Revision Diary

Czechoslovakia, Poland and WWII


Czechoslovakia, 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 results/importance.

3.  the Story of Hitler's attack on Poland.




The Slide to War, 1938-9


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 started.



1.   8 Nov 1938: Kristallnacht showed the Nazis were evil racists

2.   28 Feb 1939: MPs shouted ‘Heil Chamberlain’

3.   Remember that during all this time Britain was preparing for war





Nazi-Soviet Pact


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.  

2.   19 Aug: a Nazi-Soviet trade treaty was signed.

3.   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!"



Nazi-Soviet Pact - results/importance

  1. Freed up Hitler to invade Poland - he knew that Britain couldn't do anything to defend Poland (he invaded 9 days later).

  2. Ended Britain's hopes of an alliance with Russia to stop Hitler - people in Britain realised that nothing would stop Hitler now but war.

  3. Improved morale of British people for war - showed Hitler as an opportunist and a trickster, who could never be trusted.

  4. Anger at Russia was to become a cause of the Cold War.







After he had taken Czechoslovakia, Hitler set his sights on Poland.  

He demanded Danzig and right of way through the Polish corridor.

Nazis in Danzig rioted, and Hitler threatened to invade.

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.  


1.   In March 1939 Chamberlain had guaranteed Poland against German attack.  

2.   Aug 1939: Nazi-Soviet Pact

3.   1 Sep 1939: Hitler attacked Poland.   Chamberlain declared war two days later.





Revision Focus

This is a Paper 1 topic, so concentrate on learning:

1.   WHAT happened

2.   EFFECTS/ Importance



Mini book on 1938-39 in general, with a KEY page on Nazi-Soviet Pact



Online revision sheet  


Essays on:

    The events of 1938-9 and Why appeasement ended



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