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How Significant Were Individuals in Changing Relationships Between the Powers in the Period 1870-1991?

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  • November 2012
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How significant were individuals in changing relationships between the powers in the period 1870-1991? The period 1870-1991 was a time of growing tensions and disputes between the world powers eventually leading to World War II and the cold war. The most important reasons for the changing of relationships between the world powers were due to the action of individuals such as Adolf Hitler, Mikhail Gorbachev and Otto Von Bismarck. There are evidently other factors such as the military and economic incentives of the respective powers which played a part in shaping relationships between the major world powers but it was the role of the individual which was the most significant. Adolf Hitler the German leader from 1934-1945 played a huge role in the changing relations between powers and arguably he was the most significant individual in shaping relationships between powers during the period 1870-1991. His aggressive foreign policies reflected his bitter attitude towards the German surrender in the First World War as he set out to reverse the treaty of Versailles and restore Germany’s stance a major World Power. “Germany’s dynamic and aggressive foreign policy which unfolded during the 1930s was the exclusive work of Adolf Hitler.” This source from Frank McDonough offers a traditionalist view of Hitler’s effect on German foreign policy, Adolf Hitler did not hide that the fact that he hated the treaty of Versailles and was willing to do everything in his power to reverse it. In doing so Hitler inevitably, greatly altered Germany’s relationships with other world powers particularly with that of France and Britain. Some of the results of Hitler’s aggressive policy are displayed in a speech by Neville Chamberlain, “I don't want to get back to alliances but if Germany continues to behave as she has done lately she may drive us to it.” The aggressive nature of Hitler was forcing Britain back into alliances with other powers such as France and Russia, whom had...