IGCSE History Road to War title

Long-term consequences of the TOV

  • Scapegoats - Hitler could use the TOV as a basis for his foreign policy; it justified aggressive actions.
  • Justification for appeasement - Since it was seen as harsh, Chamberlain's policy of appeasement (allowing Hitler to gain territory without confrontation) was seen as acceptable in Britain
  • Caused the death of the LON - by upholding an unfair Treaty, the USA did not join the LON making the League weak, therefore causing aggression to spread (e.g. Manchuria, Abyssinia)
  • Undermined the Weimar Republic - the German politicians, such as Ebert, became known as 'November criminas' for 'betraying' Germany by signing an unfair treaty. This allowed Nazis to come to power as people were not happy with democracy
  • Long-term consequences of the failure of the LON

  • Rise of dictators
    • Hitler — the faiure of the LON enabled the NSDAP Party to grow in confidence and votes as it continued unopposed
    • Mussolini — was allowed to invade Abyssinia and grow in strength and confidence; there was no opposition now
    • Franco — was no longer prevented from winning Spanish Civil War and teamed up with Hitler and Mussolini
    • Stalin — supported Republicans against Nazis in Sp. Civil war. Caused friction.
  • Increase in individual treaties / Rise in mistrust - Mutual Assistance Pact, Munich Agreement, Nazi-Soviet Pact (see later for in-depth knowledge of these events) Countries now began to seek their own circles of friends for protection and were willing to side with whomever was most convenient at the time, causing even more mistrust
  • Rearmament - It was clear that the LON would not protect member countries, so countries had to re-arm. Britain abandoned ‘Ten Year Rule’ in 1932 (this had promised no war for 10 years!). Bought latest equipment—Howitzers and new 5 new battleships in mid-1930s. France built the Maginot Line, Germany tested troops in Spanish Civil War, recreated Luftwaffe, signed deal with Soviet Russia to train pilots and build tanks on their land! Developed new weapons
  • IGCSE history; paris peace treaties

    A cartoon showing the severity of reparations, 1921 [source: New York World]

    IGCSE History; CIE revision notes; militarism; the road to war; origins of the second world war; origins of ww2

    Hitler's Foreign Policy Aims

  • Create Third Reich - Hitler wanted a Germany that would last for a thousand years to match the power of the Kaiser’s Had a mythical bond between land and people.
  • Defeat Communism - Stalin was seen as the great enemy of Fascism Defeating Communism would get land in the East and appease the West
  • Lebensraum - Slavs were seen as inferior (‘untermensh’ )and so defeating territories in the east would provide ‘living space’ there.
  • Destroy TOV - Hitler had promised his voters he would tear it up and win back lands lost in the TOV, including parts of Alsace-Lorraine, Rhineland and Posen.
  • Anschluss - Hitler promised to unite ALL German-speaking peoples, including those in Austria.
  • Militarism of Italy

  • 1930s - Led a horrendous war on Libyan 'resistance', including chemical attacks - accused of genocide
  • Signed the Four Power Pact in 1933 with France, Britain and Germany for greater international security; this was a blow to the LON which was bypassed.
  • Invaded Abyssinia, 1935-6
  • Sent 50 000 'volunteers' to help Republicans in the Spanish Civil War, 1936
  • Re-armed - although equipment was poor and 'tanquettes' (armoured cars) used instead of real tanks
  • Left the League of Nations in 1937
  • Visited Germany in 1937
  • invaded Albania April, 1939 - defeated King Zog
  • May 1939 - signs Pact of Steel with Germany - mutual agreement for support in a war
  • Militarism of Japan

  • Re-armed; invested heavily in the navy, created Yamato warships as well as aircraft carriers capable of carrying 3000 aircraft in total. Had an army of 1m men and 2m reserves by 1939
  • Defeated Russia in the Russo-Japanese War 1905
  • 1928 - sent troops to China to stop a unified China under Chang Kai Shekthreatening Japan
  • Invaded and occupied Manchuria, China, 1931-33
  • Withdrew from League of Nations, 1933
  • Army attempts a coup but fails when High Command does not join in - shows the mentality and strength of the army, 1936
  • 1936 - signs Anti-Commintern Pact with Ger, Italy to contain spread of Communism
  • 1937 - withdraws from Washington Naval Agreement (which had limited ship tonnage to a ratio of Britain 5:USA 5:Japan 3)
  • Began Second Sino-Japanese War with China, 1937 - led to Nanking Massacre
  • IGCSE history, dictators, appeasement

    Mussolini and Hitler, 1937 [source Ladislav Luppa CC01.0 wikimedia]

    IGCSE history, japan, appeasement

    Emperor Hirohito [source: Torikai Lab Network, wikimedia]

    IGCSE History; CIE revision notes; militarism; the road to war; origins of the second world war; origins of ww2

    What actions did Hitler take that led to War?

    Hitler's foreign policy

    When assessing who was to blame for the outbreak of war, we must first take a look at what Hitler did specifically that caused unrest.

    1933: Hitler storms out out of the League ... it's dead in the water now

    Hitler Rearms:

  • Unemployed workers drawn into the army, 1931
  • Rearmed secretly at first before withdrawing from League in 1931
  • Openly staged a massive military rally, 1935
  • Signed a naval agreement with Britain in 1935 allowing him to increase the navy to 2/3rds of Britain’s.
  • Introduced conscription to the army, 1936
  • Soldiers up from 100 000 to 950 000 from 1932-1939 – warships from 30-95
  • Saar Plebiscite

  • Technically this was not reversing the TOV. The Saar was an industrial region which had been ruled by the League of Nations. After a ‘plebiscite’ (or vote), the people decided to be ruled by Germany. This was entirely legal and a real boost for Hitler.
  • Rhineland remiliterized

  • In March 1936 Hitler took a real risk by moving troops into the Rhineland despite the TOV saying it should be demilitarized, and despite the fact that Germany had promised to keep it Demiliterized at the Locarno Treaties of 1925.
  • Hitler claimed that France and Russia were threatening him by signing the Mutual Assistance Pact and so had a right to invade
  • British public opinion felt the Treaty had been too harsh now.
  • The attention of the League was on the Abyssinian Crisis and so only condemned Hitler
  • The French were about to have an election and did not want to risk war
  • The gamble paid off, even though Hitler ordered his troops to retreat at the first sign of resistance!
  • Spanish Civil War

  • In 1936 a civil war broke out between Communists who supported the Republican government, and right-wing rebels under General Franco.
  • Hitler saw this as a great way to attack Communism and test his new weapons out.
  • In 1937, the League looked on in horror as Hitler sent German aircraft to bomb Spanish civilian cities for Franco. The worst example was the bombing of Guernica.
  • Anti Commintern Pact

  • Italy had also helped Franco against the Communists. In 1937 Italy, Germany and Japan all felt they had a lot in common and so signed the Anti-Commintern (which means anti-Communist) pact.
  • The idea was to limit communist influence around the world
  • Anschluss

  • Hitler encouraged the Austrian Nazis to stir up trouble for the government. They staged demonstrations calling for union with Germany. They caused riots
  • Hitler then told the Austrian Chancellor, Schuschnigg that only Anschluss would solve the problems. Britain and France ignored the happenings.
  • Schuschnigg called a plebiscite (referendum) to choose.
  • Hitler wasn’t prepared to risk this so he just marched his troops into Austria
  • Under the watchful eyes of the Nazis 99.75% voted in favour of Anschluss
  • Britain and France felt it was only fair that Hitler got what was essential his anyway and were not prepared to go to war over a harsh treaty.
  • Sudentenland

  • Edward Beneš was the leader of Czechoslovakia. He realized after the Anschluss that Czechoslovakia would be next.
  • He therefore signed a Treaty with France
  • Chamberlain was told by Hitler that ‘Czechoslovakia has nothing to fear from the Reich’
  • However, Hitler did want it – the country had many Germans living in its borders, as it was created by the TOV.
  • Henlein, leader of the Nazis in Czechoslovakia, stirred up trouble and demanded union
  • Beneš knew he could not lose the Sudetenland; it had important coal, iron and railway industries. He was ready to fight, and built many air-raid shelters.
  • It became obvious Hitler was about to invade. In a last-ditch attempt Chamberlain flew out to meet Hitler; Hitler said he only wanted Sudetenland but then changed his mind. War seemed imminent
  • A final meeting was scheduled by Mussolini in Munich to avoid war. (The Munich Conference) Br, Ger, France and It decided that Czechoslovakia could lose Sudetenland. They did not consult the Czechs or the USSR.
  • Chamberlain returned with the Munich Agreement claiming he had secured ‘peace for our time’
  • Hitler marched into Sudetenland. Beneš resigned.
  • Czechoslovakia

  • Hitler felt that Britain and France would not actually risk war
  • On March 15 the Nazis then took over the rest of Czechoslovakia
  • The Czechs did not resist, neither did Britain or France
  • It was now clear to the world that Hitler was a liar and untrustworthy
  • Britain now guaranteed Poland that if Hitler tried to invade they would stand up for Poland.
  • Nazi Soviet Pact

  • Stalin was v.worried about Hitler’s actions; Hitler openly said he would take Russian land and hated Communists
  • Stalin couldn't get any deals done with Br and Fr, LON was dead
  • Despite signing a Mutual Assistance Pact with Fr, Stalin was worried.
  • The Munich Agreement was worse– Stalin wasn't consulted
  • Stalin kept arranging meetings with Br and Fr but nothing came of them
  • Instead, he also met with Ribbentrop – German foreign minister – and discussed the Nazi-Soviet Pact
  • In August 1939 they stunned the world with the deal
  • Poland

  • Nazi Soviet Pact cleared the way for Hitler’s invasion of Poland; he invaded from the west whilst Stalin invaded from the east. Poland quickly fell.
  • Hitler’s next move was surely USSR but on 2nd September 1939 Britain and France declared war on Germany. Hitler’s luck had run out.
  • War!

    IGCSE history, road to war, timeline
    A timeline of Nazi foreign policy, leading to war (sources included in pictures)

    IGCSE History; CIE revision notes; militarism; the road to war; origins of the second world war; origins of ww2

    Was appeasement a mistake?

    Yes, it was a mistake

  • It gave Hitler more resources and land – this allowed him to build up his armaments even more and gain more soldiers for his army, as well as achieve his aim of lebensraum
  • It encouraged Hitler – every conquered territory made Hitler seem stronger in Germany and gave him the opportunity to go further. E.g. Sudetenland and Czechoslovakia etc. He would have backed down at the sight of one French soldier in the Rhineland. It was clear from his aims that Hitler wanted a war
  • Gave Hitler time to rearm — every country he conquered gave him more troops. It convinced the German people that Hitler’s ideas of Arian superiority were true, and fed into his propaganda narrative!
  • It scared Russia – they ended up signing the Nazi Soviet Pact and felt excluded from the West. Russia weren’t invited to Munich Conference either, which made them more anxious, and more likely to do a deal with the devil
  • IGCSE history appeasement

    '"My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time." Chamberlain (Source: Ministry of Information official photographer)

    No, it was not a mistake

  • It bought time to rearm (the Historian AJP Taylor though believed that German troops were only 45% of what British intelligence reports said they were) Britain increased its aircraft from 1800 to 8000 from 1936-1939
  • The British public were not ready for war – after the horrors of WW1 the public needed to be totally convinced to fight a war. Hitler’s actions showed the public that he was a megalomaniac and that war was necessary.
  • The Treaty of Versailles did seem too harsh – Chamberlain therefore thought it was only reasonable that Hitler reconquer some of his own land (e.g. Rhineland that had been demilitarized in TOV). They were ‘only marching into their own backyard’
  • Hitler was a valuable ally against Communism – The USSR seemed a much stronger, and potentially more dangerous enemy than Hitler. Hopefully it was thought that the two would fight each other. Communists were feared as one of their goals was a World Revolution. The West was afraid enough of Communism to back The Whites against the Communists in Russia, 1917.
  • IGCSE history appeasement

    Hitler and Chamberlain at Bad Godesberg, Munich, Sept 1938 (Source: Bundesarchiv, Bild 146-1976-063-32 / CC-BY-SA 3.0)

    IGCSE History; CIE revision notes; militarism; the road to war; origins of the second world war; origins of ww2

    Why did war break out in 1939?

  • Appeasement had failed – Hitler had gained land, men and resources but was not clearly about to stop. He had called the appeasers ‘worms’ and ‘umbrella politicians’. Country after country had fallen to him and now there was no option but war. Chamberlain had been left embarrassed.
  • The League of Nations had failed – there was now no international law body to appeal to: Manchuria and Abyssinia had finished the LON off as a serious organization and it unraveled after Hitler left.
  • Hitler was openly dishonest – e.g. Czechoslovakia, Poland and Nazi-Soviet Pact. He had proved himself to be a liar with Sudetenland and Czechoslovakia. His foreign policy aims clearly showed he couldn’t be trusted: Nazi-Soviet Pact, and Munich Agreement in particular.
  • Public opinion had changed – the public was now ready for war, having seen what Hitler was capable of in Guernica and the way in which he conquered lands that were not even his now. They had not wanted a repeat of WW1 but now felt that Hitler was a necessary evil to fight. He had been offered numerous olive branches, but took none. The TOV had been reversed yet still he continued.
  • Britain and France were better prepared — previously they had lacked men, equipment and arms. Appeasement now had let them build up their forces
  • IGCSE Road to War History

    A cartoon depicting the reasons for war (S.Strube, Sept 1939 "Juggernaut")

    IGCSE History; CIE revision notes; militarism; the road to war; origins of the second world war; origins of ww2

    Revision Guides