Challenges to peace

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1929-1934: The Great Depression and unrest


During the depression, the prices of stock fell 40%.

  • 9,000 banks went out of business and 9 million savings accounts were wiped out.
  • 86,00 businesses failed, and wages were decreased by an average of 60%.
  • The unemployment rate went from 9% all the way to 25%, about 15 million jobless people.

By 1933, Workers were either fired, laid off, or had extra work to do with less pay if they still had their job. The domestic market was affected and many lost their lands because they couldn't keep up with the payments, and most factory workers had to work twice as hard to earn the same amount of money they did before the Depression hit.

  • In Europe, France and Britain were weakened financially while the USA maintained isolationism

Wall Street Crash

After world war one, during the years of Peace and Prosperity, also known as the roaring twenties, people were happy that the war was over and they were investigating different ways of earning money. The discovery of stocks was made when people realised they could make money of the stocks, so they began to buy stocks. But then everyone began buying stocks, and taking out loans to buy the stocks. There was over $8.5 billion out on loan, and people could not afford to pay them back. When the market turned down, everyone started panic selling and the stock market crashed.

The Young Plan

The Young Plan was a revised plan for Germany to pay back her reparations. It was reduced from 6.6 billion pounds to 2.2 billion pounds.

Life during the Great Depression

Life during the great depression was hard (obviously) children between 10-13 were having to work for their families while their parents were unemployed. The gap between people who had money and people who did not became even larger, in some places people got by by house jumping or letting people board in their house.

How Hitler used this to his advantage.

In Germany, the depression had hit twice as hard, because the inflation had become so high and the Americans were needing their repayments to build back the economy. Hitler took this as his advantage because he promised jobs. He blamed the Jews for taking all the jobs, and promised Germans that he could give them jobs if he was elected into Parliament. In 1933, he became Chancellor of Germany.

  • Italian and German nationalists exploit the turmoil
  • Gave Hitler a campaign stage
  • Rise in unemployment allowed Hitler to exploit people's unhappiness
  • War was good for business
  • Fear of a rise in communism
  • Japan invades China (1931-38)

1934-1936: Rising tensions

File:Briefmarke Luftwaffe.jpg
German stamp comemorating the luftwaffe

Attempt at Anschluss

  • The Treaty of Versailles banned anschluss (union of Austria and Germany)
  • Nazi fifth columnists demanded anschluss.
  • Anschluss was banned by Austrian Chancellor Dollfuss.
  • In July 1934 Dollfuss was assassinated and Nazis called on Hitler to take over.
  • The attempt at Anschluss caused International protest especially amongst the League of Nations.
  • Mussolini sent troops to the Austrian border.
  • Hitler who had just begin to rearm was not that strong so backed down.
  • Mussolini kept on protecting Austria until he was so heavily involved in the Spanish Civil War he could not do so anymore.

German re-armament, creation of luftwaffe and conscription

  • Hitler reaction to the failed anschluss was to fasten his rearmament.
  • In 1935 he announced the existence of his luftwaffe (air force) and general conscription.
  • Europe learned that the Nazis had 2,500 war planes in its Luftwaffe.
  • Germany had an army of 300,000 men in its Wehrmacht
  • Britain without talking to the French agreed to Germany being able to rearm their navy.

Abyssinian Crisis

Hoare-Laval Plan

Spanish Civil War

Anti-Comintern Pact (1936)

Formation of the Axis and the Pact of Steel

1937-1939: Appeasement


  • Neville Chamberlain the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom had a foreign policy of Appeasement ,
  • Appeasement gave Germany and other Axis powers an opportunity to build strength before attacking the rest of Europe
  • There was a feeling that Germany had been hard-done-by at the Treaty of Versailles so this had to be made up for.
  • There was also a fear of Russian Communism
  • Hitler was seen as a barrier to Communism and less of a long term threat.
  • Neville Chamberlain wanted 'peace in our time'
  • Hitler's actions were seen as Germany as 'regaining parts of its backyard'


  • Germany became more aggressive and became more prepared for war because of the delays.
  • Hitler saw other nations as weak and malleable because he thought that other country gave him what he wanted because they were afraid of him. Because Hitler believed other nations were afraid of him, this led to invasion of Czechoslovakia .
  • Anschluss (March 1938)
  • Sudentenland (1938)
  • Munich Conference (Sept 1938)