Tag Archives: Treaty of Versailles

The Road to World War II, 1933-39

This podcast is designed to present the key reasons for the breakout of World War 2 by explaining the different impacts of Hitler’s aims and actions, the policy of appeasement, the problems caused by the peace treaties, the Nazi-Soviet Pact and the failures of the League of Nations.

The first part of the podcast deals with Hitler’s aims: abolish the Treaty of Versailles, expand German territory, and remove the threat of communism.  It explains how his policies were designed to fulfill these aims.  Key actions from the first years of Hitler’s Chancellorship that are described include: rearmament, remilitarisation of the Rhineland, his role in the Spanish Civil War, and Anschluss with Austria.

The podcast then goes on to assess appeasement.  Arguments in favour of, and against, the policy of appeasement are presented.  This is followed by an explanation of the Sudetenland Crisis, the Munich Agreement and the Nazi-Soviet Pact.  The views of historians are considered.

This episode concludes with a brief explanation of how to answer an examination question on this topic.

          

Hitler appointed Chancellor of Germany

Hitler’s speech as Chancellor in 1933

Shortly after Adolf Hitler was appointed to the position of Chancellor by President Hindenberg, he made this speech to thousands of members of the Nazi Party.

Saar Plebiscite

The Saar plebiscite and reunion with Germany, 1935

On the 13th January 1935, the Territory of the Saar Basin voted to reunite with Germany. Having been administered by the League of Nations for 15 years following the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, the overwhelming plebiscite result of over 90% in favour of reunification surprised many observers.

In 1918 the Saar Basin was a heavily industrialised area, boasting a large number of coal mines. Following the Treaty of Versailles the area was occupied and governed by France and Britain under the auspices of the League of Nations. France was also given exclusive control of the coal mines. However the Treaty called for a plebiscite to decide the long-term future of the Saar region after a period of fifteen years.

By the time of the plebiscite Adolf Hitler had come to power in Germany, which had led a number of Nazi opponents to move to the area since it was the only part of Germany free from their rule. They were keen for the area to remain under the League’s administration, but maintaining the status quo was unpopular with ordinary Germans.

Meanwhile the Nazis began an intensive pro-Germany campaign led by propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels. As early as 1933, complaints that the Nazi campaign amounted to a “reign of terror” had been noted by American political scientists Sarah Wambaugh, one of the members of the commission overseeing the plebiscite. Although the Nazis did tone down their tactics by the end of 1934, the League of Nations provided a peacekeeping force to monitor the plebiscite.

Voter turnout plebiscite was 98%, with 90.8% voting to re-join the German Reich.

Hitler and the Road to War – ‘History File’ extract

An overview of how Hitler’s policies in Nazi Germany broke the terms of the Treaty of Versailles and contributed to the outbreak of World War 2 alongside the Allied policy of Appeasement.

Historiography: who was responsible for the First World War?

This is a different type of revision podcast as, rather than covering the details of events, it aims to provide a summary of key historians’ interpretations of them.  The podcast tracks the changing historiography of responsibility for the First World War over time.  Beginning with the attitude at the time of the Versailles Treaty, the podcast summarises the shift in interpretation through the inter-war period, the effect of World War 2, the 1960s and the Fischer Thesis, and post-Fischer revisionism.  Historians whose work is briefly mentioned include G. Lowes Dickinson, Sidney Fay, AJP Taylor, Luigi Albertini, Fritz Fischer, Niall Ferguson and John Keegan.

          

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Armistice of Compiegne

The Armistice of Compiègne and the end of WW1

On the 11th November 1918, fighting on the First World War’s Western Front ended when representatives from the Allies and Germany signed the Armistice of Compiègn.

Named after the location in which it was signed, the armistice was agreed at around 5:00 a.m. in a railway carriage that was part of Allied supreme commander Ferdinand Foch’s private train. Designed to come into effect at 11:00 a.m. Paris time, the armistice was extended three times before the Treaty of Versailles finally came into force on the 10th January 1920.

President Woodrow Wilson of the USA had outlined his war aims in the Fourteen Points that he announced in a speech in January 1918. These provided a framework for peace, and were a key factor in encouraging Germany to enter negotiations.

By the end of September, the German High Command had realised that the German cause on the Western Front was doomed. The Kaiser was informed of the situation on the 29th September, and by the 5th October the German government had contacted President Wilson of the United States to begin preparations for negotiating an armistice. However, the two sides didn’t come together until the 8th November because Britain, France and Italy were unwilling to enter discussing based on the 14 Points. By this point the German Revolution was about to result in the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II.

The negotiation wasn’t really a negotiation: the German delegation was presented with the terms and had no option but to sign. The railway carriage in which they did so was later used by Hitler for France’s surrender to Nazi Germany in 1940.