How far was Hitler’s foreign policy to blame for war in 1939?
The outbreak of WW2 on September 1939 occurred due to numerous factors. These causes include the harshness of the Treaty of Versailles, Hitler’s foreign policy, the failure of the League of Nations linked to the isolation of the US, and appeasement introduced by the British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain. Hitlers aims consisted of abolishing the Treaty of Versailles, a rearmament and he wanted to obtain Lebensraum for his Aryan population, recovering lost territory and building up the army.
In article 231 of the treaty, Germany was forced to accept the War guilt of the First World War . This meant that Germany had to take complete responsibility for the war and its damages although they werent the only country involved in this war. Germany also had to pay a sum of 6.6 billions pounds for reparation as well as they Germany lost most of its land. Of course Germany reaction towards this was not good and They were angry at the ministers who had signed such a harsh pact.
When Hitler came to power in 1933, he began to make Germany powerful again. Germany lost the Sudetenland to Czechoslovakia, Danzig became a free city, the Saar region was under the control of the League of Nation’s for 15 years and an Anschluss with Austria was forbidden. Again, one of the main aims of Hitler’s foreign policy was to unite all German speakers. In the Sudetenland, there were 3 million German speakers, the Saar was once part of Germany and a lot of Austrians spoke German. To regain these lost German speakers, it meant that Germany would have to invade these areas of land, which broke the rules of the treaty and also the League. This would mean Germany would have to go to war to fulfill Hitler’s aims. He strongly believed that he could reclaim the German losses under the unfair Treaty of Versailles without any interference from the League of Nations. The signing of the Nazi Soviet Pact showed that Hitler was determined and would do anything to complete what he wanted for the sake of Germany.
The fact that Germany was limited to a small army, 6 naval ships, and no air force, submarines or tanks at all was something that encouraged Hitler to rearm and build an army, no matter what the Treaty of Versailles stated. By 1936, the Germans had an air force consisting of about 5000 planes. One of the main reasons for the outbreak of the war was that Hitler was determined he could regain everything that Germany lost as a result of the Treaty of Versailles. His certainty attracted the German people, as they felt like they needed a strong leader who would provide them with lebensraum. The Munich Agreement stated that Hitler could have the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia if he promised not to invade the rest of Czechoslovakia. However, Hitler was not a man of his word and in March 1939 invaded the rest of Czechoslovakia. Hitler was successful, as Britain and France did nothing about it. Germany and the Soviet Union had secretly planned to divide Poland up between them, which meant that a war was inevitable. Later, on 1 September 1939, he went to invade Poland. This shows how Hitler broke all the rules and initiated the war.
On the other hand, Hitler was not entirely to blame for the outbreak of ww2 because of the policy of appeasement, which was adopted by Britain and France. When Hitler threatened to take the Sudetenland in 1938, there was a conference in Munich between the USSR, Britain, France and Germany to decide what should be done. The result of the conference was that Germany could take control of the Sudetenland which showed that Britain and France had given in to Hitler’s demands. They thought that by doing that, Germany wouldn’t start a war. This meant that Britain and France looked weak and that by allowing Hitler to get what he wanted, they couldn’t be sure as to whether he would try to go further and invade another country.
The League of nations was very weak and they had no army which made it impossible to stand up to an aggressive country in the world, it was also slow to act and also a big and powerful country which was the USA was not part of it. Britain and france wanted to avoid another war at all costs as they weren’t ready for one. The League was also to blame for the war because they did nothing to stop Hitler from continuing his aims. They should have stopped hitler from achieving re-armament at first. In 1935, the Italian dictator Mussolini ordered the invasion of Abyssinia and the LoN took no military action. That encouraged Hitler to continue consolidating his power and he knew no country could stop him.
Finally, I believe that the Treaty of Versailles was to blame for the outbreak of war because it restricted the German frontiers on the east and western side, which meant many German speakers were lost to other nations, which created a sense of resentment in Germany. The ToV made Germany weak and vulnerable and the aims of Hitlers foreign policy was to restore all the things the ToV took away from them. When Hitler came to power in January 1933, of his aims was uniting all German speakers which could only happen by invading other nations. Eventhough Hitler was breaking all of the terms of the ToV in his foreign policy, he was only ‘marching into his own yard’ and the League of Nations did nothing to stop him so he continued. Also the policy of appeasement was a big reason for the outbrake of WW2 because it gave away into Hitlers demands so it only contributed to tha fact of Hitler becoming more powerful and making the League looking even more weak.
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