Hitler’s Foreign Policy Revision Notes


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Hitler’s aims:
– Revise treaty of Versailles
– unite all German speaking people in one country (make a greater Germany)
– living space (lebensraum) — to be independent

In the east wanted:
as far as the Caucasus and Iran.

In the west:
: Flanders (Belgium) and Holland.
: Need Sweden to become colonial power.

Thought he should rule all Europe because otherwise it would fall apart as a nation.

Wanted the Sudetenland because it had:
• Coal and copper mines
• Power stations
• Good framing land
• The Skoda arms works, the biggest in Europe
• Protection, bohemian Alps and chain of fortresses.
• People there spoke German

Wanted Polish Corridor because:
– divided the country in two
– German speaking people

The Rhineland:
– wanted to rearm; control over it again.

– Hitler was Austrian (NB)
– 8 million German speaking people
– was banned by treaty of Versailles (revise treaty)
– to help make Germany strong

Nazi ideology:
– hated treaty of Versailles (harsh and unfair)
– economic problem is insufficient land to sustain needs of growing population.
– Superiority of German (Aryan) race
– Against Jews and slaves
– Hatred of communism

Planning for conquest:
Achieving doctorial power
Dealing with internal opposition – having SA, secret police, enabling act
Withdraw from Geneva conference and League of Nations.
Gaining control of army after death of Hindenburg, army or Wehrmacht. SA would be military forces.
Signed a non-aggression pact with Poland. (1934)
Recover economy through the New Plan.

In the long term:
Win over German people through education, censorship and propaganda.
Prepare German youth for future war.
Prepare German economy for war – four year plan –> 1936 – 1940
Weaken international system
Rearmament, at first secretly, but then openly

Economic planning—
– overcome depression — new plan was to satisfy middle and working class.
– Lay foundations for a stronger Germany.
– New plan introduced by Schacht:
o Imports limited
o Strengthen currency
o Increase government spending
o Reduce unemployment: Public works projects
♣ Compulsory National Labour Service
♣ Conscription (1935)
♣ Filling the jobs of Jews and political opponents with unemployed people

Removing and controlling opposition:
Trade unions, workers, women and Jews
National labour service
German Labour Front – Beauty of Labour and Strength through Joy

To prepare Germany for Blitzkrieg (defeat the opposition quickly)

Were the economic plans a success?
New plan:

– Reduced unemployment from 6 million to 1.5 million
– Increased currency value
– Depended less on imports this went against world trade project
– Bad jobs
– Workers lost rights and were controlled through organisations
– Work through conscription, no good for economy.
– Hard workers and loyal people benefited. Lack of consumer goods, long working hours made it bad. Things got better than the depression.
Four year plan:
– Reduced unemployment
– Prepared for blitzkrieg instead of bettering people
– Little consumer goods, not everyone received their promised Volkswagen.
– Depend on imports for 1/3 of their raw materials -> expansionist foreign policy.
– Economy prepared only for short termed war.

German rearmament
Hitler’s aims could not be obtained without armed forces so he worked to make them suitable for war.
Hitler had to rearm to be able to succeed. They had been the only ones to disarm so there can be some sympathy for them. Treaty of Versailles — reduced army to 100,000 men six warships of over 10,000 tonnes. No submarines or air force.

In secret meeting in 1933, it was decided that 1933-35 Germany would rearm secretly. This would include:
– 300,000 men instead of 100,000
– 1000 aircraft with secretly trained pilots
– barracks airfields and fortifications
– new air force – Luftwaffe and 2500 aircraft and 300,000 men

1933 – took Germany out from league and armament conference
army to sign oath of allegiance
signed non-aggression pact with Poland to make it seem as though Germany was no threat
conscription – MARCH 1935 – announced publicly to have 500,000 men
Franco-Soviet pact – 1935 – May
Anglo/German naval agreement – 1935 June –
This let German navy to have 1/3 of tonnage of British navy and equal tonnage of submarines.
Britain let this happen because it was to happen anyway and this way, Germany would have a limitation.
Stresa Front – admit conscription was bad. Guarantee to protect Austrian independence.
No one stopped German rearmament.
Britain had self-determination problems and did not want to spend on armed forces.
French did not stop because instead they put their money in building forts to defend from Germany Maginot Line.

Italy was close to taking an action. Mussolini would not allow Anchluss. Placed his men in threatening positions to warn Germans. 29 – 35 everything was good internationally, but by 1935 everything got uneasy.
Germans wanted the Saar because he wanted to reunite all German-speaking people. Had large resources of coal and iron and railways—resources important for German economy.

1935 plebiscite – 90% of people voted to join Germany after propaganda. After this got courage do admit to conscription.

1936 March – Rhineland, wanted it because it left Germany to open attack from Belgium, Holland and France. Insult to German self-respect. BIG GAMBLE. If French had marched into Rhineland, Germany would have to leave.

France was through political crisis, did not want to risk war. Big division between right winged and left winged. Britain said that Germany had only, “moved into their backyard”

Consequences Rhineland:
– Treaty of Versailles and Locarno treaties broken
– Germany was able to build line of forts there (west wall). So if Hitler broke treaty of
– Versailles, no military action could go against them.
– Germany protect Ruhr troops were situated on border with France.
– Weakened little entente and Franco-Czech treaty

By 1939:
– Rome-Berlin axis turned into pact of steel.
– Chamberlain had introduced appeasement
– Germany was no longer isolated, because of Italy and sympathy Britain and France had.
– Guarantees issued to defend Poland, Rumania and Greece.

Nazi-Soviet pact – start of World War II

Tripartite axis pact Sept. 1940 – Japan Italy and Germany.

Forbidden by Treaty of Versailles because of self-determination. Austrians supported him. Right wing and socialists clashed in street battles, political oppositions. Attempt by Germany failed and many leaders imprisoned. League had promised to defend country, also Mussolini and the Stresa Front.

Hitler’s successes:
– Nazi totalitarian state and betterment in economy
– Remilitarisation of Rhineland
– Cooperation in Spanish civil war
– Rome/Berlin axis
– Anti–Comintern pact

Weakness of other powers: Stresa Front collapse, Anglo/German naval agreement. Maginot line, remilitarisation of the Rhineland.

Russia was in Stalin’s purges so was weak.

Leading to Austria:
1934 – First Nazi attempt to take over, failed. Italy defended Austria. Chancellor Dolfuss killed.
Mussolini would not defend Austrians after signing Rome-Berlin axis and Anti-Comintern pact.

Austrian Nazis started trouble.
Hitler made Schuschnigg, Austrian chancellor, restore Nazi party rights and free political prisoners and appoint Seyss-Inquart to be the minister of interior to give him control of police.
“England will not move a finger for Austria. France could have stopped Germany in the Rhineland.”

Germany demanded postponement to plebiscite.
Seyss Inquart took over when Britain, France and Italy failed to help Austria.
Then invited Germany to restore order of opposing people.
13 march 1938 – announced that Austria and Germany were now a single country.
Austrian opponents were sent to concentration camps.

League nothing
Britain and France opposed but did nothing.
USSR was suspicious of Germany and Czechoslovakia and Poland prepared for a similar state.

Germany stronger.
Italy looked towards Adriatic and Mediterranean Sea. Mussolini was Hitler’s pawn.

The Czech Crisis 1938- 1939
Czechoslovakia was set up after PP settlement, self-determination. From Austria-Hungary. Buffer state against communism. Little Entente – new buffer states. Home of several nationalities. Conflicts amongst them. Slovaks + Germans against Czechs.

Konran Heinleid — German in Czechoslovakia that wanted to give Sudetenland to Germany.
Sudaten German People’s Party – Henleid meetings with Hitler and got $$ from him. Hitler supported for transfer of Sudetenland to Germany.

1938, Hitler stronger because:
– army economy and people prepared for war
– stresa front failed, Britain agreed to naval agreement
– remilitarisation of the Rhineland. Security to west.
– Treaties signed with Italy and Japan.
– The Anschluss had placed Czechoslovakia like a fish in the jaws of a shark
– Soviet Union had domestic upheaval to upheaval with Stalin’s purges and the Five year Plans.
1938- Hitler instructed generals to make plans to invade. He told Heinland to make trouble in Sudetenland.

Told generals to make plans to invade. Heinland was to make trouble as riots. Then he was to make impossible demands for independence so the Czech government would reject them and followers could make riots to show that government had no control. Then German army would maintain order, as Czechs had failed to do so.

There were two risks:
Czechoslovakia was well equipped for fighting, army only a little smaller than Germany. USSR and France would help.
France did not have good army and had failed to show resistance in 1936. In 1938 they would do less. USSR was in was with Japan and had economic and political problems. Czechoslovakia also had allies with Rumania and Yugoslavia.

1. Berchtesgaden – where Hitler told chamberlain that it was his last territorial aim in Europe and that he would be willing to go to war for the Sudetenland. Poland and Hungary also demanded borders.

2. Godesburg – Chamberlain went for Hitler to agree with a proposal, but Hitler said he wanted all of Czechoslovakia. Chamberlain returned to Britain to prepare for war.

3. Munich – Mussolini was alarmed and proposed a four-power conference, France, Italy Germany and Britain, Czechs nor Russians were invited.
They agreed to:
– immediately transfer the Sudetenland to Germany.
– Later transfer to Teschen to Poland and Ruthania to Hungary.
– Britain and France to protect rest of Czechoslovakia.

Czechoslovakians were forced to sign the Munich Agreement or face Germany. Czechoslovakia had to sign because had no allies.

Hitler said it was his last claim on Europe and that Britain and Germany would never go to war.

– weakened Czechoslovakia. made it an easy target in 1939.
– Hungary, Yugoslavia and Rumania tried to come to terms with Germany
– Mussolini was encouraged in his ambitions for southeast Europe and looked for closer ties with Germany.
– Hitler believed Britain and France would not fight to protect rest of Czechoslovakia.
– Convinced Russians that they could not rely on British and France and would have to make their own arrangements where Germany was concerned.
– Gave Britain and France time to rearm. Germany also gained time.

End of Czechoslovakia:
Munich ended Czechoslovakia, it was stripped of defences and abandoned.
½ million Germans still living in Bohemia.

1939- Poland was next step for Germany. Anglo/French guarantee to Poland to help if Germany was to invade. Rumania and Greece were also given guarantees.

Appeasement: policy to avoid war with threatening powers, giving in to demands as long as they’re reasonable

Two phases:
mid 20’s – 37 – war must be avoided. Britain and France accepted things fairly unreasonable all together.

Chamberlain believed in taking initiative. Would find out what Hitler wanted and negotiate it.

Beginning of appeasement seen in Dawes and Young Plan and Locarno Treaties.

Why was appeasement reasonable at the time?

– Essential to avoid war after the glimpses of Sino-Japanese war and Spanish civil war, war seemed devastating. They were afraid of innocent civilians dying in bombs.
– Britain was in economic crisis, could not afford rearmament and expenses of Great War.
– British government supported by pacific public opinion. Italy and Germany had grievances. Britain should show sympathy. Remove need of aggression.
– League hopeless. Chamberlain thought only way to solve dispute was through face-to-face meetings.
– Economic cooperation would be good for both. If Britain helped economy with trouble, Germany would be grateful.
– Fear of communist Russia spreading.
– Nobody should treat Britain without respect.
– Britain did want to fight Japan in east at same time as fighting Germany in west.
– It would give Britain more time to get stronger, make Germany get scared of Britain.

Poland – September 1939:
East Prussia had been split from Germany to create a Polish corridor. Here was city, Danzig, where most people were German.

Hitler convinced Hungary to invade Ruthenia and made Czechs and Slovaks be under German protection, German troops marched into Prague. No more Czechoslovakia. Hitler moved from lebensraum, to correcting the errors of Versailles.

1 week later, Hitler took Memel from Lithuania

Chamberlain realised Hitler had lied, the Sudetenland wasn’t his last territorial objective. Appeasement was not working. Public opinion agreed.

Other Treaties:
– Dawes Plan (1924)
o USA lend money to Germany to help pay reparations. France knew she was going to get paid and let the Ruhr go.
o German currency reorganised
– Young Plan (pact of Paris) (1929)
o Reduce amount of reparations by 75% gave her 59 years to pay.
o Never worked because of Wall Street Crash
– Kellogg Briand Pact (1928)
o First only France and U.S.A
o Agree not to go to war for 5 years
o Settle disputes by peaceful means
o Included: USA, Germany, USSR, Italy and Japan.
– Washington Naval Conference (1922)
o Limit navies (British, American, French and Japanese)
o Not to build any new battleships or cruisers for 10 years.
o 5:5:5:3 ratio always kept

– both created stable economic conditions and optimism about peace. Didn’t reduce German grievances at all.

Hitler wanted city of Danzig, where most inhabitants were German and the Polish corridor, which had once belonged to him.
Preparing to invade Poland:
– March 1939 – Hitler convinced Hungary to invade Ruthenia and Czechs and Slovaks to place themselves under German ‘protection’.
– Then marched into Prague and Czechoslovakia ceased to exist.
– 1 week later – Memel from Lithuania.

All this went against his promise of the Sudetenland being his ‘last-territorial objective.’ Chamberlain was appalled. He realised appeasement was not working. Hitler had now moved from ‘lebensraum’ to correcting the errors of Versailles. Czechoslovakia no longer had a majority German population.

April 1939 – Anglo-French guarantee to Poland – Britain and France predicted Poland to be the next victim. Hitler had reason to believe that it was a bluff (as previous pacts had failed to work, e.g. Stresa Front, Munich Agreement).

May 1939 – Pact of Steel – Germany and Italy to stand by each other through war. Was issued after Italy invaded Albania who had guarantees from other countries.

Britain and France tried to ask Russia for help, but did not pursue it.

Hitler began to consider possibilities of two front war with Russia in east and Britain and France in West, he was terrified. However, Britain and France turned down Russia’s treaty of mutual assistance.

German army was only ready to invade Poland, not ready for war. Did not want Czech affair to repeat, he knew there was to be a war, but first he had to isolate Poland.

August 23 1939 – signed Non-Aggression pact with Russia, for Russia not to attack Germany to protect Poland. As a result, Russia would get half of the Polish conquer.

Justifying the Non-Aggression pact:
– Stalin needed time to prepare for war
– Germany would be weakened by Britain and France
– Fear of two-front war with Japan
– Secured peace for 1 ½ years
– New land would protect them and help him spread communism

Hitler thought this Non-Aggression pact would make Britain and France less likely to help Poland.

Poland refused to give in to Hitler
– would fight with determination
– Every polish house to be a fortress
– Hitler will have more to lose than to gain

September 1 1939 – Hitler invaded Poland
September 3 1939 – war declared on Germany

Causes of world war two:
– failures of league
– Paris Peace settlement effect on eastern Europe
– appeasement
– weakness of League
– effects of great depression
– Hitler’s invasions
– Pacts and treaties
– USSR signing Nazi-Soviet Pact

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