I/GCSE History: Hitler’s War Introduction: ● Part of the reason why Hitler, Mussolini, and Japan all wanted to grow and annex land was to lift their economies out of the Great Depression. ● March 1939, Germany invaded the rest of Czechoslovakia: ○ No resistance from Britain or France. ○ Convinced Britain and France that appeasement had failed: ■ Chamberlain said that ‘after this I cannot trust the Nazi leaders again.’ ○ 31st, Britain declared that it would stand by Poland in the event of German aggression: ■ German aggression would eventually threaten the Empire. ○ Daladier decided only war could stop Hitler controlling Europe and France. ○ Hitler thought that Daladier and Chamberlain were bluffing. ● Hitler thought they would not interfere if he invaded Poland on account of what happened in Czechoslovakia: ○ Demanded the return of Danzig to Germany and an end in LoN rule over it. ○ Demanded access to Danzig through Polish territory. ● 23rd August, 1939, Nazi-Soviet Pact was signed: ○ Hitler thought that without Russian support Britain and France would not intervene. ○ He was wrong; Britain and France were ready at this time. ● Britain and France: ○ Not as intimidated by the Nazi-Soviet Pact as Hitler had hoped. ○ Japan and Italy did not support Hitler as he had allied himself with communist Russia. This was good news for Britain and France. ○ British dominions supported war against Germany and had abandoned appeasement. ● 1st September 1939, Hitler invaded Poland. ● 3rd September 1939, Britain and France declared war on Germany. ● Hitler was surprised when Britain and France responded to his invasion of Poland with a declaration of war. Hitler’s mistake: ● Appeasement led him to think that the British and French politicians were not prepared for war. ● Key advisors informed him that Britain and France would not go to war. ● Overestimated the impact of the Nazi-Soviet Pact on Britain and France. ● Hitler could not fathom the motives of the Western leaders and thought they had no reason to protect Poland. Complex causes for the Second World War? ● The Treaty of Versailles, 1919: ○ Great bitterness was borne by the Germans against the ToV owing to the lossof land, etc. ● The failure of the League of Nations: ○ The LoN and collective security did not work: ■ It was unable to stop aggression in Manchuria and Abyssinia. ● The Depression of the early 1930s: ○ Political results of this made the world more dangerous: ■ Increase in isolationism in the USA. ■ Increase in support for the Nazi Party in Germany. ■ Disarmament and a sense of weakness in France and Britain.
● The Policy of Appeasement: ○ Britain and France were reluctant to deal firmly against Germany, Italy and Japan in the 1930s: ■ Germany felt that it could get away with certain aggressive acts: ■ Remilitarization of the Rhineland. ■ Annexation of the Sudetenland. ■ Anschluss with Austria. ■ Invasion of Poland. ● Stalin’s decision in August 1939: ○ He rejected an alliance with Britain and France and agreed to the Nazi-Soviet Pact: ■ This removed any chance of bluffing Germany into leaving Poland alone. ● The rise of fascism: ○ Hitler and Mussolini were both fascists and desired conflict to strengthen theirown country. An argument among historians regarding the start of the Second World War: ● To what extent was Hitler to blame for the war? ● Did Hitler have a plan to get Germany involved in a World War? ● Were Hitler’s policies before 1939 any different from those of earlier German leaders such as Wilhelm II and Stresemann? ● A.J.P Taylor asserts that: ○ Hitler had no overall plan and made his policies as he went along. ○ Hitler wanted to use war as a threat to achieve his aims but never wanted to actually become embroiled within a war. ○ Hitler’s views were similar to those of many other Germans. ○ The war was caused as much by the personality of Hitler as by other factors such as the policy of appeasement. ● Alan Bullock argues that: ○ Hitler did have an overall plan; there was a consistency in his policies and beliefs between the time when he wrote the Mein Kampf (1924) and the time of his death in 1945. This plan was his desire to set up a German Empire in Europe. ○ Hitler knew that a great war would be necessary to achieve his dream. ○ No other German leader would have dared to carry out foreign policy the way Hitler did and so he was different from his predecessors Stresemann and Wilhelm II in that he was much more aggressive than either of them. ○ As such Hitler was the main reason for the Second World War.