Causes of WWII – Hitler’s foreign policy

The Treaty of Versailles threw up so many enemies for the League of Nations and the most prominent one among them was Germany. Germany suffered the most from the treaty. People of Germany were spread over many nations; some of them were new nations as well. Germans everywhere were angry but could not do anything as they were powerless and the sanctions of the treaty lay heavily on their shoulders. When Adolf Hitler came up as a leader, Germans all over wanted him to bring back the lost glory of their country and extended their full support.

The main agenda of Hitler was to unify all Germans and they happened to be in different countries. So he wanted all those nations under Germany. Hitler also did not want communism to spread out of Russia. The Treaty of Versailles broke Germany in all ways and he wanted to redeem his country from this. Hitler observed that while disarmament was one of the agreements of the treaty, Britain and France were not following it; they were forcing other nations to disarm. Hitler protested against this and started to build up his army. It was from these disappointing facts that Hitler framed his foreign policy.

The Foreign Policy

  • The foreign policy of Hitler broke all the agreements written in the Treaty of Versailles.
  • Hitler’s policies baffled Britain and France as he did the totally unexpected.
  • He never kept up the pacts he drew up.
  • He took advantage of the appeasement policies of Britain and France and took it as a sign of their weakness.

In 1934 Hitler drew a ten year non-aggression pact with Poland shocking all European countries. For five years Poland enjoyed cordial relations with Germany but after that Hitler did not honour the pact.

Hitler supported the coup of the Austrian Nazis to overthrow their government. Italy reacted in a hostile manner to this. However Hitler withdrew his support when he realized the coup was going to fail. When in 1935 Italy attacked Ethiopia Hitler supported Mussolini irrespective of the fact that he was not supported by Italy in the earlier attacks in Austria. This move of Hitler found a friend in Mussolini. Italy thereafter supported Germany’s presence in Austria and the fortifications in Rhineland in 1936.

In June 1936 the Spanish Civil War got support from Germany and France. They sent support to General Franco. The Rome –Berlin Axis strengthened the ties and all the three nations agreed to stop the spread of communism.

In Sudetenland there were a fair number of Germans. Hitler instigated these Germans to rise against Czech rule. In 1938 Hitler attacked Czechoslovakia.

Another surprising alliance was between Germany and Russia. Both were known to be enemies as Hitler was against communism but a Nazi-Soviet Pact was signed on 23rd August 1939. This too was a ten year non-aggression pact. But in 1941 Hitler attacked Russia once again dishonouring the pact.

Hitler was very conniving in his foreign policies. Whatever he did, was for the benefit of Germany. It might seem that he was doing good for other countries as well but eventually proved that to was not true.