It was no surprise that Hitler turned his attention to Poland.
German negotiations had begun with Poland for access to the city of Danzig in late 1938. This was a German city which was supervised by the League of Nations.
On 23 March 1939 Lithuania was forced to hand over the disputed territory of Memel to Germany. Along with the occupation of Czechoslovakia in March 1939 this increased the pressure on Poland.
Germany's Foreign Minister, Ribbentrop, wanted the return of Danzig. He also wanted land links through Poland to East Prussia. The Poles were also asked to join the Anti Comintern pact against the USSR. The Polish Foreign Minister, Colonel Josef Beck, rejected the demands.
The British and French guarantee to Poland was welcomed. At this point Poland was short of friends. In October 1938 Poland had taken advantage of the Munich crisis to annex the area of Teschen from Czechoslovakia. This behaviour had been criticised by British politicians such as Churchill.
The Pact of Steel was signed between Germany and Italy in May 1939. Unlike the Anti Comintern Pact it was a formal alliance. It meant that Italy and Germany would support each other in the event of a war. This improved Hitler’s position.
The Italian dictator Mussolini had been less than keen to commit to the Pact. This was because he did not believe that Italy was ready for a major war.
The pact increase belief among the Soviets that they were facing an increasing threat from the Fascist powers.