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Day 31 – Q 3. The interwar period was not a phase of reconstruction but that of global politics reshaping itself for a second war. Elucidate.

3. The interwar period was not a phase of reconstruction but that of global politics reshaping itself for a second war. Elucidate.

अंतराल अवधि पुनर्निर्माण का एक चरण नहीं था, लेकिन वैश्विक राजनीति का एक दूसरे युद्ध के लिए खुद को दोबारा बदलना था। स्पष्ट करें।


It has been criticised that the interwar period (1919 to 1939) was not a phase of reconstruction but that of global politics reshaping itself for a second war. The League of Nations and the idea of collective security have been criticized because they failed to secure general disarmament and to control potential aggressors. The world economic crisis has been mentioned, since without it, Hitler would probably never have been able to come to power. These factors and many other, no doubt helped to create the sort of atmosphere and tensions which might well lead to a war.



The League of Nations (1920)

One of its main aims was to settle international disputes before they got out of hand, and so prevent war from ever breaking out again.

During the 1930s the authority of the League was challenged several times, first by the Japanese invasion of Manchuria (1931) and later by the Italian attack on Abyssinia (1935). Both aggressors ignored the League’s orders to withdraw, and for a variety of reasons it proved impossible to force them to comply.

During Germany’s disputes with Czechoslovakia and Poland, which led on to the Second World War, the League was not even consulted, and it was unable to exert the slightest influence to prevent the outbreak of war.

The Washington Conferences (1921-2)

The purpose of these meetings was to try to improve relations between the USA and Japan. The USA was increasingly suspicious of growing Japanese power in the Far East, and of Japanese influence in China, especially bearing in mind that during the First World War, Japan had seized Kiaochow and all the German islands in the Pacific.

The Genoa Conference (1922)

It was hoped that it would solve the pressing problems of Franco-German hostility, European war debts to the USA and the need to resume proper diplomatic relations with Soviet Russia. Unfortunately the conference failed.

The Dawes Plan (1924)

This was an attempt to break the general deadlock. The plan was successful: the German economy began to recover on the basis of the American loans, and international tensions gradually relaxed, preparing the way for the next agreements.

The Locarno Treaties (1925)

These were a number of different agreements involving Germany, France, Britain, Italy, Belgium, Poland and Czechoslovakia. The most important one was that Germany, France and Belgium promised to respect their joint frontiers.

But no guarantees were given by Germany or Britain about Germany’s eastern frontiers with Poland and Czechoslovakia, the very areas where trouble was most likely to arise.

The Kellogg-Briand Pact (1928)

65 states signed, agreeing to renounce war as an instrument of national policy. But it was completely useless because no mention was made of sanctions against any state which broke its pledge. Japan signed the Pact, but this did not prevent her from waging war against China only three years later.

The Young Plan (1929)

The aim of this new initiative was to settle the remaining problem of reparations. The plan was welcomed by many in Germany, but the Nazi party campaigned against accepting it. They wanted a much quicker and a much more radical revision of the peace settlement.

Great Depression (1929)

The situation really began to drift out of control with the onset of the economic crisis, or the Great Depression. It brought unemployment and falling living standards to most countries, and caused extreme right-wing governments to come to power in Japan, Germany and Italy. In 1933 Hitler became German Chancellor, and after that, international tension mounted.

The World Disarmament Conference (1932-3)

Although all member states of the League of Nations had undertaken to reduce armaments when they accepted the Covenant, only Germany had made any moves towards disarmament, the rest seem to have increased their arms expenditure. Between 1925 and 1933, world expenditure on arms rose from $3.5 billion to around $5 billion.

Problem of Nation states

After First World War, a number of new national states were formed, of which the most important were Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Hungary and Poland. They are sometimes known as the ‘successor’ states.

Two of the guiding principles behind their formation were self-determination and democracy; it was hoped that they would act as a stabilizing influence in central and eastern Europe and as a buffer against potential attacks from communist Russia. However, they all developed serious problems and weaknesses.

There were so many different nationalities in the region that it was impossible for them all to have their own state. Smaller nationalities found themselves once again under what they considered to be ‘foreign’ governments, for example, Croats in Yugoslavia, Slovaks and Germans in Czechoslovakia, and Germans, White Russians and Ukrainians in Poland.

Policy of appeasement

Appeasement was the policy followed by the British, and later by the French, of avoiding war with aggressive powers such as Japan, Italy and Germany, by giving way to their demands.

Examples of appeasement; No action was taken to check the obvious German rearmament. There was only half-hearted British action against the Italian invasion of Abyssinia.


This collection of peace treaties was not a conspicuous success. It had the unfortunate effect of dividing Europe into the states which wanted to revise the settlement (Germany being the main one), and those which wanted to preserve it.

The statesmen of the world had only limited success in reconstructing the international relations. Even the ‘Locarno spirit’ proved an illusion, because so much depended on economic prosperity.

When this evaporated, all the old hostilities and suspicions surfaced again, and authoritarian regimes came to power, which were prepared to risk aggression. And this led to Second World War.

Best Answer: Shri

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