Hut 1 – The Rise of Hitler and the Nazi Party
The Treaty of Versailles
The treaty which drew up the terms and conditions of the peace was signed by Germany and the Allies on 28th June 1919, at the Palace of Versailles, Paris. Germany had played no part in the negotiations; it was a peace dictated by the victors. Under threat of a naval blockade, Germany was forced to sign this ‘dictat’. The terms of the treaty were severe and vengeful rather then conciliatory and peaceful, placing military, territorial and financial limitations on Germany.
The second major cause of the Second World War was an economic one. The collapse of the German economy in the early 1920s and the financial crises which followed the Wall St. Crash of 1929, led to a period of instability both in Europe and the world as a whole.
The Rise of Nationalism
The third and final factor leading to the Second World War was the growth of extreme militant and nationalistic movements. These movements, often violent and always totalitarian did not allow for discussion or compromise, but met a fervent need for patriotic pride among the European people.
The Rise of the Nazi Party
Adolf Hitler was born in Braunau, Austria, in 1889. His crusade to overturn the humiliating Versailles Treaty, which ended the First World War, and restore Germany to glory and dignity, began in 1919 when he joined the minuscule German Workers’ Party.
The Rise of Hitler
The keystone of the Nazi gospel was race. The whole structure of the ‘New Order’, its worship of combat and ruthlessness, its theory of government and its vilest cruelties were the result of a radical theory of history.
The Road to War
Once Hitler had declared himself Fuhrer he was able to carry out his plans for Germany. Contravening the Treaty of Versailles he re-introduced military conscription and revealed the existence of a German Air Force – the Luftwaffe. Britain and France did nothing.
Countdown to War
Within minutes of Chamberlain’s announcement, the soon to be familiar sound of the sirens could be heard across London. A radar station had located an unidentified aircraft and two flights of RAF fighters were quickly scrambled. Although the intruder was found to be only a French civilian light aircraft London had its first taste of things to come.
Declaration of War
At 11 a.m., Great Britain was officially at war with Germany – at 11.15 am, Neville Chamberlain announced in the news that Britain was at war. He said “We have nothing to reproach ourselves with… God protect us and defend the right. This morning the British Ambassador in Berlin handed the German Government a final note stating that unless we heard from them by eleven o’clock that they were prepared at once to withdraw their troops from Poland, a state of war would exist between us. I have to tell you now that no such undertaking has been received and that consequently this country is at war with Germany.”