When Hitler became German Chancellor in 1933, the League of Nations was holding the World Disarmament Conference. At this very conference Germany said it would willingly disarm if all other powers gave up their weapons and what is the likelyhood of that? very small. You see France wouldn’t agree as they feared attach from Germany and Britain wouldn’t agree because of their empire (1/4 of the world). So Germany left the conference claiming that there was no real wish for disarmament among the major powers. (This was a clever tactical move, it made Hitler and Germany seem democratic and completely innocent…they hadn’t done anything wrong)
In 1935 Hitler announced that he had built and air force (the luftwaffe) and that he was introducing conscription. He wished to create an army of 600,000 men. Although the Treaty of Versailles had banned conscription and limited the German Army to 100,000 men as well as banning an airforce, Britain, France and Italy did nothing to stop Germany.
2. The Saar rejoins Germany, 1935
In 1919 the Saar Coal Fiels were given to France for 15 years. When this period of time ran out, a referendum (public vote) was held to see whether the local people wanted to return to German rule. As around 90% of the population voed to be under German Rules. Hitler was delighted and claimed that the vote showed how popular his rule was.
3. The re-occupation of the Rhineland, 1936
At the Treaty of Versailles it was agreed that the Rhineland would not station any troops or weapons in the Rhineland- this was the area bordering France. Hitler argued that this left Germany open to attack from the west.
And so on March 7th 1936 he ordered his troops to march into the Rhineland. Because Hitler’s troops were no match for the French army, he had instructed them to withdraw if the French showed any signs of resistance. But Hitler was a good judge, he thought that the French wouldn’t act with out British support, and many British people thought he was just marching into his own backgarden. Neither Britain nor France wished to go to war to stop something which didn’t really worry them. So although the condemned Hitler’s remilitarisation of the Rhineland, Britain and France took no Action.
4. Making Allies-Links with Italy and Japan
Hitler knew that Britain, Russia and France were all suspicious of his policies. He also knew that he would need allies if he went to war, so he looked for them in other totalitarian regimes (dictatorships) Dictactors unite XD).
- On November 6th 1936, Germany and Italy signed the Rome-Berlin Axis, an agreement to co-operate. Italy felt threatened by Anglo-French objections to their desire to expand. Later that year, they both supported the nationalists in the Spanish Civil War, aallowing them to test their new military prowess and continue to fight against communism. (Fascism I.E Hitler is right wing vs. Communism I.E Stalin which is Left wing, two extremist political groups)
- On November 25th 1936, Germany and Japan signed the Anti-Comintern Pact. This was supposedly aimed at opposing communism internationally; it did not specifically name the USSR. Jpan broke the agreement signed at the Washington Conference with Britain, the USA, and France in 1921 which said it would not join with Germany.
- On November 6th 1937, Italy joined the Anti-Comintern Pact. The growing solidarity with Germany encouraged Mussolini’s invasion of Albania in April 1939. In May, the Rome-Berlin Axis became a military alliance, the Pact of Friendship and Alliance(awww…otherwise known as the Pact of Steel…not so aww). Each Agreed to help the other if in a war.
- On September 27th 1940, Japan joined the pat making the Tripartite Pact and extending the war to the Pacific. They soon refered to themselves as the Axis Powers (upon which the world revolved).
- Belgium saw how much trouble it was in and withdrew from an alliance with France and declared itself neutral on October 1936. Germany agreed to respect this neutrality in October 1937.