HIS 2342 - Monday February 11 2013
WORLD WAR II YEEEEEEHA
• Fairly chaotic inter-war years.
• Many Europeans were tired of the failures of their parliamentary democracies to cope
with the after-math of WWI.
• Some other historians were saying that the War was Hitler’s to loose because fascism
could’ve been more appealing to citizens in the remaining democracies.
• Many historians suggest the allies were in a weak spot at the beginning of WWII.
• These historians suggest it was the sheer brutality and violence that turned Europeans
against fascism. The real weak powers on the eve of WWII were the democracies. The
brutality of WWII that made WWI pale turned public opinion against these regimes.
• The first and most obvious factor was once Hitler became chancellor Germany began a
program of re-armament. Hitler’s first challenge to the int. community was to start a
• The greater challenge came in 1935 when it became known the air force was being rebuilt
and that they were working on a conscription army.
• At this point the LON placed a formal reprisal that did nothing to stop Hitler.
• Britain, France, Italy and Belgium agreed to form a united front against Hitler. The
problem was that these forces didn’t agree especially because Italy was forming it’s own
• Each of these countries had reasons to fear Hitler but kept their own interests as the
• France signed a treaty with the USSR against German aggressions.
• Britain made an agreement directly with Germany. The Belgian’s wondered if they
wouldn’t be better off to remain neutral.
• Mussolini wondered what Italy should do since he shared some ideological similarities
with Germany but didn’t want to be invaded.
• Britain and France were both concerned as to what Italy’s intentions were.
• In 1935 Mussolini displayed some concerns to try and acquire some north possessions of
Africa. He wanted to return to the ancient Roman Empire.
• Britain and France were happy to give this is this would keep Mussolini from going with
Hitler in war.
• Italy did invade Ethiopia in 1936 and became the rulers of this country. Germany didn’t
react against the invasion. Rather he approved of the invasion of Ethiopia and after Italy
expanded in Ethiopia little time elapsed before Italy withdrew itself from the LON and
placed itself in an alliance with Germany.
• The Allies were correct to suspect Mussolini and his alliance. As much as they
condemned Hitler they also condemned Mussolini when these decisions took place.
• These two instances and the failure of the LON to try and act against these two nations
displayed how flawed the system was.
• There wasn’t an international body capable to resolving these conflicts. The LON wasn’t
going to be an effective deferral to these types of invasions.
• Another step on the road to war is the Spanish Civil War: o It showed how the war would be fought there was a lack of unity on the left.
o It also displayed that the authoritarian right was a lot more effective at organizing
o The most immediate factor was because of Hitler’s actions in 1938 and 1939
• Hitler’s military strategies were taking place in 1937. He knew that the biggest challenge
would be the traditional enemies: UK and France.
• But in the short term the most important thing was to annexeAustria and Czechoslovakia.
• In the Treaty of Versailles Germany and Austria weren’t allowed to merge themselves
together to try and avoid the situation that Hitler was trying to create.
• Many Austrian’s were attracted to the idea of joining forces with Germany. Hitler began a
long propaganda campaign to create these ideologies inAustria.
• When Hitler invaded Austria he met little protestations and turned Austria into a province
within the 3 Reich.
• The reality is that mostAustrian’s did not oppose this annexation.
• The situation with Czechoslovakia because they were a country that had a German
o Hitler was concerned that some of the German’s within Germany weren’t “pure”.
o Hitler also believed Germany needed room to expand. The German minority in
Czechoslovakia resented being a part of Czechoslovakia.
o These German’s did the best that they could to be part of this new republic.
o This minority played an important part to annexe Czechoslovakia.
o Hence, in 1938 Hitler began to demand that the Sudeten land become autonomous.
These demands did not fail to get international attention.
o The Czechoslovakian government declared martial law in this area. The PM of
Britain (Chamberlain) made two trips to discuss the situation with Hitler to solve
the Czech crisis.
o Hitler insisted on Germany’s rights to this territory. Chamberlain agreed that it
would be better to break-up Czechoslovakia if this could avoid another World War.
o After these two negotiations between Chamberlain and Hitler. Mussolini joined
Chamberlain and the French PM in Munich.
o The Sudeten land is given to Germany and Slovakia becomes independent as well.
o Hitler’s army swept across what was left in 1939.
• The French PM when returned to France he mentioned how Britain and France were
“dumb” to have accepted such a decision vs. Germany.
• Some historians argue that it was done because they hoped this move would avert another
• Others disagree, they say they knew it wouldn’t avert war but they did it anyways to try
and buy themselves more time. They sacrificed Czechoslovakia because they knew the
war inevitable and to buy more time.
• Part of the explanation lies with Chamberlain. Unlike the French PM he believed
Germany’s request wasn’t without reason. He believed that the terms of the treaty of
Versailles were too harsh and that Germany was only being reasonable with their
• Chamberlain also believed Hitler was a diplomatic individual like any other State Leader. • The British and French population seemed to think that sacrificing Czechoslovakia would
avoid the war, buy time or push the war East.
• The question of buying time didn’t react the necessary decisions. We didn’t see the quick
move to wartime preparation.
• On the brink of the war we have some hope