German Reaction to the Treaty of Versailles




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Hitler’s Foreign Policy (1933 - 1939)


  • German Reaction to the Treaty of Versailles.





  • The Aims of Hitler’s Foreign Policy.




  • German Rearmament.




  • The Saar Plebiscite.




  • The Remilitarisation of the Rhineland.




  • The Anschluss with Austria.




  • The Sudetenland Crisis.




  • The Munich Agreement &Appeasement.




  • The Invasion of Czechoslovakia.




  • The Nazi-Soviet Pact.




  • The Invasion of Poland.


The Timeline of Hitler’s Foreign Policy (1933 - 1939)

(Reversal of the Treaty of Versailles & Steps to the Second World War)

1933 Hitler seizes power in Germany.

Germany withdrawals from the World Disarmament Conference.

Germany withdrawals from the League of Nations.
1934 Hitler orders rearmament and tells the army to prepare for war.
1935 Germany reintroduces conscription to the army.

Anglo-German Naval Agreement is agreed.

The Saar is returned to Germany after a Plebiscite.
1936 Germany remilitarises the Rhineland.

The Rome-Berlin Axis is agreed.


1938 German invades Austria (Anschluss).

The Sudentenland Crisis.

The Munich Agreement.
1939 Germany occupies the whole of Czechoslovakia.

Nazi-Soviet Pact is agreed.

Germany invades Poland.

Second World War starts.




German reaction to the Treaty of Versailles included:


  • They were enraged when they saw the extremely harsh terms of the treaty.

  • They were not allowed to negotiate over its terms and were forced to accept it.

  • They felt that the terms of the treaty were extremely unfair and humiliating.

  • They felt that they should not have to accept sole responsibility for the war.

  • Many Germans started calling for revenge to reverse the effects of the treaty.

  • Many Germans attacked the new Weimar democratic government for signing it.

  • Many labelled the politicians who signed the treaty “November Criminals” who had “stabbed in the back” the army, which still controlled most of Europe in 1918.

  • The treaty undermined the new democratic government, led to the rise of the Nazi party and the Second World War.


The aims of Hitler’s Foreign Policy were:


  • To reverse the terms of the Treaty of Versailles.

  • To make Germany a great world power again.

  • To unite all German speaking people.

  • To rearm Germany and restore all its lost territories.

  • To conquer an Empire in the East to give Germany Lebensraum (living space).


The aims of Hitler’s Foreign Policy were based on the ideas of:


  • The Master Race (The Nazi racist idea that Germans as an Aryan people were a “master race” destined to rule “subhuman” peoples like Slavs.)

  • Pan-German Nationalism (The belief that all German speaking peoples should be united in one Greater Germany.)

  • Militarism (The use of military force to solve a countries problems is better than peaceful negotiations.)

  • Social Darwinism (The theory that in the world it was natural for stronger countries to conquer and rule weaker countries.)


German Rearmament:


  • Hitler argues the Treaty of Versailles was unfair and every country including Germany had the right to defend itself.

  • In 1933 Germany withdrew from the World Disarmament Conference on the grounds no other country was disarming.

  • In 1934 Hitler ordered the German armed forces to rearm and prepare for war.

  • In 1935 Germany reintroduced conscription breaking the Treaty of Versailles. Germany built tanks, aeroplanes and submarines breaking the Treaty of Versailles.

  • In 1936 Germany remilitarises the Rhineland in violation of the Treaty of Versailles.

  • Britain, France and the League of Nations did nothing to stop German rearmament even though it was breaking of the Treaty of Versailles.

The Saar Plebiscite (1935):


  • The Treaty of Versailles gave the Saar-land to the League of Nations for 15 years during which time France was to control all of its coalfields.

  • In 1935 a plebiscite (vote) was held in the Saar to see if its people wanted to return to Germany in which 90% of the people voted to return to Germany.

  • Hitler celebrated the plebiscite as a great victory because it was the first of Germany’s lost territories under the Treaty of Versailles to be returned to German rule.


The Remilitarisation of the Rhineland (1936):


  • The Rhineland was the part of Germany bordering France that had to be demilitarised (undefended) according to the Treaty of Versailles.

  • The Rhineland was demilitarised to prevent Germany from threatening or launching a surprise attack against France.

  • Hitler saw how the League of Nations failed to stop the invasions of Manchuria and Abyssinia.

  • Hitler saw how the League of Nations failed to stop Germany from rearming even though it was breaking the Treaty of Versailles.

  • Hitler ordered German troops to enter the Rhineland to remilitarise it even though it was breaking the Treaty of Versailles.

  • If France had intervened Hitler would have ordered his soldiers to withdraw from the Rhineland because Germany was not yet ready for war.

  • France did not stop Hitler because refused to give its support to France if it went to war over the Rhineland.

  • Britain viewed the Treaty of Versailles as too harsh and that Hitler was doing nothing wrong other than “marching into his own backyard.”

  • The failure of Britain and France to stop Hitler encouraged him to continue his aggressive foreign policy to destroy the terms of the Treaty of Versailles.


The Anschluss (union) with Austria 1938:


  • The Treaty of Versailles had forbidden Germany from uniting with Austria.

  • Hitler wanted to unite all German-speaking people into one Greater Germany.

  • The people of Austria were a German-speaking people and Hitler himself had been born in Austria.

  • The Austrian Nazi party began in 1938 to organise riots across Austria for union with Germany.

  • Hitler ordered German troops to enter Austria after a request was made by a Nazi Austrian Minister in charge of the Austrian police to help restore order to the country.

  • The Nazi’s then organised a plebiscite (vote) in which 99.75% of Austrians voted for union with Germany.

  • Italy supported Hitler’s actions due to the Rome-Berlin Axis signed earlier that year.

  • Britain, France and the League of Nations again did nothing even though Germany was clearly breaking the Treaty of Versailles.

The Sudetenland Crisis (1938):


  • In 1938 a crisis erupted when Hitler demanded that Czechoslovakia hand over part of its territory called the Sudetenland to Germany.

  • The Sudetenland bordered Germany and had 3 million German-speaking people living there who wanted to be part of Germany.

  • Czechoslovakia had a powerful well trained and equipped army, as well as, defence agreements with France and Russia.

  • The Sudetenland was the key to Czechoslovakia’s defence against attack because it was where its military fortresses and military industries were based.

  • Hitler threatened war unless Czechoslovakia handed over the Sudetenland to Germany.

  • The Munich Conference was organised to find a peaceful solution to the problem.


The Munich Agreement (1938):


  • Britain, France, Italy and Germany agreed to meet in Munich to hold a conference to find a peaceful solution to the Sudetenland Crisis (Czechoslovakia was not invited).

  • The British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, followed the policy of appeasement with Hitler by agreeing that the Sudetenland should become part of Germany.

  • The British policy of appeasement meant giving in to Hitler’s demands to avoid war.

  • In return Hitler signed the Munich Agreement with Chamberlain promising that both countries would negotiate any future problems and not go to war with each other.

  • Chamberlain returned to Britain a national hero for avoiding war although he was criticised by some politicians like Winston Churchill.


Arguments in Support of Chamberlain’s Appeasement Policy include:


  • The British people did not want another world war after experiencing the horrors of the First World War.

  • Many British people viewed the terms of the Treaty of Versailles as too harsh and unfair to Germany.

  • Many British people viewed Hitler’s demands that all German-speaking people should be allowed to live in one country as a fair and reasonable demand.

  • Many British people supported Hitler because he was anti-Communist and had restored order to Germany.

  • Finally the British armed forces were not ready for a world war with Germany in 1938.


Arguments Against Chamberlain’s Appeasement Policy include:


  • Appeasement was wrong because Hitler was a dictator who could not be trusted to keep his word.

  • Appeasement made Britain look weak and encouraged Hitler to keep demanding more and more.

  • Czechoslovakia had not been invited to the Munich Conference and allowed a say in its own future.

  • Hitler had made clear that he wanted to conquer an Empire in the East to give Germany Lebensraum (living space) and would only be stopped by war.


The Invasion of Czechoslovakia (1939):


  • With the loss of the Sudetenland due to the Munich Agreement Czechoslovakia had lost its key military fortresses and military industries to Germany.

  • The loss of the Sudetenland Germans encouraged other ethnic minority groups in Czechoslovakia like the Slovaks to demand independence.

  • Riots across Czechoslovakia forced the Czech President to invite German troops to take over the rest of Czechoslovakia to restore order.

  • The whole of the Czech Republic now became a part of Germany even though its people were not German and viewed by the Nazis as “subhuman”.

  • The invasion of Czechoslovakia had nothing to do with reversing the Treaty of Versailles but represented the start of Hitler conquering land in the East for lebensraum.

  • Hitler had now broken his promises at Munich, showed that appeasement had failed, led Britain and France to promise war if Germany now attacked Poland.


The Nazi-Soviet Pact (1939):


  • On 23 August 1939 Nazi Germany and the Communist Soviet Union (Russia) signed a non-Aggression Pact in which they promised not to go to war with each other.

  • The world was shocked because Hitler strongly anti-Communist viewed Russians as subhumans and wanted to conquer Russia for lebensraum (living space).

  • Both Germany and Russia secretly agreed to divide Poland between them with Germany getting Western Poland and Russia getting Eastern Poland.

  • Hitler signed the agreement to ensure Russia would not join Britain and France in the event of war so that Germany would not have to fight a war on two fronts.

  • Stalin (the Russian leader) signed the agreement because he did not trust Britain and France, as well as, to give Russia time to prepare for an inevitable war with Germany.


The Invasion of Poland (1939):


  • Germany had lost land to Poland under the Treaty of Versailles.

  • Many German-speaking people lived in areas that were now part of Poland.

  • Germany viewed Poles as subhuman and wanted their land for lebensraum.

  • The Nazi-Soviet Pact ensured Russia would not stop Germany’s invasion of Poland.

  • Hitler thought Britain and France would not keep their promise to defend Poland.

  • On 1 September 1939 Hitler ordered the German army to invaded Poland.

  • Britain and France declared war leading to the start of the Second World War.


GLOSSARY



Abyssinia (The old name for Ethiopia.)

Anglo-German Naval Agreement (The agreement reached between Germany and Britain in 1935 which allowed a growth in the number of ships and submarines of the Germany navy despite the restrictions imposed by the Treaty of Versailles.)

Anschluss (German word for “union” with Austria.)

Appeasement (The policy of giving in to Hitler’s demands to avoid war.)

Armistice (ceasefire.)

Aryan (German people with blue eyes and blonde hair.)

Conscription (When the government forces men to join the army by law.)

Demilitarised (Not being allowed to have any weapons or soldiers in a territory.)

Disarmament (Getting rid of countries weapons.)

Foreign Policy (A government’s policy towards other countries.)

Gross Deutschland Reich (Greater German Empire.)

League of Nations (The organisation set up after WW1 to keep world peace.)

Lebensraum (German word meaning “living space” that Hitler wanted to provide for Germany by conquering an Empire in Eastern Europe and Russia.)

Manchuria (A province of China.)

Militarism (The use of military force to solve a countries problems is better than peaceful negotiations.)

Nazi Party (Short for the German abbreviation NSDAP which stands for the National Socialist German Workers Party.)

Nazi-Soviet Pact (The agreement reached between Germany and Russia in 1939 not to attack each other and to divide Poland between them.)

Negotiate (To reach a mutually agreeable compromise between countries.)

Non-Aggression Pact (An agreement between two countries not to attack each other.)

November Criminals (The nickname of the German politicians who agreed to an armistice in 1918 and later signed the Treaty of Versailles.)

Plebiscite (A popular vote by ordinary people to make a decision about their future.)

Rearmament (Rebuilding a country’s armed forces.)

Reich (German for “state” or “empire”.)

Reparations (Financial fines for the war damage.)

Rome-Berlin Axis (An alliance between Germany and Italy agreed in 1936.)

Self-Determination (The right of people to rule themselves in their own country rather than be ruled by a foreign country.)

Slavs (Peoples from Eastern Europe and Russia.)

Social Darwinism (The theory that in the world it was natural for stronger countries to conquer and rule weaker countries.)

Stabbed-in-the-Back Theory (The belief amongst German soldiers that they were undefeated during the war but had been betrayed by politicians, communists and Jews into surrendering at a time when they still occupied large parts of Europe.)

Subhumans (The Nazi racist name for Jews, Gypsies and Slavs whom they viewed as being closer to animals than human beings.)

Sudentenland (The German speaking parts of Czechoslovakia.)

Third Reich (Name of Germany under Nazi rule between 1933 – 1945.)

Treaty of Versailles (The treaty forced on Germany after WW1.)

War Guilt (Accepting sole responsibility for starting the war.)



Hitler’s Foreign Policy (1933 - 1939).


No

Unsure

Yes?

Timeline of Hitler’s Foreign Policy (1933 - 1939).










Terms of the Treaty of Versailles.










- German territorial losses.










- German military restrictions.










German reaction to the Treaty of Versailles.










- November Criminals.










- Stabbed-in-the-Back Theory.










The Aims of Hitler’s Foreign Policy.










- The Master Race.










- Pan-German Nationalism.










- Empire in the East (Lebensraum or Living Space).










- Social Darwinism.










German Rearmament.










The Saar Plebiscite (1935).










The Remilitarisation of the Rhineland (1936).










The Anschluss with Austria (1938).










The Sudetenland Crisis (1938).










The Munich Agreement (1938).










- Arguments in Support of Chamberlain’s Appeasement Policy.










- Arguments Against Chamberlain’s Appeasement Policy.










The Invasion of Czechoslovakia (1939).










The Nazi-Soviet Pact (1939).










The Invasion of Poland (1939).












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