The Second people War was the most destructive dispute in human history. Years of worldwide tension and aggressive development by Fascist Italy and also Nazi Germany culminated in the German intrusion of Poland top top 1 September 1939. Britain and France asserted war ~ above Germany two days later.

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The decision that led to war reflected the ambitions, rivalries, fears and also anxieties that arisen in the two years that complied with the finish of the First world War. The europe powers to be willing to go to war to expand or defend what each country saw - in dramatically different ways - as matters of an essential interest, an excellent power status, global prestige, and also national survival.

The heritage of the very first World War

The an initial World War and also its subsequent tranquility settlements offered rise to new ambitions, rivalries and also tensions. Human being had high expectations the the post-war peace settlement would develop a new world order and ensure that the slaughter of the first World battle was never ever repeated.

The treaty of Versailles, signed in June 1919, produced the league of nations - an global body to plan to promote peace and also prevent war. However, the treaty to be an uneasy deteriorate as each of the victorious Allies - Britain, America, France and Italy - looked to pursue their own interests. Germany was compelled to surrender territory, disarm and also pay because that the war"s damage. This divisive problems were criticised together overly vindictive by numerous in Britain and America. The treaty"s state caused immediate outrage and also lasting bitterness in Germany.

The sense of defeat, humiliation and also injustice would have a significant impact on German foreign and also domestic policies, and calls to revise the terms of the treaty became a significant aspect of global politics in the 1920s and 1930s. The duration between the two civilization wars was one of instability and also insecurity. Political, economic and also social unrest was made worse by the collapse of the international economic situation in 1929.


The Retreat from Democracy in Europe

The instability and also insecurity of the 1920s and 1930s offered rise to politics extremism in numerous European countries. Human being looked come authoritarian management as a political alternative. Fascist leader Benito Mussolini concerned power in Italy in 1922 and nearly all facets of Italian life come under state control. 

In Germany, Adolf Hitler became Chancellor in 1933 and also established a totalitarian one-party state under the Nazis. Politics opposition was violent repressed. Hitler exploited the popular id that Germany had actually been humiliated after the an initial World War. The promised financial recovery, national revival and also that Germany would return to worldwide prominence through a revision of the treaty of Versailles.

Germany withdrew from the altoalsimce.organization of nations in October 1933. In 1935, Hitler announced German rearmament and re-introduced conscription, which to be prohibited under Versailles. The ultra-nationalist governments of both Italy and also Germany each pursued aggressive foreign policies of territorial growth that intimidated to damage the world order established by the post-war peace settlement.

Italy and Germany on the March

On 3 October 1935, Italy invaded Abyssinia (present day Ethiopia). Both countries were members that the league of Nations, and Italy"s aggression compelled the altoalsimce.organization to intervene. However, Britain and also France struggled to name: coordinates an effective response. They imposed limited economic sanctions, which only pushed Italy away from Britain and also France and into closer co-operation through Germany. Urged by the weak solution to Italy"s assault on Abyssinia, Hitler sent out troops right into the Rhineland on 7 march 1936. This demilitarised zone had actually been created under the contract of Versailles as a buffer between Germany and also France. Britain did not check out the occupation as a threat to its understanding or overall security and also did not respond militarily. France, already politically and also militarily insecure, to be left feeling isolated internationally and also did small to withstand the occupation. Hitler"s success in the Rhineland motivated him to seek an even more aggressive international policy. Intervention in the Spanish civil War, which broke out in July 1936, reinforced the divide between Italy and Germany ~ above one side, and Britain and France top top the other.


Germany Expands

Hitler"s ambitions for German expansion became increasingly obvious throughout 1938. German troops marched into Austria top top 12 march and, through the enthusiastic assistance of many Austrians, the country was linked to Germany the following day. There was tiny international resistance to this Anschluss, which countless viewed together a natural union. However, Hitler"s needs for the German-speaking locations of Czechoslovakia produced a crisis that lugged Europe come the brink of battle in September 1938.

The multi-ethnic state the Czechoslovakia had actually been created towards the finish of the an initial World War. Plenty of Germans life in Czechoslovakia want to re-join Germany. Most resided in an area along the German and also Austrian borders, recognized as the Sudetenland. In the summer of 1938, Hitler endangered war if the Sudetenland to be not yielded to Germany. Britain and also France, although in the procedure of rearming, did not yet feeling able to confront Hitler with force. But by 27 September, both had reluctantly welcomed that they would certainly go to war if German troops gotten in Czech are without international agreement. The next day, Hitler agreed come an international conference to solve the Sudeten issue.

Britain Appeases

The Italian, British, French and German leaders met in Munich ~ above 29 and also 30 September. Lock agreed to accept German annexation of the Sudetenland and also the brothers secured a tranquility pledge from Hitler. Czechoslovakia was not invited come take component in the discussions, yet was compelled to expropriate the Munich Agreement. Appeasement is the name offered to Britain"s plan of agree German growth in Europe in the 1930s. It emerged in response to Britain"s assessment of the political, economic and strategic situation and also was greatly influenced by solid anti-war sentiment. 

Britain"s renewed rearmament programme was not yet complete. Support from the Dominions was uncertain and France, Britain"s allied in Europe, to be weakened through political and also economic crisis. Most Britons were desperate to prevent the destruction of another world war, a view common by British element Minister Neville Chamberlain. Chamberlain search to find a calm solution, yet appeasement had actually its limits. As soon as Britain began to watch German demands as a direct threat to its defense or the protection of the Empire, the tone of british policy began to change.

A crisis Grows

The Munich agreement removed the immediate threat the war and also gave brother time to proceed preparing because that a potential war. However Hitler"s trust only grew after Munich. The was details that Britain and France would not use pressure to resist more German expansion. In march 1939, German pressures occupied what stayed of Czech territory. This encouraged Britain and France that there to be no borders to Hitler"s territorial ambitions. They were now established to protect against German domination of Europe - by pressure if necessary. 

Recognising that Poland was likely to it is in Germany"s next target, they offered guarantees to defend Polish independence. Britain and France, who had actually renewed your entente in February, began joint armed forces planning. Both countries ongoing rearming and in April 1939 Britain introduced peacetime conscription for the first time in its history. However, battle was still viewed as a last resort.

The Danzig Crisis

As Germany was completing its conquest of Czechoslovakia, an additional crisis was developing over the city the Danzig (present day Gdansk). Poland was one of several new countries born the end of the first World War. The brand-new Polish state was given accessibility to the sea with a "corridor" carved out of German territory. The previous German city of Danzig was developed as a cost-free City run by the altoalsimce.organization of nations to offer as a major port for polishing trade. The creation of an independent Poland and the lose of Danzig created lasting resentment in Germany. 

In October 1938, the German foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop met through the polishing ambassador Josef Lipski to comment on Danzig"s go back to Germany. Discussions became much more forceful in ~ a meeting in between Hitler and also Polish foreign Minister Józef Beck on 5 January 1939 (pictured here). However, the Poles refuse to back down - Danzig to be an problem over i beg your pardon they would fight. Polish resistance to German requirements strengthened after ~ Britain and France authorize their promises to safeguard Poland"s independence in march 1939. In April, Hitler bespeak preparations because that the invasion of Poland. That strengthened ties v Japan, the main threat come Britain"s empire in the far East, and also in might he signed a army alliance through Italy.

The Nazi-Soviet Pact

The Soviet Union had largely withdrawn from worldwide affairs in the 1920s and also early 1930s, yet German hostility and the growing threat of Japan drive it to rethink its foreign policy and renew its partnership with Britain and also France. Yet this connection was marked by scepticism and distrust ~ above both sides. Britain and France started talks through the Soviet Union in the summer the 1939, however the three powers struggled to with an agreement and negotiations collapsed. 

Simultaneously, the Soviet Union was discussing a settlement with Germany. The Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact was signed ~ above 23 respectable 1939, in addition to a an enig protocol that left Hitler totally free to assault Poland without risking war through the Soviet Union and also divided eastern Europe right into German and Soviet spheres that influence.

Germany Invades Poland

In response to the Nazi-Soviet Pact, Britain and also Poland gone into into a formal army alliance top top 25 August. The British still hoped because that a tranquil solution, yet continued preparing for war. The next few days were significant by frantic make the efforts to with a settlement. Mussolini called Hitler that regardless of their armed forces alliance, Italy would certainly not fight. 

Hitler available to guarantee the safety of Britain"s empire, however emphasised the have to "solve" the dilemm over Poland. On 29 August, Hitler gift British ambassador sir Nevile Henderson through a set of minimum problems for settlement, which included conceding both Danzig and the corridor. Hitler likewise made cursory requirements for Poland come send a representative for straight negotiations within 24 hours. Britain and Poland refused. The situation became deadlocked. The German invasion of Poland began at 4.45am top top 1 September.

Britain and also France Declare battle on Germany

Neville Chamberlain broadcast this announcement to the country at 11.15am on 3 September. A brother ultimatum demanding that Germany retract its troops from Poland had been yielded earlier that morning and also expired at 11.00 there is no a reply. Brothers was when again at war through Germany. The outbreak of war did no come together a surprise.

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Tensions in Europe had been structure for years and also there was a cultivation feeling the German aggression needed to be confronted with force. The brother reluctantly welcomed that war was crucial to protect against Hitler. Germany stood for a straight threat to British security and the defense of that empire. Accepting German domination of Europe had grave implications for british status and also survival. Britain went to war in 1939 to defend the balance of strength in Europe and also safeguard Britain"s place in the world.