Hitler's foreign policy

Hitler’s foreign policy

Hitler’s Aims in Foreign Policy

  • Revoke the Treaty of Versailles: Hitler aimed to dismantle the terms of the Treaty to regain Germany’s dignity and international standing.
  • Lebensraum: A key component of Nazi ideology was the concept of ‘Living Space’. Hitler aimed to expand Germany eastwards into Russia to provide space for the Aryan race.
  • Reunification of German-speaking peoples (Grossdeutschland): Hitler sought to bring all German-speaking people into one nation.
  • A strong Germany: This included rearmament, a key violation of the Treaty of Versailles, to return Germany to a position of international strength.

Steps Towards War

  • German Withdrawal from the League of Nations: In 1933, Hitler withdrew Germany from the League of Nations, demonstrating his disregard for international cooperation.
  • Re-armament: From 1935 onwards, Hitler openly violated the Treaty of Versailles by rebuilding Germany’s military capabilities.
  • Remilitarisation of the Rhineland: In 1936, Hitler sent troops into the demilitarised Rhineland in direct contravention of the Treaty of Versailles.
  • Anschluss (Union) with Austria: Given green light by appeasement leaders during the Berlin Conference in 1938.
  • Sudeten Crisis and Munich Agreement (1938): Hitler annexed the Sudetenland from Czechoslovakia, claiming to be protecting the German-speaking population there. This was allowed by France and Britain in the Munich Agreement.

The Path to War

  • Occupation of Czechoslovakia: Hitler occupied the rest of Czechoslovakia in March 1939, breaking the terms of the Munich Agreement.
  • Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact: In August 1939, Hitler negotiated a pact with Stalin, agreeing not to attack each other. This cleared the way for Hitler’s invasion of Poland.
  • Invasion of Poland: On 1st September 1939, Hitler invaded Poland, marking the start of World War II as Britain and France declared war on Germany.