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HST 504 - Week 9.docx

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HST 504
Mike Kasprzak

HST 504 – Week 9 Keywords Stresa Front Italo-Abyssinian War (or Italo-Ethiopian War) Spanish Civil War Munich Agreement appeasement Hoare-Laval Pact Anschluss Lebensraum Dismantling Versailles: Hitler’s Foreign Policy, 1933-1936  When Adolf Hitler became the Fuhrer (i.e., supreme leader) in 1933, he immediately initiated a new foreign policy for Germany.  Like Stresemann, he was interested in eliminating all the financial, military and political constraints of the Treaty of Versailles.  Unlike Stresemann, he would not be content with Germany restoring its prestige, influence, Great Power status, and military clout.  Hitler’s vision involved racial and continental (perhaps even global) domination.  Both an ideologue and an opportunist, Hitler showed great diplomatic skill in international relations, hiding his true intentions and effectively exploiting attitudes of and divisions amongst the Great Powers.  Nazi Germany’s foreign policy was multifaceted.  First and foremost, Hitler wanted to destroy the Versailles settlement.  This involved rearmament and the remilitarization of German territories, reunification of all German-speaking peoples, and breaking out of diplomatic isolation and acquiring reliable allies.  Yet, his long-term plans were much more ambitious, aiming for continental and perhaps even global domination.  This aggressive foreign policy was driven by the objective of acquiring living space (i.e., Lebensraum) for the German “master race” in Eastern Europe.  Throughout the 1930s, the Nazis quite successfully fulfilled these goals.  Hitler’s plan would involve the use of force (i.e., warfare), and so eliminating the military limitations imposed by the Treaty of Versailles became one of his earliest goals.  Already at the World Disarmament Conference in the early 1930s, he made a strong case, arguing that either other powers must disarm to Germany’s level or Germany should be allowed to rearm to theirs.  When France and Britain refused to provide a definitive answer, the German delegation left the conference and Germany withdrew from the League of Nations.  Shortly after, Berlin made German rearmament public with the introduction of conscription and revelations about the expansion of the Luftwaffe (i.e., air force).  French calls for sanctions were completely deflated after the conclusion of the Anglo-German Naval Agreement of 1935.  In the agreement, London bypassed consultation with its allies in Rome and Paris, unilaterally giving Berlin permission to rearm.  Collaboration between the Great War’s victors to contain Germany was falling apart.  The massive rearmament that followed after 1935 not only contributed to the Third Reich’s economic recovery and preparations for war, but also built the Nazis’ domestic and international acceptance.  Reunification of all the German speakers in Central Europe would take a bit more time.  Already in 1934, the Nazis attempted to support a coup in Austria in order to bring the state into the fold of the Third Reich.  Although the Great Powers had not reacted disapprovingly to Germany’s rearmament, they refused to accept such a show of force against Vienna.  Reunification with Austria would have to wait until the late 1930s.  This small setback did not hinder Germany’s national consolidation.  Control over the Saar was fully restored to Berlin. More importantly, Hitler began to consider the remilitarization of the Rhineland, a highly strategic area, of which control was essential if a war was ever again fought with France.  More successes were achieved with breaking out of diplomatic isolation.  Although Germany had become once again a respectable member of the international community, Hitler wanted reliable and loyal allies who could assist in his expansionist project.  His first tactic was to dismantle the Fren
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