The Rise of Nationalism and Military Expansion in Europe in the 1930s: A Q&A Session with an Expert
The 1930s was a tumultuous period in Europe, defined by the rise of nationalistic and expansionist policies that ushered in a new era of dictatorships. This article explores the events that led to the weakening of the League of Nations, the rearmament of Germany, and the rise of fascism in Italy, ultimately culminating in the outbreak of World War II. We engage with an expert to answer pressing questions on this crucial period in European history.
Table of Contents
- The Failure of the League of Nations and Japan’s Invasions
- Hitler’s Rise to Power and Germany’s Rearmament
- Ethiopia and Italy’s Invasion
- The Weakness of the League of Nations
- The Rise of Dictatorships and the Dual Threat to Peace
The Failure of the League of Nations and Japan’s Invasions
Q: How did Japan’s invasion of Manchuria demonstrate the weakness of the League of Nations?
A: Japan’s conquest of Manchuria in 1932 led to the establishment of Manchukuo, a puppet state controlled by Japan. Despite protests from China, the League of Nations failed to take any effective action against Japan, thereby weakening its credibility as a global forum for peace and cooperation. Japan’s invasion of Manchuria signaled the beginning of a new era of aggressive nationalism and military expansion in Asia.
Q: Did the League of Nations try to stop Japan’s actions in Manchuria?
A: Yes, the League of Nations did try to intervene by sending a commission of inquiry to investigate the situation. However, Japan withdrew from the League soon after the commission was established, signaling its indifference towards international law and collective security.
Hitler’s Rise to Power and Germany’s Rearmament
Q: How did Hitler use the weakness of the League of Nations to his advantage?
A: Hitler exploited the division between Britain and France on disarmament to withdraw Germany from the Disarmament Conference and the League in 1933. From then on, Hitler began to build up the German military in defiance of the Treaty of Versailles. The leaders of Britain, France, and Italy attempted to uphold the Treaty of Locarno to curb German rearmament, but a bilateral naval treaty between Britain and Germany undermined their efforts.
Q: Did other nations recognize the threat posed by Hitler’s rearmament?
A: Yes, many nations recognized the threat posed by Hitler’s rearmament and expansionist policies. The Soviet Union established diplomatic ties with the United Kingdom, France, and the USA in 1933, and joined the League of Nations in September 1934. The Soviet Union realized that they needed to collaborate with western democracies to build a system of collective security in Europe.
Ethiopia and Italy’s Invasion
Q: What was the significance of Italy’s invasion of Ethiopia in 1935?
A: Victory in this war would have a huge impact on Italy’s prestige, which would in turn help the fascist cause across Europe. Ethiopia was barbaric, with Italian bombers making widespread use of poison gas to terrorize the population. The war effectively ended over seven months after the Italian troops entered Addis Ababa in May 1936. The Ethiopian emperor had flown into exile. After Ethiopia, the League of Nations was reduced to idealistic irrelevance.
Q: How did the invasion of Ethiopia impact Germany?
A: The main beneficiary of the Ethiopian War was Germany. Mussolini had been distinctly cool towards Hitler before this war. Italy found itself largely friendless and facing sanctions during the war. Mussolini signaled that Stresa was dead, and that he would not oppose Austria falling under German sway. Hitler took the opportunity to remilitarize the Rhineland in 1936. The western democracies only protested after the event, but otherwise did nothing.
The Weakness of the League of Nations
Q: How did the League of Nations ultimately fail to prevent the Nazis’ aggression?
A: The League of Nations was weakened by its inability to enforce collective security, its failure to prevent Japan’s aggression in Manchuria, and its inability to prevent Italy’s invasion of Ethiopia. The British and French did little to stop Hitler when he remilitarized the Rhineland in 1936, and Hitler’s popularity in Germany increased as a result.
Q: Did any country outside of Europe try to stop the Nazis’ aggression?
A: No, most countries outside of Europe remained neutral in the face of the Nazis’ aggression. The USA remained isolationist and did not join the war until the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.
The Rise of Dictatorships and the Dual Threat to Peace
Q: How did the 1930s become the decade of the dictators?
A: All dictatorships eliminated (or severely restricted) pluralist forms of political representation, limited (or abolished) personal freedoms, controlled the mass media, terminated (or strictly limited) any judicial independence, and repressed political dissidents through extended police powers. The military played a decisive role in all dictatorships, and the role of the military was anti-socialist and ideologically national-conservative in character. Estonia’s Päts established an authoritarian regime to uphold internal security, while Piłsudski’s Poland was relatively mild in terms of authoritarianism in its early years but evolved into a harsher dictatorship.
Q: How did the rise of dictators pose a threat to peace in Europe?
A: In all, the dictators of Europe were shaping the destiny of the continent, posing a mounting dual threat to its peace. The rise of nationalistic and expansionist policies created a volatile mix that ultimately culminated in the outbreak of World War II. The 1930s were defined by a growing sense of mistrust and competition between nations, which ultimately led to the largest and deadliest conflict in human history.
The 1930s were a tumultuous period in European history, marked by the rise of nationalistic and expansionist policies that ultimately led to the outbreak of World War II. The weakness of the League of Nations, Hitler’s rearmament of Germany, and Italy’s invasion of Ethiopia were all key events that contributed to the mounting tension between nations. The rise of dictatorships only compounded the issue, posing a dual threat to the peace of Europe. Ultimately, it was the failure of diplomacy and the inability to enforce collective security that led to the bloodiest and most destructive conflict in human history.