Sample Material of Our IAS Mains History Study Kit
Subject: History (Optional)
Topic: The Second World War
The treaty of Versailles played a major role in the second
world war. Whenever we try to make a comparison between the congress of Vienna
and Paris Peace conference we come to the conclusion that in Paris Peace
Conference the balance between what was possible and what was desired was
disturbed. Although some critics try to justify the approach of allied powers
towards Germany in Paris Peace Conference on the ground that even Germany had
taken a very tough approach towards Russia in the treaty of Brest-Litovsk.
Secondly even the British people developed very anti-German approach and they
were shouting the slogan. Hang Kaiser.
But even on the above ground one cannot justify approach of
allied powers because the provisions of the treat were quite impossible to be
implemented. One member of the British delegation John Menard Keynes himself
made this point clear and opposed the provision of the treaty. He came to the
conclusion that economic provisions of the treaty of Versailles could not be
enforced and as we know the later event proved this. For example, on the basis
of the Lausanne conference held in 1932 almost 90% of the total amount
outstanding from Germany to allied powers was simply waived off. That’s why we
can say that Paris Peace conference could not solve the problem of
power-politics in Europe and it could not bring the permanent peace.
Secondly on the one had allied powers hurt national
sentiments of Germany and they know very well that German nationalism was
grieved but still they did not do something concrete to check the future upsurge
of Germany. For example, after the First World War and Paris peace conference
U.S.A. withdrew himself from Europe and returned to her own continent. On the
other hand Britain alone was not ready to give a guarantee of security to
France. In other words, we can say the carelessness on the part of allied powers
encouraged Hitler to challenge the provisions of the treaty of Versailles.
The Second World War could be explained even in context of
foreign policy of Mussolini and that of Hitler. As we know Italy was
dissatisfied with the treaty of St. Germaine. Mussolini made benefit from this
situation and he tried to satisfy ultra nationalist feelings in Italy. So the
objectives of foreign policy of Mussolini were
(i) To establish Italy as a prestigious nation in Europe and
to carry imperialist expansion in Balkan region and Africa. That’s why Mussolini
followed an aggressive foreign policy.
(ii) Fuem port was a disputed region between Italy & Yugoslavia. In Paris Peace
conference it was given the status of an independent port. But Mussolini through
concluding a treaty with
Yugoslavia in 1924 got the control over Fueni port. Likewise
Italy had not been given the mandate over Albania during Paris Peace conference
but in 1927 on the basis of the treaty of Tirana, Italy got the mandate over
Albania. Furthermore Mussolini invaded Greece and captured the region of Korfu.
Although under British pressure he had to evacuate this region but as
compensation Italy got five crore Lira.
Initially Italy developed tensions with France in course of
imperialistic rivalry but in 1933 after the rise of Hitler, French attitude
towards Italy just softened. Then France tried to use Mussolini against Hitler
initially Mussolini worked as protector of peace in Europe and he gave a
guarantee of security to the neighboring regions of Germany. In 1933 Loval
Mussolini Pact was signed. It led towards growing cooperation between Italy and
France. But situation changed after October 1935. In fact Mussolini invaded
Ethiopia in October 1935 so Italy was banned by league of nations and economic
embargo was brought against Italy. But during this critical juncture Hitler
sympathized Italian cause. It recognized Italian conquest over Ethiopia and
provided Italy some military arsenals. So now Mussolini came nearer to Hitler
and it led towards the formation of Rome-Berlin axis in 1936.
The Foreign Policy of Hitler
The foreign policy of Hitler has been a very controversial
issue. When one observation minutely, one can underline both the forces of
continuity and those of changes in the foreign policy of Hitler. For example,
the revision of the treaty of Versailles was not a demand raised for the first
time by Hitler but before Hitler even Weimar republic and its foreign minister
Stresemann made such a demand so here we find the elements of continuity in the
foreign policy of Hitler. Likewise in Hitler’s foreign policy the changes are
much significant. For example before Hitler conservatives and neo-Bismarkians
both believed that Germany was having a fixed boundary and its boundary should
be resorted to the point it was before 1940.
But Hitler rejected this thesis. Hitler was not talking in
terms of boundary rather in terms of territory in Europe. The approach of Hitler
was continental. One of the programmes of Nazi party was the creation of a
greater Reich through combining German population from different regions of
Europe with Germany.
He tried to establish that Germans were the superior race. So
the region they had been allocated in Europe was not sufficient for them. On the
other hand some inferior races in Europe occupied more space then they had
deserved. Here the target of Hitler was slav race in Europe Hitler made his
objective clear in this text “The Secret Book”. In this way there was a strong
racial element in the foreign policy of Hitler.
We can divide the foreign policy of Hitler in different
stages, on the basis of its trend.
(i) First stage (193-36). In this stage the objective of the
foreign policy of Hitler was to break or contravene the provision of the treaty
of Versailles. But he was much calculative in his approach and he was trying to
convince the allied powers simultaneously that he was not having any mollified
intentions For example, In April 1933 he formed German Security Council and
started the rearmament programme. Likewise in October 1933. Germany withdrew
itself from disarmament commission of the league of nations. But still he tried
to convince European powers that he was still committed to peace and harmony in
Europe. In 1934 Hitler concluded a no aggression pact with Polland. So European
powers were more convinced about his good intentions. Furthermore in 1935 he
successfully dispelled British fear about Germany. But it was during this period
that he set German army to Rhine region in March 1936.