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The Short-Term Significance of Adolf Hitler on International Relations 1933-1953 Essay

Adolf Hitler, Nazi leader of the Third Reich had a profound effect on international relations from the very moment he became chancellor in 1933 to even after his death and the legacy he had left behind. It can be said that in the span of 20 years between 1933 and 1953 Hitler had huge short term significance on international relations, ranging from his views on the treaty of Versailles, war in Europe all the way through to the eventual split of Germany post 1945 following his death.

By 1953 Hitler had a catastrophic effect on international relations, he had left Europe in ruins and effectively sowed the seeds for the cold war between The United States of America and the Soviet Union in the years to come. Following his rise to power in January 1933 Hitler clearly started consolidating his dictatorship and from the moment he was appointed chancellor he intended to destroy the last remnants of the Weimar republic and set about destroying democracy in Germany altogether.

Hitler in his own words wanted to create “the politically and biologically eternally valid foundations of a German Europe. “[1] This famous quote of his in 1932 clearly represented his vision of Europe and that it should be dominated by Germany. Hitler’s view is further supported by his quote from a Nuremburg rally in 1933 “after 15 years of despair, a great people is back on its feet. “[6] Hitler regarded Germany as a great power and believed that Germany must be the dominant nation in Europe.

This sense of ideology eventually led Europe and even the world into human conflict on a mass scale. In 1933 following Hitler’s accession to power Europe held its breath having seen the rise of fascism in Germany, a very well cultured country at the time. As stated in the book ‘the road to war’- from 1933 onwards “Hitler’s government refused to pay another mark” (in reparations) [2]. The book also mentions how in October 1933 Germany withdrew from the disarmament conference at Geneva [3].

This further represented Hitler’s hostility towards the international community and the isolationist tactics he was using to secretly rearm Germany which undermined the League of Nations, many historians with the benefit of hindsight believe that Hitler had been preparing Germany for war all along. This further raised discontent and clearly undermined the international community and especially the League of Nations. What soon followed was to be catastrophic to international relations in Europe, Hitler withdrew Germany from the League of Nations in 1933, protesting at the fact that the allies had not disarmed following World War 1[4].

This view of Hitler’s frustration from a European history website is further supported by Hitler’s very own words on the effect of the Treaty of Versailles had on Germany, “For fifteen years the German people have waited and hoped that the end of the war would also bring an end to the hatred and enmity, but it seemed the aim of the Treaty of Versailles was not to bring mankind lasting peace but instead to keep it in a state of permanent hatred” [5].

This shows that Hitler was incredibly frustrated with the way Germany had been treated, the source is reliable as Hitler said it himself and even served as a soldier in the German army during the First World War so he saw misery first hand. Hitler also described how Germany had been violated by the international community and the people of Germany had “suffered despair and enslavement” for many years. By 1934 Hitler had completely ignored the international disarmaments programme and the Treaty of Versailles.

German rearmament began in 1935 but Hitler never made his intentions clear, Hitler attempted to justify his motives by arguing the need for German living space (Lebensraum) and also because of a European threat as other nations had been heavily rearming at the time. “Three hundred years earlier England had gradually built her Empire, for 300 years this World Empire was welded together solely by force.

One nation after another was robbed of its freedom-one state after another was shattered so that the structure which calls itself the British Empire might arise. ” Hitler used this idea of British colonisation as a means of invading Poland as he deemed the Polish as “an inferior race”. This quote of Hitler’s was incredibly reliable as it is a Primary source. Hitler himself proclaimed this quote and it drops the hint of his true intentions.

Following an attempted Nazi coup in Austria in 1934, Italy, France and Britain agreed to the Stressa front. The agreement was made in order to protect the security of Europe from German expansion and aggression, however this had a huge weakness and played straight into Hitler’s hands further fuelling instability in Europe as “Mussolini wanted to pursue Italy’s imperial destiny. “- [8] This gave rise to Hitler’s personal ambitions of territorial gains in Europe and by now he had found a sense of alliance with

Mussolini’s Italy, an alliance that would have a huge bearing in the years to come. As tensions grew in Europe Hitler realised that Germany must be restored to it’s former greatness and this meant the reoccupation of territory that had been lost in the Sudetenland, the Rhineland and an Anschluss with Austria. Hitler wanted to bring all German speaking populations under one Reich and conquer living space for the Aryan Germans.

In 1936 Hitler made his first claims on territory, ordering 22,000 foot soldiers into the Rhineland in direct defiance of the treaty terms that declared it was a demilitarized zone-[9] This had a huge significance on International relations at the time as it showed the Treaty of Versailles was being ignored and the League of Nations was too weak to do anything. Terry Morris’ view of Adolf Hitler’s direct defiance in his book Europe 1870-1991 can also be supported by the book World War II by Simon Adams [10]? where it states that Hitler moved his troops back into the Rhineland which was made demilitarized after World War I.

This shows that Hitler openly opposed the Versailles Treaty and would do anything to regain German territory that had been lost in 1919. This represented the weakness of the international community and had unimaginable consequences in the years to come. In 1937 further hostility grew towards Hitler’s Germany, Hermann Goering saw Britain as Germany’s “Enemy in chief” [11]. He was quoted for asking a British visitor “first we shall overrun Czechoslovakia and then fight the Russians, I don’t understand why you British have a problem with it” [12].

Goering’s comments were hugely significant and reliable considering he was one of Hitler’s henchmen ; through Goering we can see Hitler’s frustrations at German expansion in the hunt for Lebensraum. In November 1937 Lord Halifax was sent at British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s request to visit Hitler and find out his intentions, he reported that “the difference between the two systems was too great to be bridged [13]” Following this startling declaration by Halifax Neville Chamberlain decided that Hitler had to be stopped somehow at all costs.

This represented the beginning of the British policy known as appeasement. The Treaty of Versailles had been failing for a number of years and Hitler had always been trying to destroy it. It was put under further scrutiny in 1938 when Hitler demanded the re-unification between Germany and Austria, the Versailles Treaty had forbade the two to unify after the First World War but Hitler had other ideas and this alarmed the democracies of Europe, especially Britain and France. Hitler had such an effect on his homeland that Austria itself had a Nazi party; there was chaos and unrest in every neighbourhood.

Hitler gave Austrian chancellor Schuschnigg an ultimatum- unite with Germany or force will be used in immediate effect, German troops then poured into Austria and were met with little resistance, infact the book The Road to war quotes how Schuschnigg “invited German troops in to restore order. “[14] This view of ‘restoring order’ is further backed by the book Europe 1870-1991 where it quotes that ‘German troops were dispatched to restore order and save Austria from chaos’. 15] Hitler intended on expanding the Reich and saw that Sudeten Germans living in the Sudetenland, resented not being united with Germany, Hitler tried to exploit this and set his sights on reclaiming the Sudetenland which was granted to Czechoslovakia following the Treaty of Versailles. Britain and France in particular found this claim by Hitler ‘outrageous’ but decided that for the sake of Europe they would effectively allow Germany to annex the Sudetenland as long as no more claim for land was made, this was the process of appeasing Hitler.

Hitler accepted this approach but many historians believe that this was a move to buy himself some time. Hitler, Chamberlain, Edouard Daladier and Mussolini signed the Munich agreement; this meeting was to have huge significance in terms of Anglo-German relations. The Czechs weren’t invited to a conference on their own future and ‘had been betrayed by the allies. ‘[16] However in comparison to these comments in this book Neville Chamberlain contradicted these views by quoting that the much agreement had “guaranteed peace for our time. [17] Little did Chamberlain know that he had just edged Europe closer to a major conflict with unprecedented devastation.

The actions of Hitler between the years 1939-1941 were to have huge significance on international relations for years to come. Hitler was the main provocateur in international relations in 1939, effectively causing the outbreak of the Second World War. Hitler attacked the Polish coastal town of Danzig thinking the allies would turn a blind eye; he even quoted “who will die for Danzig? [18]-this famous quote of his gives an insight into his thinking, however he badly miscalculated the situation as he was proved otherwise by the Allies. This had provoked Britain and France to declare war on Germany, ultimately dragging Europe into a second devastating conflict. Over the next 6 years Hitler was to have huge significance not only on Germany but also on Europe itself, in 1941 Hitler had broken the Nazi-Soviet non-aggression pact and Russia had entered the war on the side of the U. S. A and Britain, shifting allegiances.

Hitler had gone out of his way to create ‘lebensraum’ for his people in the east, effectively causing German defeat in World War 2 following a soviet counterattack. Following the Nazi invasion of Russia Churchill had famously stated “I warned Stalin” when the invasion was reported in The Times, on June 23, 1941. [19] Hitler had an effect on the international community, he inadvertently brought together Communist Russia and the Capitalist west in one united struggle, to defeat his own fascist regime.

Furthermore Churchill’s views were extremely reliable as he was present at the time of the Nazi regime, the quotation also showed Churchill’s hatred of Hitler. By 1945 Hitler had brought the east and west together at Potsdam. Germany was on the brink of defeat all of which was Hitler’s doing. Stalin and U. S. President Harry Truman agreed to split Germany into four zones, therefore creating the East-West division in Germany. Hitler who committed suicide in his Berlin bunker had left behind a legacy of despair and humiliation for the German people he even created what was seen to be the beginning of cold war tensions between the U.

S. and Soviet Russia. The way in which Hitler had undermined the League of Nations alarmed the international community, leading to the creation of the United Nations in 1947. Hitler’s short term significance was even felt in the Middle East where as a result of the holocaust, Europe’s remaining Jews were given residence in Palestine leading to a conflict of interests that hasn’t even been resolved to this day. It must be stated that Hitler not only had a short-term significance on the World of his time but he also has a huge significance in the World of today.


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