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Leading to WWII
Postwar Europe
• By 1920s, European nations were rebuilding
their economies
• Only the U.S. and Japan came out of the war
in better financial shape that before
– U.S. stock market is booming
Unstable New Democracies
• Europe’s last absolute rulers had been
• Citizens of the new democracies had little
experience with representative government
• Large numbers of political parties made effective
government difficult
– Coalition Governments
• Frequent changes in government made it hard to
develop strong leadership and move toward longterm goals
The Weimar Republic
• Weaknesses from the start
– Germany lacked a strong democratic tradition
– Germany had several major political parties and
many minor ones
– Millions of Germans blamed the Weimar
government, not their wartime leaders, for the
country’s defeat and postwar humiliation caused
by the Versailles Treaty
• Germany’s paper money
loses value
• Heavy reparations to the
Allies and other economic
• Germans needed more
money to pay for goods:
– 1918- loaf of bread= less
than a mark
– 1922- loaf of bread= 160
– 1923- loaf of bread= 200
billion marks
The Dawes Plan
Kellogg-Briand Peace Pact
Treaty Promises:
• France and Germany will
never again make war
against each other
• Germany respects the
existing borders of France
and Belgium
• Germany is then admitted
into the League of Nations
• No means to enforce its
• The League of Nations had
no armed forces
• The refusal of the U.S. to
join the League of Nations
weakened it
Weaknesses in the U.S. Economy
Uneven distribution of wealth
Overproduction by business and agriculture
Many Americans buying less
U.S. economic prosperity largely sustained the
world economy- if the U.S. economy weakens,
the whole world economic system might
Stock Market Crash- 1929
• Optimism about the U.S. economy showed in
soaring prices for stocks
• Many middle-income people bought stocks on
• This system only works when prices keep rising
• Investors began to think that stock prices were
unnaturally high and started selling
– Panic resulted
– October 20- a record 16 million stocks were sold and
the market collapsed
Bank Runs & Loss of Savings Accounts
By 1933, one quarter of all American
workers had no jobs
Depression Spreads Globally
• American bankers demanded repayment of their
overseas loans and American investors withdrew
money from Europe
• American market for European goods dropped
– Congress placed high tariffs on imported goods
– Chain reaction
• Germany and Austria particularly hard hit- due to
war debts and dependence on American loans
and investments
Confronting the Crisis
• Britain
• France
• Socialist governments in
Denmark, Sweden,
• U.S.- F.D.R.- New Deal
Fascism Rises in Italy
• Fascism- a new militant political movement
that emphasized loyalty to the state and
obedience to its leader
– No clearly defined theory or program
– Extreme form of nationalism
– Loyalty to an authoritarian leader
– Wore uniforms of a certain color, used special
salutes, and held mass rallies
Fascism & Communism
• Both systems ruled by
dictators who allowed oneparty rule
• Denied individual rights
• State was supreme
• Did not practice any kind of
• Fascists did not seek a
classless society, but rather
believed each class had its
place and function
• Fascists were nationalists
while Communists were
internationalists (hoping to
unite workers world-wide)
Benito Mussolini
• Founded the Fascist party
in 1919
• Publically criticized Italy’s
• Promised to rescue Italy
by reviving its economy
and rebuilding its armed
• Played on fear of a
workers revolt
• March on Rome- October
Il Duce
• Abolished democracy
and outlawed all
political parties except
the Fascists
• Secret police jailed his
• Government censors
• Outlawed strikes
Hitler Rises to Power
• Little-known political
• Volunteers for WWI and
awarded the Iron Cross
• Settles in Munich at the
end of the war
– Joins a tiny right-wing
political group that shares
his belief that Germany
had to overturn the Treaty
of Versailles and combat
Nazi Party
• National Socialist German Workers’ Party
• Adopted the swastika, hooked cross, as its
• Set up a group of private militia called the
storm troopers or Brown Shirts
• Hitler’s success as an organizer and speaker
led him to be chosen der Fuhrer (leader) of
the Nazi party
Mein Kamph
My Struggle
• Written while Hitler was in prison
• Asserted that Germans, incorrectly called
“Aryans,” were a “master race” and non-Aryan
“races” such as Jews, Slavs, and Gypsies were
• Called the Versailles Treaty an outrage and vowed
to reclaim German lands
• Declared Germany overcrowded- promised to get
more living space by conquering eastern Europe
and Russia
Hitler and Nazis Take Control
• Hitler comes to power legally- named Chancellor
• Called for new elections- Nazis win by a slim
• Uses his new power to turn Germany into a
totalitarian state
– Banned all other political parties
– Had his opponent arrested
– Created the SS
Nazi Germany = The Third Reich
Schutzstaffle (Protection Squad)
• Loyal only to Hitler
• Arrested and murdered
hundreds of Hitler’s
enemies in 1934
• Gestapo (Nazi secret
police) combined with
the SS’s brutal action
shocked most Germans
into obedience
Nazi’s Take Command of Economy
• New laws banned strikes
• Dissolved independent labor unions
• Gave government authority over business and
• Put millions of Germans to work
Hitler Controls German Life
• Turned press, radio,
literature, painting, and film
into propaganda tools
• Books that did not conform
to Nazi beliefs were burned
• Churches forbidden to
criticize the Nazis or
• Schoolchildren had to join
the Hitler Youth (boys) or
the League of German Girls
Other Countries Fall to Dictators
• By 1935, only 1
democracy remained in
eastern EuropeCzechoslovakia
• Only nations with
strong democratic
traditions were able to
hold on to democracy
– England
– France
– Scandinavian countries
• Becomes more democratic in the 1920s
– Signs treaty to respect China’s borders
– Signs Kellogg-Briand
• Parliamentary system’s weaknesses
– Constitution puts strict limits on the powers of the
prime minister and cabinet
– Civilian leaders had little control over the armed
– Military leaders reported only to the emperor
Militarists Take Control
• Wanted to restore traditional control of the
government to the military
• Made emperor the symbol of state power
– Emperor Hirohito
• Extreme nationalists- solve the country’s
economic problems through foreign expansion
– Planned a Pacific Empire that included a
conquered China
Japanese Invasions
• First direct challenge to the
League of Nations
• Japan ignored the protest of
League members
• Withdrew from the League
of Nations in 1933
• 4 years later, border
incident turns into full-scale
• China’s army no match for
• China establishes a new city
further west and guerrillas
led by Communist leader
Mao Zedong continues to
fight the Japanese in the
conquered area
Mussolini Attacks Ethiopia
• Ethiopian leader Haile
Selassie appealed to the
League of Nationsmembers only
condemned the attack
• Britain and France
thought if they gave in
to Mussolini in Africa
they could retain peace
in Europe
Hitler Defies Versailles Treaty
• Announced Germany would not abide by the
treaty’s restrictions on the German military
• League issued a mild condemnation
• This convinced Hitler to take greater risks…
The Rhineland
• 30 mile-wide zone on
either side of the Rhine
• Forms a buffer between
Germany and France
• Also an important
industrial area
• German troops moved
in- March 1936
• French were stunned… but unwilling to risk
• British suggested appeasement
• Hitler later admitted he would have backed
down if the British and French had challenged
German reoccupation of the Rhineland
marks a turning point in the march
toward war
• Strengthened Hitler’s power and prestige
• Balance of power changed in Germany’s favor
– France and Belgium are now open for an attack
• Weak response by France and Britain
encouraged Hitler to speed up his expansion
The Axis Powers
• Rome-Berlin Axis- Hitler
and Mussolini
• A month later- Germany
makes an agreement
with Japan
• The three form the AXIS
Spanish Civil War
• 1931- Republic replaces
• 1936- Army leaders join
General Francisco Franco
in a revolt
• Hitler and Mussolini
support Franco
• Other side had little
• 1939- Franco becomes
Spain’s first Fascist
Democratic Nations Try to Preserve
• Britain and France repeatedly make
concessions, hoping to keep peace
• U.S. follows isolationist policy
• November 1937- Hitler announces plans to
absorb Austria and Czechoslovakia into the
Third Reich
• Three million Germanspeaking people live in
the western border
regions of
• Heavily fortified area
formed the main
defense against German
• Hitler demanded the
Sudetenland be given to
Same Old Story
• Treaty of Versailles prohibited a union
between Austria and Germany
• Hitler sent his army into Austria and annexed
• France and Britain ignored their pledge to
protect Austrian independence
• Hitler turns to Czechoslovakia
• Czechs turn to France for help…
Munich Conference
Left to Right: Chamberlain (UK), Daladier (France), Hitler, Mussolini, Ciano (Italy)
Munich Conference and After
• Britain and France agree to let Hitler have the
Sudetenland as long as he promises to respect
the new borders
• Less than six months after the meeting, Hitler
seizes Czechoslovakia
• Soon after, Mussolini seized Albania
Hitler Looks at Poland
• Hitler demanded that
Poland return the
former German port of
Danzig (Polish Corridor)
• Poles refuse and turn to
Britain and France for
• Appeasement had
convinced Hitler that
neither nation would
risk war
Nonaggression Pact between Germany
& Russia