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Lecture 8

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HIST 2040
William Cormack

Inter-War Developments, 1919-1939 I LEAGUE OF NATIONS & THE QUEST FOR PEACE • Cost of World War I  20 million people killed or permanently disabled  Economic dislocation, debts, and reparations placed tremendous strain on national economies and balance of international payments • Revulsion for war after 1918  New and widespread condemnation of war  Statesmen entrusted with making peace treaties also planned international institutions to prevent recurrence of war  Collective security was basic principle of the League of Nations  Members promised to refrain from war, but no method to prevent aggression beyond sanctions  League faced serious obstacles  Attempts to define aggression caused some nations to limit their obligations under the Covenant  Membership not universal: USA did not join; Russian, Germany, Japan non-members for long periods  Given weakness of League’s machinery, new defensive alliances & regional pacts formed to preserve peace • Efforts at Disarmament  Treaty of Versailles imposed arms limitations on Germany & stated that general disarmament was the ultimate goal  Progress very slow: problems of collective security & disarmament linked  Hitler pulled Germany out of League of Nations (1933) & announced rearmament (1935)  But German rearmament began before Nazis came to power through evasion of Versailles & secret treaty with USSR II MILITARY REASSESSMENTS • Debates over Conscription  Treaty of Versailles obliged Germany to abandon conscription, but other nations took same step  Advocates of professional armies argued they were superior to conscript armies  France saw security provisions of Versailles crumble & began construction of Maginot Line (numerous strong, modern fortifications on the French Northeast front)  In this context, France maintained partial conscription • Mechanization & Tank Warfare  Debates after 1918 on how to restore mobility & decision to war  British officers J.F.C. Fuller & Liddell Hart advocated tanks & mechanized infantry; echoed by Charles de Gaulle in France & Heinz Guderian in Germany  Conservative resistance slowed acceptance of mechanization • Air Power  Debates on whether air power should be ancillary to or independent of existing ground & sea forces  Britain created independent RAF in 1918 & between wars developed doctrine of “strategic bombardment”  Hermann Goring gave it prestige, but German Luftwaffe subordinate to army III RISE OF TOTALITARIANISM • Russian Revolution & the Soviet Union  19 -century Communists gra
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