World War II Conferences


Figure 1.--

The Munich Conference was an attempt to prevent a European war. That war was made possible when the Soviets signed the NAZI-Soviet Nom-Agression Pact. The Soviets were the only country to participate in war time conferences both with and against the Axis. Both the Allies and the Axis held a series of conferences to plan strategy and work out cooperative actions. The Allied conferences are better known in part because the Allies cooperative effort was much more involved than the Axis effort. In addition, Allied control of the seas made conferences with the Japanese and European Axis impossible after the NAZIs invaded the Soviet Union and the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. The Allied conferences also were important in developing war strategy and xooperative efforts, but also helped shape the future of Europe after the War. As a result the last two conferences, especially Yalta have proven to be very controversial.

Munich Conferences

The Munich Conference was an attempt to prevent a European war. The next target was Czecheslovakia which had beeen created by the Versailles Peace Treaty. After the Anchluss, Hitler began to escalate his tirades against Czecheslovakia, claiming that the erhnic Germans in the Sudetenland were being mistreated. The NAZI rearmament program, the remilitarization of the Rhineland and the Anchluss with Austria came as a shock to Czecheslovakia. Even more so, the lack of response from Britain and France. The Czechs who had defensive alliance with France were prepared to fight. Even with the Anchluss, many Europeans chose to see the NAZI actions as domestic German matters. This changed with Hitler's next target--Czecheslovakia. Hitler in 1938 demanded the Sudetenland in Czecheslovakia which had a minority German population. Neville Chamberlin, the British Prime Miniister mused how terrible it was that war should be threatened by a "... quarel in a far away country by people of which we know little." A prominent member of the British parliament displayed even more ignoramce when he told the press, "Why should we bother with those gypsies in the Balkans?", meaning the Czechs who were of course not located in the Balkans. In the end, The British and French gave in at talks held in Munich. Vhamberlain flew back to London and stepping off the plane waved the agreement signed ny Herr Hitler which he assured the waiting repoters guaranteed "Peace in our time." Churchill was apauled. Most British anf French people were releaved. One European leader, Soviet Marshall Stalin, who was not at the conference drew the conclusion that the British and French could not be trusted as potential allies against Hitler.

NAZI Soviet Non-Aggression Pact

That war was made possible when the Soviets signed the NAZI-Soviet Nom-Agression Pact. The Soviets were the only country to participate in war time conferences both with and against the Axis. NAZI Foreign Minister Ribbentrop and newly appointed Soviet Commissar for Foreign Affairs Molotov on August 23, 1939, signed the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact. At the time of thesigning, British and French delegations were in Moscow trying to reach an understanding with Stalin. Hewas convinced, however, that they were tring to draw him into a war with Hitler. The two countries which until that time had been bitter foes, pledged not attack each other. Any problems developing between the two countries were to be delt with amicably. It was last for 10 years. The Pact shocked the world and the purpose was immedietly apparent. It meant that Germany could attack Poland without fear of Soviet intervention. Thus after defeating Poland, Germany did not have to fear a full-scale European war on two fronts. What was not known at the time was that there was a secret protocol to the pact which in effect divided Eastern Europe betwen the two countries. This protocol was discoered after the end of the World War II in 1945. The Soviets continued to deny this protocol until 1989. The NAZIs 8 days after signing the Pact invade Poland on September 1, 1939, launching World War II. Although the Soviet's did not enter the War against Britain and France, the Soviets were virtual NAZI allies as they provided large quantaies of strategic materials, especially oil. Communist parties in Britainand France opposedthe war effort. The Communst Party in America opposed President Roosevelt's efforts to expand defense spending and assist Britain and France.

Allied Conferences

Both the Allies and the Axis held a series of conferences to plan strategy and work out cooperative actions. The Allied conferences are better known in part because the Allies cooperative effort was much more involved than the Axis effort. The Allied conferences began with the meeting of President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill at Plavencia Bay and the sihning of the Atlantic Charter (August 1941). The Allied conferences also were important in developing war strategy and cooperative efforts, but also helped shape the future of Europe after the War. As a result the last two conferences, especially Yalta have proven to be very controversial.

Axis Conferences

Allied control of the seas made conferences with the Japanese and European Axis impossible after the NAZIs invaded the Soviet Union and the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. The Axis conferences never achieved a true unified approach to the War or any real cooperative planning. In fact, the major actiions of the War were taklen by Germany, Italy, and Japan independently without consulation. This is of considerable importance because after the fall of France the clear superiority in military force laid in the hands of the Axis and the Soviets which at the time was cooperating with the Germans.

Tripartite (Axis) Pact (September 1940)

The Japanese were initially reluctant to accept Hitler's 1939 offer to formally join the German-Italian Axis alliance. The German defeat of the Netherlands and epecially France apparently caused the Japanese to reverse their position. The defeat of the French and the occupation of the Netherlands meant that the colonies of these countries in Southeast Asia were vulnerable. The Dutch East Indies (modern Indonesia) were particularly important because of their oil resources. Rubber was another important resource available in the region. Japan had been importing oil from the United States, but America was increasing pressure on Japan to end the war in China. Japan signed the Tripartite Pact, making the country a member of the Axis military alliance (September 27). The Pact allied Germany, Italy, and Japan and became known as the Berlin-Rome-Tokyo Axis, or more commonly Axis alliance.

Molotov vist to Berlin (November 1940)

This was not an Axis cinference, but it was a meeting betweem the NAZIs and Sovirts while the two countries were still allies.

Japanese-Soviet Neutrality Pact (April 1941)


Hitler-Mussolini Meeting (August 1941)

Mussolini visited Hitler's headquaters in East Prussia at a time that it still looked like Barbarossa would succeed. Musolini believed that this was a ime for the Axis to make a proclamation similar to the Atlantic Charter. He wanted Hitler to enunciate a European vision that would make it plain that he did not ntend to turn Europe into a vast Germany colony. He hesitated to confront Hitler directly, but did shock Hitler sad his aides when he insisted on taking over te control of the plain from the pilot. Subsequent Italian initiatives were spurned by Hitler. who was indeed planning to crearte a vasr colony in the East and a major redordering of the West.

Axis Meeting (November 1941)

The foreign ministers of Germany, Italy, and Japan were schueled to meet in Nerlin (November 25-27, 1941). The occassion was the renewal of the 1936 Anti-Comintern Pact. The Japanese Foreign Mibister because of Barbarossa and the imminent attack on the United States was unable to attend. Ribentrop did invite the European Axis countries (Bulgaaria, Croatia, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, and Spain), co-belgerant Finland, and occuped (but favorably treated) Denmark. Again Mussolini wanted the AXis to issue a document with a European vision. Hitler thought this a wate of time. If Germany won the War it would not be needed and if Germasny lost it would be of no consequence. He failed to see the importance of winning over potenbtial allies.






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Created: December 29, 2002
Last updated: May 29, 2004