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Adolf Hitler became the Chancellor of Germany in the early 1930s. After taking over, he began to build the German Army by constructing warships and strengthening his air force. Other countries like Britain and France were aware of Hitler’s actions, and with growing concerns about the rise of Communism, they believed that Germany might join the fray. In the mid-1930s, Hitler ordered his troops to enter Rhineland, even though his army wasn’t as strong and could easily be defeated. Regardless, Britain and France were not prepared to engage in a war again.
Hitler also formed two important alliances. The first one was the Rome-Berlin Axis Pact and the second, the Anti-Comintern Pact; both were closely allied with Germany. Hitler began to reclaim the territories that were taken from Germany. He marched his troops to Austria, where the Austrian leader was forced to hold a vote to determine if the people of Austria wanted any association with Germany. Over 80 percent of Austrians voted for union with Germany.
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The Austrian leader requested aid from Italy, Britain, and France. Hitler, however, reneged on his promises, such as not wanting to engage in a war with other countries. He declared that Britain was his main enemy and needed to be defeated. The Prime Minister of Britain, Neville Chamberlain, met with Hitler multiple times to discuss and ultimately reach the Munich Agreement, aimed at averting a war in the late 1930s. Chamberlain returned from Munich with a signed agreement from Hitler, stipulating that Hitler could occupy one region of Czechoslovakia, provided he promised not to invade the rest of the country.
However, Hitler broke his promise and invaded the remainder of Czechoslovakia. Both France and Britain, as well as Prime Minister Chamberlain, were unprepared for a war against Hitler’s army. Chamberlain announced that Britain would assist Poland if it were invaded by Hitler. Although Hitler didn’t invade the Soviet Union, he remained a significant threat. The United States allowed the war to happen, with only two powerhouse countries, The United States and The Soviet Union, left to intervene.
Ignoring the advice of his generals, Hitler risked everything by invading Poland and France, conquering both in a matter of weeks. Hitler was accustomed to making most decisions on his own, often disregarding advice from others. The Rhineland, occupied by France, was another area Hitler aimed to reclaim. With the Germans marching, he took a significant gamble that they would successfully reoccupy the Rhineland. Despite the potential of grave consequences, no armed response came from the French, enabling Hitler to bluff the allies. The German soldiers were ordered to retreat if the French opened fire, but tragically, they didn’t – which only emboldened Hitler to seize other parts of Europe. If the French had responded that day, things might have been different. Taking over the Rhineland was one of Hitler’s first steps towards dominating Europe.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s foreign policy was focused on transitioning the U.S. from isolation to intervention. The movement was intended to establish relationships and open trade markets with the Soviet Union. It was supposed to be a guarantee of peace. Despite this, Adolf Hitler became increasingly aggressive in his actions. Hitler didn’t adhere to the agreement, demonstrated by his decision to march German troops into Prague. Adolf Hitler and his generals were making plans to take over Czechoslovakia, relying on getting some assistance from France. Hitler continuously made demanding speeches, insisting that the Germans in Czechoslovakia would reunite with Germany. However, it appeared that France and Great Britain weren’t ready to defend against war.
What I learned from the Munich Agreement is that, even though Adolf Hitler and Neville Chamberlain signed papers stating they resolved their differences, Hitler did not keep his word. He proceeded with his war plans and invaded part of Czechoslovakia. Regardless of the first impression, Neville Chamberlain got from Adolf Hitler, and despite the hardness and ruthlessness I thought I saw in Hitler’s face, I got the impression that here was a man that I could rely on when he had given his word.
Adolf Hitler had threatened to unleash a European war unless the Sudetenland – a border area of Czechoslovakia with an ethnic German majority – was surrendered to Germany and Hitler’s Army. Czechoslovakia was not a party to the Munich negotiations agreement and was under significant pressure from Britain and France. Hitler was very determined to make decisions personally, often behind people’s backs, and went against the opinions of the generals in his cabinet. If only Hitler had listened to his cabinet members, the deterioration of the Eastern front might have been avoided.
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