Phase 1: The Cautious Policy
Hitler's main aim was the create "living space" for a German super-power in the East - Lebensraum i.e. the conquest of the USSR - it also meant subjecting Eastern Europe first. This would give Germany autarchy i.e. complete economic self-sufficiency. No need for seaborne trade. No more naval blockades. Hitler pleases the General Staff by promising to reintroduce conscription and re arming the armed forces. He need the Generals to be onside. A big army is essential to Nazi foreign policy. The Junkers maintained control of the army, but many middle class men joined the Officer Corps. Many of the troops had been through the Hitler youth and imbued with Nazi ideals Germans developed the concept of 'lightning war' i.e. blitzkrieg using thanks and aircraft. Developed by Heinz Guderian. Hitler announced the existence of the Luftwaff (air force) is 1935. The Navy - neglected service Hitler didn't understand sea power. Yet it did undergo a build-up. In 1928 Hitler decided he had to change the army leadership to get it under control. Hitler basically replaced the Army leadership with people loyal to him. 1935 Anglo-German Naval agreement kept Britain happy. There would be no naval race. German surface fleet would only be 35% OF Britain. Parity in submarines. Germany leaves the League of Nations (1933), refuses to adhere to Versailles Treaty or pay reparations anymore -> very popular in Germany. Hitler outsmarted everyone by signing a 10yr non-aggression pact with Poland, France's major ally in eastern Europe. He had no intention of honouring this policy. France wouldn't fight without allies, so in one stroke he' taken away her major continental ally, and lulled Poland into a false sense of security. Poland was in fact a major target. Hitler tried to convince everyone that German Foreign Policy was peaceful Things became obstructed when Austrian Nazis - wanting Anschluss with Germany, assassinated the Austrian Chancellor Dolfuss in 1934. This was a setback for the idea of German Foreign Policy. But was Hitler behind it? Probably not... Mussolini who was not yet Hitler's friend, moved Italian troops to the Austrian border - he didn't trust Hitler yet! Hitler know he had to win over Mussolini, after all they were both fascist. 1935 Hitler announces the obvious - Germany was rearming, conscription introduced, Luftwaffe's existence became official Britain and France did nothing. It was the beginning of appeasement. Anyway, Britain felt pleased with the Anglo-German Naval Agreement.
The big gamble in 1936. Hitler tested French resolve by re-occupying the Rhineland even though it broke the terms of the Locarno and Versailles. It was obvious that France wouldn't react without British support. The British for their part felt that the Germans were only re-occupying their own backyard - there was also a lot of anti-French feeling in Britain at the time. The Act was so popular in Germany.
Read your slide on appeasement - slot it into your essay (341) Britain and France were eager to avoid war - so they would appease. "The Rhineland was one the boldest and most momentous gamble of his (Hitler's) career" French military doctrine became defensive with the construction of the Maginot Line. Unfortunately it didn't cover the Belgium frontier or the Ardennes. German foreign policy now became more confident and aggressive. Hitler knew how to read a situation. But he was a gambler - impulsive and impatient. He would push the agenda. Phase 2: Aggressive Foreign Policy
Hitler had always seen Italy as a natural ally. Relations were improving Both sides sent forces to support Franco's Nationalists in the Spanish Civil War. 1936-39 Both visited each other's countries in 1938, led to Rome-Berlin Axis Italy finally approved Anschluss between Germany and Austria According to the Hossbach Memorandum of 1937
Hitler told his Generals to prepare for war to create living space....
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