GCSE History : Hitler's Foreign Policy

Overturning the Treaty of Versailles

Overturning the Treaty of Versailles

Overturning the losses of the Treaty of Versailles

Overturning the Treaty of Versailles You’ll remember from our revision guide to the Treaty of Versailles (and if you don’t remember or haven’t read it, go and look at it now!) that the Treaty of Versailles was maybe a touch harsh on Germany:

* It took away from it both its overseas empire and several big chunks of land in Europe, including Alsace-Lorraine, the Saar and the Polish Corridor.

* It also placed restrictions of Germany’s military, forced it to pay massive reparations, and banned it from uniting with Austria.

Like many Germans, Hitler was furious about the terms of the Treaty. He spent the rest of the 1910s and the 1920s as an angry nobody who hatched plans to build a Germany that would be powerful enough to crush the Treaty.

Overturning the Treaty was a powerful part of the Nazis’ public message, and one that won it a lot of support, helping to propel Hitler from being a nobody to the Fhrer. And once he had a firm grasp on power in 1933, much of his foreign policy was directed at overturning the Treaty. And as we’ll see, helped quite a lot by France and Britain’s appeasement policy, he was pretty successful in this aim.

Overturning the Treaty of Versailles, 1933-1938

Between 1933 and 1938, Hitler focused his efforts on overturning the Treaty of Versailles.

German Rearmament - History GCSE Revision

German Rearmament Instead of marching straight into Germany’s former territories, Hitler started by re-building the German military, even though this was in itself also a breach of the Treaty. During his first couple of years in power, Germany had a weak military and economy. Just as importantly, Hitler did not yet know just how unwilling stronger Britain and France would be to oppose him.

German Withdrawal - History GCSE Revision

Withdrawal from the Conference for the Reduction and Limitation of Armaments and the League of Nations, 1933 This Conference was called in 1932 to discuss global disarmament. In addition to League of Nations members attending, the United States and the USSR also sent representatives. Delegates at the conference squabbled from the very start, but the whole thing was thrown into chaos when Germany withdrew from both the Conference and the League of Nations, disagreeing with the whole idea of disarmament.

Non-Aggression Pact - History GCSE Revision

Non-aggression Pact with Poland, 1934 You might be wondering how something called a ‘non-aggression pact’ could possibly be part of an aggressive foreign policy. The answer is that the pact bought time for Germany to re-arm in peace. The borders between Germany and Poland had been disputed since Versailles, and the pact brought a temporary end to those tensions, with Germany renouncing its claims to Polish territory.

The fact that the Nazis signed the Pact shows that Hitler was willing to be pragmatic, and build Germany’s strength before acting more aggressively. When Germany felt much stronger, in 1938, Germany demanded the city of Danzig from Poland in return for the Pact being renewed. When Poland refused, Germany withdrew from the Pact.