You are on page 1of 21

History Notes

International Relations 1919-39
Were the peace treaties of 1919-23 fair?
What were the motives and aims of the Big Three at Versailles?
Georges Clemenceau (Prime Minister of France):
 Wanted revenge for the damage that France had suffered, losing over 1 million men –
‘hard justice’.
 Wanted to punish Germany who he believed to be responsible for the war.
 Wanted general humiliation of Germany, and German land. France had been humiliated
in the Franco-Prussian war with Alsace and a large part of Lorraine taken – wanted them
 Wanted Germany destroyed so cannot fight again.
 Wanted restrictions on the size of the German army to prevent it from being able to rise
 Wanted an independent Rhineland to act as a buffer state between Germany and
 Wanted strong reparations for the rebuilding of France. The war left 2 million homeless
and 750,000 homes destroyed.
 In short he wanted Germany to be treated very harshly.
David Lloyd George (Prime Minister of Britain):
 Wanted Germany to be punished, as Britain had lost almost 1 million men. This was
partly due to political pressure as there had been elections in Britain and MPs had been
elected promising to ‘Make Germany Pay’ and ‘Hang the Kaiser’.
 Britain hadn’t been invaded so he was more moderate and reasonable than
Clemenceau. He wanted ‘justice’ but not revenge.
 Had certain selfish priorities. One being that Germany was an important trading partner
with Britain and Lloyd George didn’t want to prevent future trade with Germany due to a
harsh treaty.
 Also wanted to take a large share of Germany’s overseas colonies to add to the British
 All in all he wanted a compromise between France’s harsh idea of a treaty and
the USA’s lenient idea.
Woodrow Wilson (President of the USA):
 USA had suffered relatively little and in fact the US economy had benefitted from the
war through arms sales. Therefore he wasn’t bitter or in want of revenge at all.
 Was idealistic and determined to secure world peace.
 Believed that crippling Germany would only result in revenge and another war.
 Believed that all powers were responsible for causing the war, so didn’t blame Germany
for causing it.
 Wanted ‘national self-determination’ which was the idea that the people should decide
on their own fate. He argued that land shouldn’t be taken where German majorities
were evident.
 Felt some pressure from millions of German-Americans who believed that Germany
shouldn’t be punished.
 Wilson’s Fourteen Points (January 1918):
1. A ban on secret treaties between states
2. Free movement of ships anywhere in the world
3. Free trade between countries without import taxes
4. General disarmament
5. Greater independence for colonies

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

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

Verdicts on the Treaty

Clemenceau wanted crippling reparations while Wilson and Lloyd George didn’t. he was disappointed that:  Some of his ‘Fourteen Points’ didn’t get into the Treaty  When he returned to the US. from the Queen of Romania. to 20 Ukrainian delegates wanting independence. too. felt the need for ‘justice’ in the peace. but Lloyd George. The world was in ruins after the greatest war ever. the vision behind Wilson’s Fourteen Points and the League of Nations. and a compromise is by definition ‘not getting all you want’. Furthermore. So the eventual Treaty of Versailles (it is rather obvious to say) had to be a COMPROMISE. . as Wilson pointed out in his opening speech. the Big Three weren’t allowed to only think of themselves. but Wilson insisted on little else. especially. more noble.Georges Clemenceau got:  Reparations – to repair damage in France  The German army dramatically reduced in size – to protect France  The demilitarisation of the Rhineland – to protect France  Alsace-Lorraine and German colonies However. But the leaders. The Big Three were very aware that it was their job. They had more than themselves to think about – Perhaps if they had gone to Versailles thinking only of themselves. and Lloyd George had to step in and push through his Fontainebleau Memorandum (whereby he forced Wilson to accept reparations. They couldn’t possibly ignore these. the Senate refused to join the League and even refused to sign the Treaty  The colonies were given no say in their future  Only defeated powers were made to disarm  Germany had to pay reparations and was blamed for the war Why did all the victors not get everything they wanted? Different victors wanted different things – They couldn’t all have what they wanted. even if they had wanted to. some of the leaders could have got everything they wanted. So a second reason the victors didn’t get everything they wanted was because they didn’t even try – they had other. ambitions. That was. In Eastern Europe three great empires had collapsed and there were literally no countries at all. and Clemenceau to accept the League of Nations). he was disappointed that:  The Treaty wasn’t harsher  Germany hadn’t been split up into lots of small states  They only got the Saar for 15 years  The Rhineland wasn’t made an independent ‘buffer’ state David Lloyd George got:  Germany was ‘made to pay’ as he had promised the British people  Some German colonies – expanding the British Empire  The reduction of German navy – helping Britain to continue to ‘rule the waves’ However he hated that:  The Treaty was far too harsh and would ruin Germany  It would cause another war in 25 years time (in his opinion)  The Treaty was neither just nor wise Woodrow Wilson got:  A League of Nations  Self-determination for the people of Eastern Europe But. It is not even that the victors didn’t TRY to get everything they wanted – they pushed things to the point where in March 1919 the Conference was about to break up in failure. not just to get what they wanted but also to rebuild the world to make it ‘safe for democracy’. Britain and France didn’t want a League of Nations. had much more to do at Versailles than get something for themselves. Thousands of lobbyists journeyed to Paris to try and get what they wanted.

Was the Treaty of Versailles fair? Fair: . heartland of the German economy) in 1923. the French entered the Ruhr (German industrial area. As a result. which was evidently populated by Hungarians. This strike meant that Germany had no goods to trade with and no money to buy things with. Why did the terms of the Treaty anger the Germans so much? War guilt and reparations – The Germans felt that they weren’t the sole cause of the war. The extent of the reparations meant that by 1922 Germany had fallen behind in payments. This is because there were many right and left wing opponents that hated the treaty and attempted to stage revolutions. Loss of colonies was also criticised. He was seen as a ‘November Criminal’. How do you put an accurate figure on reparations? Another is example is. and only one written criticism was accepted. prices go up and value goes down.Complexity – It was always going to be impossible for the Big Three to come to an agreement about something like reparations. or to defend their country. Loss of territory – Germany lost land that was both historically and culturally very German. The Germans were simply presented with the treaty and told to sign it. Disarmament – Germans argued that 100. as they had little to do with the balance of power and Europe and displayed the greed of the conquering powers. Diktat – The Germans weren’t allowed to participate in discussions. the government decided to start printing money. the imperialist struggle for overseas colonies and the European alliance system were more fundamental reasons. so they felt defenceless. The loss of land also made Germany poorer with the farmland of West Prussia and the industrial area of the Saar both taken. making democracy in Germany a great struggle. and West Prussia was longstanding German territory. Loss of such land didn’t keep with Wilson’s Fourteen Points either and the idea of ‘self-determination’. Alsace and Lorraine were both states with a large German-speaking majority. which didn’t keep with Wilson’s Fourteen Points. and when a government prints money that it doesn’t have. Anschluss – The forbidding of Anschluss was totally against the principle of national self-determination. The German workers went on strike so that nothing was produced for the French to take. This unfair admission of guilt led to reparations. which the Germans argued were more than they were able to pay. but also peppered with small enclaves of Germans who had emigrated there centuries earlier? They ended up sanctioning plebiscites to let the people decide where they wanted to live. Therefore. the war guilt clause was seen as unfair and the loss of colonies did not aid the balance of power. and set up a separate committee to make a decision on reparations. What was the impact of the peace treaty on Germany up to 1923?     The Treaty greatly added to bitterness and the want for revenge in Germany. how do you sort out the principle of selfdetermination in Hungary. German pride was damaged in the reduction of their armed forces. This led to the great hyperinflation crisis of 1923 and years of suffering for the German people. and would result in poverty and suffering. which they had been so proud of. League of Nations – Was seen as an insult and meant that Germany couldn’t defend itself against the League. instead displaying the greed of the peacemakers. Once you hand over power in this way. Germany was also the only country that was forced to disarm.000 men weren’t enough to merely maintain order in Germany. The Treaty tipped Germany into utter chaos when Ebert signed it in 1919. you’re never going to get what you want.

which was a mistake.6 billion would cause a collapse of the German economy. The Germans were only interested in justice when they were the victims. It was argued that Germany could afford £2 billion. As a result of the Treaty. Unfair:  It was wrong to put sole blame for the war on Germany. Germans would soon be seeking revenge for the harshness of the treaty as they were aggrieved but soon in a position to challenge the outcome. Germany soon recovered to its position as the most successful economy in Europe. the main terms of the treaty were territorial. the leaders weren’t removed. It wouldn’t prevent Germany from rising again as the economy recovered quickly and the state remained broadly intact. and this treaty was more about sorting out all territories into new states than punishing Austria. People throughout Europe would lose out if there were no successful German factories of businesses.  The Treaty aimed to destroy the German economy. Czechoslovakia.  Although the German Army was hugely reduced in size.  Germany clearly wasn’t totally crushed. Alsace-Lorraine had been traditionally French so was fairly returned. The other peace treaties Treaty of St Germain – 1919 (Austria) Austria and Hungary were split up and separate treaties were made with each. Romania and Italy Army was limited to 30. The treaty did enough to anger Germany. the Germans were simply given the treaty and forced to sign it. Poland. had tried to build world empires.  Germany had been tricked.  The Big Three hadn’t allowed Germany to have any part in the negotiations of the treaty.000 and navy was dissolved ‘Anschluss’ with Germany was forbidden Reparations had to be paid Treaty of Trianon – 1920 (Hungary) Similarly to St Germain. The treaty was a fatal compromise meaning that the German state remained broadly intact and the economy quickly recovered. including Britain and France. One of the causes of the war was imperialism. This perhaps helped to justify this treaty. but £6. many countries. a quarter of its industry and nine-tenths of its coalmines.  The basic strength of the German economy wasn’t destroyed. The generals were ready and able to rebuild German armed forces when the time was right. The old Austrian Empire had already collapsed by 1918.  Reparations were too high.  The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk that the Germans had enforced on Russia was far harsher than the Versailles Treaty. resulting in the loss of a major European trading partner.  The treaty punished the people instead of the rulers of Germany. This lack of discussion or consultation was considered highly unfair.     Land was lost to Yugoslavia. Hungary was reduced so that it only included the Magyar people. as it would do no one any good. But. National self-determination was broadly used to determine where the territories should go. It was believed that the figure of £6. There was nothing about war guilt and reparations in the Fourteen Points. The army remained a powerful force in society. Reparations hit ordinary Germans who weren’t guilty. The settlement had only removed limited amounts of land from Germany. When the Germans stopped fighting they expected to be dealt with under Wilson’s terms. because her government had been offered justice and fairness by Wilson when he made his speech about the Fourteen Points.  Alsace-Lorraine was lost despite having a large number of German-speakers. In places like the Polish Corridor most people weren’t German-speakers and saw themselves as Polish.6 billion was far more than what Germany could afford. Other countries had been aggressive in the years preceding 1914. but not enough to permanently weaken it. . taking huge amounts of land. a quarter of the Russian Empire’s population.

Tunisia and Morocco became independent Syria became a French mandate. Greece and Yugoslavia The army was limited to just 20. overthrowing the Ottoman family in 1921. Treaty of Neuilly – 1919 (Bulgaria) Bulgaria had also fought on the losing side in the war. Before the First World War. It seemed impossible to form a stable government and the country was on the verge .     Land was lost to Romania. Czechoslovakia. Poland The new Polish state was immediately involved in a series of brief wars with its neighbours. foreign policy was dominated by a wish to ‘get back’ lost lands. Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia formed an alliance called the Little Entente. Slovaks and Sudeten Germans claimed to not be treated fairly by the Czechs. Poland and Yugoslavia Army was limited to 35. Poland fought against Germany. Democracy was again impossible due to the treaties. In 1920 Poland took over the Lithuanian city of Vilna.000 men Population was reduced to 11 million Some of the richest agricultural land was lost Reparations had to be paid Impact – The treaty created bitterness and instability in Hungary. Romania. recapturing Smyrna (land lost to Greece) and threatening to reoccupy the area around the Straits.       All land in Europe was lost to Greece Egypt. Hungary had controlled a multi-national empire. A general known as Atatürk led a revolution. left-wing and right-wing militants tried to seize power. After 1920.    Land was lost to Romania. Lithuania and the Soviet Union. Once in power he used his armies to overturn the Treaty of Sèvres by force. the only new state in Eastern Europe that allowed free speech and democracy. Palestine. as the Poles weren’t content with the borders set up in the peace treaties.000 men Reparations of £100 million had to be paid Treaty of Sèvres – 1920 (Turkey) The Ottoman family had ruled over a powerful Turkish Empire for many centuries. and by 1921 Poland had conquered a huge area of Belarus and Ukraine. As a result a new treaty was negotiated with Turkey:     Most land lost to Greece was given back to Turkey Reparations didn’t have to be paid Turkey could fortify Constantinople Turkey could close the Straits to enemy ships if at war Impact of the treaties on Central and Eastern Europe Czechoslovakia There was great tension between different ethnic groups in Czechoslovakia. and as in Germany. To defend from Hungary. Jordan and Iraq became British mandates Control of the Straits into the Black Sea was lost Turkey had to disarm Turkey had to pay reparations Treaty of Lausanne – 1923 (Revising the Turkish Treaty) The Turkish people responded powerfully to the terms of Sèvres. but this had been in decline in the years before the war and the Turks fought on the losing side. but lost two-thirds of this territory in the Treaty. Czechoslovakia.

It’s organisation and aims were set out in the 26 articles of the Covenant and the League came into being when the Versailles Treaty came into effect in January 1920. Czechoslovakia. However. helped by Italy and Japan Structure Assembly – Met once a year. Romania. and on the temporary members of the Council. Hungary. Each member state had a representative and one vote on decisions. Carried out day-to-day business. monitored the implementation of League decisions and informed states of League policy. prepared information on problems. However.of civil war. Finland. one country in disagreement could veto a decision. It was Woodrow Wilson’s most important objective at the Versailles Conference. Eventually the chaos came to an end in May 1926 when democracy was ended when Marshal Piłsudski seized power. It voted on the League’s budget. It met four or five times a year and all decisions had to be unanimous. Austria. Problems:  Areas were sometimes very mixed racially  Caused small wars  Didn’t apply to Germany  Created many small weak states which could be easily conquered (as Hitler proved) Successes:  Nine nations were set up (Yugoslavia. Council – The main source of power with four permanent members. Committees –  Health Organisation – investigated the causes international cooperation against major diseases of epidemics and encouraged . it had very little power and could only recommend certain actions. The organisation of the League Membership      42 countries at the start which had risen to 60 by the 1930s The US Senate voted against Versailles in May 1920 The USSR didn’t join the League. This was the part of the League that could enforce action by:  Moral condemnation  Trade sanctions  Use of force from member states Secretariat – Civil service of the League. Estonia. Self-Determination This was the right to rule yourself and created many new states in Eastern Europe. instead setting up the Comintern to cause revolution Germany wasn’t allowed to join as a punishment for causing the First World War The leading members were Britain and France. which promised to cooperate with each other in preserving international peace and security. Latvia. Lithuania)  Alsace-Lorraine was given to France  Plebiscites in Schleswig. there were too few secretaries and it was very slow and inefficient. Poland. Upper Silesia and the Saar were fair To what extent was the League of Nations a success? The League was an association of independent states.

 Britain and France weren’t willing to use their armies as they had other priorities. because the treaty was hateful. and old age pensions Refugee Organisation – helped refugees and 400. Britain and France were the main members and were helped by Italy and Japan. . damaging the League hugely. wages. as was the USSR. especially in business and trade encourage disarmament improve living and working conditions in all parts of the world enforce the Treaty of Versailles Strengths and weaknesses Strengths:  Membership – There were originally 42 members which grew to 60 by the 1930s. Americans didn’t want to get dragged into other countries’ problems. which was originally banned from the League. Silesia – 1921 Germany and Poland had a dispute over Upper Silesia.      International Labour Organisation – did much to establish standards in relation to working hours. They also often argued with each other. though they had all concurred to do so when they agreed to the covenant.  The absent powerful countries – The American Senates refusal to join the League was perhaps the biggest weakness. It now had to rely on Britain and France (two declining powers). as they didn’t trust each other. which had been traditionally Finnish.  It had been set up by the Treaty of Versailles so had authority. Germany was another powerful country. It now didn’t have access to the prestige. the League had no army and countries could find ways around sanctions.000 prisoners of war to return to their countries Mandates Commission – supervised the former colonies of Germany and Turkey Minorities Commission – was active in protecting minority nationalities International Court of Justice – states were meant to submit disputes to this but decisions didn’t have to be implemented and few states entrusted in the court’s ruling Disarmament Commission – had the near impossible task of persuading member states to reduce armaments. sickness. unemployment benefit. influence. The League ruled in favour of Finland and Sweden accepted this.  Moral condemnation was weak. Another example of this problem was the ability for a member of the Council to veto a decision. Weaknesses:  Organisation – This was a huge muddle and in a crisis no one could agree. wealth or military power of the United States.  It originally seemed to have the ability to seriously affect an aggressor. The League recommended that the area should be divided between two powers and both countries accepted this. the ability to collectively refuse to trade and the ability to send an army.  Dictators weren’t going to be willing to compromise. and unsurprisingly made no progress Aims      To To To To To discourage aggression encourage countries to cooperate. however the population was Swedish. so it was hated. These four were quite powerful countries.  The League had been set up by the Treaty of Versailles. Decisions were very slow. How successful was the League in the 1920s? Successes The Åland Islands – 1920 There was a dispute between Sweden and Finland about the possession of these islands. with moral condemnation.

Drugs The League closed down four big Swiss companies. which were selling drugs. The League ruled that Greece was at fault. Refugees The League set up camps and fed Turkish refugees.000 slaves. Slaves The League attacked slave traders in Africa and Burma. the Lithuanian capital. breaking the Treaty of Versailles. Lithuania ignored League protests and it became recognised as Lithuanian. the Lithuanians seized the German port of Memel. which appealed for help. Danzig and the Saar The League administered the Saarland area of Germany and the Baltic city of Danzig with great fairness throughout the 1920s. but Poland refused and in 1923 Vilna was formally recognised as Polish. Mosul – 1924 The Turks demanded possession of Mosul. French invasion of the Ruhr – 1923 When Germany fell behind with reparations. and then ignored orders from the League to stop. but was given to Iraq in the Treaty of Sèvres. Memel – 1923 In response to the loss of Vilna. Corfu – 1923 .Austrian economy – 1922 The League successfully organized a rescue plan for the Austrian economy. pushing the Greeks out of Smyrna. agreeing to never go to war with each other. Bulgaria – 1925 The Greeks invaded Bulgaria. the French invaded the industrial area of the Ruhr and the League wasn’t even consulted. Germany joins League – 1926 Germany joined the League as part of the Locarno settlement. which had been Turkish. Failures Poland – 1920 Poland took land from Russia. Disease The League worked well to prevent leprosy and malaria. Smyrna – 1923 Turkey overturned the Treaty of Sèvres. Prisoners of war The League took home half a million World War One prisoners. The League ruled in favour of Iraq and Turkey accepted this. The League was unable to take any action. Vilna – 1920 Poland seized Vilna. France was a member of the Council so the League couldn’t do anything even though Britain disagreed with this invasion. Both sides stopped fighting and Greece agreed to pay compensation. freeing 200. The League protested at the move and negotiated with Poland to leave. Kellogg-Briand Pact – 1928 65 countries signed this.

How far did the Depression make the work of the League more difficult? 24 October 1929 was the day of the Wall Street Crash. Locarno was greeted with great enthusiasm and was seen by many as an end to the bitterness of the war and the start of a new period of peace. so Mussolini ordered Italian ships to bombard Corfu. These concentrated on trying to limit tensions in the Pacific (between Japan and the USA). France and Germany. Many countries relied on the USA. German and Soviet delegates had discussions at the nearby town of Rapallo while the main conference was taking place. In the end an agreement was reached. The League couldn’t agree on what action to take because France didn’t want to annoy the Italian government. as politicians were much more interested in . Washington Treaty – 1922 See below Treaty of Rapallo – 1922 See below Geneva Protocol – 1924 Britain refused to sign this French attempt to strengthen the military power of the League. The spirit of Locarno Discussion in Washington 1921-2 The USA had refused to support the League and ignored it. but after 1929 the US government became even more isolationist. Dawes Plan – 1924 This American loan gave Germany new strength as they built new factories and started to become a big power again. In the years before 1929 the American economy was by far the most important manufacturing power in the world. Meanwhile. The deal enabled Germany to get hold of most weapons that were banned under the Treaty of Versailles and as a result this treaty was a blow to the authority of the League. demanding compensation. Lloyd George wanted to find a solution to the argument between the French and the Germans over reparations and disarmament. American foreign policy had been isolationist before the Great Depression. which was precisely the sort of dispute the League was meant to sort out. The value of American shares collapsed and this was the start of an economic crisis that devastated the world. News of the treaty and rumours of the secret military deal shocked the French government. Disarmament Britain objected to the 1923 conference. but the League had no involvement in this. The Washington Treaty was signed in February 1922. Under the main treaty at Locarno. The Treaty of Rapallo was signed in April as the governments agreed to establish friendly relations and to secretly cooperate on military planning. Locarno 1925 After the failure of the occupation of the Ruhr the French looked for a compromise with Germany. Germany. This search for a compromise continued in 1925 when a major conference took place at Locarno. This was a disaster as the Americans refused to attend and the Germans and French continued to disagree.Greek bandits killed four Italians who were working for the League. These conferences showed the world the limits of the authority of the League. The key players at Locarno were the Foreign Ministers of Britain. France and Belgium agreed to the borders set up by the Versailles Treaty and Germany agreed to join the League of Nations. organising conferences of its own in Washington in 1921 and 1922. Rapallo 1922 There was an international conference organised by the British in Genoa. when Britain and the US agreed to have equal size navies and the Japanese agreed to have three-fifths of the size of each.

The local Japanese army commander who was in charge of protecting the railway claimed the explosion was the result of Chinese sabotage (in fact the Japanese staged the whole incident). Impact on the League . Crisis in Manchuria Why did Japan invade Manchuria?  Japan had been very hardly hit by the Great Depression. They raised customs duties on foreign goods entering their countries (this was called protectionism) and its aim was to boost the demand for their own goods. Pu Yi. Japan then walked out of the League. farmers were encouraged to colonise there. The Depression had a huge effect in Germany. The two biggest parties in Germany became Hitler’s Nazi Party and the Communist Party. The people saw this as proof that democracy didn’t work and turned to more radical extremes. so they saw no reason as to why they shouldn’t have an army.  Japan wanted an empire for extra living space. and that was it. The loans they had taken from the Americans were withdrawn and the economy collapsed. Hitler and Mussolini were encouraged to think that they could be aggressive without the risk of war with the USA.  Although Japan was supposed to be a democracy.rebuilding the American economy. In fact he was closely controlled by the Japanese army. particularly because of the collapse in the price of silk. The army was out of control and rarely consulted the government. The great powers also became very selfish. it was really a military dictatorship as the army had huge amounts of power. by which time the Japanese were in total control. Japan is a small country without much agricultural land. in Abyssinia in 1935 Britain failed to enforce sanctions in Italy regarding fuel as they were worried it would harm their Welsh miners). This ultimately weakened relations between countries and the great powers of the League weren’t so willing to take action (for example. This showed a huge flaw in the structure of the League. It was believed that if the Japanese had an empire it would help them economically.  February 1932 – The Japanese set up a new 'independent' government in what was now renamed Manchukuo with the last Chinese Emperor. however Japan was a permanent member and was therefore able to simply veto the proposal. This was called the Mukden Incident and he used it as an excuse to take control of the whole of Manchuria (northern part of China). as there was unrest at home.  The great European powers had empires and Japan was a developed country with an advanced industry and powerful army. This even more extreme isolationism meant that Britain and France were more cautious in dealing with dictators as they knew they didn’t have the military support of the US. They both made cuts as the Germans rearmed and overtook the British in terms of arms. their main export. What happened?  September 1931 – An explosion occurred on the South Manchurian Railway (controlled by the Japanese – they owned what was called a 'concession'. Response of the League The issue went before the League Council and the majority wanted the Japanese to concentrate their troops at one point only. The Lytton Commission was sent to China (by boat!!!) to investigate and after a whole year (!!!) it was decided that it was Japan’s fault. and when Manchuria was conquered. This eventually led to Hitler coming to power and Germany rearming. as its 'puppet' ruler. It was hoped that this would create more jobs. The army and navy desperately wanted an empire and to win military glory. Japan could exploit such an empire for trade. They were more concerned about their empires and weren’t so willing to support the League financially. The League ‘morally condemned’ Japan. the right to run the railway). creating jobs for the Japanese people. Some countries (such as Italy) made huge attempts to become self-sufficient. The Depression also had a great impact in Britain and France.

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

The alliance between Germany and Italy was further strengthened by the Spanish Civil War of 1936. by which time Germany had left the League. Absent members The League was greatly weakened by the refusal of the USA to join. Great Depression Countries acted to save their own interests and ignored the League. in the Stresa Pact of 1935. Other powerful countries were either excluded or chose to leave. Japan. This was an agreement between Italy and Germany to cooperate in international affairs. (The Comintern was the Soviet organisation whose job was to spread communism worldwide) How successful was the League in the 1930s? Successes USSR joins League – 1934 The Soviet Union became a member of the League in 1934. the League would’ve had more power and authority. as the two most powerful countries in the League. making decisions very slow. British and French actions during the Abyssinian crisis (especially the sanctions) annoyed Mussolini enough to make him look towards Hitler as an ally. Dictators Hitler and Mussolini were not willing to compromise with the League. This resulted in the Rome-Berlin Axis signed in October 1936. German and Italian forces (especially their air forces) helped Franco's army defeat the Republicans. Unsuccessful . During the Spanish Civil War. The rule that Council decisions had to be unanimous made decisions even more difficult to make. Set up by Treaty of Versailles The League had been set up by the hateful Treaty of Versailles meaning the League was to always be associated with the Treaty and therefore hated too. However. Germany didn’t join until 1926 and the USSR was excluded until 1934. Italy.Consequences As a consequence it led to the development of a close alliance between Hitler and Mussolini. Britain and France had agreed to cooperate to make sure that Germany did not become too powerful. they didn’t trust each other and often disagreed. Most famously in April 1937 the German Luftwaffe completely destroyed the Spanish town of Guernica. Before the Abyssinia crisis. Abyssinia – 1935 See above Why did the League of Nations fail? Britain and France They were unwilling to use their armies and had other priorities. Failures Manchuria – 1931 See above Germany leaves League Hitler had despised the League since it was set up and withdrew Germany from it just a year after he came to power. If America had joined. a step towards an alliance between the three in the war. Organisation This was cumbersome. Italy and Germany also signed the Anti-Comintern Pact. Also.

a conflict Hitler desperately wanted to avoid. which had been created by self-determination. as the treaty was too harsh. Eastern Europe was rich in resources. turning to appeasement. He saw the Treaty as unjust and as a betrayal of all the soldiers during the war. The spectacular failures of Manchuria and Abyssinia were inevitable due to this and it failed to prevent Hitler from breaking the Treaty of Versailles. which would unite all German-speaking people under his control. home to the inferior Slavs who could be enslaved and were communists (who Hitler hated and saw as Jew-inspired). It left the people of the victorious nations feeling guilty. Eventually members ignored it and didn’t bother taking it into account. and undo the territorial settlement of Versailles. He promised to overturn the Treaty and was determined to end reparations.  To expand – Hitler wanted to create a great German empire. He believed that Germany was overcrowded and didn’t possess sufficient natural resources or space to allow the German people to grow in numbers and wealth. He believed this space could be in Eastern Europe. The harshness and loss of land simply made Hitler’s aggression look justified. People also found ways around sanctions (often through the USA). as other countries felt sympathetic. Britain and France abandoned the collective security policy of the League. . reoccupy the Rhineland. fell so easily as prey to Hitler. Powerless The League had no army and moral condemnation was ignored by powerful nations. League of Nations (created by treaties) Failed to achieve disarmament. What were the consequences of the failures of the League in the 1930s? It proved that the members of the League were too selfish and that collective security would never work. Countries left the failing League realising that a war would have to be fought.  To expand to the East – This was to gain ‘lebensraum’ (living space) for the German people. Most of all the Treaty made Germans angry and desperate for revenge. rebuild Germany’s armed forces. Hitler’s Foreign Policy Originally  Destroy France  Win British support  Win Italian support  Destroy Communist Russia Ultimately  To overturn the Treaty of Versailles – This included rearmament and recovering lost territories. Consequently countries didn’t take the League into account in future when considering and invasion of another country and many members left the League having lost faith in it.The reputation of the League was strongly damaged by the League’s failures. It was weak from the start with structural and other aforementioned problems. Why had international peace collapsed by 1939? What were the long-term consequences of the peace treaties? Versailles Versailles solved absolutely nothing. The large number of small states surrounding Germany. He believed that Germany had been ‘stabbed in the back’ by the politicians who were the ‘November Criminals’. He wanted to win back areas lost such as West Prussia and he also wanted to unite with Austria and the Sudetenland of Czechoslovakia. eventually leading to an arms race. Hitler’s other option would have been to colonise but that would have brought Germany into conflict with Britain.

Then in 1935. By 1938 the German army had reached 800. the Allies did nothing for several reasons:  Hitler combined his aggression with a pledge that he would never break the peace of Europe.000 men. Hitler was determined to change this and on 7 March 1936 he ordered 32. aeorplanes and warships. Rearmament In 1933 Hitler withdrew Germany from the World Disarmament Conference. Remilitarisation of the Rhineland – 1936 Under the Treaty of Versailles the Rhineland. People like Chamberlain (the British Prime Minister) were sympathetic towards Hitler’s policy as they felt the Treaty had been too harsh. which meant that Germany could now expand its navy. It also helped internationally.  Britain. Now. Hitler had a huge success here as 90% of people voted to rejoin Germany. Later that year he signed the Anglo-German Naval Agreement.000 men. In fact. provided that it didn’t surpass 35% of the size of the British fleet. because if he had been forced to withdraw he would have faced complete and utter humiliation. he openly defied the Treaty of Versailles announcing that conscription would be introduced. Hitler got away with a major triumph here! . meaning that no German troops could be stationed there and no defences could be built. A war at this stage would have unquestionably resulted in defeat for Germany. During these two years German produced tanks. Hitler’s main aims with regards to disarmament were to treble the army to 300. as they wanted revenge. However. and saying that Germany had no territorial claims in Europe. This was a huge risk to take. This was done in order to prevent France from a surprise attack from Germany. A lot of people were also Catholic and they tended to not support Hitler. People in Germany were still furious about the way in which Germany had been treated and were prepared to support Hitler’s ambitious foreign policy. build an air force (the Luftwaffe). as a result of a huge propaganda campaign. which had been transferred to the League (in actual fact France) under the Treaty of Versailles.  Britain was not prepared to risk war with Germany by standing up to Hitler and to an extent believed that Germany should have the right to station troops in their own territory. while the navy had 21 warships and 50 submarines. the area that bordered France. France and the League of Nations were currently preoccupied with the Abyssinia Crisis. Without British support France would not act.000 German troops into the Rhineland. was demilitarised. losing the support of the German people. after 15 years this period had expired and there was to be a plebiscite to see whether the people wanted to join Germany. claiming that no country in Europe was prepared to disarm. The result wasn’t obvious as many people in the Saar were working class (possibly hostile towards Hitler).Versailles was hugely helpful to Hitler. the army was under strict orders to withdraw if they came up against any type of opposition. Saar Plebiscite – 1935 The Saar region of Germany was a massively industrial area. Ultimately. and construct fortifications and airfields. He pulled Germany out of the League in 1933 and secretly rearmed for two years.

Italy had a border with Austria and in the past had been particularly concerned to prevent Anschluss. particularly from Russia. In 1936 Germany and Japan signed the pact and in 1937 Italy signed it too.  Hitler could achieve his aims using force rather than diplomacy. placed under tremendous pressure by Hitler. They were therefore likely to be equally as unwilling when it came to other issues.  The British were a bit sympathetic towards the Germans and their claims to alter the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. It also provided an opportunity for the German military to work closely alongside the Italian military. Anschluss – 1938 Anschluss means ‘union’ between Germany and Austria.  The one country that could stand up to Hitler and prevent him taking control of Austria was probably Italy. The destruction of Guernica was particularly terrible. This pact means ‘Anti-Communist International’ as it was against the Comintern. led by the USSR. the former allies were not prepared to use force to uphold the Treaty. Germany and Italy formed an alliance promising mutual support. It was strictly forbidden under the Treaty of Versailles but Hitler was determined to join the two countries together for several reasons:  Both countries were racially very similar and had largely 'Germanic' populations. the Austrian Chancellor. So with Italy on his side. Schuschnigg. German aircraft made devastating bombing raids on civilian populations in several Spanish cities. Rome-Berlin Axis – 1936 Mussolini was angered by the attacks (although mild) of Britain and France on his invasion of Abyssinia. This was particularly the case. The aim of the pact was to limit the communist influence around the world. Hitler knew he could get away with invasion of Austria if necessary. Hitler realised that Anschluss would make Germany a more powerful country. It would also demonstrate how he had been brave enough to defy the Treaty of Versailles. as he had been born in Austria himself. Italy was also in support of General Franco’s military uprising. attempting to spread communism. Relations between Germany and Italy rapidly improved as the Stresa Front collapsed and in October 1936.  Austria was an industrialised country with a reasonably sized army. Spanish Civil War – 1936 After a civil war broke out between the communists and the right-wing rebels under General Franco in Spain. when Hitler had threatened to take control of Austria for the first time. In 1937. Italy was prepared to allow Hitler to take control of Austria. was intimidated into agreeing to union with Germany.  The French weren’t prepared to use force even to defend basic security interests on their eastern border. In 1934. Hitler saw this as an opportunity to rise against communism and try out his armed forces.Germany learnt many lessons from this:  The terms of the Treaty of Versailles could be ignored. and in October 1936 Italy signed an alliance with Germany. At this point similarities were also noticed with the military dictatorship in Japan. It was angry about the way in which the League had treated it over Abyssinia. Anti-Comintern Pact Mussolini was heavily involved in the Spanish Civil War when relations between Germany and Italy had become as strong as ever. a group of communist-led countries. In fact invasion was not necessary as the Austrian government. Hitler believed that all Germans should live in one country. after all. so soon after the signing of the Rome-Berlin Axis and the Anti-Comintern Pact. tried to avoid union by organising a plebiscite (vote) in 1938 in the hope . Mussolini mobilised the Italian army to prevent him! But by 1936.

The main steps of appeasement  1935 – Accepting German rearmament (including Anglo-German Naval Agreement)  1936 – Taking no action against German remilitarisation of the Rhineland  1937-9 – Allowing Hitler to use German bombers in Spanish Civil War  1938 – Taking no action over Anschluss  1938 – Giving in over the Sudetenland at Munich Why did Britain follow the policy of appeasement (the French couldn’t act without British support)?  Fear of another war – Unemployment had been high since the end of the war and the quality of British life had remained poor. Schuschnigg was imprisoned. In fact there was widespread intimidation at the ballot boxes. The western powers were submissive and allowed Hitler to keep breaking promises in the hope that they could somehow avoid war. . Without it there would undoubtedly have been no war. which Hitler held on 14 March 1938. strong allies would be needed and Britain lacked these. Appeasement bought Britain a year to rearm.that the Austrian people would vote against union. Britain and France were not prepared to face a war with Germany over Austria.  Belief in the League – It was believed that the League of Nations could solve any problems so the British shouldn’t have to deal with Hitler individually. as they were too weak without allies. but when Hitler reacted by mobilising the German army.000 opponents of union and the Nazi Party were imprisoned. there were many other causes of the war… (See below) Appeasement What is appeasement? Appeasement can be defined as ‘giving a bully what he wants’ and was the approach taken towards Hitler’s aggression in the 1930s by Britain and France. 80. as they believed communism was as bad as Nazism. America was strongly isolationist and the British were reluctant to unite with communist Russia. Hitler had once again breached a key measure of the Treaty of Versailles. A war with Germany would threaten it as many colonies believed in appeasement and would break off in the event of war. Chamberlain would not have had enough public support to go to war. Seyss-Inquart.  Lack of allies – In the event of a war with Germany. But war had been avoided because Britain and France appeased Hitler and refused to stand up for Austrian independence. Schuschnigg resigned. The situation in Austria was regularised by a plebiscite.  Concern for the Empire – The British Empire covered about one-quarter of the globe and was vital to the government for strength. How far was Hitler’s foreign policy to blame for the outbreak of war in 1939? To a great extent Hitler’s foreign policy caused the Second World War. considering that the Austrian people welcomed the move. There was great desire from the people to avoid the ghastly scenes of the Great War reoccurring and there was also great fear of what they believed a war c0uld mean at this more advanced stage. France was weak and unprepared. It was important to avoid war. However. Austrian Jews were made to scrub the streets of Vienna.  Britain needed time – It was estimated that Britain would not be ready for war until 1940 and it was therefore necessary to avoid war until then in order to complete military preparations. Over 99% of Austrian voting agreed with union with Germany. of the Austrian Nazi Party took his place and he invited the German army into the country to restore order. The British considered it an application of the principle of national self-determination. thereby threatening Austria with war.

   Appeasement was necessary in order to avoid war and consequently the losses of colonies. Each time more aggression was encouraged as aggressors believed they could get way with it.  Loss of Czechoslovakia as an ally – Through appeasement an important ally was lost by Britain in Czechoslovakia. Hitler reoccupying the Rhineland or Anschluss with Austria. Sympathy – Many people sympathised with Hitler’s demands because the Treaty of Versailles had been so harsh. If Hitler had been resisted from the beginning he might have been more cautious. Hitler wanted to take over these valuable resources. It also had the famous Skoda Works and large coal and mineral reserves. . Criticisms of appeasement  Appeasement against aggressors simply encouraged more aggression – They had not resisted Japan in Manchuria. Through appeasement. Germany was much better prepared by then than it had been in 1936 for war. For example. Misjudgment of Hitler – Chamberlain misjudged Hitler and trusted him and his promises. Hitler turned his attention towards Czechoslovakia. Fear of communism – People allowed Hitler to grow because they thought a strong Germany could stop Russia. Italy in Abyssinia. Czechoslovakia had a very strong army with 34 divisions stationed in strong defensive positions in the Sudetenland. he believed that the Sudetenland would be Hitler’s final demand. While the majority of the Czechoslovak population was made up of Czechs and Slovaks there were 3 million German-speaking people living in the Sudetenland (western part of the country. when it could have first been stopped.  War was not prevented – The war began just a year after the Munich agreement. Results of appeasement  Britain was given time to rearm  Gave Britain moral high ground – when war came they knew they had done everything to avoid it  Was a fine attempt to prevent millions of deaths at war  Hitler grew stronger  Britain was humiliated – no country in Central Europe ever trusted Britain again  Millions of people were abandoned to the Nazis  Caused the war – encouraged Hitler to think he could get away with anything  Was never going to stop Hitler who was determined to go to war Was the policy of appeasement justified? Justified:  People sympathised with Hitler after the harshness of Versailles and felt he had the right to expand  It was an attempt to avoid another war after the horrors of World War One  It was seen as a possible way of eliminating the communist threat posed by Russia  Britain was not in a position to fight with a weak army and a distinct lack of strong allies Not justified:  They dealt with Hitler as a rational person and failed to realise that he was determined to go to war until it was too late to avoid it  They kept believing Hitler’s promises and he kept breaking them but they continued to believe  A number of opportunities were missed to stand up and stop Hitler because of appeasement Munich and the destruction of Czechoslovakia – 1938 Just weeks after Anschluss with Austria. Germany was allowed to become much more powerful than Britain and France. It had a large army and strong defences and Hitler was now in possession of all these benefits.

The USSR therefore aimed to build relations with the western powers against Germany. On the other hand Hitler was promising him peace. France and Italy. German troops began massing along the Czechoslovak border. However they made little progress for several reasons:  Suspicion – Chamberlain didn’t trust Stalin. promising never to go to war with Britain. as he was a communist dictator. He was greeted as a hero by terrified Brits even though Czechoslovakia had been betrayed. With no support the Czech government was forced to agree. The Germans marched into the Sudetenland on 1 October. Poland didn’t trust the USSR but did trust Britain. took place between Britain. which had been organised by Mussolini. Chamberlain flew back to Britain and on his arrival waved a piece of paper. half of Poland and a ‘sphere of influence’ over Eastern Europe. The country had been greatly weakened by the loss of the Sudetenland and many other minorities had attempted to break away too after the Germans had managed it. France was an ally of Czechoslovakia and Britain was morally committed to defending France so it seemed that Britain would be dragged into the war. Germany. In March 1939 Hitler took the rest of Czechoslovakia.  Britain delayed talks – Initially Lord Halifax refused to hold talks with Russia. In response the Czech government mobilised Czech army units. with the President resigning. which had been signed by Hitler. so if Stalin supported Britain. Russia would have ended up fighting in Poland on Britain’s behalf. There was great unrest in Czechoslovakia with no order at all leaving it very vulnerable to attack.bordering Germany). War now seemed very likely and trenches were being built in London. Stalin didn’t trust the British and thought that they wanted to trick him into war with Germany. Britain and France agreed to Hitler’s demands on the condition that this was the last time Hitler would demand extra territory for Germany. .  Appeasement – Stalin didn’t believe that Britain would honour its promise to Poland and thought that Russia would end up fighting Germany alone. Chamberlain held several meetings in an attempt to resolve the crisis. upon making his demands for territory. but then a week later he demanded that the whole of the Sudetenland be transferred to Germany.  Choice – Britain didn’t have the ability to send troops into Poland. In April 1938. There was no Czechoslovakian representation at Munich. Anglo-Soviet Talks – August 1939 The Soviet Union had been alarmed by the rise of Hitler and was aware of Hitler’s hatred of Russia. In September 1938 Hitler told the Czech Germans that he would support their claims to join Germany and their response was to begin rioting in hope that the Czechoslovak government could give in to their demands. Hitler wanted these people to be able to live as part of a new German Empire and. when an official was finally sent he couldn’t make any decisions and eventually Stalin got fed up. outraging Hitler and prompting him to threaten war. against the backdrop of ever-louder protest from Sudeten Germans. The leader of the Czech Nazi Party was Konrad Henlein and he campaigned for the transfer of the Sudetenland to Germany. claimed that he was acting to protect the Sudeten Germans from persecution from the Czechoslovak government. Six months later Hitler proceeded to take the remainder of Czechoslovakia. Initially Hitler demanded areas in the Sudetenland where Germans formed the majority. Chamberlain tried to avoid war by putting pressure on President Beneš to grant extra rights to Sudeten Germans but this failed to satisfy Hitler. Hitler also wanted Czechoslovakia as part of his policy of getting extra living space for what he believed was an over-populated Germany. These riots were crushed by the Czech government. On 29 September the Munich Conference.

Stalin did a deal with Hitler. the USSR would remain neutral if Germany invaded Poland and. making war inevitable when Hitler did eventually invade Poland. In April 1939 Mussolini invaded Albania demonstrating how Fascism was taking over and how Fascists wanted to take over the world. He also invaded for lebensraum as the superior German people could enslave the Poles and take the land.Nazi-Soviet Pact – August 1939 After the collapse of negotiations with Britain and France. It was agreed that they would not attack each other. privately. after British action in Czechoslovakia. . It ended British hopes of an alliance with Stalin meaning that the only way to stop Hitler now was to go to war. He now had Russia on his side. The Polish army was also very weak in terms of equipment. Hitler believed that the two countries were bluffing. although strong in terms of numbers. However. Why did Hitler sign it?  Hitler saw the advantage of Soviet neutrality when Germany invaded Poland. He was worried about the potential Russian resistance. France and Germany would wear each other out in a long war  He was promised land in Poland  He felt insulted by the slowness in the negotiations with Britain and didn’t trust them. Why did Stalin sign it?  It gave Russia 18 months to prepare militarily for war  It gave him hope that Britain. In March 1939 Chamberlain and Daladier promised to defend Poland. Poland – 1939 In response to the invasion of Czechoslovakia Britain and France guaranteed Polish independence. forcing him to turn to Hitler  He doubted that Britain and France would be strong enough allies against Hitler. On 15 March 1939 Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia so people realised that only a war would stop him. as Russia would now not stop him. the only way in which he felt he could be stopped. Without Russian support Britain would have to back down over Poland and Danzig. It freed up Hitler to invade Poland. they agreed to divide Poland between them. 1 September 1939 – Hitler invaded Poland 3 September 1939 – Britain and France declared war on Germany Why did Britain and France declare war on Germany in September 1939? In February 1939 Franco won the Spanish Civil War so it seemed that Fascism was on the increase everywhere. especially as they had failed over Czechoslovakia This pact was instrumental in causing war. He thought he could get away with it as he had so many times before where Britain and France had backed down. Hitler wanted Poland in order to recover land lost in the Treaty of Versailles and wanted to eliminate the division between Germany and East Prussia. This was a great change to British foreign policy as it was now Hitler who would decide whether there was to be a war or not.

Most of all it left angry Germans who wanted revenge and therefore supported Hitler. Sudetenland. Hitler He was determined to fight a war and to create a German Empire. Reparations left the victorious nations feeling guilty and the defeated often were often left crippled. Czechoslovakia. which fell easily. Anschluss. Hitler stirred up trouble in August 1939 demanding the Polish Corridor and eventually invaded Poland on 1 September. Causes of World War Two Treaty of Versailles It solved nothing. The signing of the Nazi-Soviet Pact in August 1939 meant that Hitler was now free to invade Poland. which he felt the Germans had unfairly lost. League of Nations It was weak structurally and in terms of nations involved. Seven steps to war Rearmament. It also led to Stalin allying with Germany as opposed to Britain because he didn’t trust Chamberlain. Poland . It failed to achieve disarmament and countries left it realising that war was inevitable. NaziSoviet Pact. It failed to deal with Hitler and had other embarrassing failures. from the start.In May 1939 Hitler and Mussolini signed the Pact of Steel demonstrating how Hitler was building up his forces for war. It made German aggression seem justified and self-determination left a collection of weak nations surrounding Germany. Britain and France abandoned it and its principles by taken their own policy of appeasement towards Germany as opposed to collective security. remilitarisation of the Rhineland. He wanted a ‘rematch’ so to speak of the First World War. Appeasement It encouraged aggression and hence war as Hitler thought that he would not be stopped.