to take back Alsace-Lorraine) would threaten German
- Made the left-wing stronger
- Did not pass through the Netherlands or Luxembourg which created a
bottleneck in Belgium
2. There was too little attention paid to:
- Over-extended supply lines
- Inadequate communication systems
- Impact of battle
3. It underestimated:
- The strength of Belgian resistance
- The speed of Russian mobilization
- Britain’s entry into the war.
The Germans never got past the Marne River in their attempt to take Paris.
After the German defeat at the Battle of the Marne, the Western Front became a “race
to the sea” to see who would control the ports that were vital for the Entente’s military
Once on the coast, both armies dug in and what had been a war of mobilization came to
a grinding halt with both armies hiding behind a great line of trenches stretching from
the English Channel to Switzerland.
For the next four years this line remained largely unchanged despite many unsuccessful
attempts by each side to ‘break through’.
The Changing Nature of Warfare
A. Old Ideas versus New Technology
Infantry attacks with men standing should to shoulder armed with muskets or
Cavalry charges providing the decisive breakthroughs
Battles lasting days with wars finished in weeks/months
Rifles that could shoot a round every 3-4 seconds
Machine guns that could fire 7-8 rounds per second
Artillery such as the howitzer that had a range of 9-16km and could fire shrapnel
shells of between 130-900 kg.
These massive increases in firepower led the generals to believe that their
attacks were guaranteed.
The number of casualties in WWI was so much higher than ever before because
the generals were fighting with 20
century defensive weapons while using 19
century attacking ideas.
Therefore each side searched for new and improved offensive weapons:
- A British Invention, initially limited in effectiveness, but became a
- Although terrifying, this was not a very effective weapon due to the
introduction of gas masks, and to the fact that it was wind dependent
- Played a limited role in WWI
- Mostly used for reconnaissance, although some Zeppelins and planes
were used to drop bombs
- Later airplanes were equipped with machine guns which led to aerial ‘dog
WWI lasted so long because it involved industrially advanced alliances which were
relatively evenly matched
Therefore each nation began to use every available resource to fight and gain advantage
o The development of government control over the means of production,
communications and the marketing of the nation’s resources
o Government direction of the nation’s labor resources.
o The mobilization of previously unused resources, for example, female labor.
o Government control of the allocation of scarce resources
o Government control over non-economic areas of the population such as
conscription, propaganda, censorship and security.
Measures and Efforts Taken As Part of Total War
Military leaders took more control and became more politically active
Royal rulers/monarchs lost power and military leaders took on more responsibilities.
Citizens of the country were not allowed to move freely, needed permission from
Conscription introduced to complement the needs of total war
Propaganda which contained inaccurate facts.
Anti-German propaganda was used to increase the morale of the citizens.
Censorship; Pro-German articles banned, news that can stir up doubt in the civilians
(facts about pre-war crisis)
Working hours in Britain extended to support the war effort and weapons
manufacturers maintained their level of production
Rationed resources (flour, wheat) to support the military needs
Decreased the age limits for conscription and allowed more women to help in the war
Women given more jobs in the industrial sector
Women wear shorter skirts to save hemp and linen for the war effort
Pub hours limited to maintain focus in the workers
Some sport events were halted; boxing and horse racing in particular
The government controlled transportation.
Economic enterprises were taken over by the government; communist-esque
Controlled the wage so that some companies can expand and some can decline
Controlled trade, export import, placed heavy importance on raw material for weaponry
Strikes were made legal
Selling bonds to support the war effort
Lowered interest rates which leads to more inflation
“Total War caused the governments of the belligerent nations to focus all its resources by
taking over most of the country’s affair for the war effort.”
Major Battles of the Western Front (1915-1917)
Battle of Champagne
Gained eight kilometers at the cost of 90,000 casualties
Second Battle of Ypres
First use of chlorine gas
50,000 British died
1916 February – December
Battle of Verdun
Goal: “to bleed the French white”. To kill as many French soldiers as possible.
First use of flame throwers
No significant change in territory
o French casualties: 377,000
o German casualties: 337,000
The Germans launched no other offenses on the Western Front until 1918
1916 July – November
Battle of the Somme
French and British offensive
Under the command of British General Haig, the goal was a decisive
o 620,000 British & French deaths
o 450,000 German deaths
The situation in early 1917:
The Allies were facing a critical situation because:
o Russia was in the throes of revolution
o The USA still had not entered the war and even when they did in April, they were
months away from being ready to fight.
o The French army began to mutiny.
1917 August – November
Battle of Passchendaele
British casualties around 300,000
The Eastern Front
On the Eastern Front, the Russians were the first to attack both Germany and Austria-
The Russians attacked Eastern Prussia, but because they were poorly equipped and
supplied they were soundly defeated by the Germans at the Battles of Tannenburg and
the Masurian Lakes.
Russian advances in Austria-Hungary were more successful.
In 1915, because of the stalemate in the West, the Germans decided to concentrate on
an attack of Russia.
Despite some strong counter-offensives by General Brusilov, the Germans captured a
large section of Russian land.
After 1918 when the new Russian Communist made peace, this land was surrendered.
Hindenburg and Dundendorf war heroes of Germany
War at Sea
The Allies were the first to take the offensive at sea.
They did this by blockading German ports to prevent food and other important supplies
from being imported into Germany.
In response to this, the Germans began using their submarines to sink British merchant
The Allied response to this submarine campaign was the convoy system, which was
highly successful and put Britain in a much safer position.
A significant aspect of the German submarine campaign was the U-boat commanders
were told to sink ANY ships traveling to Britain.
U-Boat Encounter Choices
Full speed away
Quietly head for the bottom
Move in and fire your gun
There were very few actual naval battles during WWI
The most significant one was the Battle of Jutland on May 16, 1916, which occurred off
the coast of Denmark.
Both sides claimed victory in this battle, however, most historians view it as an Allied
victory as the result was the prevention of the German fleet from entering the Atlantic.
Upon entering the war late in 1914, the Ottoman Empire posed many problems for the
o By blockading the Dardanelles, they prevented British and French help from
o They threatened British trade interests in the Mediterranean
o They drew Russian forces away from the Eastern Front by attacking the Caucasus
The result was Russian victory in the Caucasus
Defeat for the Turks led them to believe that Armenians living in this region had been
disloyal to them, which in turn brought about the first European genocide of the 20
In March 11915 the British navy, led by Winston Churchill, attempted to open the
Dardanelles and take Constantinople ‘by ships alone’.
This attack was abandoned on the first day after 6 British ships were sunk by the Turks.
A second attack in the same region was planned for April 1915 on the Turk’s Gallipoli
The British underestimating the Turks’ abilities, allowed only one division of soldiers to
leave the Western front. The rest of the soldiers came from France, Australia and New
Although outnumbered, the Turks were able to repel the invasion due to:
o The outstanding leadership of the German General von Sanders and the Turkish
commander, Mustapha Kemal
o The superior strategic positions on the slopes
o Poor Allied leadership
o The extreme climate conditions which incapacitated many Allied soldiers
o The Allies did not decide to retreat until late December by which time hundreds
of their soldiers had frozen to death.
o The British supported and used Arab nationalism within the Ottoman Empire to
loosen the Turkish control over the Middle East.
The Italian Front
Italy joined the war in April 1915 on the side of the Allies largely due to being promised
Austrian land at the successful conclusion of the war.
Although the Italians were unable to achieve success in any of their offenses against the
Austrians, with Allied help, they were able to hold the Italian front.
Bulgaria joined the Central Powers in October 1915.
The Serbs were able to fight off the Austrians, however, when Austria, Germany and
Bulgaria joined tzo attack in October 1915, Belgrade quickly fell.
In December 1916 Romania was defeated by Germany and Bulgaria.
Asia and the Pacific
Japan came into the war quite early (August 1914) with the goal to take over the
German spheres of influence in Pacific.
The Allies promised to support Japan’s claim to these lands after the war.
The British Dominions of Australia and New Zealand seized other German islands in the
In western Africa, British and French troops seized German coastal colonies.
The Union of South Africa (British) took over the German colony of German Southwest
Changing Tides of War 1917-1918
By 1917 the situation looked favorable for the Central Powers for several reasons:
o Chaos in Russia
o Romania, Serbia and Montenegro had all been defeated
o France saw increasing anti-war demonstrations and talk of mutiny in the army
o On the Western Front, the Germans had fallen back to their strong Hindenburg
o U-Boat warfare, which had been reinstated in February 1917, had been very
successful in destroying Allied shipping
o Even though America had entered the war on April 6, they were not prepared
enough to have a significant impact in Europe in 1917.
Why did America enter the war?
Resumption of unrestricted U-Boat warfare
Zimmermann Telegram of January 19, 1917
The fall of Tsardom in March made fighting on the side of the Allies in defense of
democracy more believable
Considerable sums of money had been invested and loaned to the Allies by both private
bankers and the US government making an Allied defeat very unfavorable.
The Defeat of the Central Powers
Why did the Germans surrender?
1. Effective counter measures to U-Boats were developed
2. Impact of blockade in causing food and munitions shortages in Germany
3. Failure of the Ludendorff (or German Spring) Offensive due to:
a. Overstretched supply lines
b. Germans fell victim to their own scorched earth policy
c. Large number of Germans deserters
d. US troops had arrived in huge numbers allowing for an Allied counter-
e. Allied better use of radio and tanks
4. The collapse of Germany’s allies
5. US contribution in terms of morale, money and men
6. Germany’s inability to attract new allies
7. Uprisings in conquered areas in the East
8. Unrest in Germany
a. Many Germans revolted against what was in essence the dictatorship of
Ludendorff and Hindenburg
b. Although the Kaiser gave some concessions to more democratic rights, it
wasn’t enough to satisfy the people, including soldiers and sailors who were
at the point of mutiny.
c. On November 9 the Kaiser abdicated and Germany became a republic
No Compromise Peace
By the beginning of 1917 within both the belligerent camps there were civilians who
tried to negotiate peace and generals who still pushed for military victory
The problem with negotiations was that what was seen as compromise for one side was
seen as defeat for the other:
o The Allies wanted a return to the status quo of 1914:
- Germany could keep her colonies and her fleet, but had to get out of the
occupied territories of Russia, France and Belgium and perhaps have to
pay to restore them.
o The Germans wanted a return to the status quo of 1916:
- They keep Lorraine and military control over Belgium, as well as
additional colonies and perhaps parts of Poland.
Therefore it appeared a decisive victory was needed to achieve any ‘compromise’ which
would mean a dictated peace for the losers.
That is why the American war aims, Wilson’s Fourteen Points, were so appealing to the
German Domestic Politics and the Armistice
Realizing that military defeat was imminent, in October, Ludendorff advised the Kaiser
to appoint a civilian government to negotiate an armistice.
o A constitutional government would be more acceptable to the Allies and would
thus get better peace terms.
o Ludendorff and the German High Command did not want to take the blame and
shame for losing the war.
Thus Germany became a liberal constitutional monarchy
Wilhelm’s abdication both as German Emperor and King of Prussia was abruptly
announced by the Chancellor, Prince Max von Baden, on 9 November 1918.
Friedrick Ebert, a Social Democrat (SPD) became chancellor – the First of the German
On November 11, 1998 the new German government accepted the Allies’ peace terms
bringing an end to the fighting of WWI.
Believing that they had fought to an honorable draw on the Western Front, while being
totally victorious in the East, German leaders now waited to be summoned to Paris to
assist the Allies in a crusade against Bolshevism.
The Paris Peace Conference
What was originally called the ‘Preliminary Conference of Peace’ began on 18 January
He stage of the conference was meant to be the time for the 32 ‘Allied and Associated
Powers’ to coordinate their negotiating plans ahead of peace talks with the Central
However, due to the rapid disintegration of the Central Powers during these months this
preliminary conference was transformed into the final peace conference, which explains
why none of the Central Powers were part of the negotiations.
This factor also added confusion for the delegates because many believed that it was an
initial negotiating position that they were preparing, not the actual terms of the treaty.
Due to the large number of delegates from various nations, eventually the important
decision making function was taken over by a Council of Four – sometimes referred to
as the Big Four:
o Woodrow Wilson, USA
o Georges Clemenceau, France
o David Lloyd George, Britain
o Vittorio Orlando, Italy
It took the Big Four until May to agree on the terms of the treaty to be presented to
After the German treaty terms were decided, the leading statesmen of the Big Four
returned to their countries and left the working out of the remaining treaties with the
Central Powers to their ambassadors.
The message of this cartoon is that Germany would have treated the Allies much more harshly
if they had won the war.
The Paris Peace Settlements
The first clause in each of the treaties was the ‘Covenant of the League of Nations’.
It was agreed that in Eastern Europe the countries should be sizable and economically
viable in order to provide stability and withstand any future German or Bolshevik
They also agreed with the idea of self-determination
However, the final borders were as much a product of the post-war military clashes in
Eastern Europe as the decisions made in Paris.
The existence of large minorities in the new states was an ongoing concern.
That is why when it came to defending these new Eastern European states, Britain and
others were less than committed.
Treaty of St. Germain with Austria, September 1919
Treaty of Trianon with Hungary, June 1920
Recognized Austria and Hungary as separate states.
Each had to give up land, reduce their armed forces and pay reparations
Forbade Austria to unite with Germany (Anschluss)
Created new states based on Wilson’s ‘Self Determination’ – Poland, Czechoslovakia &
Treaty of Neuilly with Bulgaria, November 1919
Gave land to Yugoslavia and Greece
Reduced armed forces
Treaty of Sevres with Turkey, 1920
Transformed the political geography of the Eastern Mediterranean:
o Turkey and Arabia became independent countries
o The rest of the old Empire was broken into League of Nations ‘Mandates’:
Britain – Palestine, Jordan, Iraq
France – Lebanon & Syria
o Demilitarized the Turkish Straits and put them under League control
Treaty of Versailles with Germany, June 1919
Max. 100,000 men in the army
Max. 6 battleships & no subs
No air force
Production of military goods limited to certain factories and these were monitored by
Demilitarized the Rhineland
Put the Saar Valley under League control for 15 years, after that it went to a plebiscite
and the people chose to go to Germany
Took land away
o To France, Belgium, Denmark, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Lithuania
Colonies given to the League to distribute as mandates
Forbade Anschluss with Austria
Blamed the war on Germany and their Allies – “War Guilt Clause” Article 231, therefore
giving justification for the huge reparations demanded of Germany by France and Britain
France is sucking the life out of Germany through the Treaty of Versailles, while Britain and
America are depicted as bats are just lingering around waiting for the same opportunity.
Freedom of seas including the opening of Bosporus and Dardanelles
The occupation of Rhineland for 15 years and permanent demilitarization
The formation of the League of Nations
o United States
Germany and Austria not permitted to unite
The majority of German colonies to put under league control
o United States (France and Britain later on because they get to keep them as
A defensive alliance between Britain, France and USA incase Germany got aggressive
Self determination for the people of the Balkans
o United States
Blame on the war to be put on Germany and Allies
o Britain, France, US, Italy
German Navy to be limited in size
o Britain and France
The dismantling of the Austrian-Hungary Empire
Enforcing the Treaty, 1920-23
The Russian Civil War added to the confusion of the peace settlements
The Allies continued to send war material and troops to help the Whites after
Following the Bolshevik victory, other nations were not sure what kind of
diplomatic relations to build with Soviet Russia, and so for the most part,
This caused Lenin to begin diplomatic relations with the other European pariah
state – Germany.
In 1922 this grew into the Treaty of Rapallo by which each state recognized the
other, renounced any past financial claims, and opened the way for secret
2. France and Britain
Essentially Britain and France were left to implement the treaty which had been
negotiated on the assumption of American participation.
However, they had conflicting ideas:
a. Concerned with empire, wanted balance of power in Europe
b. Wanted a prosperous and peaceful Germany that could pay the
reparations and help rebuild European economy
c. Many in Britain felt that indeed the Treaty had been unfair and that it
should be amended
France was mostly concerned with permanently weakening Germany and forcing
her to fulfill the Treaty terms.
Neither nation was strong enough to get their own way
At the same time, the overriding aim of German foreign policy was revision of
Therefore, during the first half of the 1920s the German response to the Allied
attempts to carry out the Treaty was either outright defiance or procrastination
in an attempt to split the former allies
It was thought by finally fixing the sum of the reparations(in April 1921 at 132
milliard gold marks) it would help the Germans to know the full extent of their
debt and begin raising credit.
The Ruhr Crisis
In July 1922 the Germans requested a three-year moratorium on reparation payments.
At the same time Britain announced that America was demanding the repayment of
British wartime debts, and thus in turn, had to insist on the repayment of the equivalent
amount from her former allies.
Raymond Poincare, the new French Prime Minister saw no other solution than to
occupy the Ruhr as the only means to force Germany to pay.
French and Belgium troops entered the Ruhr in January 1923
The Germans responded with passive resistance and strikes which triggered hyper-
The French responded to passive resistance harshly; over 100 workers were killed and
100,000 protestors were removed
Not knowing how to respond, Britain adopted a position of ‘benevolent passivity’.
For the French it was an expensive occupation, which weakened the franc.
Finally in September the new German Chancellor, Gustav Stresemann, called off passive
The French agreed to an Anglo-American initiative to look into the reparations issue.
The Ruhr Crisis marked the end of attempts to carry out the Treaty of Versailles by force
and the beginning of the gradual revision of the Treaty itself.
Source-based questions on Chapter 3
1. Revising the Treaties
a. Study Source C
Source C is a speech from the German, Walther Rathenau. The line ‘our country has
been mutilated’ in line 7 signifies the loss of territory Germany suffered due to the
treaty. The treaty has cut Germany into pieces, creating new states and the said land
that Germany lost was crucial for a lot of their resources. The treaty mutilated Germany,
which caused a shortage of resources in Germany.
b. Study Source D
Source D is a secret message from the French Minister of Finance requesting an
economic entente with Germany. What was meant in line 11 is that France wanted a
mutual understanding, an alliance with Germany regarding the reparation fees. The
French kept vetoing the moratorium so Germany turned over to Russia and signed the
Treaty of Rapallo.
The League of Nations
To promote international cooperation
To guarantee international peace and security
Open to any independent state, except for Germany (1926) and the USSR (1934).
There were 48 original members
The Structure of the League
Carried out all the administrative functions
All members attended and debated once a year
Admitted new nations, controlled the budget and elected non-permanent members to
Dominated by permanent members: Britain, France, Italy, Japan and Germany
Non-permanent members (originally 4, but up to 11 in 1936)
Dealt with problems when the Assembly was not in session
Could organize sanctions against offending members
Some new and good ideas brought about through the League:
Mandates, Article 22
Agencies established to deal with:
o Labour laws
o Human trafficking
o Drug trafficking
o Supervision of the arms trade
o Prevention and control of diseases
Some difficulties encountered by the League:
“… all members undertake to respect and preserve as against external aggression the territorial
integrity and political independence of all members of the League.”
This became the cornerstone of the League and the basis for a new theory for
It sought to banish the old alliance systems (treaties), which were designed to protect or
defend against specific threats or specific nations.
Nations entered into these treaties to defend or advance their own vital interests
It is on the basis of the treaties that foreign policy decisions were made.
Collective security is less concrete in that it does not specify where threats may come
from or what the response should be under certain circumstances
It assumes that all nations:
a. Are equally prepared to act in defense of the principle that aggression is
wrong and must be resisted.
b. Will see each challenge to peace in exactly the same light and will be willing,
regardless of costs or effect to their own interests, to defend the principle.
Collective Security failed because:
It requires a level of altruism which doesn’t seem realizable
It asked nations to surrender their freedom of action and enforce policies with which
they disagreed or to intervene against countries with whom they were friends or had
It wasn’t very ‘collective' when three of the world’s largest nations were not even
members of the League.
Members (or lack thereof…)
“Outlaw” states (Germany and USSR) had no desire to support the League or its principles.
Rather, the League was seen as the keeper of the Versailles status quo which both were
trying to revise.
Their exclusion caused to work together in the Treaty of Rapallo (1922), which rendered
the disarmament clauses of Versailles pointless because the League couldn’t do
anything about their economic and military cooperation.
Furthermore, the exclusion of the USSR confirmed their suspicion that there was a
conspiracy to destroy them.
US rejection of the League and its principles undermined the League’s credibility.
As America was the wealthiest nation, it had the greatest potential to intervene in issues
in the interest of maintaining peace.
Because the US didn’t join, the Anglo-American security guarantee to France was
cancelled as the UK would not commit to intervention in Europe without SU support and
was suspicious of French ambitions.
The differing attitude towards Versailles was problematic because the French wanted
the League to enforce the settlement, while the British wanted to rebuild Germany.
Thus the two major powers of the League often disagreed on what actions should be
Members could quit – and did!
Reflects the view that the League was too dominated by the European WWI Allies
“Great Powers” mentality
There was no penalty for quitting
It had no forces of its own; it had to rely on member countries declaring war on
countries that broke the covenant
Had to be unanimous, although the votes of countries directly involved in the dispute
were not considered
Could only make recommendations, could not force the members to take the action
In a world where many nations had grievances or territorial ambitions and distrusted
their neighbors, disarmament would have little chance.
Although disarmament was one of the major goals of the League, much of the efforts to
achieve it were actually accomplished outside the League.
The Washington Conference (1921-1922)
After WWI there had been growing tension between Japan and the US over mutual
suspicions of intentions in China
This was a scary prospect for Britain as she was still under the 1902 defensive alliance
with Japan, which could mean that she would need to side with Japan in a war against
There also existed a significant naval arms race between Britain, US and Japan.
Due to the need to reduce military expenditures as well as the rising tension, all three
agreed to meet to discuss naval arms reductions.
They agreed to limit the size and number of battleships, as well as the size of cruises and
aircraft carriers to a constant ratio of USA, Britain and Japan; 5:5:3
Additionally, USA, Britain, France and Japan signed the “Four Power Agreement” which
guaranteed them their possessions in Asia.
The “Nine Power Agreement” confirmed the Open Door for China and guarantees its
The success of this conference can be credited to:
o The fact that each nation felt it benefited
o The small number of participants
o The timing after the war when disarmament was a popular concept
By the early 30s these agreements were largely ignored after Japan’s invasion of
The London Naval Conference (1930)
Timed well as it coincided with the onset of the Great Depression and countries were
looking to further reduce their naval arms.
The USA, Britain, France, Italy and Japan all agreed to reductions in their naval
capacities, as well as new rules governing U-boat warfare
The London treaty was not renewed in 1936 because of the aggressive stance of the
Japanese and Italians, as well as her fear the others had about rapid Japanese and
Germany rearmament programs
The Geneva Disarmament Conference (1932-4)
Was a League organized attempt at world disarmament that included the USA and USSR
o Less positive attitude towards international cooperation due to the impact of the
o The French were unwilling to disarm without some guarantees of security which
Britain and others were unwilling to give
o Disagreement over what constituted offensive versus defensive weapons
o Germany used the conference as a platform to push the claim that they were
being unfairly discriminated against through their military restrictions
o When Germany demands for military parity were not considered, they left the
o The conference failed to achieve its goal.
France Between the Wars
WWI had a very high cost for France:
Approximately 10% of the active male population had been killed
Approximately 10% of the most valuable industrial and agricultural had been destroyed
War debts of approximately 7 billion dollars owed to USA and Britain
Accordingly, many Frenchmen felt that the Versailles did nothing to solve the ‘German Problem’
Despite the impact of WWI, the French economy was able to make quite a remarkable
recovery in the 1920s because:
o Improved taxation system, as well as spending reform enabled the French to
stabilize their currency.
o Tourism brought a lot of money into the country.
o Alsace-Lorraine gave the French rich mineral deposits and factories.
o Modern factories were established in areas where the destruction of WWI had
destroyed the old ones.
French politics were quite unstable during this period
There was a polarization between political parties, ranging from extreme right wing to
Therefore, with each election came a coalition government, which proved to be very
ineffective in setting policy.
France’s hopes for security were not met in either agreement with Britain nor in the
League of Nations, therefore, she explored several other options:
o Building a system of defensive alliances with other European nations through the
o Following a policy of compromise and conciliation with Germany
o However, there were a number of factors that changed French foreign strategy
into the 1930s:
1. The death of Stresemann and the rise of fascism in Europe
2. The Wall Street crash
o Thus, the French turned forward a more defensive and passive mentality that is
best exemplified in the “Maginot Mentality”
o The French also began to seriously rearm their military strength starting in 1936.
Britain Between the Wars
Although WWI left Britain with large war debts and a great loss of manpower, she also
gained a certain friends façade of prestige from the mandates awarded to her.
However, her commitment to empire was also her main weakness due to the huge cost
of administering and defending it
The British economy was in decline:
Due to the wartime lapse in the production of non-military goods, and the rise in
industrialization of non-Western nations, the British lost a lot of their markets
Layoffs in the coal mining industry led to huge protest strikes
Very high unemployment rates, 25%
All these factors led Britain to:
1. Abandon free trade and introduced protective tariffs
2. Adopted the policy of Imperial Preference
3. Make dramatic cuts in military spending
The Labour Party (Ramsey McDonald) did replace the Liberal Party however they were
moderate in their policies
Through this time of economic stress Britain moved towards the development of a
Although politicians, both conservative and Labour, recognized the need for
rearmament in the early 1920s, public opinion did not support it, so it was delayed
The British approach to diplomacy in the 1920s, especially with regards to Germany, was
based on economic self-interest
There was a relatively strong support (at least in the early years) in Britain for Hitler due
to his strong anti-Communist stance and the perceived harshness for Versailles
By the early 1920s, the British were beginning to realize the need for rearmament in
light of the aggressive acts committed by Japan, Germany and Italy
By 1936 British rearmament was in full swing, however it would be several years before
they reached war preparedness.
As such the British, led by Neville Chamberlain (1937) followed a policy known as
The Dawes Plan (April 1924)
The Franco-Belgian occupation of the Ruhr in 1923 resulted in catastrophic inflation for
the Weimar government which made the situation untenable
o Germany was on the brink of total collapse which could result in the Germans
o Further, Germany’s collapse would also prevent European economic recovery
Stresemann was willing to call off passive resistance and announced that Germany
would comply with her Treaty obligations
o This has come to be called the ‘Policy of Fulfillment’ whereby the Germans co-
operated with the terms of the Treaty in order to gain concessions in the future
from the Allied Powers.
o It proved successful as the Germans did gain a number of concessions and
became a respected member of the international community.
The French were also willing to come to an agreement, as the occupation had been
costly economically and in terms of damaging relations with Britain and the U.S.
Most importantly, the Americans were eager to see European economic recovery and
thus have their loans repaid
Therefore, the Dawes Plan (London Conference of 1924) was arranged to ensure that
the Germans could continue with their reparations payments.
o French agreements to evacuate the Ruhr within 12 months
o The reparations payments were rescheduled to fit with German ability to pay
o The Germans could borrow money from abroad, mostly from America
o The end of the Ruhr occupation marked the end of efforts to use reparations as a
method of keeping Germany weak
o The Dawes Plan opened the way for the economic recovery of Germany.
Even after the Dawes Plan, there was still considerable tension between Germany and
Throughout 1923, the Germans had made several offers to the French for neither side
to resort to war, however, the hardline French premier, Poincare, refused.
New political leaders in both Britain (Austen Chamberlain as Foreign Minister) and
France (Avistide Briand as Foreign Minister) in 1924 did much to open the way for
friendlier relations between countries
Therefore in October 1925 a conference was held at Locarno out of which came a set of
four treaties known collectively as the Locarno Pact:
o Germany guaranteed the 1919 borders with Belgium and France and promised
not to change its borders with Poland and Czechoslovakia except through
o Britain gave a military guarantee to the borders of France and Belgium if
Germany invaded (but not for Poland and Czechoslovakia)
o France created an alliance with Poland and Czechoslovakia against future
o All concerned parties agreed to the permanent demilitarization of the Rhineland
(France could not threaten to occupy the Ruhr again)
o Germany would be accepted into the League of Nations and have a seat on the
Council which restored its status as a great European power.
The Locarno era was seen by many as proof that Europe’s tensions had been resolved.
a. German willingness to accept Versailles.
b. Failure of the spread of communism
c. Economic prosperity of the 1920s.
The League wasn’t strengthened in any way and it was the means through which
the French were given a military guarantee
Germany didn’t accept the Eastern border decisions of the Treaty
Germany’s renewal of Rapallo in 1926 meant that they could continue re-arming.
Much of the goodwill between nations was based on economic prosperity, when
that crashed, so did much of the goodwill.
The Weimar Republic (1918-1933)
From Nov 9 1918, an entirely socialist provisional government took power under Ebert’s
From the start, this new government faced threats from:
1. The extreme Left – the Spartacists led by Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht
2. The extreme Right – the Freikorps units – groups of ex-soldier and others, all of
whom were aggressive nationalists and fiercely anti-socialist
The constitution of the Weimar Republic was approved by the National Assembly
(Reichstag) in August 1919.
The Reichstag was to be elected every 4 years on the basis of proportional
representation – each party would get a representative for every 60,000 votes.
o This resulted in coalition governments as the smaller parties were able to gain
The Chancellor was supposed to come from the largest party in the Reichstag
Although Weimar was a republic with an elected parliament, the constitution also
created the position of President which held considerable power.
The powers of this position show an underlying lack of faith in the democratic Reichstag
The President was to be elected directly by the people every 7 years.
Was the supreme commander of the military
Appointed all important officials, military and civilian, including the Chancellor.
Alone held the power to summon and dissolve the Reichstag
Through Article 48, could sign into law emergency bills without the consent of the
Reichstag, which gave him the power to suspend civil liberties, take emergency powers
and rule by decree.
As President between 1919 to 1925 Ebert used this power occasionally to help the
Chancellors pass normal legislation which the Reichstag could not agree on due to the
nature of the coalitions.
After 1925, however, President Hindenburg often abused this special power which led
to increasingly authoritarian government.
The Crisis Years of 1919-1923
Jan.1919 – The Spartacists
Jan.1919 – Communist coup in Bavaria
Further disturbances throughout 1920-21
2 prominent politicians assassinated by far right groups
1920 – The Kapp Putsch
1921 – Reparations Committee
1921 – Inflation
1923 – Ruhr Crisis & Hyper-inflation
The German mark to the US dollar
1923 (Nov) 42,000,000,000
Historians do not agree on a single cause. Some explanations are:
The reparations caused the hyper-inflation
The cost of the war, and the system of deficit spending, compounded by the reparations
The Germans deliberately provoked the crisis to avoid having to pay the reparations
Did the Weimar Republic save itself between 1919-1923?
Successful in suppressing the Kapp Putsch and organized passive resistance to overcome
French Powers in the Ruhr
Effective use of Article 48 by Ebert.
Effective Chancellorship, cutting expenditures and introduction of Rentenmark, won the
western powers view that Germany was rehabilitating
The “Golden Years” 1924-29 (?)
Economics – “Dancing on a volcano”
Through the Dawes Plan of 1924 French troops were pulled out of the Ruhr and
Germany’s reparation payments were rescheduled.
American loans were also essential for the expansion of German industry.
The level of prosperity did rise as this money was used to finance industrial expansion
and fund a variety of public works schemes, both of which provided employment.
However, there were some weaknesses in the Weimar’s economic system:
1. The post 1923 recovery was too reliant on externally generated credit.
a. Most of the loans were American and short-term, which meant they were
very vulnerable to fluctuations on the US stock market.
2. While the capacity of the German factories increased, there did not exist the
demand for the goods they were producing.
a. Thus, owners began looking at non-consumer manufacturing as a way to
make money – rearmament.
3. The government stepped in to arbitrate labor disputes, which had the short term
effect of preventing strikes, but the long term effect of making the industrialists
more rigid and authoritarian in their relationship with the workers.
4. Agriculture never modernized the way German industry did and therefore never
grew in any consistent way.
Overall, the economy of the Weimar Republic did recover between 1924 and 1929, but
this recovery was highly fragile.
Support from the radical parties fell while the moderate parties that supported the
Republic increased in support.
This evidence has led many historians to conclude that the Republic was stable during
this period and it was the economic crisis of 1929-1930 that sent it tumbling. But! What
the election results do not show us is:
A. The extent of the breakdown of political consensus of the part of the spectrum that
supported the Republic
Left | KPD – SPD – Z – DDP – DVP – DNVP – NSDAP | Right
o SPD, Z, DDP, DVP worked well for foreign Policy
o Z, DDP, DVP, DNVP worked well on domestic policy
o Therefore, often Reichstag coalitions had to be manufactured for each item of
legislation, which made for a very unstable government.
B. Changes in the nature and strength of the right.
o The DNVP moved further to the right as a response to government involvement
in industrial and labour practices.
o Changes in the NSDAP mad it more of a mainstream, respectable party.
- Hitler realized that rather than using violence to overthrow the
government, he would need to participate in regular politics in order to
- He also recognized his party into regional units called Gau in order to
strengthen his hold on the party.
o The DNVP and the NSDAP began to form a close coalition by 1929.
C. Hindenburg became president in 1925 and his behavior became increasingly
The Weimar Collapse and the Rise of Hitler
Upon his release from prisoin in 1925 Hitler found that the political and economic
climate in Germany was much more stable, and therefore the Nazis lost some of their
The period between 1925 and 1929 marked a low in terms of support for the Nazis, but
Hitler used this time to rebuild and restructure the party.
Hitler devised ways in which to involve many segments of the population with the party
thus making it a mass movement by the early 1930s.
During these years, a number of military-type groups developed within the Nazi
One of these was the SA (Brown Shirts)
By the early 1930s the SA was several times larger in numbers than the German army.
With the economic chaos created by the Great Depression came an increased
polarization of the German population towards either the Nazis or the Communists.
Under these circumstances, Brüning (center Party) was appointed Chancellor (March
1930), but was not successful at gaining the support of the Reichstag and had to rely on
support of Hindenburg and Article 48 to rule, thus marking a return to authoritarian
When the Reichstag passed a vote of no confidence in Brüning, he made the mistake of
calling for new elections in September 1930.
Yet, Brüning stayed on as Chancellor because the SPD supported him.
Even though they hated his economic policies, they were afraid of what would happen
of Brüning’s government fell and the Nazi’s came to power.
What would have earned Brüning the nickname “The Hunger Chancellor”?
o His deflationary program
To balance the budget?
To worsen the effects of the Depression in order to end reparations?
How did he seek to achieve his aims?
Severe cuts in government spending which was felt most by the
unemployment because their welfare benefits were cut
His policies made things so bad in Germany that people lost confidence in
him (unemployment, bank crashes, political violence on the streets)
His proposed land reform lost him the support of the agrarian elite which
The government deficit was cut
Reparations suspended in July 1931 and cancelled in June 1932 (one
month after Brüning lost office)
In April 1932 Brüning worked to get Hindenburg re-elected as President
By this time Hitler had grown in popularity and had gained 37% of the vote in his
attempt to become President.
Because of Hitler’s growing strength and popularity, his seizing power through the SA
was seen as a real threat.
Therefore Brüning had the SA banned and some on the right opposed this ban.
General Schleicher saw a potential in having the SA incorporated into the German army.
On May 30, 1932 Brüning was forced to resign because he had lost the support of
This meant that he could no longer make use of Article 48.
“The Messy Months” May 1932 – Jan 1933
May – Dec – Franz von Papen
Schleicher convinced Hindenburg to appoint Papen to lead a cabinet of elites.
Papen lifted the ban on the SA and agreed to Hitler’s demand to call new elections.
Despite the huge Nazi showing in the 1932 election, Hindenburg refused to make Hitler
Chancellor and instead kept Papen in that position.
This caused chaos in the Reichstag and under Schleicher’s advice, Hindenburg was
forced to dissolve it and call another election.
The new Reichstag was as unworkable as the previous one.
Papen, wanting to remain as a Chancellor, proposed to Hindenburg that the Reichstag
be permanently replaced and that the army be used to suppress any opposition.
Dec – Jan
Schleicher convinced Hindenburg that Papen’s plan would start a civil war and instead
had himself appointed Chancellor.
He failed in trying to split the Nazi Party and also in gaining the support of the trade
At the same time he lost the support of the right wing elite.
Behind the scenes Papen plotted with Hitler to return to government.
Hitler would be Chancellor and Papen would be Vice-Chancellor.
This was backed by a coalition of representatives from big businesses and the army.
Hindenburg dismissed Schleicher on January 28, 1933.
Hitler was appointed as Chancellor on January 30, 1933.
Japanese Aggression After WWI
Japan was the only other nation, besides the USA to emerge from WWI stronger than it
had been before, and there was a desire to build an empire on this success.
Emperor Hirohito – 1901 – 1989
Japan had limited natural resources and therefore felt it necessary to make themselves
less dependent on other nations (especially USA for oil)
They were also looking for locations to resettle their surplus populations.
Their solution was to look for new areas within Asia to colonize.
The Japanese saw Manchuria as a very significant reason because it was a good physical
barrier between Russia and the Japanese mainland, and it was a good starting place
from which to spread through and take over China.
They had invested large sums of money into railway construction through out the
In the late 1920s Chinese companies began building their own railways.
This threatened the Japanese and increased tensions in the area.
On Sept. 18, 1931 a section of a Japanese railway was mysteriously blown-up and the
Japanese used this as a reason to send in troops ‘to defend’ their investments in
The defense turned into an occupation and the Leagued condemned it.
o Japan quit the League.
o The League did not come to China’s aid.
On March 9, 1932, the Independent Republic of Manchuko (a Japanese puppet state)
In 1934 the Japanese gave notice they were breaking the conditions of the Washington
Naval Treaty and began to massively build up their navy.
The USSR was very concerned about Japanese expansion. They formed a defensive
alliance with Mongolia.
Japan interpreted this as aggression and in 1936 signed a similar treaty of their own with
Germany, the Anti-Comintern Pact (also known as the Tripartite Pact)
By July 1937 Japan declared war on China and within the next several months had
effective control over large portions of China.
Although Mussolini was the first to use the term to identify his movement, it came to
refer to man similar movements in Europe between the wars.
General characteristics of fascism:
o Hostility to parliamentary democracy and communism
o Support for authoritarian and military values
o Aggressive nationalism
o The mobilization of mass support behind a charismatic leader.
Italy Between the Wars
Italy’s political and economic situation after WWI was similar to other post-war
European countries – inflation, unemployment, food shortages, political polarization
Between 1918-1920 there was a period known as Biennio Rosso (two red years) in which
there were huge protests from farmers and industrial workers.
These protests were led by socialists and trade-union leaders.
The moderate liberal coalition government failed to take decisive action to stop these
Industrialists and landowners feared a Bolshevik revolution and felt the government was
unwilling or powerless to stop it.
They therefore began to support the right-wing radicals, the Fascists Black Shirts
(Squadristi) who used terror against any socialist groups.
Throughout 1921-1922 the Blackshirts continued their terror and by late 1922 they had
control over most of the towns and cities in Northern Italy.
The situation was getting critical with Mussolini planning to march into Rome and take
over the government.
Prime Minister Facta requested a declaration of martial law from the King.
Instead the King preferred to try to negotiate with Mussolini by offering him a position
in the government.
Mussolini would not accept any part in a government he did not lead, so on October 30,
1922 the King made him the Prime Minister of the new government.
New elections were held in 1924 in which Mussolini’s fascists won a majority through
the use of violence and initimidation.
Upon his win in the 1924 elections, Mussolini proceeded to pass a law in 1925 that gave
him total power. With these powers he:
o Banned all political opposition
o Banned trade unions
o Censored the press.
o Purged all anti-Fascists from the bureaucracy
o Replaced all elected officials with appointed Fascists.
o Set up a secret police and special courts.
To gain a broader base of support he ended his antagonism with the Catholic Church in
When the depression hit he began a program of public works to combat unemployment.
Italian Foreign Policy Under Mussolini
Italy was in the fortunate position of appearing to be the lesser of ‘evils’ when
compared to Hitler and therefore both France and Britain took pains not to alienate
Using this to his advantage, Mussolini tried to take on the role of mediator between
France & Britain and Germany to overturn the Treaty of Versailles.
However, the increasing German threats (to Austria in particular) converted him to a
firm supporter of the territorial status quo
In the early 1930s Mussolini even took several steps to check Hitler’s foreign aggression:
1. 1934 – mobilized his troops along the Austrian border when Hitler gave support
to the Austrian Nazis to stage a coup.
2. 1935 – met with the British and French to condemn German rearmament and to
maintain the peace settlements (Stresa Conference)
At the same time, however, Mussolini was also looking towards his own imperialist
expansion, specifically in the Balkans and North Africa.
His first target was the independent nation of Abyssinia (Ethiopia) which the Italians had
been trying to gain since the 1880s.
In October 1935 Italy invaded Abyssinia
1. The invasion had a high economic cost which weakened Italy considerably
2. Haile Selassie (emperor of Abyssinia) protested before the League.
3. Made Mussolini believe he was strong militarily.
4. Mussolini, isolated from his Stressa partners, looked to Hitler for support
In return for this support, he agreed not to cooperate with the British and
French if German troops entered the Rhineland.
Seeks limited (usually political)
Seeks a pacified and submissive
Seeks only to rule over the
individual and society
Is often seen as a temporary
response during a crisis or
Seeks to dominate all aspects of
Mobilizes and makes use of mass
Seeks the complete
reconstruction of the individual
Believes in a permanent
reconstruction of the country
Both in theory and practice, totalitarianism began after World War I
a) During the war, governments had taken over more and more aspects of their
country in order to focus the country’s resources into winning the war.
Conscription both into the military and into the workforce
Control of transportation networks
b) The chaotic political, economic and social situations
Common Characteristics of Totalitarian States
Single party state with unquestioning obedience to a single ruler, which leads to a
State control over the economy
Strict censorship and government control over the media
Use of schools and media to indoctrinate and mobilize citizens
Police spies and state terrorism used to deny personal freedom.
Highly nationalist, often to the point of racist
Individual identity is taken away and replaced with a group identity based on either race
Glorification of violence and war
Italian and German Response
Mussolini was the first to commit aid to the nationalists, but Hitler is quick to participate
Italian and German Fascist aid came in the form of soldiers, weapons and military
Motives behind German participation:
A venue to test their new weapons and military capabilities
A chance to help bring about the demise of left wingers, especially communists.
By helping instill a fascist government in Spain, it would force France to fight a war on
two fronts net time and would cut off.
For Hitler it was a chance to work together with Mussolini, forge Rome-Berlin Axis and
this keep Mussolini attention away from his aggressive plans for the central Europe.
It gave Germany access to Spain’s raw materials to feed their re-armament.
French and British Response
Officially, both France and Britain did not participate and went even further to create
the Non-intervention agreement of 1936.
This stance led to some degree of disagreement within both countries, and in fact
France did have several short periods where aids
Motives behind this malevolent neutrality:
Both nations were in their twilight years and didn't want another European war that
would completely destroy the balance of power.
Neither nation particularly wanted to see a communist government come to power in
It wasn't quite certain whether Mussolini would go in with Hitler and neither France nor
Britain wanted to push him into Hitler’s arms by opposing hum directly in Spain.
Economically and in terms of arms of military readiness, neither country was able to
participate on a grand scale.
Was the only government send aid to the Republican side
Motives behind participation:
Ideological battle between fascism and communism
Stalin wanted to ensure that his band of communism prevailed in Spain
Didn't want to see France get surrounded by fascist states
Stalin hoped that the Soviets support for the Republicans would encourage France and
Britain to do the same.
In the end….
Foreign intervention served only to lengthen the duration of the war
Brought Germany and Italy Together in the Rome-Berlin Axis
Weakened Italy’s economy due to military spending
Ironically it also pushed Stalin into the arms of Hitler.
From Nihilism to Nazism
Nihilism is a philosophy that began in
century that, simply stated, says that there is no meaning or value to life.
This conclusion is reached based on the
claim that there is no reality that is independent of the human mind.
(1844-1900) is perhaps the most influential of the nihilistic thinkers of the 19
This atheistic worldview thinking played
a significant role in the development of the Nazi movement because Hitler was a disciple
Nihilism’s influence on Nazi doctrines:
If there is no God, then Creation is a
myth and evolution is correct.
Evolutionary theories can be applied to
human races and societies – Social Darwinism.
With the ‘death of God’ came the
denial of any objective moral values and therefore who was to say that killing
Jews was wrong?
Factors Favoring for the Emergence of Hitler
The Weimar Republic had many
inherent weaknesses, which created widespread disillusionment in the population.
The Nazis were able to take advantage
of this situation in which people were abandoning traditional political loyalties by
appealing to various sectors of the electorate individuality.
Hitler also used several general policies
to cut through class differences.
A nationalist offensive proclaiming
Versailles a ‘stab in th eback’
An emphasis on the need for German
geographical expansion or ‘living space’ (Lebensraum)
The identification of ‘race enemies’
such as the Jews.
Miscalculation by the Right
Rather than a return to party politics,
many of the right felt that government through a broad based movement of
the right would be best for Germany.
To accomplish this, they needed the
radical impetus of the Nazis to destroy the Republic
Once this was accomplished, the Nazis
would be brought into line with the more conservative forces
The Nazi Party and its Associations
The Nazi party organized itself
geographically by dividing into 35 regions
These regions were called Gau and each
one was to be led by a governor or Gauleiter
Each Gau was further divided into local
branches, which each local leader reporting directly to his Gauletier who reported
directly to Hitler.
To broaden their base of popular
support and further influence the German people, the NSDAP established a variety of
groups, which appealed to different segments of society.
Structure of Nazi Society
2. Volkgemeinschaft or National
Community replaced the old social order of class and political differences.
The individual was seen to be less
important than the state and therefore should be made to serve the leader and the
Was defined in ethnic terms, thus
German regeneration depended on creating a racially pure state or Herrenvolk
From Chancellor to Dictator
Upon his appointment as Chancellor,
Hitler still came under the authority of Hindenburg who had the army’s (Reichswehr)
Therefore Hitler had to tread carefully
to avoid upsetting Hindenburg and getting dismissed.
Step 1: Increase NSDAP seats in the
o Immediately upon his appointment as
Chancellor on January 30, 1933, Hitler called for dissolution of the Reichstag
(Feb. 1) and new electrons to be held in early March.
o On February 27, the Reichstag building
mysteriously burnt down and Hitler was able to blame this on the Communists
and further inflame anti-Communist sentiment.
o On Feb. 28 He used this event and the
hysteria that followed to have Hindenburg enact Article 48 and severely limit
other parties through the suspension of civil rights.
o The Nazis also ran a program of voter
intimidation through the threat of SA violence.
o The tactics succeed in increasing the
Nazi presence in the Reichstag from 196 to 288 in the March 5, 1933 elections.
Step 2: Change the Constitution
o In order to accomplish this, Hitler
needed a 2/3 vote in the Reichstag which he got by:
Banning the KPD from the Reichstag
Guaranteeing Catholic liberties, thus
gaining the support of the Center Party
o On March 24, 1933, with a vote of 441
to 94, Hitler was able to make significant change to the constitution, which
allowed the Cabinet (essentially Hitler) to pass decrees without the President’s
o This came to be called the “Enabling
o “Law for Terminating the Suffering of
the People and the Nation”
o It was renewed in 1938 and became the
virtual constitution of the Third Reich.
o It took Hitler only a few months to
destroy ‘democracy’ in Germany through a process called Gleichschaltung (Co-
o Most institutions which might have
harbored opposition to the Nazis were undermined:
Trade unions were dissolved and
replaced by a Nazi Organization (May 2)
The civil service was purged of non-
Nazis (April 7)
The Nazi party became the only legal
party (July 14)
The Catholic Church was compromised
into signing the concordat with the government (July 20, 1933)
Schools and universities had to follow
State governments were subordinated
to Berlin (January 1934)
o How was this possible in such a short
The effective use of terror through the
establishment of concentration camps.
The penetration of Nazi propaganda
into every area of German life
Many Germans felt that Hitler was right
Economic recovery had actually started
before he came to power, but it looked as though he was responsible.
Step 3: Eliminate all other potential
o The Reichswehr was still under the
control of conservative generals.
Hitler knew he had to carefully gain the
support of the generals and eventually control army
o Meanwhile, the SA, under Rohm, had
become a very large and powerful force.
o Rohm wished to merge the SA and the
Reichswehr, with himself as the leader
o Hitler was able to use another of the
Nazi militia groups, the SS (formed in 1925) to:
a) Destroy the SA
b) Gain the support of the Reichswehr
o This was accomplished through an
event that has come to be known as “The Night of the Long Knives” (June 30,
1934) when Rohm and other SA leaders were shot, along with hundreds (?) of SA
o Hitler also used this event to remove
others that were a threat to his leadership.
o This event, along with Hitler’s ambitious
rearmament plans, and denunciation of Versailles, guaranteed army support for
Step 4: Crown himself “Führer”
o August 1, 1934: Hitler passed a new law
that merges the office of President and Chancellor into “Führer and Reich
o August 2, 1934:
Army takes an oath of personal loyalty
The SS State
The SS (Schutzstaffel) was established
in 1925 by Hitler for task ‘of a police nature’ that could not be entrusted to the SA.
Heinrich Himmler became its leader in
1929 and expanded the SS into the Party’s own police force of 52,000 men by 1933.
The SS were the ones responsible for
carrying out the SA purge and were rewarded for this by becoming independent of the
SA as awell as being able to form armed groups, such as the Waffen-SS
The SS was the elite militia group of
Germany, basically acting as Hitler’s private army.
The SS saw itself as being the force that
would ultimately rule Europe; therefore they recruited Aryan members from other
countries as well.
By 1933 the Gestapo (Prussian secret
police) had also been absorbed under the SS umbrella.
The Gestapo had been set up by Göring
and was responsible for the elimination of political resistance, taking extra legal orders
directly from Hitler.
It was the Gestapo that decided who
could be sent to concentration camps.
The concepts of “protective custody”
and “preventative arrest” were invented to justify the detention of many.
The Gestapo was not large,
approximately 15,000 members to police a nation of nearly 80 million people.
This shows the extent of police
informants in the era.
The SS undertook a number of different
functions for the Nazi state:
1. The Waffen-SS units were military
formations and played a significant role in several of the campaigns of the war
2. The SS took over the running of the
concentration camps after 1934.
3. The SS was used to control some of the
industrial enterprises in Germany.
4. After 1934 the SS became the principal
agent in applying the state’s racial policies.
5. During the war, the SS organized the
whole network of conquered territories as well as the programs for slave labor and
The fact that the SS did have a lot of
influence over foreign policy and the military sphere brought it into conflict with other
institutions like the Foreign Office and even the Nazi Party.
Nazi Social Control
The main task of schools was to
educate the youth for service to the state.
This was accomplished through:
o Ensuring that teachers were supportive
through forcing them to join the Nazi teacher’s union and receiving training in
o Changing the curriculum:
Physical fitness was increased to two
hours a day.
PE was valued the most to make the
youth tough and fearless.
Nazi ideas were incorporated into
subject, particularly biology and history.
Religious education was stopped
o Co-educational schools were reduced in
an attempt to provide ‘appropriate’ lessons for girls and boys.
o Special schools were established to
train the future Nazi elite.
In general, educational standards
dropped during Nazi rule due to the climate of anti-intellectualism, propagandist
elements and focus on extra-curricular activities.
The main task was to introduce youth
to become active participants in the Nazi state.
The “Hitler Youth” was the main
organization for boys aged 10-18.
For the girls there was the ”League of
Maidens” which stressed the importance of motherhood, fitness and racial purity.
Women & Family
Family was supposed to be foundation
of Nazi society.
They tried to construct a society in
which women would be wives and mothers.
Hitler saw Christianity as:
o Weak, reflecting the values of an
o A threat to his reordering of society
He tried to gain control of the
Protestant churches by unifying them into the Protestant Reich Church that pledged
their loyalty to him.
This backfired as the Confessional
Church broke away.
By 1937 it was clear that Hitler was not
keeping his side of the Concordat with the Catholic Church.
This led to an attack on Nazi belief and
methods by Pope Pius XI.
Pius XII, who became Pope in 1939 took
a much softer stance against the Nazis. (In 1998 the Vatican officially apologized for its
lack of opposition to the Holocaust.)
Society in General
All media, theatre, film, music, books,
art, rallies were controlled by “The Ministry of Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda”.
The Nazi Economy
Because Nazism was primarily a racist ideology, it had no firm economic foundation, and
therefore economic policy was often a series of compromises between opposing forces.
Hitler was elected with the promise to give the German people ‘bread and jobs’
Lebensraum-Living space in Eastern Europe.
Transform the economy to focus rearmament and war.
Hjalmar Schact held the position of Minister of Economic from 1934 to 1937.
He followed a policy of job-creation and wage controls to prevent the threat of inflation
and currency instability.
What was the aim of the public works programs? (National Labor Service)
a. Gave men jobs in public work schemes such as building schools, motorways. Ditches
b. Men had to wear a uniform and live in camps and were given free meals and pocket
c. To kick start the economy and to improve the living conditions of the German
d. To build impressive buildings and make the German people would feel proud.
e. To improve the public transport network for industrial and military use.
Other factors accounting for the fall in unemployment:
By 1934 all Jews were sacked from civil service jobs which were then given to
German workers. (Unemployed Jews were not registered).
Women lost their jobs which were given to men.
People who refused jobs offered by the labor service were arrested and put into
Unmarried men under 35 were forced into the National Labor Service.
Opponents if the Nazis who were in concentration camps.
Part time workers were counted as full workers
Conscription from 1935 took thousands of young men into the military service.
Schacht continued many of the projects that had been initiated under the Weimar
He fell out with Hitler over the spread of rearmament and was replaced by Hermann
Goering in 1936.
Up to that point Schacht had been somewhat of a moderating influence on the
economic and racial policies of the Nazis.
By 1936 Hitler believed that the economic recovery had been sufficient to introduce
an accelerating of the rearmament and this introduced his Four Year Plan.
Aims of the four years plan 1936:
Speed up rearmament
Make Germany self sufficient as possible of both industrial and agricultural
Have both military and economy ready for war by 1940.
Was the 4-year plan a success?
Unemployment dropped quickly 4.8 million in 1933 to 0.5 million in 1938.
Wages rose slightly but were still lower in 1938 than they had been in 1928.
Working hours went up to 49 hours per week in 1939-52 hours in 1943 to over 60
hours per week by 1945.
Autarky was not achieved which meant that Germany is still reliant on imports.
There were fewer consumer goods.
Trade unions were replaced by beauty of Labor” and strength through joy who
organized better conditions and leisure activities.
Historians differ in their interpretation of what Hitler meant to be ‘ready for war.’
Was it total war, or limited war based on blitzkrieg.
The cartoon signifies that the basis of German prosperity are armaments and
Nazi Racial Policies
The Nordic Germans (Aryans) were the
master race (Herrenvolk), and all other races were arranged in a hierarchy beneath
‘eugenics’ (the ‘science’ of producing
fine offspring by the control of inherited qualities)
The Nazis saw it as their duty to protect
the purity of the Aryan race from:
o Gypsies (Roma)
o Hereditary asocial
o Those with mental and/or physical
In July 1933 the “Law for the Prevention
of Hereditary Diseased Offspring” allowed for compulsory sterilization.
Actions towards the Jews:
Jews fired from civil service, law and
A boycott of Jewish shops and business
Jews banned from public places such as
parks, playing fields, restaurants and swimming pools
The ‘Nuremburg Laws’
o Restrict citizenship and the right to vote
o Marriage or sexual relations between
Jews and Germans forbidden
More professional activists of Jews
banned or restricted
November 9, 1938 ‘Crystal night’, an SS
campaign to destroy Jewish shops, homes and synagogues throughout Germany.
Jews no longer permitted to run shops
Jewish children excluded from schools
Jews forbidden to own radios, hold
driver’s licenses, buy cakes and chocolates
Jews given curfews
Jews had to hand overall gold and
Between 1933 and 1939, about half of
the Jewish population in Germany emigrated
Those that did not, would soon find
themselves being relocated.
German Foreign Policy of the 1930s
There are essentially three different views with regards to Hitler’s foreign policy:
a. Hitler followed a deliberate policy to
b. The last thing Hitler wanted was a war
with the great powers.
He would rather gain territory by bluff.
Threat and diplomacy
c. He was an opportunist, having no
coherent plan for expansion or war, but he responded to various crises as they arose.
German Foreign Policy of the 1930s:
Under Brüning in 1930, German foreign
policy was already becoming more revisionist/aggressive (?):
o He made an attempt to build a customs
union with Austria
o Given Germany’s financial situation and
the growing nationalist resentment to the reparations, Brüning was able to
convince the US and Britain to cancel the reparations at the Lausanne
Conference in June 1932.
o At the World Disarmament Conference
in February 1932, Brüning secured the right to increase the German military.
o Continued Germany’s rearmament in
When Hitler came to power, he
continued the revisionist trend, but with less caution.
Hitler’s Foreign Policy was built on
o To reverse the Treaty of Versailles
o To create a “Greater Germany” by
uniting all German speaking people
o The creation of Lebensraum – living
space for the Germans
a) Hitler’s Action:
Hitler pulled out of the next
Disarmament Conference (October 1933) and quit the League because he wasn’t
granted parity of armaments with other nations.
Reaction of other nations:
The British tried to bring Hitler back to
the Conference by offering to level out the sizes of the German and French armies,
while allowing Germany to have an air force half the size of France’s.
France did not agree, and the
conference fell apart in April 1934, by which time Hitler had already accomplished a
fair amount of rearmament.
b) Hitler’s Action:
Did not renew the Rapallo Treaty in late
Reaction of other nations:
Britain in particular was pleased as they
still wished to use Germany as a barrier in Central Europe against communism.
Stalin continued to try to build relations
between the USSR and Germany.
c) Hitler’s Action:
In January of 1934 he signed a Non-
Aggression Pact with Poland.
It served as an act of diplomacy to
make Germany seem less aggressive.
To weaken the French position as they
also had a treaty with the Poles.
d) Hitler’s Action:
An attempted Nazi coup in Austria in
June of 1934.
Reaction of other nations:
This heightened the tension between
Hitler and Mussolini, as Mussolini did not approve of the idea of a Nazi Austria on
Led Britain and France to guarantee
e) Hitler’s Action:
By early 1935 the massive push towards
rearmament in Germany had become apparent and German military strength was
drawing close to that of France and Britain.
Reaction of other nations:
Britain introduces new rearmament
France extends their period of military
f) Hitler’s Action:
In March 1935, Hitler announced the
existence of the Luftwaffe and declared that there would be conscription and that
Germany would no longer obey the military restrictions of Versailles.
g) Hitler’s Action:
In early March 1936, Hitler ordered
German troops into the Rhineland (remilitarization).
Reaction of other nations:
Britain did nothing as they had been
expecting this move for a while.
France was terribly alarmed but did not
take any military action.
Due to France’s inaction, Belgium broke
off their treaty with them.
Mussolini had already promised not to
cooperate with any British or French actions because he needed a new ally after the
break-up of the Stresa Front over his Abyssinian policy.
h) Hitler’s Action:
In the summer of 1936, Hitler sent
military aid to help Franco in the Spanish Civil War.
i) Hitler’s Action:
In October 1936 Hitler and Mussolini
signed a friendship pact (October protocols), which created an alliance known as the
j) Hitler’s Action:
In November 1936 Hitler signed the
Anti-Comintern Pact with Japan.
In November 1936 Italy also joined this
k) Hitler’s Action:
On March 12, 1938 Hitler integrated
Austria into the Third Reich – Anschluss
Reaction of other nations:
France didn’t have a government at the
time and thus took no action…
Britain issued a weak protest, but
accepted the Nazi takeover of Austria.
Italy previously given Hitler assurances
that they would accept Anschluss.
l) The Czechoslovakian Crisis, 1938-39
During the spring and summer of 1938
relations between Germany and Czechoslovakia worsened as Hitler backed the
Sudeten Germans even though President Benes had already made considerable
concessions to them.
By September the situation within
Czechoslovakia was extremely tense, with outbreaks of violence.
Benes was forced to order martial law
to quiet down the Sudeten Nazis.
On September 15, British Prime
Minister Neville Chamberlain decided to step in and try to negotiate a peaceful
Hitler insisted that the Sudetenland be
passed to Germany or else there would be war.
Chamberlain offered to negotiate this
transfer and Hitler agreed (only because Hitler never expected the Czechs to agree
Chamberlain first got the French to
agree, and once they did, the Czechs had no choice.
Upon his return to Germany (Sept. 22)
with this signed settlement, Chamberlain was greeted by an annoyed Hitler (because
he wanted a small war).
Hitler then made further demands and
threatened to go to war if they were not met by October 1.
In the midst of the crisis, Mussolini
called for a four-power conference and Hitler agreed.
This was the “Munich Conference”
(September 29) which include Germany, France, Britain and Italy.
Chamberlain and Daladier agree to
Hitler’s demands in return for vague promises to guarantee the territory of the rest
Benes resigned after his appeals were
The Czechs not only lost land, but also
their strategic defensive position in the Sudeten Mountains, which left them
vulnerable to further German aggression.
This event did cause the British an the
French to come close, and in February 1939 they formed an Anglo-French defensive
The total rejection of Soviet input at
Munich convinced Stalin that the western powers were not interested in upholding
collective security and were not greatly alarmed by Hitler’s advance in Eastern
What remained of Czechoslovakia fell
even deeper into civil strife with the Czechs fighting the Slovaks.
In March 1939 the Czech President
appealed for Hitler’s help, and then was forced to agree to allow German troops into
the country to restore order and in doing so provided Hitler with legal justification
for occupying Czechoslovakia.
The British and French did not take any
military action, giving the excuse that because the Czech government had fallen
before the German troops moved in, the guarantee given at Munich did not apply.
The Pact of Steel
On May 22, 1939, the Rome Berlin
alliance axis was made an offensive military alliance when other nations agreed to
support each other if one was involved in a war
15. The Nazi Soviet Aggression pact
Each country agreed not to support any
third power if that third power attacked the other.
They promised to consult each other on
matters of common interest
They promised not to join any alliance
aimed at the other.
It removed the capitalist threat (Hitler)
against the Soviet Union.
It offered him some recompense for
being so poorly treated by Britain and France
It would give him time to continue his
military build-up before an offensive war
It offered him territory which could act
as a buffer for the USSR
It removed the danger of having to fight
a two-front war
It gave him more territory in the east
with only having to fight a limited war for it
With it, he hoped to scare Britain and
France out of their guarantee to protect Poland.
Soviet Foreign Policy in the Interwar years
a) Essay response: The Soviet pact with
Germany in August 1939 was the result to desperation, not any long-term policy.
b) Working with a partner, graphically
display Soviet foreign policy during from WWI to the signing of the Nazi-Soviet Non-
Phases of WWII in Europe
1. Blitzkrieg, 1939-40
2. Battle of Britain, 1940
3. Operation Barbarossa, 1941-42
4. The defeat of Germany 1942-45
The Partition of Poland and the Baltic States
The Germans invaded Poland in
With the help of the Soviets, who
attacked on the 17
, they forced the Polish army to surrender on September 27.
(Casualties: 14,000 Germans; 60,000 Poles; 25,000 Civilians; 700,000 POW)
Poland was divided between Germany
and the USSR according to the secret August Agreement.
Both the Nazis and the Soviets
committed atrocities against the Polish people
During the late months of 1939 the
Soviets also took over the Baltic States as agreed to in the secret protocol.
Finland resisted and was invaded by the
Soviets in November.
Despite putting up a valiant effort and
being aided with supplies, weapons and volunteers from France and Britain, the Finns
They were allowed to keep their
independence in return for coastal areas which Stalin felt was crucial to the defense of
Blitzkrieg was a new method of
mechanized warfare that was based on the airplane and tank and depended on surprise,
speed and lots of ground force.
The Germans needed a swift way to
defeat other nations because they did not have the resources for a prolonged war.
The pattern of Blitzkrieg
a. Bombers attacked enemy airfields and
b. Parachutists dropped behind enemy
lines to capture bridges and other important targets.
c. Dive bombers moved ahead of the
tanks attacking enemy strong points.
d. Tanks broke through weak points in the
enemy line and traveled quickly over long distances.
e. Motorized infantry followed to mop up
This strategy worked extremely well
against Poland, Norway, Denmark, Belgium, Holland and France.
After the fall of Poland, the Germans
did not make another lightning strike until April 1940.
These six months came to be known as
the “Phony War” because no fighting actually took place.
Hitler used this time to strengthen his
forces, where other nations made some miscalculations:
a. The British and French put a little too
much faith in secret peace negotiations with Hitler who they felt would be
impeded by their blockade and economic warfare.
b. The British rearmament effort was not
c. The French felt secure enough behind
their Maginot line.
d. The neutral countries felt secure in the
neutrality (especially Belgium and Norway who would not allow foreign forces
on their soil.)
e. The French and British felt that the
major attack would come through central Belgium and therefore stationed their
main forces along the French border.
On April 9 Hitler unleashed Blitzkrieg in
Denmark, forcing their surrender that same day.
At the same time they attacked
Norway, which was strategic to protect the North Sea access to Sweden from which the
Nazis got resources.
By early June, Norway had fallen.
The success of the Germans caused
political crises in both France and Britain:
o Daladier is replaced by Reynaud
o Chamberlain was replaced by Churchill
On May 10, Hitler invaded the low
countries and France:
o The Netherlands was defeated in 5
o It took 17 days to defeat Belgium
o France lasted fro about 6 weeks
The low countries were occupied
Roughly two-thirds of Northern France
was occupied while a small puppet regime was set up in the south called Vichy France
under General Petain.
Just prior to the French surrender,
Mussolini entered the war by attacking France.
Britain was left alone to fight the Axis.
Battle of Britain (1940)
This became the major turning point in
the was as the Nazis’ aggression was thwarted for the first time, casting them to
ultimately have to fight a two-front war.
In order to launch a successful invasion
of Britain, Hitler needed to knock out the RAF.
Therefore, during July and August, the
Luftwaffe made attacks on shipping in the channel, as well as airfield and munitions
Unable to sustain the high losses in the
dogfights, in September Hitler turned to bombing Britain’s cities in an attempt to break
Britain morale and force an armistice.
Although the bombing outlasted until
May, by October Hitler had already called off the invasion of Britain (Operation Sea Lion)
There were a number of factors, which
ensured British success in this campaign.
- Possession of the key to German radio
codes (Ultra) gave the British advance warning of German plans.
- Captured spies were turned into double
agents and fed back inaccurate information to the Nazis
- Radar provided key information about
the location of incoming bombers.
B. British factories were able to turn out
huge numbers of new planes.
C. The Nazis switch from strategic
bombing to ‘blitzkrieg’ allowed the RAF to recover its previous losses.
D. The performance of British and other
volunteer pilots were outstanding
The Mediterranean & North Africa
Prior to launching its attack on the
USSR, the Wehrmacht sent successful action in North Africa and the Balkans.
By July 1941 Romania and Bulgaria had
joined the Axis, and they had defeated Greece and Yugoslavia.
The fall of Crete was especially serious
for Britain as it put the Eastern Mediterranean in danger of German control which could
cut off access through the Suez Canal to the oil-fields of the Middle East as well as India
and the Far East.
Operation Barbarossa 1941-42
Although the Germans made
remarkable progress with their blitzkrieg techniques, the winter of 1941-42 stopped
They resumed their attack in June, 1942
with an attack on Stalingrad to capture the oil fields of the Caucasus region and with an
attempt to capture Moscow.
The Soviets successfully counter-
attacked and thus began the beginning of Nazi defeat on the Eastern Front.
To what extent was the Soviet Union prepared for war in 1941?
hey were prepared because of their
five years plan.
hey had the largest number of tanks
in the world
eady for an offensive war.
he Red Army was in disarray due to
talin did not want war and even still
tried to appease Hitler (shows that
USSR is still incapable of war)
ot prepared for a defensive war.
talin’s political blunders led to the
Red Army’s lack of readiness.
An inarguably crucial moment in Soviet Union history, Operation Barbarossa of 1941
tested the Soviet Union to the limit. The Soviet Union through the Five Year Plan had been
rearming and stockpiling adequate military equipment including tanks, aircraft, munitions,
etc. They were in fact based on their equipment ready for an offensive war. However in
1941, a series of political blunders by Stalin compounded to the fact that the Red Army was
not ready for a defensive war. Stalin made a series of miscalculations regarding Hitler’s
actions and the Red Army itself was in disarray due to the purges. The Soviet Union was in
fact ready for a war, but not for the war waged upon them in 1941.
Was the rapidity of Soviet defeat in 1941 due entirely to errors of made judgement made by
talin’s miscalculation led to the
unpreparedness of the Red Army.
talin warded of warnings from his
intelligence which gave Germany the
element of surprise.
ed Army purges
id not order mobilization
From European to World War
Although officially isolationist, the USA
found ways to help the Allies through the Lend-Lease Act through which the Americans
became the self-proclaimed ‘arsenal of democracy’.
Lend-Lease promised to lend or sell war
materials to “any country whose defense the President deems vital to the defense of
the United States”.
In August 1941 Roosevelt met secretly
with Churchill and they issued the Atlantic Charter.
Atlantic Charter goals:
a. ‘The final destruction of Nazi tyranny.’
b. ‘The right of all peoples to choose the
form of government under which they lived.’
c. A ‘permanent system of general
Since the 1930s Japan had been trying
to conquer China and with the outbreak of war in Europe, they saw an opportunity to
grab European possession in Asia.
To stop Japanese aggression, the US
banned the sale of war materials, such as iron and steel, to Japan.
On December 7, 1941 Japan attacked
the United States in Hawaii bringing the USA into the war.
Three days later Germany and Italy also
declared war on the USA.
Thus making the USA and the Soviet
Now the Big Three could work together
to defeat their common enemies…
Occupied Europe and the Final Solution
Repressions in Eastern Europe,
especially in Russia was worse than elsewhere, however, in all occupied countries the
All occupied countries were made to
pay for the cost of occupation and many civilians were forced into slave labor for the
In Poland over a million Germans were
brought in as part of the colonization program dislocating local inhabitants. The active
destruction of Polish culture took place.
As Germany invaded European
countries, they began to round up the Jews and ship them to isolated concentration
In Poland and other occupied eastern
European countries, Jews were made to live in ghettos where they were often starved
or worked to death.
With the invasion of Russia in 1941
special SS groups were formed [Einsatsgruppen] to ‘deal with’ all resistance fighters,
Communist party officials and Jews.
In January 1942 Nazi leaders met to
discuss strategy to kill all European Jews at the Wannsee Conference.
It was decided that secret
extermination camps, equipped with gas chambers, would be built in Poland.
From all over Europe Jews and others
would be brought to these camps.
What tactics did the Nazis use to get the Jews to leave the Ghettos?
o The Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto were
only fed a 1000 calories a day
o A human being needs 24000 calories a
day to maintain their weight
o Hungry people are easier to control
o The SS publicly shot people for
smuggling food or for any act of resistance
o The Jews were told that they were
going to ‘resettlement areas’ in the East.
o In some Ghettos the Jews had to
purchase their own train tickets
o They were told to bring the tools of
their trade and pots and pans
About 4.5 million Jews were killed in
All together the Nazis killed about 6
million European Jews
With the U-boat threat defeated and
the Luftwaffe almost eliminated, the western Allies were ready to mount a cross-
The Germans were expecting thus and
thus had defensive preparations in France and the Low countries – however, they didn’t
know where exactly to expect the assault.
Dwight D. Eisenhower was appointed
overall commander of the operation.
Normandy was chosen as the landing
After almost a year of meticulous
planning, D-Day was launched on June 6,1944
The Allies overcame the problem of
Normandy having no port by bringing over two floating harbors.
23,000 Allied airborne were dropped
over Normandy in the early dawn.
The landings at Normandy took the
Germans by surprise, and it took them several days to really believe that this was the
main attack, thus they kept many of their forces at Calais in anticipation of the ’real’
By July 17 the Allies had managed to
land over a million troops in France.
By the end of August the Allies had
The war in the west now became a
push by the Allies towards Germany.
They experienced a major setback in
September with the failure of Operation Market Garden to take the bridges over the
Rhine in Arnhem, Holland.
By the autumn of 1944, the Allied
advance into occupied Europe had stalled.
Nonetheless, Montgomery was
confident that the Germans were in near defeat.
On December 16, Hitler launched his
last major counteroffensive, which took Eisenhower by surprise.
Although ultimately unsuccessful, the
Battle of the Bulge had a high cost for both sides.
o US suffered 81,000 casualties; 19,000
o Germans lost nearly 100,000 men and
The main consequence was that by
committing Germany’s last reserves to the Western Front, it guaranteed the Red Army a
rapid advance in its winter offensive, which began in January 1945.
The Soviet winter offensive was
devastating losses for the Germans as they were totally outmanned and under
The Germans put up stiff resistance on
many fronts, and the month of April 1945 saw almost as many American deaths as in
Roosevelt died April 12, 1945 and was
replaced by Harry Truman who continued on with the war effort.
On April 28, 1945 Mussolini was shot by
Since mid-January, Hitler hand confined
himself to his bunker under the Chancellery in Berlin from which he issued increasingly
Eisenhower, knowing that Berlin would
fall into the Soviet post-war zone, and not wanting to risk the high casualties, as well as
honoring the high price in casualties paid by the Red Army, allowed the Red Army the
prize of Berlin.
The Germans threw everything they
had into defending Berlin from the Soviets.
The Red Army’s Battle for Belin began
on April 14.
Hitler ordered the total destruction of
Germany as punishment to the German people for failing him. Although Armaments
Minister Speer did not boey this order, many Germans kept fighting even though they
knew the war was lost.
As the Russians neared Hitler’s bunker,
on April 30, Hitler committed suicide.
Admiral Donitz was Hitler’s appointed
Full, unconditional surrender was on
May 7, with May 8 being celebrated as ‘Victory in Europe’ (VE) day.
Introduction to the Cold War
A basic understanding of the Cold War:
1. A fundamental conflict between
capitalism and communism
a. Capitalism is an economic system in
which the production of goods and their distribution depend on the investment
of private capital with a view to making profit. Run by individuals rather than the
b. Communism sees capitalism as evil
exploitation of the working class and believes that liberal parliamentary
democracy is a sham which conceals the controlling role of big business and
capital in society. Rather, it sets out to create a society where there is no private
wealth nor need for government.
2. An increasingly bipolar conflict between
the USA and USSR.
3. There was a prolonged arms race with
an intense build up of both nuclear and conventional weapons.
4. Both sides denied each other’s
legitimacy as a regime and attempted to attack each other by every means short of war.
5. Each side suppressed its internal
Superpower Decision Making – Teheran
It was under conditions of mutual fear
and suspicion that The Big Three meet for the first time in Teheran in November of 1943
to make plans for Europe once Hitler was defeated.
It was agreed that after the war,
Eastern Poland would became part of the Soviet Union, and in return, Poland would get
some German land.
Stalin agreed that as soon as Germany
was defeated, the Soviets would declare war on Japan.
The most significant decision to be
made at the Teheran Conference was the agreement of Britain and the USA to open a
Second Front against Germany in the West.
This was against Churchill’s better
judgment, as his preference was to launch a second front in the Balkans.
A major weakness of the Teheran
Conference is that no political agreements were made about the future of eastern
Europe, and that largely guaranteed Soviet domination once their Red Army was in
Churchill would have preferred to have
some more concrete agreements that marked out spheres of influence, but Roosevelt
would not agree to this.
Yalta, February 1945
Stalin agreed to support the proposed
Stalin confirmed that he would fight
Japan once Germany was defeated. In return he would get some Japanese held
With regards to Germany:
All agreed on the priority of
Germany would be de-Nazified and
German reparations were to be partly
in the form of forced labor.
Those Nazis responsible for the
holocaust and other war crimes would be put on trial.
Germany and Berlin would be split into
4 occupied zones:
By this point, the Americans and British
were quite concerned about the fact that the Soviets, by virtue to the Red Army
occupation, had de facto control over eastern Europe.
“Battle field facts that diplomacy could not alter"
Therefore, they tried to make an
agreement that would limit the Soviet’s control in this region.
“Declaration on Liberated Europe” was
The Declaration contained no
mechanisms for the enforcement of its principles.
By signing the document Stalin bought
himself time to consolidate his territorial gains.
The Western Allies also agreed to the
forced repatriation of all Soviet citizens
The allies left Yalta placated, but wary.
Stalin was able to keep Eastern Europe
within the Soviet sphere of influence without having to directly confront the West.
“Algebra versus Arithmetic”
Stalin is said to have remarked that he
viewed declarations as algebra.
For Stalin ‘Yalta’ represented algebra,
where his practical arithmetic included:
a. The Red Army’s occupation of Eastern
b. The huge Soviet war dead figures
c. The cost of approximately US $40
billion to rebuild the USSR
He was looking for a Soviet sphere of
influence in Eastern Europe and financial support either from the Allies or from
reparations from a defeated Germany.
Thus, although he signed the
declarations at Yalta, there were early indications (such as the arrest and deportation to
labor camps of Polish intellectuals and democrats) that he did not intend to be bound by
The United Nations Organization
Foundations: From Great Coalition to United Nations
In January 1942, the US, Britain, USSR
and China, as well as 22 other states, signed the United Nations Declaration, which
formally inaugurated the coalition established to defeat the Axis.
The August 1941 Atlantic Charter,
reminiscent of Wilson’s 14 points, became the stated purposes and principles of the
early United Nations.
By 1943 talk of “… the necessity of
establishing at the earliest practicable date a general international organization…” was
The work of drafting the Charter of the
UN took place in San Francisco, beginning in April with completion in June 1945.
Found Purposes and Principles:
1. The maintenance of peace and security
2. The development of friendly relations
3. The furtherance of international
cooperation in solving problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian
4. The establishment of a center for
harmonizing the actions of nations.
Membership was to be ‘open to all peace-loving states’. However it was based upon the
recommendation of the Security Council and a 2/3 vote in the Assembly.
The General Assembly
Meets annually and in special sessions,
as occasions require.
Draws up the UN budget, assesses each
members’ share of costs, elects the Secretary-General as well as the judges of the
International Court of Justice, receives reports from various UN agencies and
Each nation attends, but each only has
On issues regarding ‘peace and
security’, a 2/3 majority is needed, while on other issues, it’s a simple majority.
Recommendations of the Assembly are
not binding; there is no power to carry them out, except the force of public opinion and
the willingness of disputing powers to cooperate.
The Security Council
US, USSR, Britain, France and China (Big
5) were all made permanent members, while there were 6 non-permanent members.
Maintains peace, settles disputes
among nations, and prevents or resists aggression.
Each of the Big 5 can prevent the
Security Council from taking action by using their veto.
The International Court of Justice
Jurisdiction of the Court extends to “all
cases which the parties refer to it and all matters specially provided for in the Charter of
the UN or the treaties and conventions in force.”
Potsdam, July 1945
Temperatures begin to drop…
Factors affecting this change:
The war in Europe was over.
Basically all of Eastern Europe is
occupied by the Red Army, which Stalin was unwilling to withdraw. Evidence pointed to
Stalin not honoring the Yalta declaration.
Roosevelt had been replaced by Harry
Truman who was much more suspicious and pessimistic about negotiations with the
The USA now had the bomb, so Truman
didn’t need anything from Stalin any more.
Clement Atlee had replaced Churchill as
Britain’s Prime Minister.
Decisions made at Potsdam
a. Details of military occupations zones
b. Decision to treat Germany as a single
c. 4-power Allied Control Council set up to
handle future issues
a. Each power was to collect industrial
equipment from its own zone
b. Since its own zone was mainly
agricultural, the USSR would receive additional reparations from other zones
a. Western boundary to be moved west at
the expense of Germany
a. German living in Poland, Hungary and
Czechoslovakia were to return to Germany.
1. Western suspicions about the Soviets
intentions in Eastern Europe increased because:
a. Soviets did not allow non-communist
leaders to return to power
b. Far more Germans were expelled from
the Eastern Europe than the Western Allies had expected.
2. Soviet suspicions about US intentions
a. Truman did not tell Stalin that the USA
intended to drop an atomic bomb.
b. In May, America had abruptly cut Lend-
Lease aid to the USSR.
Growth of Communism in Eastern Europe
1. Control of the police
2. Disappearance of pro democratic
Factors working in the favor of the
Communist Parties in all of Europe:
o Communists had been very active in the
underground and resistance, and therefore, they were very popular with the
o Postwar economic chaos makes a
Communist Revolution more appealing.
Joseph Stalin enforced the iron curtain and Churchill is trying to go around it.
Communist “Fifth Columns”
Any Group of people who aided the enemy from within their own country.
The Soviets began supporting the
2. North Korea
The government become communist
Stalin wanted a Soviet military presence
in the Dardanelles and the Bosporus
The Soviets would not remove their
troops on time.
Greek Communists were fighting a civil
war with the democratically elected government.
New US Policies with the Truman Doctrine
1. Abandoned the policy of isolationism
and became a leader in world affairs.
2. Began an open policy of resistance to
Soviet expansion that came to be known as Containment.
Possible explanations for Containment’s popularity in the West:
1. The West Saw the USSR in the same
light as they saw Nazi Germany, and purposed not to appease another aggressive
2. The US felt threatened because:
They had been attacked
They had interests all over the world
Rapid advancements in weapons
technology made existing arsenals obsolete.
3. Fear of another world-wide economic
collapse made it more imperative to keep world commerce ‘free’.
4. The threat of the war with the USSR
would have a ‘positive’ impact on the American morale and economy.
5. The US military needed an ‘enemy’ in
order to maintain its economic and political status.
The Marshall Plan
An American program of aid to help
The US was concerned about European
economic recovery and stability because:
o Economic collapse makes fertile
breeding ground for communism.
o They were concerned about the
humanitarian needs of Europeans
o Europe’s poor economy threatened
their own economic well-being.
Before 1947 US aid to Europe had been
US Secretary of State George Marshall
called for the US to GIVE $20 Billion to revive European economies.
This offer was made to any European
states willing to work together towards economic recovery.
It soon became clear that the Eastern
Bloc countries would not be allowed to participate.
In 1945 President Benes agreed to
pinpoint Communists to run important ministries in return for Soviet help to reconstruct
In 1946 a coalition government was set
up with both Communists and non-Communists.
In 1947, Stalin forbade the Czechs to
join the Marshall plan.
In 1948 Czechoslovakia is firmly under a
pro-Soviet Communist government.
Soviet Response to the Plan:
a. The Cominform (Nov. ‘47)
The Communist Information Bureau
was a body of Communist leaders whose function was to fan revolutionary
zeal throughout Europe through the use of propaganda.
b. The Comecom
The Council for Mutual Economic
Assistance (1949) was set up to help with economic reconstruction.
The Yugoslavian Exception
The Yugoslavian Communists (led by
Tito) were the only eastern European country to liberate themselves from the Nazis and
therefore they were never occupied by the Red Army.
However, Tito was a Stalinist and loyal
to the Soviet Union.
But he was not a ‘yes’ man. He had his
own ideas with regards to economic strategies for Yugoslavia.
It was this independent spirit that
posed a direct threat to Soviet hegemony in the region.
In 1948 Stalin had Yugoslavia expelled
from the Comecom, thinking that this would bring Tito back in line.
Instead, Tito appealed to America for
economic assistance and thereby became the first Marxist nation to receive US aid and
thus began the A merican policy of aiding any state which opposed the Soviets.
The deflection of Yugoslavia from
behind the curtain intensified Stalin’s fears and thus he began another round of purges
within the Communist elite of the Satellite countries.
Consequences of the Marshall Plan
European economic recovery was
accelerated through cooperation of 16 states in the OEEC.
It served US economic interests by
restoring a world market.
It sharpened the divide between the
Soviet Bloc and the West.
It proved to be the most successful US
foreign policy program of the Cold War.
The Berlin Blockade and Two Germanies
Two views on what to do with Germany:
The Soviets wanted:
o A weak Germany under four zones.
The Western Allies wanted:
o A new and improved Germany.
Negotiations on the future of Germany
within the Control Council were stagnant.
Fearful that a united Germany would be
hostile to the USSR and that any new ‘western’ currency would undermine Soviet
control in their zone, Stalin blocked any cooperation between zones.
Therefore, early in 1948, the Western
zones merged together and joined the OEEC.
In June 1948 the Deustche Mark was
introduced throughout the Western German and Berlin zones.
Stalin issued the currency issue to test
the resolve of the Western powers regarding Germany by ordering a blockade of all
ground access to the Western zones of Berlin. (June 24, 1948)
During this time the Soviets organized
mass rallies to convince Berliners to support a united city council led by Communists.
They also cut electricity to the Western
sectors to 4 hours per day.
Despite this, West Berliners continued
to support the Western Allies and hang on for democracy.
On May 12, 1949, the Soviets finally
lifted the blockade.
Effects of the Berlin Blockade
Washington believed that in contrast to
the weaknesses of appeasement, the victory over the blockade was their first victory in
the Cold War.
West German morale and trust in
America to protect them from Soiet aggression was greatly enhanced which made them
willing to live in a state that would be within America’s sphere of influence in Europe
In September 1949 the new Federal
Republic of Germany (West Germany) came into being.
o It was not allowed an army of its own,
and US, British and French forces remained on German soil as a safeguard
against resurgent German aggression as well as an invasion by Soviet ground
In October 1949 the Soviet occupation
zone became the German Democratic Republic (East Germany).
o East Germany remained a one-party
state under the German Communist Party.
o Large numbers of Soviet troops
remained stationed there to ensure East German’s continued ‘loyalty’ to
Views on the division of Germany:
o The hostility between the two
Germanies after 1949 served to deepen the suspicions and increase tensions so
that Germany became, for many, both the center of and symbol of the Cold War.
o Others see this division giving a de facto
balance while resolving the historic problem of an overwhelmingly powerful and
populous Germany in Central Europe.
The Defense of Europe
In March 1948, concerned about
possible Soviet aggression in Europe, several western nations signed the Brussels Treaty,
which brought the Western European Union, a defensive alliance, into being.
However, western European nations
believed that there could be no real security against communist aggression without the
deterrent of American airpower and atomic weapons.
American congressmen supported the
idea that the actual front line for the defense of democracy wasn’t the Atlantic Ocean,
but rather than the River Elbe which divided the two Germanies.
Moreover, they considered that
economic aid wasn’t enough and that American military assistance was urgently
required to enable Western European nations to recover economically and politically.
After much negotiation, it was agreed
that the area to be protected would be enlarged from just the US and the Brussels
Treaty nations to include Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Italy, Norway and Portugal.
The North Atlantic Treaty organization
came into being August 1949.
At the time of its conception, few
Americans felt that they would actually be required to come to the military defense of
Europe, and thus saw NATO as a ‘shield and sword’ concept:
o The shield being European ground
forces to halt a Soviet advance
o The sword being the US atomic
However, several events changed this
limited and defensive concept of NATO:
o The discovery in August 1949 that the
Soviets had successfully tested an atomic bomb.
o The communist takeover of China in
o The 1950 review of America’s armed
Forces (NSC-68) which concluded that America’s military power was inadequate
to prevent the Soviets from obtaining world domination.
o The invasion of South Korea in June
Something had to be done to bolster
NATO’s strength, however the Europeans had no budget for increased military
Therefore, the Americans took on the
bulk of strengthening NATO by assuming central military command of ground forces and
promising to place more troops in Europe.
The Americans were keen to see West
Germany be allowed to contribute troops to NATO, however this idea disconcerted their
European allies, particularly France.
In May 1955, West Germany became
member of NATO.
In 1951 Greece and Turkey joined
NATO. From Turkey the US had the capability to launch air raids against the southern
USSR as well as block any Soviet attempt to advance on the oilfields of the Middle East.
The prospect of a strengthened NATO
caused Stalin to significantly strengthen his military power.
Military training and the allocation of
military resources in the satellite states was closely controlled by Moscow.
The establishment of a formal military
alliance called the Warsaw Pact was not publicly announced until May 1955.
Interpretations on the Cold War
The Orthodox or Traditional Explanation
Blames the USSR for the Cold War
Authoritarian socialism vs. Democratic
Russian nationalist expansion
The Revisionist Explanation
Historians in the 1960s
Blame the USA for the Cold War
Repeated attacks made it natural for
the USSR to create a condition of security
USA seeking continual economic
expansion and ultimate world domination.
The Post-Revisionist Explanation
Blames a lack of communication and
understanding for the Cold War
Examples of Post-Revisionist Views:
o The Cold War grew out of a complicated
interaction of external and internal developments inside both the United States
and the Soviet Union.
o The external situation –circumstances
beyond the control of either power- left Americans and Russians facing one
another across prostrated Europe at the end of World War II.
o Internal influences in the Soviet Union –
the search for security, the role of ideology, massive postwar reconstruction
needs, the personality of stalin –together with those in the United States- the
ideal of self-determination, fear of communism, the illusion of omnipotence
fostered by American economic strength and the atomic bomb – made the
resulting confrontation a hostile one.
o Leaders from both superpowers sought
peace, but in doing so yielded to considerations, which, while they did not
precipitate war, made a resolution of differences impossible. (John Lewis Gaddis)
The fall of the Manchu Dynasty
Up until the 91th century, China had
been very closed to the outside world and thus had developed a very unique culture
over the centuries.
Also at the heart of Chinese society was
the value of obedience to authority – be it familial, societal or political.
These two factors played a large role in
the creation of a society that disdained individualism and extolled conformity.
Up to the beginning of the 20
China had a long history of imperial rule.
The last royal house to rule China was
that of the Manchus (Ch’ing Dynasty) who had ruled since 1644.
At the turn of the century China had
several weaknesses when compared to other nations:
o A large and ineffective bureaucracy
o Industrial backwardness.
The Chinese Revolution and the Early Republic (1911-16)
The years between 1900 and 1911 saw
great economic, social and political chaos in China with more and more rebellion and
resistance to Machu rule.
Following a successful uprising in the
south on October 10, 1911, Sun Yat-sen proclaimed a new central government called
the Republic of China with its capital at Nanjing.
In February 1912, Pu Yi abdicated.
Sun Yat-sen formed a nationalist party
(1912) called the Guomindang (GMD) and was a popular reform figure.
The GMD had little influence as they
were sidelined by the reactionary Manchu General Yuan Shikai who was to be the
provisional president until the elections of 1912.
In the elections of 1912/1913 the GMD
gained a majority of seats in the parliament, however, Yuan used the army to repress
the GMD and disbanded the party and either killed its leading figures or chased them
The Era of the Warlords (1916-27)
In 1916 Yuan himself faced a military
revolt and was deposed
This ushered in a period of chaos
known as the Warlord Era (1916-1927).
The peasants suffered most during this
time as they were levied with heavy taxes to pay for the warlords’ armies.
Sun Yat-sen realized that the GMD
needed a disciplined organizational and military structure to unite all of China and
looked to the USSR for help.
1921 saw the formation of the Chinese
Communist Party (CCP) which initially also worked closely with the Comintern. Mao Tse-
tung was a founding member.
Mao’s belief was that China should not
follow the USSR model of urban revolution but rather favored a peasant revolution. This
brought him into conflict with the Comintern.
The GMD and CCP joined in a United
Fort to combat the warlords and foreign imperialists.
In 1925 Sun yat-sen died was replaced
by Chiang Kai-shek (Jiang-Jieshi) who was power hungry and ruthless.
The United Front was quite successful
in defeating the warlords but Chiang was alarmed by the growing power of the
By 1927, with the warlords defeated,
Chiang turns on his CCP allies and tries to obliterate them in a movement known as the
“White Terror of 1927”.
Mao Zedong Lenin
Both were pragmatic, did not adhere to
Marxist theories at all times
Appealed to the people with ideas.
mposed himself on the party through
id not impose himself on the party,
gained his position.
The Yanan Soviet (1927-1937)
The remnants of the CCP fled under the
leadership of Mao the hills of southern China (Jiangxi province).
Here he trained the CCP in the tactics of
peasant guerilla warfare.
Chiang’s forces continued to try to
destroy the CCP.
In 1934 the Communists undertook
what have become known as ‘The Long March’ to Yanan to escape Chiang’s army.
In Yanan, Mao overcame his rivals
within the CCP and developed his own brand of Marxism-Leninism with its heavy
emphasis upon peasant revolution.
The Sino-Japanese War
By 1937 Japanese aggression in China
stimulated a renewal of the CCP-GMD United Front.
However, Chiang was still more
concerned with defeating the CCP than the Japanese while Mao’s struggle against the
Japanese did much to endear him to the Chinese people.
During this time both America and the
USSR preferred to recognize the GMD as the legitimate Chinese government.
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