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Why did war break out? International relations 1929–39

The impact of the Depression on international relations.

The Manchurian Crisis (1931–33)

Abyssinia (1935–36)

The League of Nations response to Manchuria and Abyssinia.

Hitler’s aims and policies with regard to the Versailles settlement. Lebensraum, Grossdeutschland, re-armament, the Saar, re-occupation
of the Rhineland
, links with Italy and Japan and the Anschluss.

Britain’s policy of appeasement: Chamberlain and appeasement.

The Sudetenland crisis.

The Munich Agreement and the takeover of Czechoslovakia.

Agreements with Poland and the abandonment of the policy.

The Pact of Steel.

The Nazi-Soviet Pact.

Poland and the outbreak of war.

Opposition to Appeasement.

German - Polish relations 1933 - 1939.

The Terms of the Treaty of Versailles ceded parts of Germany to Poland. This was not something that the Germans liked and given Hitler's desire to tear up the Treaty and have Grossdeutschland you would expect that German-Polish relations would deteriorate soon after the Nazi's gained power. However, quite the oppisite happened at first. In 1934 Germany and Poland concluded an alliance in the form of a ten year non-agression pact. There then followed attempts to form an anti-communist pact with Poland, which Poland declined to agree to as this would antagonise the Soviet Union.

Relations between Germany and Poland continued to be relatively good throughout most of this period. Why? Germany had two aims. First, to weaken the friendship between France and Poland. Second, to strengthen opposition to communism and the Soviet Union. The reasons were purely tactical, Hitler had territorial ambitions in Poland, both in the form of forming Grossdeutschland and in acquiring Lebensraum but there were other, easier, objectives that could and would be targetted first.

Following the Munich Agreement it became increasingly clear to Poland that the next territorial claims by Hitler could only be for areas of Poland that had frmerly been within Germany. As a result they formalised their agreements of mutual assistance with Britain and France.

Following the conquest of Czechoslavakia Hitler did indeed begin to make demands of the Polish government. In March 1939 he demanded that the 'Polish Corridor' be returned to Germany and that the port of Danzig return to German control. The Polish Government rejected these demands and began preparations for an invasion.

The expected invasion occured on September 1st, 1939. The war had begun.




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