Lecture 18 – World War II the Road to War and the German phase – 1942
This lecture looks at “Hitler’s War” – Nazis and the fulfillment of racist war and the new Nazi
 Why did Europe descend into war again in 1939?
Three reasons for war
a) Spread of authoritarianism throughout Europe in the 1930’s
− Many regimes and movements popular
− Due to depression anti communist/anti nationalists all rejected liberalism because
it was not working
− Small, loud fascist movements during and after except in Britain
− Scandinavian movements
− Generally little traction in countries with long histories of parliament like Britain
− The exception was France, where they were popular in 1934 but otherwise
− Eastern Europe also sees fascist movments due to re-drawing of national
boundaries and economic depression
b) Conscious undermining of Versailles
− Italy rejected the LON and violated peace agreements when they invaded Ethiopia
in 1935 – Mussolini conquered by poison gas and mass murder to impress other
nations. Thus, Italy broke with the West, who formerly thought they could work
with him. Italy gravitated to Germany, and solidified this position in the Spanish
− Spanish Civil War in 1936 resembled World War II as a surrogate war.
Insurrection was launched by military generals (Franco) against the legitimate
republic. Designed to overthrow the elections with military dictatorship.
Republican forces (democrats) get support from the USSR, who feared fascism.
Franco received money and support from Germany and Italy. Alliances formed as
they did in the war. Franco wins the war and survives with the help of the
c) Foreign policy of Hitler
Questioned the legitimacy of Versailles and gauged reactions of France and Britain
− Withdrew from LON
− By plebiscite, took the Saar in 1935
− Re-armed, created an airforce and conscripted − Re-militarized the Rhine in 1936
Britain and France did not respond.
− Unwilling to fight for a treaty that had legitimate flaws
− There was sympathy for Germany
− They had no coordinated policy
1938-39 They take Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Poland
− This was German opportunism met with miscalculations by the West
− The west misunderstood the pursuit and extent of racist war since moves were limited in
scope. Their takeovers could be justified by righting wrongs of Versailles.
− They also had very legalistic approaches – great faith in the LON and international law.
Ideas that force was not the best option for foreign policy. Disarm instead of rearm.
− Neither Britain nor France was well off or rearmed to the extent that Germany was
− In the west there was a greater fear of communism than fascism
Sudetenland creates reactions by Britain and France because it can be used for military resources
but their reaction was late.
Stalin was alienated by their late response. He decides to cut a deal with Hitler in a non-
aggression pact that speeds up the process.
Allies guarantee the Polish Corridor that split Germany into two parts. This time it is Hitler who
miscalculates – he does not expect Allied reaction.
 Why was Hitler’s “New Order” so devastating?
Three ways the order was so devastating
a) Speed of the conquest and occupation
− Blitzkrieg: unknown to Europe. Comprised of speed, surprise, and terror. The
latest military technology devastates Poland. He knows that the Allies will not
stomach attrition. The new advances in technology create a staple of urban
bombing seen in 1940 when they attempt to take out Britain in the London Blitz
− The quick successes in the East were largely mirrored in the West until they
attempted to take England.
− Denmark/Netherlands/France all taken in 2 months
b) Continental Empire to create a Great Economic Unit − Without parallel in Europe
− Germany meant to be surrounded by a common market to feed the German war
− Oil from Romani, farms etc. – anything that Germany did not have themselves.
− All part of lebensraum, mitteleuropa or middle Europa
− Racial imperialism over Jews/Slavs/others all enslaved by the master race
− Designed to avoid having to mobilize the home front during the war –
determined that ordinary Ger