THE INTER-WAR PERIOD 1938

THE INTER-WAR PERIOD 1938

On 25th January 1938, during the Nanking Massacre, John M. Allison, the consul at the American embassy in Nanjing, was struck in the face by a Japanese soldier. This incident is commonly known as the ‘Allison Incident’. The Americans demanded an apology and the Japanese Consul-General Katsuo Okazaki apologised formally on the 30th January 1938. This incident together with the looting of American property in Nanking that took place at the same time, further strained relations between Japan and the United States, which had already been damaged by the USS Panay incident less than two months earlier.

Following the onset of the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937, the Imperial Japanese Army marched rapidly into the heart of China and reached The Yellow River on the 13th March 1938. By the 6th June 1938, the Japanese had control of all North China. To stop further Japanese advances into western and southern China, Chiang Kai-shek, leader of the Republic and Nationalist Government in Central China, was determined to open up the dykes on the Yellow River. The dykes were opened on 7th June 1938 but the flooding destroyed the southern bank and the water covered and destroyed thousands of square kilometres of farmland and shifted the mouth of the Yellow River hundreds of kilometres to the south. The loss of life was later estimated at 800,000 drowned.

On the morning of the 12th March 1938, the 8th Army of the German Wehrmacht crossed the border into Austria. The troops were greeted by cheering Austrians with Nazi salutes, Nazi flags and flowers. For the Wehrmacht, this was the first big test of Adolf Hitler’s demands over territorial rights. Although the invading forces were badly organised and coordination among the units was poor, the Austrian government ordered the Bundesheer [Austrian Armed Forces] not to resist. Riding in a car that afternoon, Hitler crossed the border along with a 4,000 man bodyguard. The enthusiasm displayed toward the Germans surprised both Nazis and non-Nazis, as most people believed that a majority of Austrians opposed Anschluss which refers the annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany.

The Évian Conference was convened from the 6th to 16th July 1938, at Évian-les-Bains in France to discuss the Jewish refugee problem following the persecution of the Jews by the Germans. U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt initiated the conference in an effort to obtain commitments from some of the invited nations to accept refugees. The conference was attended by representatives from 32 countries, presenting plans either orally or in writing. Adolf Hitler, Germany’s Chancellor, responded to the news of the conference by saying if other nations would agree to take the Jews, he would help them to leave. The conference was ultimately doomed, when delegates from 31 of the 32 participating nations failed to come to any agreement about accepting the Jewish refugees fleeing the Third Reich. The conference inadvertently proved to be a useful propaganda tool for the Nazis.

The Battle of Lake Khasan began on the 29th July 1938. It was a military incursion by Manchukuo (the Japanese puppet state in China) into the territory claimed by the Soviet Union. This incursion was founded on the in the belief of the Japanese, that the Soviet Union misinterpreted the demarcation boundary based on the Treaty of Peking agreed by Imperial Russia and the Qing Dynasty China. The Japanese also claimed the demarcation markers had been tampered with. Japanese forces occupied the disputed area and on the 31st July 1938 the Soviet army and navy responded. Despite repelling the Soviet thrusts, it became obvious the local Japanese units would not be able to hold the area without widening the conflict. On the 10th August 1938 the Japanese ambassador asked for peace. On the 11th August 1938, satisfied the incident had an “honourable” conclusion the Japanese stopped fighting and the Soviet forces reoccupied the heights overlooking the lake.

On the 27th September 1938 U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt wrote to the German Chancellor Adolf Hitler regarding the threat of war in Europe. Hitler had been threatening to invade the Sudetenland of Czechoslovakia over their natural and industrial resources. Roosevelt’s letter and subsequent follow-up letter failed to find a peaceful solution. Hitler’s response was that the Treaty of Versailles had treated Germany in a “shameful way” and given the Sudetenland to the state of Czechoslovakia. Therefore the invasion of “Sudetenland” was justified by returning the area to its cultural and historical roots. Hitler assured Roosevelt that he also desired to avoid another large-scale war in Europe.

The Munich Agreement was a settlement permitting Nazi Germany’s annexation of portions of Czechoslovakia along the countries border mainly inhabited by German speaking people. The new territory was given the designated name of “Sudetenland”. The agreement was signed in the early hours of the 30th September 1938 after being negotiated at a conference held in Munich. The agreement was signed by Germany, Great Britain, France and Italy but excluded Russia. The Sudetenland was of immense importance to Czechoslovakia, as most of its border defences and financial institutions were located there. Czechoslovakia had not been invited to the conference and therefore did not have the opportunity to protest. They realised Britain and France had betrayed them in the face of the demands made by Adolf Hitler. The agreement later proved to be a failed act of appeasement to Germany. The British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, attended the conference wishing for peace in Europe. On the 30th September 1938, upon his return to Britain, Chamberlain delivered his controversial “peace for our time” speech to crowds of spectators.

Herschell Grynszpan was a seventeen year old German born Polish Jew who was living in Paris when he assassinated Emst vom Rath. Grynszpan was one of thousands of Polish Jews who were expelled from Poland by the Nazis. On the morning of the 7th November 1938, he purchased a revolver and a box of bullets. He went to the German Embassy and asked to see an embassy official. After he was taken to the office of vom Rath, Grynszpan fired five bullets at him, two of which hit him in the abdomen. Vom Rath was a professional diplomat with the Foreign Office who expressed anti-Nazi sympathies, largely based on the Nazi’s treatment of the Jews, and was under Gestapo investigation for being politically unreliable. Grynszpan made no attempt to resist or escape, and he identified himself correctly to the French police. He confessed to shooting vom Rath saying his motives were to avenge the persecuted Jews. He was arrested but never appeared in court. He was transported to various prisons and his fate is unknown. Some sources say he was executed in 1940 while others state he was seen as late as 1960. Despite the best efforts of French and German doctors, vom Rath died on the 9th November 1938. The Nazis used Grynszpan’s action as ‘justification’ for further violent assaults on the German Jews. Within hours, the Nazis began a pogom against Jewish communities throughout Germany, known as Kristallnacht (“Night of Broken Glass”), which lasted all night and into the next day. More than 90 people were killed, over 30,000 Jews arrested and sent to concentration camps. Thousands of Jewish shops, homes, offices and synagogues were smashed up or burned. These events shocked and horrified world opinion and helped bring an end of support for appeasement of Hitler in Britain, France and the United States. They also caused a new wave of Jewish emigration from Germany.
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THE INTER-WAR PERIOD 1937

THE INTER-WAR PERIOD 1937

Franklin D. Roosevelt began his second of four terms in office as President of America with his inaugural speech on the 20th January 1937. His first inauguration was held in March 1933 but the 20th Amendment made the 20th January the official inauguration date for future presidents.

In January 1937, the American Congress passed a joint resolution outlawing the arms trade with Spain. The “Neutrality Act 1937” was passed in May 1937 and included the provisions of earlier acts although an expiration date was not included. The Act was extended to cover civil wars. U.S. ships were prohibited from transporting any passengers or articles to warring nations, and U.S. citizens were forbidden to travel on these nation’s ships. In a concession to President Roosevelt a provision of ‘cash-and-carry’ was also added. This allowed the warring nations to obtain materials and goods from America as long as purchaser arranged transport and paid immediately in cash. The thinking was that this arrangement would not draw America into the conflict. Roosevelt believed the cash-and-carry would aid Britain and France in the event of a war with Germany. Both Britain and France were able to take advantage of the provision as they were the only countries who had control of the seas.

The Junkers Ju 87 or Stuka (German Sturzkampffugzeug meaning “dive bomber”) made its combat debut on 11th April 1937 with the Luftwaffe’s Condor Legion during the Spanish Civil War. The aircraft first flew on the 17th September 1935 but needed considerable modifications to the original design to produce a successful aircraft that was easily recognised by its inverted gull wings and fixed undercarriage. Fitted to the leading edges of the main gear legs were wailing sirens which became the propaganda symbol of German air power. The Stuka was able to dive between sixty degrees and vertical prior to releasing a bomb on target before recovering to normal level flying.

Arthur Neville Chamberlain was a British statesman of the Conservative Party who took the place of retiring Stanley Baldwin as Prime Minister on the 28th May 1937. His premiership was dominated by the question of policy towards an increasingly aggressive Germany. He sought to conciliate Germany and make the Nazi state a partner in a stable Europe, He believed Germany could be satisfied by the restoration of some of her colonies. Chamberlain is best known for the foreign policy of appeasement and in particular for his signing of the Munich Agreement in 1938. By conceding the German Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia to Germany he announced on his arrival back in the U.K. what he believed would be ‘peace for our time’.

The Marco Polo Bridge Incident was a battle between the Republic of Revolutionary Army and the Imperial Japanese Army. On the night of the 7th July 1937, Japanese units stationed at Fengtai crossed the Chinese border to conduct military excercises. Japanese and Chinese troops exchanged fire outside the town of Wanping, 10.2 miles southwest of Beijing. Later in the night Japanese infantry attempted to breach Wanping’s walled defences but were repulsed. At 02.00 on the morning of the 8th July 1937 the acting commander of the Chinese Army sent the mayor of Wanping alone to the Japanese camp to conduct negotiations. This proved to be fruitless as the Japanese insisted they be admitted into the town to investigate the cause of the exchange of fire. A couple of hours later reinforcements on both sides began to arrive. The Chinese Army opened fire on the Japanese Army and attacked them at the Marco Polo Bridge along with a modern railway bridge on the outskirts of Wanping. The Japanese Foreign Service began negotiations in Beijing with the Chinese Nationalist government and a verbal agreement was reached and ceasefire declared. However, heightened tensions of the Marco Polo Bridge Incident led to a full scale Second Sino-Japanese War that continued until 9th April 1945.

U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave the Quarantine Speech on the 5th October 1937 calling for an international ‘quarantine’ against the ‘epidemic of world lawlessness’. The speech intensified America’s isolationist neutrality and was aimed at specifically aggressive nations. No countries were directly mentioned, although it was interpreted as referring to the Empire of Japan, the Kingdom of Italy and Nazi Germany. Roosevelt suggested a forceful response of economic pressure rather than outright aggression.

In Rome on the 11th December 1937 Italian dictator Benito Mussolini took his nation out of the League of Nations. In October 1935 Italy invaded Ethiopia and in May 1936 they occupied Addis Ababa. The Ethiopian Emperor Hail Selassie pleaded with the League for assistance but this was not forthcoming. The League did, however, rule against Italy and voted to apply economic sanctions. His disagreements with the League occured when his delegates walked out of a lively League Council meeting after it had voted to continue economic sanctions against her over the Ethiopian war. Mussolini addressed a crowd of 100,000 black-shirts and asked them if they would prefer to stay in the League or not and their overwhelming response was that Italy should leave. At this point Italy abandoned the League of Nations.

The USS Panay Incident was a Japanese attack on the American gunboat Panay while she was anchored in the Yangtze River outside Nanking, China (now spelt Nanjing) on the 12th December 1937. Japan and the United States were not at war at the time. The Japanese claimed they did not see the American flags painted on the deck of the gunboat, apologised and paid an indemnity. On that morning the Japanese air forces received information that fleeing Chinese forces were in the area of Nanking. While anchored at Nanking, Panay and three Standard Oil Tankers came under attack from the Japanese naval aircraft. The result was Panay and the three oil tankers sank with the loss of three American lives and forty three wounded. The sinking of USS Panay caused the U.S. opinion to turn against the Japanese.

During the Sino-Japanese War, Nanking, the capital of China fell to the Japanese Army and the Chinese government fled to Hankow which is further inland along the Yangtze River. On the 13th December 1937, Japanese General Matsui Iwane ordered the city of Nanking be destroyed. Much of the city was burned and Japanese troops launched a campaign of atrocities against the civilian population. In what became known as the “Rape of Nanking”, the Japanese butchered an estimated 150,000 male “war prisoners”, massacred an additional 50,000 male civilians. They raped at least 20,000 women and girls of all ages, many of whom were mutilated or killed. Shortly after the end of the Second World War, Matsui Iwane was found guilty of war crimes by the International Tribunal for the Far East and was executed.

The Chinese Civil War, began on the 12th April 1927 between the Chinese Communists and the Chinese Nationalists. The war was carried out sporadically until the latter part of 1937, when the two parties came together to form the Second United Front in order to resist the Japanese invasion.

In America during 1937, a Committee sat for the purpose of defending Russian Leon Trotsky of the charges made against him in Moscow. Having fallen out with Joseph Stalin, the charges against Trotsky was that of a terrorist conspiring against Stalin, found guilty and sentenced to death. The American Committee found that Trotsky was innocent of the charges made against him. Stalinist assassins raided Trotsky’s Mexico City home on the 20th August 1940, and drove a pickaxe into his skull. He survived for 30 hours, dying on the 22nd August 1940 at the age of 60.

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THE INTER-WAR PERIOD 1936

THE INTER-WAR PERIOD 1936

The announcement of the death of King George V was broadcast by the British Pathe News on the 20th January 1936. George V was King of the United Kingdom, the British Dominions, and Emperor of India. He ascended the throne on the 6th May 1910. Born during the reign of his grandmother Queen Victoria, he served in the Royal Navy from 1887 to 1891. Following the death of his elder brother in 1892 George became the Prince of Wales. George V’s reign saw the rise of socialism, communism, fascism, Irish republicanism and the Indian independence movement. The political landscape was radically changed and the Parliament Act 1911 established the supremacy of the elected British House of Commons over the unelected House of Lords. In 1917 King George renamed the Monarchy from the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to the House of Windsor as a result of anti-German public sentiment. He had smoking-related health problems throughout much of his later reign and at his death was succeeded by his eldest son, Edward VIII.

The 1936 Winter Olympics was hosted by Germany and began on the 6th February 1936 and ended on the 26th February 1936. The Olympics were a winter multi-sport event and held in the market town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Bavaria, and officially opened by Adolf Hitler. Organised on behalf of the German League of the Reich for Physical Exercise (DRL) the Olympics consisted of 17 events in 8 disciplines over 4 sports. Of the twenty-eight nations participating, ten received medals. A total of fifty-one medals were available of which Norway was the highest with fifteen medals. Both France and Hungary received one medal each.

In Britain on the 5th March 1936, the Supermarine Spitfire flew for the first time from Eastleigh in Hampshire. Reginald J (RJ) Mitchell had developed the fighter from the racing seaplanes built by Supermarine to compete in the Schneider Trophy competitions. In 1931 Mitchell achieved his quest to “perfect the design of the racing seaplane” which culminated in the aircraft breaking the world speed record. But he was concerned about developments in German aviation and feared that British defences needed to be strengthened especially in the air. During this time the Air Ministry issued a specification for another fighter aircraft to replace the Gloster Gauntlet. Mitchell brought together many technical advances made by other manufacturers to produce the prototype. It was his experience of high speed flight and the combination of the various designs that allowed Mitchell to produce the Spitfire. He is reputed to say that the “Spitfire was just the sort of bloody silly name they would choose”. Sadly, Mitchell did not see just how significant his Spitfire would become because he died of cancer in January 1937. The Spitfire alongside the Hurricane were the two fighters to take on the might of the German Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain in 1940.

The Remilitarization of the Rhineland by the German army took place on the 7th March 1936 when the German Army entered the Rhineland. This was significant because it violated the Treaty of Versailles and the Locarno Treaties, marking the first time since the end of the Great War that German troops had been in this region. The remilitarization changed the balance of power in Europe from France towards Germany, and made it possible for Germany to pursue a policy of aggression in Western Europe.

In Germany Adolf Hitler appointed Hermann Göring Commissar for Raw Materials and Foreign Currency on the 4th April 1936.

Italian troops entered Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa on the 5th May 1936 following the invasion and occupation in October 1935. The war was a cruel affair. The Ethiopians used Dum-dum bullets, which had been banned by the Hague Convention of 1899. The Italians used poison gas which had been prohibited under the Geneva Protocol of 1922. When Addis Ababa had been occupied Emperor Haile Selassie pleaded with the League of Nations for aid in resisting the Italians but it was not forthcoming. The country was formally annexed on the 9th May 1936 and the Emperor went into exile. He remained Emperor of Ethiopia whilst in exile and reclaimed his throne in 1941 following the surrender of Italian East Africa. Italian dictator Benito Mussolini proclaimed the abolition of slavery for the 9 million slaves in all Ethiopia. The Italians invested substantially in Ethiopian development. They created many “imperial roads” and constructed 900 km of railways as well as new dams, hydroelectric plants and airports.

In Germany the Messerschmitt Bf 110 aircraft flew for the first time on the 12th May 1936 as part of the Luftwaffe air development. Göring was in favour of the twin-engine heavy fighter although it had weaknesses. The biggest weakness was the lack of agility in which was exploited to full advantage by the RAF during the Battle of Britain in 1940. During this period the role of the ‘110’ was to escort German bombers on their raids on London. Later they were designated as night fighters during the subsequent British bombing raids on Germany.

On the 3rd June 1936, Chief of Staff of the Luftwaffe Walther Wever was killed when the Heinkel HE Blitz he was flying crashed. The aircraft had not been properly examined during pre-flight checks, and the aileron gust pins had not been removed. The gust pin on an aircraft is a mechanism that locks the control surfaces whilst the aircraft is parked on the ground. The aircraft was airborne when the wing dipped and the Heinkel stalled and went in a low level horizontal cartwheel. Wever was on a return flight from Dresden to Berlin. He had seen action in the Great War serving as a staff officer in the German Army High Command. He became the Chief of Staff of the Luftwaffe shortly after its creation on the 26th February 1935. He was a supporter of strategic bombing but following his death smaller high speed medium bombers were developed. Some strategic bomber programmes were initiated but the development was too late in the war to have any meaningful effect.

The Vickers Wellington was a British twin-engined long range medium bomber which had its first flight on the 15th June 1936. It was designed during the 1930s at Vickers-Armstrong‘s Weybridge plant and led by chief designer Rex Pierson. The airframe fuselage structure was designed by Barnes Wallis which was built in a honeycomb like arrangement to allow the stresses of the airframe to equalise. The Air Ministry Specification called for a twin-engined day bomber capable of delivering a higher performance than any previous design. The Wellington was used as a night bomber in the early years of the Second World War and performed as one of the principal bombers used by Bomber Command. Later in the war larger four-engined “heavies” such as the Avro Lancaster began to replace the Wellington.

On the 17th July 1936 the Spanish Civil War began with a military uprising in Morocco triggered by events in Madrid. Within days Spain was divided. On the one side were the “Republican” or “Loyalist” faction who were revolutionary anarchist with Trotsky pockets of supporters. Opposing them were the “Nationalists” under the insurgent generals and eventually, under the leadership of Francisco Franco. By the summer there were atrocities on both sides. Through the diplomatic efforts of Britain and France, all European governments signed a non-intervention agreement not to supply arms to Spain. It did not deter Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany from openly supplying arms and men and committing support to the “Nationalists.” German dictator Adolf Hitler sought to establish a relationship with the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini as he had been impressed with Italy’s early military successes. Flattered by Hitler’s overtures, Mussolini interpreted the recent diplomatic and military victories as proof of his genius. The Soviet Union offered only intermittent help by sending war material and ’advisers’ to the “Republican” government.

The international multi-sport events in the 1936 Summer Olympics was held in Berlin, Nazi Germany. Adolf Hitler saw the games as an opportunity to promote his government. The games were officially declared open by Hitler on the 1st August 1936 and ended on the 16th August 1936. Adolf Hitler had a huge sports complex constructed including a new 100,000 seat track and field stadium. He also had built a state-of-the-art Olympic village for housing the athletes. Olympic flags and swastikas bedecked the monuments and houses of crowded Berlin. The spectators were in a festive mood. Forty nine athletic teams from around the world competed in the Berlin Olympics, more than in any other Olympics. Germany fielded the largest team with 348 athletes, and as a gesture to placate international opinion the German authorities allowed the Jewish star fencer Helene Mayer to represent Germany. She won a silver medal in the women’s individual fencing. Helene had been stripped of her German citizenship in 1935 under the anti-Jewish laws. After the games she settled in America and returned to Germany in 1952, where she married. The couple settled in Heidelberg where she died of breast cancer in October 1953 aged 42. No other Jewish athlete competed for Germany in the Summer Games. The US team was the second largest with 312 members including 18 African Americans. Coloured American Jessie Owens won four gold medals in the sprint and long jump events and became the most successful athlete to compete in Berlin. The US came in second with 56 medals while Germany secured 89 medals to have the highest tally. Great Britain total number of medals won was 14. The Soviet Union was not invited to participate in the Olympics as they had not been involved in international sporting events since the 1920 Olympics. However, there were controversies. Many tourists were unaware that the Nazi regime had temporarily removed anti-Jewish signs. Hitler’s official Nazi party newspaper wrote that Jews and Black people should not be allowed to compete in the Games. When threatened with a boycott of the Games, Hitler relented and allowed Black people and one Jew to participate.

Hermann Göring became Commissioner for the Four Year Plan on the 18th October 1936. This appointment, as well as being Commissar for Raw Materials and Foreign Currency, gave him a great deal of influence over the German economy. He was entrusted with the task of mobilizing all sections of the economy for war. This assignment brought numerous government agencies under his control and helped to make him one of the wealthiest men in the country.

The Great Purge in Russia began during 1936. The Soviet government put Leon Trotsky on trial in his absence in October 1936 accusing him of conspiring against Josef Stalin. Along with sixteen of his supporters, who were called the ”Trotskyite-Zinovievite Terrorist Centre” they were all found guilty and sentenced to death. This show trial was the first of the Moscow Trials.

The Suiyuan Campaign was an attempt by the Inner Mongolian Army and Grand Han Righteous Army to take control of the Republic of China by launching the invasion of Suiyuan on the 14th November 1936. These two forces were founded and supported by Imperial Japan and occurred shortly before the Second Sino-Japanese War. Mongolia is on the northern borders of China. Inner Mongolia wished to use Mongolia as a buffer state between China and Russia. The Japanese government denied taking part in the operation, but the Inner Mongolian and the Grand Hans Righteous Army received air support from Japanese planes and were assisted by the Imperial Japanese Army and overseen by Japanese staff officers. The Japanese backed forces launched an attack against the Chinese defenders of Suiyuan but they were repulsed. Over the next few days they continued to launch assaults against the city’s walls but were beaten back sustaining considerable losses. On the 17th November 1936 the Chinese counter-attack surprised the invaders which led to a disorganised retreat to their headquarters in Bailingmiao. Due to the lack of training and the low morale among the Mongolians the campaign was unsuccessful. The defence of Suiyuan by China’s National Revolutionary Army was one of the first major successes over Japanese supported Inner Mongolian forces which greatly improved the Chinese morale.

German involvement in the Fighting during the Spanish Civil War, began on the 15th November 1936. They allied themselves to Francisco Franco’s “Nationalist” regime against “Republican” forces. Heavy air and artillery bombardment began and the German Condor Legion went into action together with Moors from Morocco. The Legionaries broke through to the University City of Madrid where they were confronted by stalemate. By the 23rd November 1936 frontal attacks on Madrid had ceased and individual lines had been stabilized. On the 17th November 1936 both Germany and Italy recognised Franco’s “Nationalist” regime. More importantly for Germany, their military forces gained valuable battle experience which was used to advantage in 1939.

The Anti-Comintern Pact was an anti-Communist pact concluded between Germany and Japan on the 25th November 1936. In case of an attack by the Soviet Union against Germany or Japan, the two countries agreed to consult on what measures to take to safeguard their common interests. They also agreed neither of them would make any political treaties with Soviet Union, and Germany also agreed to recognise Manchukuo. In 1932 the Imperial Japanese Army had established the Empire of Manchukuo as a puppet state in Manchuria, a region of north-eastern China.

By 1st December 1936 the Hitler Youth movement membership had reached over five million. From July 1933 until 1945 the Hitler Youth was the sole official Nazi Party youth organisation which was partly paramilitary and comprised of male youths aged 14 to 18. The League of German Girls was the female equivalent. One reason the Hitler Youth so easily came into existence stems from the fact that numerous youth movements existed across Germany after the Great War. Once Hitler came to power the transition from seemingly innocuous youth movements to political entities focussing on Hitler was swift.

A constitutional crisis in the British Empire arose when King Edward VIII proposed to marry Mrs. Wallis Simpson. She was an American citizen who had divorced her first husband and was in process of divorcing her second. The governments of the United Kingdom and the British Commonwealth opposed the marriage on religious, legal, political and moral grounds. As British monarch, Edward was the nominal head of the Church of England, which did not then allow divorced people to remarry in church if their ex-spouses were still alive. For this reason, it was believed that Edward could not marry Wallis Simpson and remain on the throne. She was perceived to be politically and socially unsuitable as a prospective queen consort because of her two failed marriages. Edward declared that he loved Wallis Simpson and intended to marry her whether his government approved or not. Edward’s refusal to give her up, and the widespread unwillingness to accept her as the King’s consort led to his abdication on 12th December 1936. He was succeeded by his brother George VI. Edward was given the title His Royal Highness the Duke of Windsor following his abdication and he married Wallis Simpson the following year and remained married until his death 35 years later. Wallis Simpson never received the title of Her Royal Highness.

In Spain on the 23th December 1936 Italian Corpo Truppe Volontarie (Blackshirt ‘volunteer’ units) landed in Cadiz to fight alongside the Nationalist regime of Francisco Franco.

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THE INTER-WAR PERIOD 1935

THE INTER-WAR PERIOD 1935

Following the ending of the Great War the Saar region was separated from Germany and administered by the League of Nations. France was given control of the Saar’s coalmines. Toward the end of 1934 the League of Nations Council proposed a referendum after fifteen years administration and it was scheduled to take place on the 7th January 1935. The Council was also convinced that a peacekeeping force would be necessary during the plebiscite period. The German and French governments agreed to allow an international force to enter the Saar region. The Council unanimously approved a resolution calling for such a force on the 8th December 1934. The League appointed British General John Brind as commander with overall operational control of the force. Troops patrolled but did not police the Saar region. They were not to respond except to emergencies and at the request of local authorities. There was little or no violence during the plebiscite and the peacekeeping was regarded as a success. In the referendum, voters were asked whether the Saar region should remain under the League of Nations administration, return to Germany or become part of France. The result was that over 90% of the vote was in favour of the Saar Region being returned to Germany. Although the Saar region returned to Germany entirely in accordance with the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, many historians regard it as an essential “first step” on Hitler’s Road to War.

In March 1935 Hermann Göring was appointed commander-in-chief of the new German Air Force (Luftwaffe). He held this position until the 29th April 1945. Shortly after his appointment, two new aircraft became available to the Luftwaffe. The first was the Messerschmitt BF 109 which made its first flight as a German single seater fighter aircraft possibly on the 29th May 1935. The ME109 was the most produced fighter of all time, with more than 35,000 built. Consequently the ‘109’ pilots scored more aerial victories than those of any other aircraft. The second was the Junkers JU87 or Stuka which was a German dive bomber and ground attack aircraft. It first flew on the 17th September 1935 and was easily recognised by its inverted gull wings and fixed undercarriage which were fitted with wailing sirens becoming the propaganda symbol of German air power.

The Anglo-German Naval Agreement was signed on the 18th June 1935 between the United Kingdom and Germany. This agreement allowed Germany to build a fleet whose total tonnage was less than 35% of the tonnage of the British fleet. In this way Britain hoped to limit German naval re-armament.

The “Neutrality Act of 1935” was signed by the United States Congress on the 31st August 1935 which imposed a general embargo on trading in arms and war materials with all parties in the event of a war. It also declared that American citizens travelling on warring ships travelled at their own risk.

The Nuremberg Laws were introduced in Germany on the 15th September 1935 by the Reichstag at a special meeting convened at the annual Nuremberg Rally of the Nazi Party (NSDAP). One of the two laws introduced was the Law for the Protection of German Blood, and the other was for the Protection of German Honour. These laws forbade marriages, extra-marital intercourse between Jews and Germans and the employment of German females under the age of 45 in Jewish households. The Reich Citizenship Law declared only those of German or related blood were eligible to be Reich citizens, the remainder were classed as state subjects without citizenship rights. A supplementary decree outlining the definition of who was Jewish was passed on the 14th November 1935 and the Reich Citizenship Law officially came into force the same day. These laws were later expanded to include Romani people and Afro/Asian people. A supplementary decree defined Romanies as “enemies of the race-based state” and given the same category as Jews.

The Second Italo-Ethiopian War was a colonial war which began on the 2nd October 1935 when Italy invaded Ethiopia. Italian dictator Benito Mussolini was determined to show the strength of his regime. The war was fought between the armies of the Kingdom of Italy and those of the Ethiopian Empire (also known as Abyssinia). The Italian army sent a force of a few hundred thousand troops to Africa with an abundance of weaponry, transportation and food. Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie had a larger army, but very few had military training and almost all fought with spears, bows and arrows and antiquated guns. The ill-equipped Ethiopians were no match for Italy’s modern tanks and aircraft, and the capital Addis Ababa was quickly captured. Ethiopia was defeated, annexed and subjected to military occupation. The Ethiopian Empire became part of the Italian colony of Italian East Africa and incorporated into the new Italian Empire.

The Hawker Hurricane first flew on the 6th November 1935 and was the beginning of the Royal Air Force (RAF) fighter force. The aircraft design owed a great deal to the technology of the biplane era of the Great War. The Hawker Aircraft Company began the development as a private project involving a manufactured air frame which was covered in dope impregnated fabric. With the availability of the Rolls Royce Merlin engine, the Air Ministry wrote a specification around Hawker’s proposals and the development of the prototype began. The Hurricane alongside the Spitfire did more than any other aircraft or defence system in 1940 to save Britain from Nazi invasion.

In Britain Conservative Stanley Baldwin replaced Labour’s Ramsey MacDonald as Prime Minister of the National Government on the 14th November 1935. The National Government was formed by MacDonald in 1931 but most of the ministers were Conservative. As leader of the Conservative Party Baldwin took over many of the Prime Minister’s duties owing to MacDonald’s failing health. This government gave Dominion status to Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. It also introduced an Act delivering increased self-government for India, and established the first steps toward the Commonwealth. Baldwin made many striking innovations such as the use of film and radio. This made him highly visible to the public and helped to strengthen Conservative appeal. The Conservatives won the 1935 General Election with a large majority. During this time Baldwin oversaw the beginning of the rearmament process of the British military, as well as the difficult abdication of King Edward VIII. Baldwin’s government saw a number of crises in foreign affairs, including the public uproar over the Hoare-Laval Pact, the remilitarisation of the Rhineland and the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. During his time as Prime Minister he presided over high unemployment in the 1930’s and was one of the “Guilty Men” who tried to appease Adolf Hitler. He was also thought of as not having rearmed sufficiently to prepare for the Second World War. Despite all the set-backs he was regarded as a popular and successful Prime Minister.

The Hoare-Laval Pact was proposed on the 8th December 1935 when British Foreign Minister Samuel Hoare discussed with his French counterpart Pierre Laval how to end the Second Italo-Abysinian War. The Pact was initially discussed during a secret meeting. However, on the 9th December 1935 the British press revealed leaked details of an agreement by the two men to give Ethiopia to Italy to end the war. The press denounced the Pact stating the British public would not recommend the League of Nations approve the Pact as a fair and reasonable basis for approval. The Pact was met with a wave of moral indignation in Britain and in France the Popular Front condemned it. The British government withdrew the plan and Hoare resigned. In early 1936 Italy began a new larger advance on Ethiopia.

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THE INTER-WAR PERIOD. 1934

THE INTER-WAR PERIOD. 1934

The German-Polish Non-Aggression Pact was an international treaty between Nazi Germany and the Second Polish Republic and signed on the 26th January 1934. Relations between the two countries were formalised after being strained by border disputes arising from the Treaty of Versailles. The pact agreed, both countries pledged, to resolve any problems by negotiation and would forgo armed conflict for a period of ten years.
The Austrian Civil War was fought between the 12th and the 16th February 1934 in various cities in Austria. The war was in fact a series of skirmishes between socialist and conservative-fascist forces. The clashes started in Linz and took place principally in the cities of Vienna, Graz, Bruck an der Mur, Judenburg, Weiner Neust and Steyr. After the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire following the Great War, the State of Austria comprised mostly German speaking parts of the former empire. Two major factions dominated politics in the new nation. The socialists were represented by the Social Democratic Worker’s Party who found their strongholds in the working class districts of the cities, and the conservatives represented by the Christian Social Party built their support of the rural population and the upper classes. Armed skirmishes had periodically occurred between the two sides but the Great Depression had brought high unemployment and massive inflation to Austria. When Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of Germany many National Socialist sympathisers threatened the Austrian state from within. These sympathisers wished to have unification of Austria with Hitler’s Germany. When Christian Social Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss suspended the Austrian Parliament on the 4th March 1933, he used this opportunity to declare that parliament had ceased to function and assumed dictatorial powers. The Social Democratic Party lost its major platform for political action. The conservatives began to face pressure and violence from incoming Nazi Germany but also from the Austrian left wing party. However, by the 16th February 1934 Dollfuss and the Christian Social party had suppressed the Socialist movement which ended with an “Austrofascist” victory.
On the 20th April 1934 in Germany the Gestapo was passed to the administration of Schutzstaffel (SS) Commander Heinrich Himmler,. The Gestapo was the official secret police of Nazi Germany and German occupied Europe. It was formed shortly after Hermann Göring was named as Ministry Without Portfolio in the new government of 1933 when Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of Germany.
The Night of the Long Knives, also known as the “Röhm Affair”, was a purge that took place in Nazi Germany from the 30th June to the 2nd July 1934. The National Socialist German Workers Party, or Nazis, carried out a series of political executions intended to consolidate Adolf Hitler’s absolute hold on power in Germany. Many of those who were killed were leaders of the Sturmabteilung (SA), the Nazis’ own paramilitary organisation known as “Brownshirts”. The best known victim was of the purge was Ernst Röhm, the SA’s leader and one of Hitler’s long-time supporters. Also killed were establishment conservatives and anti-Nazis, such as former Chancellor Kurt von Schleicher and Bavarian politician Gustav Ritter von Kahr. It was von Kahr who had suppressed Hitler’s Munich Beer Hall Putsch in 1923. The murder of the SA leaders were also intended to improve Hitler’s government image with the German public that was increasingly critical of thuggish Brownshirt tactics.
On the 20th July 1934, as a reward for its role in the Röhm purge of the 3oth June-2nd July 1934, Hitler decreed the SS, under Reichsführer SS Heinreich Himmler, to be an independent formation of the Nazi Party. The SS would be directly subordinate only to Hitler himself as Führer (leader).
On the 25th July 1934, Austrian Engelbert Dollfuss was assassinated by Austrian Nazis who entered the Austrian Chancellery building and shot him. The assassination was an attempted but failed coup d’état known as the July Putsch against the Austrofascist regime which took place between the 25th – 30th July 1934. Dollfuss had taken the role of dictator when his Christian Social Party defeated the Austrian Social Democratic Worker’s Party (Nazi Party) following the Austrian Civil War of February 1934. Italian dictator Benito Mussolini had no hesitation in attributing the attack to the German dictator Adolf Hitler. Mussolini also mobilised a part of the Italian army on the Austrian border and threatened Hitler with war in the event of a German invasion of Austria to thwart the putsch. This was the greatest moment of friction between Italian Fascism and German National Socialism. The assassination of Dollfuss was accompanied by uprising in many regions of Austria, resulting in further deaths. In the Southern Austrian town of Carinthia, a large contingent of northern German Nazis tried to seize power but were subdued by the Italian units nearby. At first Hitler was jubilant, but the Italian reaction surprised him. Hitler became convinced that he could not face a conflict with the Western European powers, and officially denied liability, stating his regret for the murder of the Austrian Prime Minister. Kurt Schuschnigg, previously Minister of Education, was appointed new chancellor of Austria after a few days, assuming the office from Dollfuss’ deputy Ernst Rüdger Starhemberg.
When President Paul von Hindenburg died on the 2nd August 1934, Adolf Hitler combined the positions of chancellor and president into one office and took the title of ”Der Fuhrer” [The Leader] whereby he took control as a dictator. Hitler formed the Third Reich under his dictatorship, using the Gestapo to stifle all dissent. Hitler’s policy, however vague, included a planned economy, in which the unemployed were put to work on government projects. Labour was forbidden to organise into unions, but working hours were reduced to open up employment and jobs. The government oversaw all functions of the economy and education, free speech was strictly controlled. The school curriculum and textbooks written to reflect Nazi ideology and all cinemas, newspapers, radio and art were regulated by the vigilant Ministry of Propaganda headed by Joseph Goebbels. One of the Ministry’s main tasks was to generate German anti-Semitism in support of the Nazi persecution of German Jews. This persecution was a major step in Hitler’s plan to conquer all of Europe for the Aryan race, which resulted in the outbreak of the Second World War.
On the 8th August 1934, Defence Minister General Werner von Blomberg and General Walther von Reichenau drafted the Oath of Allegiance to Adolf Hitler. The oath pledged personal loyalty to Hitler instead of loyalty to the constitution of the country. The oath was sworn by the officers and soldiers of the German Armed Forces and by the civil servants of Nazi Germany between the years 1934 to 1945.
On the 18th September 1934, the Soviet Union accepted the offer to join the League of Nations as a permanent member of the Council. On France’s initiative 30 member countries proposed the USSR to join the league on 15th September 1934. A total of 63 countries were members of the League of Nations from 1920 to 1946. However, the United States of America was never a member despite President Woodrow Wilson’s enthusiastic proposals at the end of the Great War. The League of Nations was the international organisation founded in 1919-1920 to preserve order in the world, with the official languishes being English, French and Spanish.
In Russia, on the 1st December 1934 Sergei Kirov, head of the Leningrad communist party was murdered on the orders of Joseph Stalin. It would appear Stalin used the murder of his political rival as a pretext for eliminating many of his opponents in the Communist Party, the government and the armed forces. The Kirov assassination marked the beginning of Stalin’s massive purge of Soviet society, in which millions of people were imprisoned, exiled or killed.
The Abyssinia Crisis began on the 6th December 1934 when Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia (then known as Abyssinia) protested Italian aggression on the border of Ethiopia at Walwal. Italy’s “Il Duce” Benito Mussolini had been impressed with Japan’s invasion of China, and he was determined to show the strength of his regime. He invade Ethiopia who were ill-equipped to match Italy’s modern weapons and the capital, Addis Ababa, was quickly captured. Mussolini incorporated Ethiopia into the new Italian Empire. The League of Nations ruled against Italy and voted for economic sanctions, but they were not fully applied. Italy ignored the sanctions, left the League of Nations and made deals with Britain and France. The crisis discredited the League and moved Fascist Italy closer to an alliance with Nazi Germany.
On the 29th December 1934, the Japanese government gave formal notice that it intended to terminate both the Washington and The London Naval Treaties. The Washington Naval Treaty was signed in 1922 by the major nations, including Japan, limiting naval construction. The London Naval Treaty of 1930 modified the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty and sought additional limitations of warship building. Many Japanese considered the 5.3 to 3 ratio as a way of being snubbed by the West, which was the main reason for the termination of the treaties.
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The Inter-War Period 1933

The Inter-War Period 1933

The defence of the Great Wall of China was a campaign between the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan which began on the 1st January 1933. During this campaign, Japan successfully captured the Inner Mongolian Province of Rehe from the Chinese warlord Zhang Xueliang and annexed it to the new state of Manuchuo, whose southern frontier was thus extended to the Great Wall of China.

In Germany, on the 30th January 1933, the new cabinet was sworn in during a brief ceremony in President Paul von Hindenburg’s office. The Nazi Party (NSDAP) gained three posts, Adolf Hitler was named chancellor, Wilhelm Frick as Minister of the interior and Hermann Göring as Minister of the Interior for Prussia. Hitler had insisted on the ministerial positions as a way to gain control over the police in much of Germany. When Hitler came to power in January 1933, he inaugurated an aggressive power base designed to give Germany economic and political domination across central Europe. Hitler’s diplomatic strategy in the 1930s was to make seemingly reasonable demands, threatening war if they were not met. When opponents tried to appease him, he accepted the gains that were offered, then went on to the next target. As chancellor Hitler worked against attempts by the NSDAP’s opponents to build a majority government. Because of the political stalemate, he asked Hindenburg to again dissolve the Reichstag, and elections were scheduled for early March 1933.

Before any elections took place in Germany the Reichstag building was set on fire on the 27th February 1933. Hermann Göring blamed a communist plot, however, the consensus of opinion of most historians was that the fire was started by the Nazi Party. At Hitler’s urging President Hindenburg responded with the Reichstag Fire Decree on the 28th February 1933. The decree gave the president the power to take emergency measures to protect public safety and activities of the German Communist Party (KPD) were suppressed. Preceding the election Hitler’s private army, the S.A., roamed the streets terrorising political opponents and engaging in paramilitary violence and spreading anti-communist propaganda.

The First inauguration of Franklin D Roosevelt as the 32nd President of the United States of America was held on Saturday 4th March 1933. The inauguration took place in the wake of Democrat Roosevelt’s landslide victory over incumbent Herbert Hoover in the 1932 presidential election. With the nation in the grip of the Great Depression, the new president’s inaugural speech was broadcast on several radio networks, which set the stage for Roosevelt’s radical economic proposals to lead the nation out of the Great Depression. He placed the blame squarely on the greed and short-sightedness of bankers and businessmen for the Great Depression, which created the 25% unemployment figure when he assumed office. His aim was to get people back to work and if faced correctly it could be achieved but it had to be done quickly and not merely by talking about it.

Election Day, in Germany on the 6th March 1933, the Nazi share of the vote increased to 43.9% and the party acquired the largest number of seats in the parliament. Even so, Hitler’s party failed to secure an absolute majority and had to invite the German National People’s Party (DNVP) to form a coalition government. Hitler systematically took control of all the state governments. On the 21st March 1933` the new government was constituted with an opening ceremony in Potsdam. This ”Day of Potsdam” was held to demonstrate unity between the Nazi movement and the Old Prussian military together with the elite citizens. Hitler attended the ceremony in a morning coat and humbly greeted Hindenburg. To gain a two-thirds majority, allowing him to pass any laws, Hitler formed an alliance with the Nationalist party and declared the communist party illegal. On the 23rd March 1933, the government passed the “Enabling Act”, giving Hitler the power to make decrees with the status of law, and ending elections. With the passing of the ”Enabling Act began the process of transforming the Weimer Republic into a Nazi Germany a one-party dictatorship based on the ideology of National Socialism. Hitler aimed to eliminate Jews from Germany and establish a New Order to counter what he saw as an injustice of the post-Great War international order dominated by Britain and France.

On the 20th March 1933, Germany’s first concentration camp, Dachau, was completed. It was located on the grounds of an abandoned munitions factory northeast of the medieval town of Dachau, located northwest of Munich in Bavaria. The camp was opened by Heinrich Himmler and was originally intended to hold political prisoners. The camp then was enlarged to include forced labour and eventually the imprisonment of Jews. German and Austrian criminals were also included as were foreign nationals from countries that Germany occupied or invaded. Prisoners lived in constant fear of brutal treatment and terror detention including standing cells, floggings, the tree or pole hanging and standing for long periods. The Dachau camp system grew to include nearly 100 sub-camps which were mostly work camps.

The Enabling Act was a 1933 Weimar Constitution amendment that gave the German Cabinet, which in effect was Chancellor Adolf Hitler, the power to enact laws without the involvement of The Reichstag. The constitution was passed on the 23rd March 1933 and was signed by President Paul von Hindenburg. The Enabling Act gave Hitler enormous powers which abolished most civil liberties and transferred state powers to the Reich government.

On the 24th March 1933 the London newspaper The Daily Express printed an issue with the headline “Judea Declares War on Germany.” This resulted in the Anti-Nazi boycott of German products to foreign critics of the Nazi Party. This was in response to an organised campaign of violence and boycotting undertaken by Hitler’s Nazi Party against the Jews of Germany. Those in the United Kingdom, United States and other places worldwide who opposed Hitler’s anti-Semitic polices developed the boycott accompanying protests to encourage Nazi Germany to end the regimes often-expressed anti-Jewish attitude.

On the 27th March 1933 Japan left the League of Nations over the League of Nations’ Lytton Report. The five member commission headed by Victor Bulwer-Lytton announced its conclusion that Japan had been the aggressor in its invasion of Manchuria which should still belong to China. They argued that the puppet state of Manchukuo was not truly independent and should not be recognised. For many years before the World Wars the great colonial powers of Europe argued who would “own” the Far East. There were various agreements as to who would take which part in the divided Far East. The League of Nations was seen as nothing more than an Old Boy’s Club that existed to further the imperialist agendas of its members. They were biased in favour of the major powers and came down hard on smaller nations but ignored the excesses of the major powers. Japan came face to face with this hypocrisy when it invaded Manchuria and was reprimanded by the League of Nations and threatened with sanctions. Russia had done pretty much the same thing in 1904 which led to the first Russo-Japanese war.

The Nazi boycott of Jewish shops and businesses began on the 1s t April 1933, and was claimed to be a defensive reaction to the Jewish boycott of German goods, which had been initiated in March 1933. The boycotting of Jewish businesses were largely unsuccessful as the German people continued to use them. The Nazis were determined to undermine the viability of Jews in Germany which resulted in the early governmental actions that culminated in the “Final Solution”. It was a state-manged campaign of ever increasing harassment, arrests, systematic pillaging and forced transfer of business ownership to the Nazi Party. The owners of these businesses were classified as “Jews” and were ultimately murdered.

In Germany on the 26th April 1933 the Gestapo secret police was created by Herman Göring. Gestapo was the abbreviation of Geheime Staatspolizei and the official Secret State Police of Nazi Germany and German-occupied Europe. The force was established by combining the various security police agencies of Prussia into one organisation. The Gestapo agency played a key role in the Nazi plan to exterminate the Jews of Europe during the Second World War.

In Germany on the 2nd May 1933 Adolf Hitler’s Stormtroopers occupied all trade union headquarters. The unions represented a barrier against the Nazi effort to control the lives of the people and made it a priority of eliminating trade unions in Germany. Union leaders were arrested, union funds were confiscated and former union leaders were prevented from finding work. This was one of the first acts of Hitler and the Nazis, who had just come to power in Germany in January 1933.

The Tanggu Truce was signed between China and Japan on the 31st May 1933, setting the ceasefire conditions between the two states after the Japanese occupation of Manchuria. China acceded to all Japanese demands, creating a large demilitarized zone inside Chinese territory.

In Germany on the 21st June 1933 all non-Nazi parties were banned as only the Nazi Party were allowed to exist. Subsequently, on the 14th July 1933, the Nazi party became the official party of Germany.

In Rome on the 20th July 1933, the Vatican’ secretary of state, Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli and Germany’s vice chancellor, Franz von Papen, formally signed a concordat between the Holy See and the German Reich. The Pope ratified the agreement two months later on the 10th September 1933 which specified the church’s rights in the Reich. The political significance of the signing of the concordat was ambiguous, as Hitler interpreted it to mean that he had won the church’s approval. He saw the approval as being proof of international recognition of his Nazi regime.

The Haavara Agreement was an agreement between Nazi Germany and Zionist German Jews signed on the 25th August 1933. The agreement was designed to help facilitate the emigration of approximately 60,000 German Jews to Palestine between the years 1933 to 1939.

Leo Szilard was a Hungarian-German-American physicist and inventor who conceived the idea of the nuclear chain reaction on the 12th September 1933. He patented the idea of a nuclear reactor in 1934 and in late 1939, he wrote the letter for Albert Einstein’s signature which resulted in the Manhattan Project that built the atomic bomb. By the time America had developed the atomic bomb, Szilard had become an American citizen. In his later life he was treated for cancer using his design for the cobalt 60 treatment equipment. He needed further treatment which was later increased to give higher radiation levels. The cancer never returned and this treatment became standard for many cancers and is still used today.

In Geneva on the 19th October 1933, Chancellor Adolf Hitler ordered the German delegation to leave the Disarmament Conference. Germany withdrew from the League of Nations. The reasons being that Germany was already disarmed while other countries were refusing to disarm.

On the 24th November 1933, under the German ”Law against Dangerous Habitual Criminals” the police arrested anyone not classified as ”Aryan”. The Nazi party implemented their vision of a new Germany, one that placed ”Aryans” at the top of the hierarchy of races, namely blond hair and blue eyed. Jews, Gypsies and Negroes were ranked as social inferiors. The off-spring of any mixed-marriage were also included. The party also viewed prostitutes, beggars, chronic alcoholics, homeless, unemployed as vagrants and imprisoned them in concentration camps.

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THE INTER-WAR PERIOD 1932

THE INTER-WAR PERIOD 1932

The Soviet famine of 1932-33 was a catastrophe that killed millions of people in the major grain-producing areas of the Soviet Union. The main reasons for the famine were caused by several bad droughts, coupled with rapid industrialisation and a decreasing agricultural workforce. The famine has been seen by some historians as a deliberate act of genocide against class enemies of the Bolsheviks, after Josef Stalin had ordered they were to be liquidated as enemies of the state. The famine of 1932-33 was officially denied, so any discourse was classified as “anti-Soviet propaganda”.

The Stimson Doctrine was a policy note issued to the Empire of Japan and the Republic of China on the 7th January 1933. Named after Henry Stimpson, United States Secretary of State, the policy drew attention to the non-recognition of international territorial changes that were executed by force. Japan’s seizure of Manchuria in late 1931 contravened the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1929, and placed Stimson in a difficult position. President Herbert Hoover would not support economic sanctions as a means to bring peace in the Far East, which hindered Stimson even further. The declaration had few material effects on the Western world, which was burdened by the Great Depression. Japan went on to bomb Shanghai. The declaration was criticised on the grounds that it did no more than alienate Japan.

Japanese forces attacked Shanghai on the 28th January 1932, on the pretext of Chinese resistance in Manchuria. Finding stiff Chinese resistance in Shanghai, the Japanese waged an undeclared war before a truce was reached on the 1st March 1932. Several days later, Manchukuo was established. Manchukuo was a Japanese puppet state headed by the last Chinese emperor, Puyl. The civilian government in Tokyo was powerless to prevent these military adventures. However, instead of being condemned, the Japanese Army’s actions enjoyed popular support back home. Meanwhile, international reactions were extremely negative. The following year Japan withdrew from the League of Nations and the United States became increasingly hostile.

The 1932 German presidential elections were held on the 13th March 1932. They were the second and final direct elections to the office of President of the Reich (Reichspräsident), Germany’s head of state under the Weimar Republic. The incumbent President, Paul von Hindenburg, was first elected in 1925 and was re-elected to a second seven-year term of office. His major opponent in the election was Adolf Hitler of the Nazi Party (NSDAP). Under the Weimar system the presidency was a powerful office. Hindenburg was 84 years old, in poor health, and not enthusiastic about another term in office. He deeply distrusted and personally detested Hitler, which motivated him to run for a second term primarily by a desire to stop Hitler from winning the presidency. Nevertheless, following his re-election, Hindenburg failed to prevent the Nazis from assuming power.

Heinrich Brüning resigned from the post of Chancellor of Germany on the 30th May 1932. He was a politician and academic who had entered politics in the 1920’s and was elected to the Reichstag in 1924. Brüning took office as Chancellor on the 30th March 1930 and shortly after he was confronted by an economic crisis caused by the Great Depression. He responded by tightening credit and wage increases which increased unemployment and making him unpopular with the Reichstag. Brüning tried to alleviate the burden of reparation payments and his successors reaped the benefit when the final payment was reduced to 3 billion marks. He vigorously campaigned for Hindenburg’s re-election as President but gradually lost Hindenburg’s support. There was conflict between Hindenburg and Brüning over economic policies and Brüning resigned on the 30th May 1932. Franz von Papen was appointed as the new Chancellor, and was greeted with astonishment in Germany, as he did not have any experience in government.

On the 30th August 1932, Hermann Göring (or Goering) was elected President of the German Reichstag. Göring was a German political and military leader, who became one of the most powerful figures in the Nazi Party. He had joined the Nazi Party (NSDAP) in 1922 after hearing a speech given by Adolf Hitler and was one of those wounded in the failed Beer Hall Putsch in 1923. When Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in 1933, Göring was named as Minister without Portfolio in the new government. One of his first acts as a cabinet minister was to oversee the creation of the Gestapo.
President Hindenburg began talks with Hitler on the 21st November 1932, about forming a new government. After the July election Hitler was asked whether he would prepared to enter the government under the Chancellorship of von Papen. Hitler refused and demand that Hindenburg made him Chancellor instead. Hindenburg, who was a snob and disliked Hitler’s lowly social origins, was unwilling to agree. Hitler was angry at being snubbed and took revenge by ordering the Nazi members of the Reichstag to join other political parties in passing a vote of no-confidence in von Papen’s government. This resulted in another election. Following the elections in November 1932, the Nazi party lost almost two million votes from the previous elections of July 1932. With only 33% of the vote Hitler agreed to a coalition with the conservatives as it became clear the Nazi Party would not gain a majority in democratic elections.

On the 3rd December 1932 President Hindenburg named Kurt von Schleicher as the new Chancellor of Germany. Although Hindenburg favoured von Papen as Chancellor, Schleicher told him that the army wanted von Papen out of office.

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