'Hitler's foreign policy successes between 1935 and 1939 were the result of his own tactical skills and his ability to exploit the weaknesses of his opponents.' How far would you agree with this view?

Between 1935 and 1939 Hitler’s foreign policy achieved unbroken series of success. By 1938 Hitler achieved almost all the objectives set by him without war and more importantly with the approval of Britain. Some of these successes were:

  • As Germany in 1933 was weak militarily Hitler had to move cautiously. He first withdraws Germany from World Disarmament Conference and later from League too on the ground that France would not agree for equality in term of armament.
  • Be signing a non-aggression pact with Poland Hitler achieved two objectives. One, he scored British goodwill who took this pact as a further evidence of Hitler’s peaceful intentions. And two, it broke France’s little entente which was depended on Poland. This pact ensured Polish neutrality in case Germany decided to move against Austria and Czechoslovakia.
  • In 1935 Saar was returned to Germany after plebiscite as provided in the peace settlement. Nazi Propaganda took advantage of it. Hitler announced that now all the grievances between France and Germany has been resolved.
  • His first successful breach of the treaty of Versailles was the reintroduction of conscription in 1953. His excuse was that both France and Britain were increasing their military strength. Though the Stresa front (Britain, France, and Italy) condemned this but no action was taken. League also failed to take some action on this breach of the treaty.
  • By signing the Anglo-German Naval Agreement (1935) Hitler broke whatever was left of Stresa Front.
  • Encourager by his recent successes Hitler took a calculated risk and send German troops to the demilitarized zone of Rhineland in march 1936. It was a breach of both Versailles and Locarno. Now well aware of pacifist mood of his opponent he soothed them by offering the peace treaty to last for 25 years.
  • Hitler consolidated Germany’s position by consolidating Rome-Berlin axis and signing Anti- Comintern Pact with Japan and Italy. Hitler along with Mussolini gave military help to Franco during Spanish civil war.
  • Hitler’s Greatest success was the Anschluss with Austria. Encouraged by Hitler, Austrian Nazi staged huge demonstrations. Unable to control the situation Chancellor Schuschnigg announced a referendum. Fearing that vote may go against union Hitler’s troops moved in and Austria became part of Third Reich. It also revealed the weakness of Britain and France to Hitler who again only protested. This encouraged Hitler to now focus on Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia.
  • Munich conference was the last success of Hitler pre-war. By taking advantage of the weakness of Britain he successfully persuaded them to gift Sudetenland to him.

Thus, by looking to all these successes of Hitler that too in a short period time leaves no doubt that Hitler was skillful in judging the weaknesses of his opponents and using them to his advantage.

Question for UPSC Mains:
'Hitler's foreign policy successes between 1935 and 1939 were the result of his own tactical skills and his ability to exploit the weaknesses of his opponents.' How far would you agree with this view?

Published: March 19, 2017 | Modified:June 27, 2019

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