Western Civilization Western Civilization Final Exam Tuesday, June 23, 1998 Question: What were the causes of the World War II? Do you believe that the war could have been prevented? Why or Why not? After the fall of the Weimar government, and the rise to power of the National Socialists headed by Adolph Hitler, Germany underwent huge transformations. One of the largest of these was the change in foreign policy. Between the years of 1933 and 1936, while the Nazis began to consolidate their power, Hitlers foreign policy was one of appeasement. Germany did what ever it could to keep peace and tensions low between itself and Great Britain, Italy and the USSR. Germany used this appeasement to keep peace long enough to fully gain control of the country. After 1936, their policy changed.
Nazi Germanys foreign policy towards Great Britain was do what ever it takes to keep them happy. Germany wasnt ready to have them as an enemy yet. Hitler felt that the longer he had to prepare for war the better. One of the friendly agreements was the allowing of the British rearmament by Germany. This was the first time that Germany tried to drive a wedge between France and Great Britain.
Hitler offered to concede substantial rearmament to Great Britain, while also subtly hinting to both Italy and Great Britain to combine forces against France. Great Britain did not take up Hitlers proposals, but he did not abandon his efforts. In 1934, Germany formally began to talk with Great Britain, and they agreed on the Naval Accords in May. These accords were a smart move by Hitler, because he gained power for Germany while, at the same time, making Great Britain feel more powerful. What the Navel Accords did was set up the amounts of which each country could have a navy.
At that time, the British navy was by far the strongest, having twice the amount of its nearest competitor, France. The British fleet controlled the Mediterranean, and Hitler was jealous of this incredible power. Hitler agree in May that the German naval fleet would only build up to 35% of the British fleet. To Britain, this seem like a confession of inferiority, because Germany was admitting to be only 35% of Great Britain. But to Germany, this was a way to rearm themselves to the point of where they were only slightly behind their enemies, the French.
Hitler knew that German forces could defeat the French on land, but by sea, they needed to build. But to build a strong navy would anger the British. However, Hitler found a way to do both. The discussions between Germany and Great Britain continue in 1935. In March, Hitler and Von Ribbentrop met with Simon and Eden from Great Britain.
At first, Britain wanted desperately to tie down the Germans by having them become a member of the League of Nations. The British wanted any German aggression in the future to be punishable by international law. This way, it would be the worlds problem if the Germans attached France, not just Great Britains and Frances, like in World War I. It was obviously not in Hitler or Germanys best interests to join the League of Nations, but again Germany felt much more freedom in bilateral agreements, ones which only involve two countries. Instead of rejecting the invitation, Germany using very clever diplomatic technique, replied by offering one such bilateral agreement, in which Germany would gain colonial power, along with a sphere of preservation.
They also used negotiating power to postpone all binding treaties. While the provisions of the agreement were never fully carried out it is important to understand that Germany, was not subservient to Great Britain, certainly attempted to reduce tensions, even to the point of an alliance against France. By 1936, Hitler had successfully brought Germany closer to Great Britain using many valuable diplomatic techniques. Great Britian was not the only country to be appeased by Nazi Germany. Italy, too, was an important link in Nazi foreign policy.
Hitler knew that Germany could not survive another two and possibly three front war. Hitler was forced to give up one or more of these borders, and gain an alley as well. He chose Italy. Italy had been fascist since 1921, and had grown tremendously since then. Hitler also knew that Italy was strong enough to hold its own, but not strong enough to make a difference in the coming war, if the actions of World War I were repeated.
In 1936, the two leaders Hitler and Benito Mussolini, met and signed what was called the Axis Agreement. According to the agreement, Rome and Berlin were the strongest cities in Europe, and therefore acted as an axis for all other powers to revolve around. This treaty was a loose agreement, which held the two countries together until the Pact of Steel was signed in1939. Hitler, here, alleviated any possibility of there being a southern front. There were more than political reasons that Germany was appeasing towards Italy. The two nations had a type of brotherhood, thanks to their leaders. Mussolini had been the fascist leader of Italy for 12 years and his system became the blueprint for Hitlers system.
The two leaders felt connected, being two fascist leaders in a world of communists and capitalists. Hitler learned how to effectively run a fascist regime. An example of this is when Germany began to invade Austria in 1934, and Italian troops marched along the Brenner Pass and pushed them back. Hitler tested his limits and Mussolini proved Italys power. Germany made sure not to increase tensions too much. German-Italian relations were very important to Hitler because Italy was the perfect candidate for an alliance, which explains his emphasis on peaceful policies.
Nazi Germany was faced with the same dilemma that pre-World War I leaders were, encirclement. The Germans were faced with the French on the west, and the Russians on the east, To alleviate this problem was to form some sort of alliance with one of the two. A Fraco-German alliance was completely out of the question, the two nations were too culturally different. Hitler was then faced with the need to appease the USSR. The Weimer government had began such a process in the Treaty of Rapallo. In this treaty, both counties received what they needed most, for Germany it was jobs and a place to sell goods, and for the USSR is was a reliable source of quality goods.
Hitler felt that that it was completely necessary to continue this treaty for two main reasons. The first reason was that the Germans needed a place to train their men. Under the Treaty of Versailles, Hitler could not train large amounts of men with new technology in Germany. Hitler sent troops over to the USSR, where they would train using both Soviet and German technology. In this way, the treaty would still be kept, and the German military would not be outdated. The second reason was caused by the alliance with Great Britain.
Hitler felt that is would be impossible to simultaneously seek an alliance with Great Britain while also trying to win colonies. Germany need new territory and.