Feb. 4 [NC] – The Road to War

[Note: We will _not_ meet in class today. Instead, we will discuss this material in the first half of our class meeting on Thursday February 6.]

In our last class, we examined Nazi efforts to transform Germany and mold it into a society perfectly in line with Nazi ideals and aims, and how some Germans resisted all-encompassing Nazi control.  In class on Thursday Feb. 6, we will study the steps taken by Nazi leaders–and the leaders of other European nations–that led to the outbreak of World War II on September 1, 1939. To prepare for our discussion, you are required to watch:

Netflix, World War II in Colour, episode 1 (all)(~50 total minues)

You also have required readings, which will provide the basis for your writing assignment:

M.B., readings for Feb. 4, (p. 9-17)
Nick Baumann, “Why Chamberlain was Right”
National Churchill Museum, ‘The Gathering Storm’
Churchill, ‘A Total and Unmitigated Defeat’ (summary and excerpts)
Jon Diamond, ‘Outspoken Opponents of Appeasement’

You have a weekly writing assignment due on Thursday February 6, worth 1.5% of your final grade. If you choose to write your weekly assignment on the material from today’s class session, then write at least 500 words answering this question:

Both in the late 1930s and up to the present, many people have criticized Chamberlain’s appeasement policy. But others have defended appeasement. Which side do you find more persuasive? (Note: to earn a high grade on this response, you will need to not only provide your viewpoint, but also demonstrate familiarity with arguments made by others)

In class, prior to discussing appeasement, we will examine why Hitler sought war, what policies he adopted to achieve his goals, and what decisions others made that facilitated his success.

You will be able to answer the discussion questions from the material provided in the documentary and articles listed above, but I also recommend that you complete these optional readings to gain an even better understanding of these issues.


Discussion questions

[1] What were the ultimate goals that Hitler expected to accomplish by launching World War II? G.W., world at arms, Feb. 4 readings (p. 5) and M.B., readings for Feb. 4 (p. 3 and 4)

[2] Why was Hitler confident that Germany would win the war and why did he believe that it was necessary that Germany should begin the war in 1939? M.B., readings for Feb. 4, (p. 3) G.W., world at arms, Feb. 4 readings (p. 6)

[3] Why did Hitler believe the western Allies were spineless and would not militarily oppose him regarding an issue in Eastern Europe? (see the readings for the writing assignment)

[4] Why did the British follow a policy of appeasement from 1933 through March 1939?
(see the readings for the writing assignment)

[5] Why did the French follow a policy of appeasement from 1933 through March 1939?
Gerard Araud, France and appeasement

[6] Be able to identify at least three of the foreign policies that Hitler adopted between 1933 through 1939 to expand Nazi power, cast off the Treaty of Versailles restrictions, and place Germany in an increasingly strong position in its upcoming war against its enemies. One example is Germany’s withdrawal from the League of Nations. Useful information can be found here: Timeline of the road to war, 1933-1939

[7]  Why was the signing of the Nazi-Soviet Pact such a significant event? Why did Hitler agree to it? U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, “The Nazi-Soviet Pact” and Timothy Snyder’s article




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s