Czechoslovakia, Poland and WWII
March 1939; growing tensions, 1938-9
including role of
USSR; Nazi-Soviet Pact; Poland and outbreak of war.
Make sure that you know about:
1. The events of 1938-9,
as Europe slid to war, with the significance of each step
2. the Story of the Nazi-Soviet
Pact in detail, and its
3. the Story of Hitler's attack on Poland.
Two things pushed Chamberlain into war after Munich.
Firstly, he came under increasing pressure from Winston
Churchill to stop appeasing Hitler.
Secondly, in March 1939, Hitler invaded and took over the
rest of Czechoslovakia - proving that Hitler was a liar, and would only be
stopped by a war.
Hitler started to make noises about Danzig.
Chamberlain promised to defend Poland, but in August 1939 Hitler made a Pact
with Russia to attack and split Poland between them.
On 1 September 1939, Hitler invaded Poland, and two days
later Chamberlain declared war. The Second World War had
8 Nov 1938:
Kristallnacht showed the Nazis were evil racists
28 Feb 1939: MPs
shouted ‘Heil Chamberlain’
3. Remember that during all this
time Britain was preparing for war
Chamberlain promised to defend Poland.
He knew that the best way to protect
Poland was an alliance with Russia, but he did not like Communism.
He dragged his feet. he sent a minor diplomat on a slow boat -
negotiations went nowhere.
Meanwhile, Stalin did not trust Britain - he
though Chamberlain would appease Hitler.
Stalin approached Hitler, who offered to pay
Russia's price (half of Poland).
In August 1939, the Nazi-Soviet was signed -
Stalin and Hitler agreed in public not to attack each other, but promised in
a secret protocol to invade and split Poland between them.
1. Aug 1939: the British sent a minor official
called Reginald Ranfurly Plunckett-Ernle-Erle-Drax.
19 Aug: a Nazi-Soviet trade treaty was signed.
23 Aug: when the Nazi-Soviet Pact was
concluded, Hitler pounded on the wall with his fists and shouted, "I have
the world in my pocket!"
Freed up Hitler to invade Poland - he knew that Britain couldn't do anything
to defend Poland (he invaded 9 days later)
Ended Britain's hopes of an alliance with Russia to stop Hitler - people
in Britain realised that nothing would stop Hitler now but war.
Improved morale of British people for war - showed Hitler as an
opportunist and a trickster, who could never be trusted.
Anger at Russia was to become a cause of the Cold War.
After he had taken Czechoslovakia, Hitler set his sights on
He demanded Danzig and right of way through
the Polish corridor.
Nazis in Danzig rioted, and Hitler threatened to
Hitler was not afraid of Britain, but he did fear
war with Russia.
Hitler made the
Nazi-Soviet Pact with Russia, which left him
free to attack Poland.
In March 1939 Chamberlain had guaranteed Poland against German attack.
2. Aug 1939:
1 Sep 1939
Hitler attacked Poland.
Chamberlain declared war two days later.