Hitler’s rise to Power
The rise of Hitler in Germany gave a new direction to European politics. Hitler pursued specific domestic and foreign policy. His policies were the outcome of prevailing circumstances and with the help of these policies he wanted to fulfill his internal and external objectives. The foreign policy was characterized by two objectives – first objective was to restore German pride by violating the peace treaty. This treaty was humiliating in character. It was a dictated and unilateral treaty. It was also characterized by the elements of revenge against German people which Hitler wanted to undermine. The second objective was to incorporate all the German inhabited areas in his empire. The treaty of Paris had violated and undermined the principal of self determination and many of the German inhabited areas were placed under the control of other nations- Sunderland was given to Czechs, It had three million Germans. All most one million of Germans were put under Poland. Hitler wanted to recapture and unite these areas. These objectives later transformed into the concept of Third Reich where Hitler wanted to occupy enough territories to provide living space to Germans for many more years to come.
After becoming the Chancellor of Germany in 1933 Hitler formulated a plan of action to implement his foreign policy which was used to divert attention from internal difficulties. To tackle the economic crisis he followed unconventional industrial policies. The lack of demand of normal commodities forced Hitler to increase the production of arms and ammunitions. He reintroduced the practice of conscription to provide employment to German youth. The military force was used by him to carry out his policy of territorial expansion as the time passed.
The Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact
His move found an expression after the failure of disarmament Conference when the European nations failed to agree to disarm themselves, Hitler withdrew from this conference and in Oct 1933 left League of Nations itself. In January 1934 Hitler signed a non-aggression pact with Poland. This pact provided for a 10 years peace between Germany and Poland. He promised not to violate the Polish territory during this period. In 1935 Hitler recaptured the province of Saar which was reintegrated successfully with Germany through a plebiscite. In March 1935 Hitler reintroduced the Practice of Conscription to strengthen the German forces. In June 1935 Anglo- German naval pact was signed .By this pact Hitler tired to garner the support of Britain for his moves by agreeing to limit the German naval forces to 35% of the strength of Britain. After sensing the weakness of Western European countries Hitler sent German forces in the region of Rhine and it was successfully reoccupied in March 1936.In the same year Hitler established Rome-Berlin axis and also signed Anti-Comintern pact with Mussolini. Japan also joined Hitler and Mussolini in 1937.Hitler also participated in Spanish Civil War to expand his foreign policy. Taking the advantage of internal conditions of Spain, Hitler extended complete military support to General Franco and defeated the communist supported Republican Government. In March 1938, Hitler annexed Austria. In September 1938 Sudetenland was given to Germany by Munich Pact. In March 1939 whole of Czechoslovakia was annexed by Hitler. In April 1939, Hitler demanded that the Port of Denzing should be returned to Germany. On 24th August 1939 Hitler signed a 25 years non-aggression pact with USSR.
Hitler’s Foreign Policy
Hitler’s foreign policy was of great significance in the European History. With the help of his aggressive moves; he could violate the Peace Treaty and restored German national pride and prestige. He radicalized the nationalism spirit in Europe while exposing the weaknesses of Western Democracies. When France and Britain failed to take the effective counter action, Hitler was emboldened further and this continued aggression prepared the ground for the outbreak of Second World War. This period also saw decline of League of Nations. He undermined the prestige of League of Nations on a number of occasions and turned it into a redundant institution. Hitler’s aggressive stance forced the countries like Britain and France to prepare themselves for another major war. When Hitler attacked Poland in 1939 Britain and France declared war on Germany and World plunged into another War.
The analysis of Hitler’s foreign policy have put forward the view that the target of his foreign policy was not limited to Poland and Czechoslovakia but these moves were designed to prepare platform for much greater expansion in future. Hitler used the threat of war to pressurize the western democracies .The Second World War was basically turned out to be his result of miscalculations as he believed that the Soviet German Pact would allow him to annex Poland peacefully as Britain and France were not in way affected by it but the Soviet German non-aggression pact baffled Britain and France and exposed the weakness of the policy of appeasement. They realized the urgency to counter Hitler on the borders of Poland itself otherwise he would have turned very powerful afterwards.