"History is past politics, and politics present history." John Robert Seeley

"The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you can see." Winston Churchill

"What we have to learn to do, we learn by doing." Aristotle


International Relations in the 20th Century

20th Century Powerpoint (1919 – 1965): 20thCenturyTotalPPT21-3

The Russian Revolution:  1917 – 1924

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The Russian Revolution began when Tsar Nicholas II of Russia was forced to abdicate on March 15th, 1917 and was replaced by a Provisional Government led by Alexander Kerensky. Street protests and demonstrations at food shortages and an unpopular war had finally broken the Russian peasants’ patience. The Provisional Government attempted to bring stability back to Russia, but crucially continued Russian participation in the First World War.
Vlaadimir Ilich Ulyanov (Lenin) returned from exile to Petrograd in Russia by train in April, bringing with him his ‘April Theses’ wherein he described the changes that would have to be made in his home country. He promised “Peace, Land, Bread” to the Russian people and declared “All Power to the Soviets”. The Soviets had emerged since the failed revolution of 1905, made up of factory workers and peasants, forming a ‘council’ (Soviet in Russian). These Soviets would later be brought together by Leon Trotsky to form the ‘Red Army. By October, Kerensky’s Provisional Government had become unstable and the Bolshevik Communists, led by Lenin, seized power on 25th October, replacing the Duma-based Government with councils (Soviets) elected by factory workers and peasants.
In January 1918, Lenin, as leader of the Bolshevik Government, shut down the Duma (Parliament) and Russia became a one-party state. Supporters of the Tsar attempted to re-take power and so the Russian Civil War, 1918 – 1921, began between the ‘Reds’ (Bolsheviks) and the ‘Whites’ (Tsarists, Anti-Communists, Foreign Armies*). During the Russian Civil War, Lenin introduced ‘War Communism’, whereby food and grain was forcibly taken from peasants for the workers in Petrograd and the Red Army fighting in the Civil War. This resulted in the deaths of millions of Russians. The greatest threat to the Bolsheviks came when the Russian Navy, traditionally supportive of the Soviets, launched a rebellion in Kronstadt. The ‘Kronstadt Rebellion’ was eventually crushed, but Lenin realised that traditional supporters of revolution in Russia were becoming highly critical of the severity of Bolshevik rule. In 1921, he introduced the New Economic Plan, whereby small private businesses were again allowed to open. The State still controlled the factories and banks, but a little capitalism resulted in Russia emerging from crisis and the famines ending. Lenin founded the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in 1922


Paris Peace Conference: 1919

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At the end of the First World War in 1918, the European Powers and USA agreed to meet to bring about a formal conclusion to the social and political destruction created by the war. The Paris Peace Conference, held in Versailles in the ‘Hall of Mirrors’ was the setting for these discussions. In truth, the whole process was a ‘fait accompli’ as the German delegation were given no voice at the meetings. This was the embodiment of the ‘War Guilt Clause’ whereby Germany and her allies assumed all responsibility for the war.
President Woodrow Wilson (USA) brought with him his concept of ‘Fourteen Points’, one of which was ‘self-determination of small nations’. The Austro-Hungarian Empire was entirely broken up, creating individual nations such as Austria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia. Interestingly, Sinn Féin’s delegation sent by Dáil Eireann, was entirely ignored in its effort to secure recognition for the Irish Republic by the ‘Big Four’; Lloyd George (UK), Woodrow Wilson (USA), Clemenceau (France) & Vittorio Orlando (Italy)

The Treaty of Versailles (1919)
In this treaty, the most contentious and controversial of all, Germany was made responsible for all the loss, human and material, of the First World War. This was known as the ‘War Guilt Clause’ (Article 231). Germany lost all her overseas colonies (Article 22) which were split between the victorious allies. Germany’s navy was drastically reduced and her U-Boats banned. The German army was reduced to 100,000 men and conscription banned. Most damaging of all, Germany was required to pay ‘reparations’ for damage to the countries she invaded and attacked. These reparations were to cost Germany 6.6 billion pounds.
Territorial Losses
Germany also lost a large amount of her national territory. The Alsace-Lorraine region, which was German-speaking, was to be ceded (given) to France, which she had lost to Germany in the 1871 Franco-Prussian war.
Northern Schleswig was given to Denmark following a plebiscite.
The Saar Region was to be put under League of Nations control until a plebiscite was arranged 15 years later to decide its destiny.
The city of Danzig & East Prussia in north-east Prussia was made a ‘Free City‘. Its port was vital to any German Navy and also for trade.  This move cut it off from Germany.
The large Province of Posen was also given to Poland.


Mussolini’s Italy

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After the end of World War I, Italy expected to receive more lands than it did in the Paris Peace Settlement. Many Italians, particularly ex-soldiers, were frustrated at the lack of ‘success’ even though they were on the winning side. Benito Mussolini, a former journalist and socialist, founded the National Fascist Party in 1920 and began advocating a strong line against Communism and the weakness of Italian Governments. The frustration of World War One, coupled with the threat of Communism led to Mussolini’s ‘March on Rome’ in 1922. The King, Victor Emmanuel III, fearing a revolution, invited Mussolini to become Prime Minister in 1922.


Nazi Germany 1933 – 1939

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When Weimar Germany began to collapse economically in 1929 – 1932 due to the Wall Street Crash of 1929, the Nazi Party (NSDAP) increased dramatically in popularity. By 1932, they were the largest party in the Reichstag (German Parliament). After Hitler was made Chancellor in 1933, a fire-attack on the German Reichstag preceded the introduction and passing of the Enabling Act. This gave Hitler the power to pass laws without consulting Parliament.

Totalitarian State ‘Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Fuhrer’
From 1933 to 1939, Hitler and the Nazis quickly turned Germany into a totalitarian state. Every year, the Nazi Party held rallies at Nuremberg. In the ‘Night of the Long Knives’ (1934), Hitler had Ernst Rohm murdered along with the senior members of the SA (Brownshirts). Each year, these rallies would have their own ‘theme’ e.g. Rally of Victory (1933) & Rally of Unity & Strength (1934). In 1935, Hitler introduced the Nuremberg Laws, whereby, ‘pure’ Germans could not marry or have relations with any race other than Germans, particularly not Jews. In these laws, German Jews were also stripped of their citizenship. They now became ‘state subjects’. This anti-Semitic policy reached its culmination in the 1930’s with a widespread attack on Jewish shops and businesses  on the ‘Night of Broken Glass’ (Kristallnacht) in 1938. After the Second World War began in 1939, Jews from Germany and all over Europe would face even more persecution culminating in the formulation of ‘The Final Solution’ in 1942; a plan to exterminate all Jews in Europe. All aspects of German life were directly influenced by Nazi Propaganda under the control of Dr. Josef Goebbels, Minister for Propaganda & Popular Enlightenment. Radio, cinema and newspapers were strictly controlled by Goebbels. The Hitler Youth was created to indoctrinate young German boys and the League of German Maidens emphasised the role of women as home-makers and mothers.

Foreign Policy 1933 – 1939 Destruction of Treaty of Versailles – Grossdeutschland – Anschluss – Lebensraum
In foreign policy, Hitler denounced the Treaty of Versailles from his political beginnings in the 1920’s. Once in power, he began to rip up different parts of the Treaty. In 1935, he re-introduced conscription and increased the size of the German Army (Wehrmacht). He also signed the Anglo-German Naval Agreement which allowed Germany to increase the size of its nay. In 1936, he re-militarised the Rhineland, a gamble that paid off as neither the British nor the French took action against him. He also signed the Rome-Berlin Axis, creating an alliance with Italy in foreign affairs. In 1938, Hitler annexed Austria in the Anschluss and also demanded the Sudetenland from Czechoslovakia, which contained 3 million German speakers. In a bid to bring stability to Europe, Chamberlain the British Prime Minister went to the Munich Conference where Hitler claimed that it was his last demand. Chamberlain returned to London, declaring that he had secured “Peace in our times”. In 1939, Hitler annexed the rest of Czechoslovakia. In August, to everyone’s surprise, he signed the Nazi-Soviet Ten Year Non-Aggression Pact (also known as the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact). In September, Germany invaded Poland, sparking the beginning of the Second World War on 3rd Septmeber 1939.


World War II

PowerPoint: World War II

The 1st Phase: September 1939 –  October 1940

After invading Poland on the 1st September 1939, Britain & France declared war on Germany on 3rd September. The BEF (British Expeditionary Force) located in Belgium were tasked with defending Belgium and France. When Hitler turned westward to invade France, Belgium and Holland in May – June 1940, the BEF and French Army were ill-equipped to deal with the overwhelming speed and power of German ‘Blitzkrieg’ tactics. When Fance fell in June 1940, Hitler turned his attention to Britain. The plan to invade Britain was codenamed ‘Operation Sealion’, but first Germany had to subdue the British Royal Air Force (RAF). The Battle of Britain during mid-to-late summer 1940 culminated in Hitler shelving his plans to invade Britain. The British Spitfire & Hurricane aircraft, combined with the new technology of radar, helped to prevent German Luftwaffe gaining air supremacy over Britain. In October 1940, Hitler switched to bombing British cities, particularly London, in a bid to break British morale. This became known as the ‘Blitz’.

The 2nd Phase: July 1941 – October 1943

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