Origins of World War II. Hitler’s Foreign Policy Aims. Hitler sought to unite the German people “protecting the 10 million Germans living outside the Reich”
Origins of World War II
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“protecting the 10 million Germans living outside the Reich”
In 1935, Hitler declared that Germany was no longer bound by the Versailles treaty and began to rearm, and used the Spanish Civil War of 1936-39 as a training ground for the new troops.
Germany and Italy supplied Franco and the Soviet Union supplied the Spanish republic
In 1936, Hitler reoccupied the Rhineland, taking away the buffer zone between Germany and France.
In 1938 he annexed Austria bringing about Anschluss or union.
Guernica by Pablo Picasso (1937)
Where Were the Allied Powers?
The U.S. had rejected the Peace of Paris and was caught up in the Depression; Russia was consolidating its revolution; Britain was caught up in the Depression; France alone was left to hold Germany down.
Also, Nazi propaganda in the U.S. and Britain portrayed Hitler as the best check on Communist Russia.
The British and French feared a new war and went to great lengths to avoid confrontation. France built immense fortifications, called the Maginot Line, but lacked the mobile strike force necessary to counter an aggressive Germany.
As a result, Britain came up with the policy of appeasement:
Giving in to Germany in the hope that a satisfied Hitler would not drag Europe through another world war.
They thought Hitler simply wanted a peaceful revision of the Versailles Treaty and that he could be contained through concessions.
A little over 3 million ethnic Germans lived in the Sudetenland of Czechoslovakia.
British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain agreed to meet with Hitler to discuss the matter.
Czechoslovakia: The Apex of Appeasement
At the Munich Conference of 1938, Britain and France (not Czechoslovakia) agreed to the German occupation of the Sudetenland.
Deprived of the Sudetenland, Czechoslovakia could not defend against a German attack. Hitler took Czechoslovakia in March 1939.
The take-over of Czechoslovakia was different than the other conquests. This was not about German self-determination it was about hegemony or control of Europe.
With the end of Czech independence, Hitler’s intent to dominate Europe was apparent.
Poland: The Final Crisis
Hitler next turned his attention to Poland. He demanded the return of the city of Danzig and use of the Polish corridor. Poland refused and France and Great Britain warned that they would support Poland if attacked.
On May 22, 1939, Hitler and Mussolini entered into a pact, promising mutual aid in the event of war.
On August 23, 1939, Germany and Russia signed a nonaggression pact, giving Hitler the green-light to invade Poland.
The Nazi Blitzkrieg
On September 1, 1939, German troops invaded Poland. Britain and France declared war two days later.
On September 17, Soviet troops invaded Poland from the east.
In less than a month, the Nazi blitzkrieg (lightning war) had captured Poland, which surrendered on September 27.
For Hitler, the conquest of Poland was only the beginning. He then captured Denmark and Norway.
In May of 1940, German troops invaded Belgium, Holland, and Luxembourg and marched into France.
Japan is expanding in the Pacific in search of raw materials.
U.S. insisted of Japan’s withdrawal from China
Japan’s alliance with Germany and Italy (Tripartite Pact)
Negotiations over commercial treaty
U.S. had broken Japanese diplomatic codes
Japan wanted Indochina
U.S. freezes Japanese assets and starts embargo
U.S. cuts off sale of airplane fuel to Japan and cuts back on other natural resources.
Great Britain and the Dutch East Indies also participate in the embargo.
Japan cut off from its major source of oil
66.4 percent of imports came from Anglo-Americans
Over 80 percent of its oil came from U.S.
Japanese Navy’s oil reserves (2 years)
Planned for war after August 1, 1941
The longer Japan waited the worse its economic and military situation would become.
Decision for War
“Hull Note” delivered on Nov. 26, 1941
Basically restated U.S. demands
Prime Minister Tōjō sees note as ultimatum and and proof that further diplomacy was futile.
Japanese public opinion was firmly behind the decision for war.
Late Nov., 1941 – U.S. learns Japanese Armada leaves Japan / lost track of and thought they were headed to attack the Philippines
Dec. 6, Japan breaks off negotiations, refusing to leave China
December 7, 1941
Japan attacks Pearl Harbor in Hawaii
U.S. fleet caught unprepared
2400 sailors died, 1200 wounded,18 ships sunk, and 160 aircraft damaged and 200 destroyed.
Only the aircraft carriers, by chance on maneuvers, escaped the worst naval defeat in American history.
Later the same day, Japan attacks the Philippines, Guam, and Midway and attacks British forces in Hong Kong and the Malay Peninsula (Singapore)
FDR – “a date that will live in infamy.”
Dec. 8, 1941 - U.S. declares war on Japan
Germany and Italy declare war on U.S.
With the Japanese attack on the U.S., World War II became a global war.
The U.S. would enter the war against the Axis powers and concentrate on Europe.