WWII: The Road to War
In 1939, the world was almost forced into World War II because of the Munich Agreement. The Munich Agreement was an agreement regarding the Sudetenland Crisis between the major powers of Europe, after a conference held in Munich in Germany in 1938. The Sudetenland was an important region of Czechoslovakia. It had over 2.5 million speaking German inhabitants, and according to the Treaty of Versailles’s rule of National Self Determination, it should be under German leadership because of this. The Treaty of Versailles was the peace treaty created as a result of six months of negotiations at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, which put an official end to World War I between the Allies and Central Powers. The Munich Agreement caused many disagreements between European countries (Mainly England, France, Germany, and Italy). Collective security was a more effective response to aggression than appeasement because more European countries disagreed than agreed with the decision made during the Munich Conference for various reasons, and Germany had many ways of keeping its territories under control in 1939. Preceding the Munich Agreement, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain was convinced that war could be avoided in Europe by meeting with Hitler and accepting some of his demands. In 1938 he flew to Germany for a series of negotiations between himself, Hitler, Mussolini, and Premier Daladier of France. Hitler had demanded the Sudetenland area of Czechoslovakia as a region of ethnic Germans, desiring to add it to the Reich. Desperate to avoid war, Britain and France acquiesced to the Nazis, and German troops marched into the Sudetenland in October 1938. In March 1939, Germany occupied the remaining parts of Czechoslovakia, therefore disbanding the Munich Pact. War followed in September, when Poland was invaded. Munich became a symbol of the dangers of appeasement, and Chamberlain was shamed into retirement, replaced by Winston Churchill.
When Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany in January 1933, he took advantage of how the Germans felt as a result of their treatment in the Treaty of Versailles. As a result also played on their feelings of despair, which were brought on by the effects of the Depression, this was to build up support for his foreign policy. Hitler set out to destroy the Treaty of Versailles and challenge the other countries of Europe out of ignorance: * In 1935 he began Rearmament. He introduced conscription and began to build up the Luftwaffe and the German Navy - these had all been banned by the Treaty of Versailles. * In 1936 Hitler reoccupied the Rhineland, which had been demilitarised in 1919. This meant that he was able to station forces on the French border. * In 1936 Hitler sent forces (known as the "Condor Legion") to Spain to support General Franco in the Spanish Civil War. This was an attempt to try out the tactics of "Blitzkrieg", also to gain respect from a neighbouring country. * In March, he carried out the Anschluss. The Nazis stirred up trouble in Austria, which Hitler then used as an excuse to invade. The Austrian Chancellor Schuschnigg could do nothing about it. * On 12th September 1938, Hitler demanded self-government for the Sudeten Germans. These were German speakers who lived in the state of Czechoslovakia, which had been set up in 1919. The British prime minister, Neville Chamberlain flew to meet Hitler at Berchtesgaden on 15th September and agreed to Hitler's demands. He then returned to London and persuaded the French Government to agree as well. The Czechs were subsequently told to accept Hitler's demands. :- But when Chamberlain returned to meet Hitler for a second time at Bad Godesberg, he was presented with new demands. Hitler insisted that the Sudetenland should be handed directly over to Germany and other territory given to Poland and Hungary. Chamberlain did not agree with these demands and returned to...
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