Economic Recovery World War II



In 1914 and 1915, Entente diplomacy offered Italy territorial gain, icluding entire Dalmatia, if it entered World War I on the side of the Entente. Italy entered the war in 1915. It suffered defeat (the occupation of the Venetian plain) and the hardship of war. After the war, territorial gains were made, but not sufficient to satisfy expectations (Dalmatia).
Entente diplomacy had created a mess by promising Dalmatia both to the Italians and to the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (Yugoslavia). The solution found in the TREATIES OF ST. GERMAIN EN LAYE, TRIANON and RAPALLO, giving most of Dalmatia to the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, and turning FIUME into a free city, did not satisfy either side. Territorial concessions made by Britain and France in Africa - the Italian colony of Libya was enlarged at the expense of French Sahara territory and Anglo-Egyptian Sudan (1919) did not satisfy the Italian public. Italian poet Gabriele D'Annunzio, with a group of followers, seized Fiume. In an atmosphere of general discontent, MUSSOLINI rose to power, Italy became Fascist.
The far majority of Germans regarded the TREATY OF VERSAILLES as injust, forced on Germany. Major points the Germans objected to were that Germany alone was declared responsible for the outbreak of the war, excessive reparations demands, an unfair application of the principle of the right of self-determination of people (DANZIG, with a clear German majority, was declared a free city; AUSTRIA, which had opted for unification, was forced by the Entente's veto not to do so). And Germany was forced to reduce it's army to a strength of 100.000. At the same time Germany had to witness the disintegration of it's allies, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire. The German Army never intended to subject to the statutes regulating the size of Germany's army. Large units officially were dismissed, but stayed together as underground units (FREE CORPS). Weapons Germany was not permitted to have were trained with in Russia, after the TREATY OF LOCARNO. In the TREATY OF RAPALLO, Germany had aceepted it's western borders. Even Germany's democratic governments perceived the Baltic States, Poland, Czechoslovakia as creations of Entente (French) diplomacy.


The positions of Italy and Germany were not without legitimation. The demands for REPARATIONS had led to spiralling HYPERINFLATION in Germany and to the French occupation of the RUHR. Germany's campaign of NON-VIOLENT RESISTANCE had turned world opinion against the French and resulted in the withdrawal of French troops from Ruhr and Rhineland. Several attempts were made to alleviate the burden of Reparations.
Meanwhile, non-democratic forces had taken control of the government in both Italy and Germany, both pursuing a policy of active expansion. Italy annexed FIUME in 1924, in violation of the Treaty of Rapallo. In 1925, Britain ceded the JUBALAND to Italy.


In the 1935 plebiscite, the population of the SAAR TERRITORY overwhelmingly voted for reintegration into Germany. Germany reintroduced GENERAL CONSCRIPTION, openly violating the Treaty of Versailles. In 1936, Hitler ordered German troops to march into the Rhineland. However, as the Rhineland was German territory anyway, the governments of Britain and the United States did not react ("after all, the Germans were only marching into their own back yard").
In October 1935 Italian troops invaded ETHIOPIA. The League of Nations proclaimed economic sanctions against Italy, which had little effect. Ethiopia became an Italian colony.
The Republic of Austria was another creation of Entente diplomacy. Treated as a defeated power, it did not enjoy French protection (like Czechoslovakia), but had been forbidden to unify with Germany. Austria's dictators DOLLFUSS (1932-34) and SCHUSCHNIGG (1934-1938) searched protection from Mussolini's Italy. Early in 1937, Italy joined the Anti-Comintern-Pact signed 1936 between Germany and Japan. Italy withdrew it's protection. On March 11th 1938, German forces marched into Austria unopposed. Hitler proclaimed the ANSCHLUSS. In September 1939 Hitler, arguing the German population of SUDETENLAND (Czechoslovakia) would be oppressed, threatened to invade Czechoslovakia. Mussolini, DALADIER, CHAMBERLAIN and Hitler met in Munich, where they signed the MUNICH PACT on Sept. 30th. Czechoslovakia, not represented at the conference, had to cede the Sudetenland to Germany, other disputed border regions to Hungary and Poland. British prime minister Neville Chamberlain had been the key figure at the Munich Conference. Seeing some legitimation in Germany's demand - the Sudetenland had a clear German majority - and aware that Britain was not ready for a war - the ARAB REVOLT IN PALESTINE tied British troops there, he persuaded Daladier to give in. The Munich Pact is the most important event in APPEASEMENT POLICY. Returning from Munich, Chamberlain told the press that he had averted a war.
On March 16th 1939, German forces invaded the rest of CZECHOSLOVAKIA. Ruthenia was ceded to Hungary, Slovakia declared independence, the rest of Bohemia and Moravia was declared a German protectorate. As the lands now proclaimed a protectorate had a clear Czech majority, this act could not be legitimized with the right of self-determination. Hitler had crossed a line.
In 1939, Italian troops occupied ALBANIA, a country dependent on Italy since 1925. An Italian administration was established.
In March 1939, Hitler demanded Lithuania to cede the MEMELLAND, an area German until 1918. Lithuania complied. At the same time, Hitler demanded DANZIG to be incorporated into Germany, a road connecting Germany and it's province of East Prussia (separated since 1919) to be granted by Poland, the so-called POLISH CORRIDOR. Poland rejected the demand. France and Britain renewed respectively concluded alliances with Poland. When Hitler ordered the invasion of Poland on September 1st 1939, Britain and France declared war on Germany; World War II had begun.

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on November 3rd 2004

Click here to go Home
Click here to go to Information about KMLA, WHKMLA, the author and webmaster
Click here to go to Statistics