Hitler's Foreign Policy

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History – Hitler’s Foreign Policy

The Revival of Germany

January 1933 – Hitler becomes Chancellor

Hitler’s Foreign Policy Aims

1. Destroy Treaty of Versailles (Versailles had limited Germany’s armed forces, taken away her colonies, forced Germany to give land to her neighbours which meant there were Germans under foreign rule) and impose German control in Europe. This involved rearmament & the destruction of French alliance system. 2. Union of German-Speaking people → Hitler was an Austrian, he longed for Union 3. Getting “living Space” from “sub-human” Slavs USSR (according to Mein Kampf Hitler’s real enemy not the West) & Poland. He argued Germans were the master race who needed living space as Germany was overcrowded and lacked food and raw materials.


Appeasement was the policy followed by the British and later by the French. Aim: avoiding war with aggressive powers such as Japan, Italy and Germany giving way to their demands provided these were not to unreasonable.


Political divisions in France: hard to take a strong stand & refused to go to war without British support as the French were ultra-cautious Fear of modern war: fear of the bomber (particularly after Guernica) “The Bomber will always get through” & terror of poison gas→ heavy losses Treaty of Versailles: unfair → sympathetic → revise clauses →Anglo-German friendship → Germany would have no need to be aggressive. Fear of communism: threat greater than Hitler→ Germany guarantee against communist expansion Need for a strong Germany: Economic co-operation between Britain and Germany would help recover Germany’s economy → decrease of violence in Germany Public Opinion: Government was supported by pacifist opinion. British economic crisis: couldn’t afford expenses for rearmament. Britain’s military shortcomings → economic crisis, Britain had not rearmed. From 1936-39 Britain rearmed to negotiate from a position of strength U.S. isolationism → no support


Rearmament -1933
Anglo-German naval plan – 1935
Hoare-laval 1935
Re-occupation of the Rhineland - 1936
Anschluss - 1938
Munich conference – 1938
Czechoslovakia – 1938

Did not work → encouraged Hitler
Allowed him to destroy Versailles
Made Germany strong

Disarmament Conference 1933

The League called for a conference to persuade its members to disarm. Hitler wanted to appear morally justified before starting to rearm. Complaining Germany was the only power to have disarmed, he suggested a general formula to be reached. When the others refused he withdrew Germany from the Conference & from the League, then started building up Germany’s munitions industries.


To fulfill his aims, which he could only achieve by conquering the land he wanted, he had to re-build Germany’s armed forces by defying Versailles. This was a popular policy as itappealed to:

nationalist → angry at limitations imposed by the treaty
workers → full employment
industrialists → big profits

Gamble:Germany’s armed forces were still weak


Britain:no intervention
Britain didn’t want to get involve in European affairs → internal problems Britain didn’t want to spent money on rearmament → Great Depression

France: no intervention put up “Mignot Line”: a series of heavily armed forts along the border with Germany.

Italy: ready to take action
• 1934, Austrian Nazis tried to overthrow the Austrian government by killing the chancellor. To prevent Hitler from taking control of Austria, Mussolini placed army units in the border with Austria.

Non-agression Pact 1934

Germany & Poland agreed to sign a ten year non-aggression pact, which was later broken by Germany in 1939.

Germany: needed to buy time to build up armed forces. She had to appear reasonable, until she could dictate from a position of strength. The pact also weakened the entete. This was simply regarded as a temporary measure. Poland:lack of...
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