CAUSES OF WWII IN EUROPE: HITLER`S WAR
Transcript CAUSES OF WWII IN EUROPE: HITLER`S WAR
CAUSES OF WW II IN
A Nazi election poster from the
1930s. “Break free now! Vote Hitler”
- Winston Churchill asserted that
Hitler had a master plan for the
domination of Europe (Mein Kampf
- He suggested that Hitler wanted to
reunite Germans in a Great
German Empire and conquer
Eastern Europe by force which
would lead to war.
- In Churchill’s analysis, the turning
point was 1935 when Germany
- Hitler had been temporarily blinded in a
gas attack during WWI and, while in the
hospital, he Heard of Germany’s
surrender and was upset about it.
- At that point he decided to go into
- German's commitment to make the
reparation payments was limited.
- In 1919 Hitler became the 55th member
of the Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (DAP;
German Worker’s Party.) In 1920 it was
renamed the NSDAP (National Socialist
German Worker’s Party)
- By 1921 Hitler had become the leader
of the party (Nazi Party) and set down
a 25-point program.
- The aims of the program were:
1. The union of all Germans.
2. Put an end to the Treaty of
3. Creating a strong nation.
4. Creating a national army.
5. The exclusion of Jews from German
- November 1923, Hitler and his Nazis attempted a coup d’état in Munich.
- It failed and Hitler was in prison for 9 months.
- Mein Kampf (My Struggle) is a mix of autobiography and political philosophy with racist and
- There Hitler asserted the need for German racial purity and the absolute need to acquire
- Andreas Hillgruber suggested the book was a “stage-by-stage plan”.
- The first stage would be the termination of the Treaty of Versailles and the formation of an
Alliance with Britain and Italy.
- The second stage would be a war against France and her Eastern European allies.
- The last stage would be a war with the USSR.
- The Nazi party didn’t do well in the elections of 1928.
- Hitler retreated to Berlin where he dictated the book known as the “Secret
Book”, which historians see as further evidence of Hitler’s long-term
- In the book he suggests that in the 1930s a final struggle would take place
for world hegemony between the USA and the combined forces of a Greater
Germany and the British Empire.
- He also wrote about his admiration for Mussolini and his anger towards the
German Chancellor Gustav Stresemann.
- Lebensraum, Hitler thought, was to be taken from the USSR.
- The 1920s was a period of optimism in international relations.
- Yet, the stability was fragile, and the weakness of the LoN had been tested
and found wanting before Hitler came to power in Germany.
- The mass unemployment and despair caused by the depression assisted
Hitler’s rise to power.
- Higher unemployment = higher popularity of the Nazi Party = Hitler came to
- Even the president, General Von Hindenburg thought Hitler would be useful
and that he could control him.
- Criticism to Versailles made the public think Hitler would restore Germany’s
- 1933-1934: Hitler gained cooperation of the army and the industrialists.
- His regime was totalitarian – the Nazis could gear domestic policy to meet
the needs for its expansionist foreign policy.
- Military conscription and rearmament would relieve mass unemployment.
SHORT-TERM CAUSES OF WWII (1933-1938)
- Hitler wanted to control “race and space” and his writing and speeches
were consisting with this.
- To achieve his goals, he took several actions:
1. Revising the Treaty of Versailles.
2. Militarizing the Rhineland.
3. Spanish Civil War
4. Anti-Comintern Pact
5. Hossbach Memorandum
7. Takeover of Czechoslovakia
- In 1933, Hitler announced the Nazis wouldn’t resume the payments which was good
propaganda and it didn’t cause major international frictions.
- Hitler announced Germany was rearming.
- Between 1934-35 Germany’s military expenditure increased 5 times compared to 1933-34.
- Germany was preparing its economy for war while the other countries were still fighting the
- In 1934, Germany and Poland signed the 10 Year Non-aggression Pact to secure the
- Hitler was now seen as ultimately peaceful.
- Germany-Austria’s unification (Anschluss) was forbidden.
- Pro-Nazis in Austria (1934) murdered Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss and attempted a coup.
Austria crushed it and Mussolini sent troops to warn Germany off.
- In 1935, there was a plebiscite in Saar. 90% of the Saar people voted to be
annexed again to Germany.
- Hitler announced compulsory military service in Germany and the increase
of his armament program.
- Germany had an army of more tan 500,000 men and an air force.
- The rest of the powers hoped that a revision of Versailles would satisfy the
more moderate elements of German society.
IMMEDIATE CAUSES OF WWII
- Poland was Hitler’s next target.
- Britain and France warned Germany that an attack on Poland would mean
- The Nazi-Soviet Pact was signed.