Drift to War 1937-1939

Andrew Burke
Slide Set by Andrew Burke, updated more than 1 year ago
Andrew Burke
Created by Andrew Burke over 3 years ago


The next part of our series on International Relations, we examine the events from 1937 to 1939 that led to the Second World War. From the policy of Appeasement, the Anschluss, the Munich Agreement, the Nazi-Soviet pact and the invasion of Poland, we analyse all the moments that led to war.

Resource summary

Slide 1

    Appeasement 1937-38
    Appeasement was the approach adopted in 1937 by British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and French Leader Eduoard Daladier. Essentially, appeasement was the process of giving Hitler what he wanted.  The Anschluss 1938: Germany and Austria Unite  Hitler wanted to unite many Germans living in Austria back with those in Germany (against Treaty of Versailles and St Germain)  Austria's Nazi Party and Hitler campaigned for union (Anschluss)  Hitler threatened to move troops into Austria to 'restore order' The Austrian chancellor called for Britain and France to make Hitler back down In March 1938, German troops march into Austria, a plebiscite was then organised where 99.75% of the population voted to unite  Britain and France lay idle as the two countries united

Slide 2

    Sudetenland and Munich Agreement 1938
    Czech leader, Edvard Benes, was appalled by Anschluss and wanted British and French promises for protection against the Germans. They gave promises this time.  Hitler's interest lay in the Sudetenland of Czechoslovakia due to the heavy population of Germans. In May 1938, Hitler expressed support for Sudeten Germans, threatening invasion if Czechoslovakia did not hand the region over.  Benes was prepared to fight. The Czechoslovakian's had a modern army and British support. Tensions rose and led to crisis talks in Munich in September 1938. 

Slide 3

    More Sell Out than Triumph
    In a last attempt to avoid war, talks where held in Munich over German actions in Czechoslovakia.  On 29th September 1938, Mussolini, Hitler, Daladier and Chamberlain gathered for the Four Power Summit in Munich  Under the Munich Agreement the leaders decided to give the Sudeteneland to Hitler Neither the Czechs nor the USSR were consulted over the agreement Chamberlain believed this agreement was necessary for 'peace for our time'  The media hailed the agreement as a triumph, although there were many critical voices of the agreement. Opinion polls from September 1938 in Britain demonstrated the public thought appeasement would not stop Hitler.  Meanwhile, in the US, deep unease developed regarding Germany. 

Slide 4

    Towards War
    Appeasement Ends:  Hitler moved into the Sudetenland in October 1938  March 1939, Hitler invaded the rest of Czechoslovakia Hitler's next intentions were Poland; France and Britain warned Hitler that they would declare war, if he invaded Poland  Appeasement ended as a policy Poland threatened:  Hitler wanted to reclaim the Polish Corridor and city of Danzig He was concerned about opposition from Stalin as Poland bordered the USSR  Stalin's Worry:  The USSR concern with Germany was evident, as they joined the League of Nations 1934 and signed the Mutual Assistance Pact 1936  Stalin was not consulted over the Munich Agreement, and believed Chamberlain and Daladier were pointing Hitler eastwards 

Slide 5

    Nazi-Soviet Pact and War
    Caption: : Stalin (left) shaking hands with Nazi Foreign Minister Ribbentrop (right)
    While Stalin met with Chamberlain and Daladier over alliance discussions in March 1939, he also met with Nazi Foreign Minister Ribbentrop too.  Stalin opted for alliance with Germany Terms of the treaty: USSR and Germany would not attack one another Divide Poland between the two countries  Stalin could take the Baltic States (Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia)  The treaty was used by Germany to invade Poland and by the USSR to prepare for war  Hitler invaded Poland on September 1, 1939. Britain and France had pledged to aid Poland upon invasion; they declared  war against Germany on the 2 September, 1939. 
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