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How did the Treaty of Versailles establish peace? The Paris peace conference met in June 1919. The Big Three powers of Britain, France and the USA imposed a very harsh peace treaty on defeated Germany. America’s president Woodrow Wilson tried to get a fair peace to create a stable future by proposing his 14 Point Plan for peace which included the right of countries to rule themselves, no secret alliances and free trade all round the world, as well as his League of Nations ideas to discuss problems instead of fight. However France’s premier Clemenceau wanted revenge and repayment from Germany and Britain’s Lloyd George was happy to see Germany’s industrial and empire threats to Britain removed. So the treaty had 3 main aims: 1. To punish Germany- they lost land to France. Denmark, Poland. Colonies were taken and East Prussia was cut off from the rest of Germany. Germany also had to accept the War Guilt Clause which blamed them for starting the war. 2. To make Germany pay-they had to pay Reparations of £6.6 billion to the allies. The Saar Coal basin was given to France for 15 years. Merchant fleet was reduced to limit trade. 3. To prevent Germany starting another war- the armed forces were reduced; army limited to 100 000 men. No air force; No tanks. The Rhineland beside France was de-militarised-no troops to be stationed there. Germany had to accept the treaty but it was a humiliation which they greatly resented and which would cause trouble in the future. Why did the League of Nations frequently fail in its aims to keep the peace? The League of Nations (LoN) was set up as part of the Treaty of Versailles. It was an international organisation set up after the horrors of WW1 to prevent future wars. The world super power the USA did not join the Lon, despite it being Wilson’s idea (Wilson died and the new President and congress decided on isolation as a policy). The members of the league met once a year in full Assembly and the urgent matters in between were dealt with by a Security Council of 4 permanent members-Britain, France, Japan and Italy and 4-11 other countries in turn. The LoN was based on the idea of Collective Security which meant if one country were ‘bullied’ by an aggressor all the others would put pressure on the bully to stop. The LoN had power to put trade sanctions on a country to persuade it to behave, but did not have any military might to force it to behave. Success depended on the goodwill of the member states. In the 1920s the LoN was quite successful solving minor disputes but when the world depression started in 1929 some countries were determined to look after themselves first. Manchurian Crisis 1931- Japan faced major economic problems after the Wall St. Crash destroyed the market for its major export silk, a luxury few could now afford. The gov’t seemed unable to solve the economic problems and a band of military leaders became more influential suggesting that Japan should look overseas for raw materials and markets-to empire build. The target was China where the Japanese already had a presence through control of Korea. In Sept 1931 a section of the south Manchurian railway line, controlled by the Japanese was reputedly blown up by Chinese terrorists and Japanese soldiers fired on. This gave Japan a pretext to move troops into China on a large scale, by occupying Manchuria to ‘protect’ it. Japan said that the people of Manchuria wanted to be a self governing nation free from China and so set a protectorate that was renamed Manchukuo-effectively a Japanese puppet state. China appealed to the LoN to stop this aggression. The League sent a commission to investigate the situation headed by the British Lord Lytton. The Lytton commission reported that Japan had acted aggressively and the League sent a Note to Japan requesting withdrawal. Japan responded by walking out of the LoN. Over the next few years Japan increased its occupation


of China. The League had failed to prevent an act of aggression and to protect the interest of a member state. It looked weak. Abyssinian Crisis 1935- the LoN faced a second crisis in 1935 when Italy, under its dictator Mussolini invaded Abyssinia (Ethiopia) to increase Italy’s empire in Africa. Mussolini was looking to restore Italian national pride through conquest. The emperor of Abyssinia, Haille Sellassie, appealed to the League to protect his country. The LoN after much debate, agreed trade sanctions on Italy excluding steel, gold and oil! Meanwhile Britain and France had been working a secret deal with Mussolini to try to keep him in the Stresea Front, an alliance to contain Nazi Germany. This Hoare-Laval Pact gave Italy chunks of Abyssinia. Mussolini agreed but when Britain and France then supported trade sanctions in the LoN he was angered and left the LoN the Stresa Front collapsed and Mussolini allied with Hitler in 1936 in the Rome-Berlin Axis). Italy used chemical weapons against the people of Abyssinia and the LoN had again failed to protect a member and stop aggression. The lack of an armed force and the self-interest of some key members undermined its credibility. The lack of the USA was a major problem. How did Hitler challenge and exploit the Treaty of Versailles in the period 1933 to March 1939? Hitler began to challenge the Treaty of Versailles from the moment he took control in Germany. All countries were facing deep economic and social problems due to the World Depression (sparked by the Wall St Crash). Hitler had 3 clear aims for Germany: 1. To overturn the Treaty of Versailles 2. To unite all the German people into a Greater Germany, ‘Pan-Germanism’. 3. To gain living space for the German people, ‘Lebensraum’ Hitler began building up Germany’s armed forces immediately. He introduced conscription as a away of reducing unemployment, but also of training an army. He began building autobahns to allow rapid movement (of troops!) and car/vehicle manufacturing was to provide military vehicles. Civil aviation expanded also allowing rapid conversion to military use. Though some of the build up was secret enough was obvious to suggest what was going on. Britain and France however, distracted by their own economic troubles chose to view it as an economic solution, and took no effective action beyond verbal complaint. In 1934 Hitler felt confident enough to attempt a move on Austria (strictly forbidden by the Treaty). He moved troops to the border but the Austrian Chancellor Dolfuss appealed for aid to preserve a free Austria. Mussolini, felt threatened by this move which would bring Nazi Germany right down to his borders so he joined Britain and France in the Stresea Front to block Hitler and moved Italian troops up to Austria’s southern border. Hitler backed down in the face of this but continued to promote fascism in Austria which resulted in the chancellor Dolfuss being assassinated and replaced with a more Nazi sympathetic gov’t. In 1935 the Saar coal-mining region on the borders of Germany and France was due to vote on its future after 15 years of French control as ordered by the Treaty of Versailles. Hitler launched a massive propaganda campaign and the Saar Plebiscite (vote) resulted in a massive demand to return to Germany. In 1936 Hitler decided to try to re-militarise the Rhineland which had been de-militarised by the Treaty to provide a safety zone on the French border. Hitler had seen how weak the LoN was in both Manchuria and Abyssinia and presumed that while it was distracted with Abyssinia it would not take action to stop him. So German troops marched into the Rhineland and Britain and France did nothing to stop him. Mussolini felt betrayed by Britain and France over the


Abyssinian deal and instead made a treaty with Hitler, the Rome-Berlin Axis. This meant Austria had lost a major defender as the Stresa Front collapsed. In March 1938 German troops invaded Austria. Many Austrians welcomed the Germans who it was felt might restore firm gov’t to Austria, which had collapsed into political unrest and fighting between communists, fascists and democrats. Those who disagreed faced arrest and worse. The Anschluss (union of Germany and Austria) was achieved despite the Treaty of Versailles. Why did appeasement fail to prevent the outbreak of war in 1939? Hitler seemed to have got away with all he tried so why? Europe was desperately afraid of another war and was willing to go to almost any lengths to avoid confrontation. The policy of the British Prime minister Neville Chamberlain was APPEASEMENT- giving aggressive countries like Germany and Italy what they wanted in order to avoid a major war. Without Britain France could not make a stand. In May 1938 there were pro-German demonstrations in the Sudeten area of Czechoslovakia. (Czechoslovakia had been created by the treaty of Versailles and Britain and France had agreed to guarantee its borders. The Sudetenland had about 3.5 million Germans living there). Hitler threatened war and Britain and France persuaded the Czech gov’t to make concessions to Hitler to avoid war. In September 1938 Hitler hosted a meeting in Munich at which Britain and France gave the Sudetenland to Hitler if he promised not to take anymore of Czechoslovakia. The Munich Agreement promised ‘Peace for our Time’ according to Chamberlain. The Czechs weren’t even consulted. To the east of Czechoslovakia the USSR was horrified that Britain and France had given in, the threat to them had increased! In March 1939 Hitler invaded and took the rest of Czechoslovakia. Britain and France did nothing but it was clear even to them that Appeasement had failed. In August 1939 Josef Stalin, the leader of the USSR signed the Nazi-Soviet Pact with Hitler to protect the USSR. They agreed not to attack each other, and at the same time they carved Poland up between them. On 1st September 1939 Hitler invaded Poland. Britain and France ordered him to leave. He ignored this ultimatum and on 3rd September Britain declared war on Germany.


Why did the USA and the USSR become rivals in the period 1945 to 1949? The USA is a capitalist democracy. This means that individuals vote for the government of their choice and have the right to own their wealth and property. The people work for the good of themselves, to improve their own lives with only a minimal safety net. The USSR was a communist dictatorship. This meant that the individual was not important except in how he could work for the good of the state. People did not vote for their government and did not have the right to own wealth or property. Everything belonged to the State. These two ways of running a government were too different for them to work together once the threat of Nazi Germany and Japan had been removed at the end of WW2. As the war in Europe was coming to its end the Big Three, USA (Roosevelt), USSR (Stalin) and Britain (Churchill) met to decide the future of Germany and Eastern Europe. At Yalta in April 1945 it was agreed to split Germany into 4 occupied zones (inc. French). To hold free elections in the formerly occupied areas of Eastern Europe and to replace the failed LoN with a new United Nations Organisation. At a second conference at Potsdam in August things had changed. Roosevelt had died and been replaced with Harry Truman, Churchill had lost the election to the Labour Party and been replaced with Clement Atlee. The USSR had been allowed to be the first to Berlin and had occupied all the lands in between on the way. The Potsdam conference agreed to split Germany and Berlin (which was in the USSR’s sector). Poland’s borders were agreed and War Crimes Trials would take place in Nuremberg to try Nazi leaders. Truman and Stalin fell out over several issues. Stalin was unwilling to lose the gains in Eastern Europe and was determined to force communism on them. The USA had deliberately kept the atom bomb a secret from the USSR which made them suspicious. These 2 countries were now the major world super powers. Every body else was too weak. In a famous speech Churchill declared that an ‘Iron Curtain’ had fallen on Europe dividing Eastern and Western Europe. (CZECHOSLOVAKIA, SATELLITE STATE, PUPPET GOVERNMENT) Only Yugoslavia remained as an independent but communist state under president Tito. The USA was determined to stop the spread of communism. In 1947 Truman made a speech in which he promised US help to any nation threatened by communism from inside or outside. This is called the Truman Doctrine. The USA also promised money aid to European countries to help rebuild their economies (poor people were attracted to communism because it promised equal shares). This was called the Marshall Plan. Britain and West Germany greatly benefited from Marshall aid. In retaliation Stalin offered a similar plan called Comecon (much less money!) The Berlin Blockade and airlift 1948-9. The division of Berlin was bound to cause problems. Britain, France and the USA agreed to a single government and a new currency to help economic recovery. The USSR disagreed; Stalin wanted Germany weak and unable to threaten the USSR. He decided to blockade Berlin (remember Berlin was in the USSR’s sector of divided Germany). All land routes from West Berlin to the west were cut. Between June 1948 and May 1949 all supplies were flown in by air at a huge cost. 8000 tons a day Stalin ended the blockade. Two new states were formed –West Germany (FDR) and East Germany (GDR) with the frontier drawn in Berlin. Stalin had tested the west’s commitment to Berlin and the relationship had cooled even more. The East-West split was confirmed.


How did the Cold War develop in the period 1949-55? In 1949 the western democratic powers formed an alliance called NATO North Atlantic Treaty Organisation as a defence against Communism. The arms race heated up in 1949 when the USSR successfully tested their own atom bomb. In 1952 the USA developed the Hydrogen bomb, again followed by the USSR. The Cold War is called the cold war because there wasn’t any direct fighting. Both sides used alliances and lots of propaganda as weapons. Each side relied on the nuclear deterrent-you bomb us, we’ll bomb you! MAD , mutually assured destruction. Both sides developed weapons and missiles with the USSR even going into space with Sputnik in 1957. BUT …There were hot spots! The Korean War 1950 was a crisis- it could have developed into a world war. In 1949 the civil war in China ended a Communist state was set up under Mao Tse-Tung. This meant that Communism was spreading into Asia as well. The USA adopted a policy of ‘Containment’ because they believed the Domino Theory , that there would be a knock on effect into south east Asia. Particularly when the USSR ‘s propaganda machine Cominform was in action. So when, in 1950, communist North Korea attacked South Korea to re-unite the country. The United Nations ordered an immediate attack on North Korea. UN forces landed and drove the North Koreans back north of the 38th parallel. President Truman allowed General McArthur, the UN commander to invade North Korea with UN forces that were mostly American. This worried China who feared a US invasion and so launched an attack on the UN forces. Between November 1950 and February 1951 Chinese forces advanced south and captured the capital of South Korea, Seoul. General McArthur wanted to attack China, even with nuclear strikes, but was over-ruled and sacked. Truman looked for peace and a ceasefire was agreed in 1953, with the line still drawn on the 38th parallel. The South East Asian Treaty Organisation-SEATO was formed in 1955 to block further communist expansion in Asia. The death of Stalin in 1953 brought about a change in Soviet policy. The new leader Nikita Khruschev offered a policy of Peaceful Co-existence, which seemed to tolerate the differences and seemed a softer line. He backed this up by withdrawing Soviet troops from Austria (occupied since 1945) and destroying Stalin’s reputation. However other action seemed to tell a different story- In 1955 the Eastern bloc countries formed the Warsaw Pact; when Hungary rebelled in 1956 it was brutally crushed; Sputnik took the arms race into space in 1957 and seriously alarmed the USA; crises over spying and continued suspicion resulted in the Cuban missile crisis of 1962 which brought the world to the brink of MAD.

GCSE History AQA B Paper 1 Revision Notes and Tasks  

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