Remilitarization of the Rhineland

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weiwensg
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Remilitarization of the Rhineland

Post by weiwensg » 06 Jan 2009 14:40

Was Hitler's remilitarization of the Rhineland in 1936 part of his rearmament program or part of an aggressive foreign policy? I am tempted to think the latter, but there is this lingering doubt that shifting troops around in your country can't be part of a foreign policy.

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Marcus
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Re: Remilitarization of the Rhineland

Post by Marcus » 06 Jan 2009 15:01

It's been a while since we last saw you here weiwensg!

/Marcus

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Tim Smith
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Re: Remilitarization of the Rhineland

Post by Tim Smith » 06 Jan 2009 15:06

It was an easy 'victory' for Hitler. He knew the French were terrified of another war, and he exploited their political weakness.

It was a hugely successful propaganda stunt, for domestic consumption rather than foreign consumption.
Made him extremely popular in Germany.

glenn239
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Re: Remilitarization of the Rhineland

Post by glenn239 » 06 Jan 2009 18:32

IIRC, the French weren't that terrified. The problem was that Britain backed Germany.

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The_Enigma
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Re: Remilitarization of the Rhineland

Post by The_Enigma » 07 Jan 2009 00:05

I remember reading somewhere a very long time ago that the German troops sent to reoccupy the Rhineland did so without (or with very limited) ammo and had orders to retreat back east if there was any sign of resistance from the French.
Seems a bit dodgy to me, would anyone know if there is any truth in it? :?

weiwensg
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Re: Remilitarization of the Rhineland

Post by weiwensg » 07 Jan 2009 01:32

thanks so much for the replies!

i think this has gone a little OT though... was it part of rearmament or a foreign policy?

the_enigma, i heard about that before and i think its true. i remember hitler saying "if the french attacked us, we would have to retreat with our tails between our legs."

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Tim Smith
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Re: Remilitarization of the Rhineland

Post by Tim Smith » 08 Jan 2009 02:01

glenn239 wrote:IIRC, the French weren't that terrified. The problem was that Britain backed Germany.
But France was more than strong enough, in March 1936, to take on the infant Third Reich single-handed, and win easily within a few weeks. Without any help from Britain. The Wehrmacht was nowhere near ready for a war.

But they didn't have the political will to do it - the French public opinion wasn't up for it.

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The_Enigma
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Re: Remilitarization of the Rhineland

Post by The_Enigma » 08 Jan 2009 02:25

What about there army, they were in the period of massive rearmament when 1939 came - are you sure they were military and logitically ready for it in 36?

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Tim Smith
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Re: Remilitarization of the Rhineland

Post by Tim Smith » 10 Jan 2009 13:23

The_Enigma wrote:What about there army, they were in the period of massive rearmament when 1939 came - are you sure they were military and logitically ready for it in 36?
Have a look at this what-if thread which has some useful info on French and German armaments in 1936.

Also this: http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics ... _Rhineland
Last edited by Tim Smith on 10 Jan 2009 16:19, edited 1 time in total.

glenn239
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Re: Remilitarization of the Rhineland

Post by glenn239 » 10 Jan 2009 14:37

But France was more than strong enough, in March 1936, to take on the infant Third Reich single-handed
There was no prospect of France acting without British cooperation.

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Tim Smith
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Re: Remilitarization of the Rhineland

Post by Tim Smith » 10 Jan 2009 16:16

glenn239 wrote:
But France was more than strong enough, in March 1936, to take on the infant Third Reich single-handed
There was no prospect of France acting without British cooperation.
As I said - the French lacked the political will to do what needed to be done.

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Qvist
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Re: Remilitarization of the Rhineland

Post by Qvist » 11 Jan 2009 15:46

but there is this lingering doubt that shifting troops around in your country can't be part of a foreign policy.
Of course shifting troops around in your own country can be part of foreign policy. It is not a matter of indifference to your neighbours if you concentrate your armed forces on the border, and in some cases moving troops around in your own country can even be done purely for foreign policy reasons.

In this case, we are even talking about a treaty breach. And in any case, anything that has significant consequences for other countries is foreign policy, or at least has foreign policy consequences.

We are talking about an act that had an enormous and fundamental impact on the whole european system. As long as the Rhineland was demilitarised, the Ruhr was indefensible, and without the Ruhr it was inconceivable for Germany to wage war. In other words, it was a tangible guarantee against any sort of German aggression or to put it differently, a guarantee of German military impotence that put the Germans at the mercy of Paris. With the Rhineland remilitarised the possibility ofGerman military action was back on the table as an option, which profoundly changed everything in European politics.

cheers

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Qvist
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Re: Remilitarization of the Rhineland

Post by Qvist » 11 Jan 2009 15:53

was it part of rearmament or a foreign policy?
Sorry, but the question is badly conceived logically, and literally meaningless. Why would this be something that should belong to one or the other? Rearmament was the basic aim that all aspects of Third Reich policy, including foreign policy, was designed to support.

Since it involved a breach of the Versailles Treaty and was an act that radically increased the capacity of Germany to threaten its neighbours, it most certainly must be regarded as being part of an "aggressive foreign policy", in several senses of the word. It did not as far as I can see directly affect German re-armament, except insofar as it secured Germany's most important industrial areas militarily. This however was something that had no effects for that industry or the rearmament process as long as Germany was not at war.

The main direct effect was on Germany's military position vis-a-vis France, which in turn altered Germany's international political position, increasing their freedom of action by reducing their military vulnerability. Things like the Anschluss or the annexation of the Sudetenland would have been impossible without it, as the old vulnerability would have created an intolerable risk and hugely increased French political leverage. At the same time, the treaty breach and the implications of the move (which was not lost on contemporary observers) constituted another turn of the screw in the gradual loss of faith in German good intentions that in the end led to the declarations of war in 1939.

cheers

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Re: Remilitarization of the Rhineland

Post by phylo_roadking » 11 Jan 2009 16:42

There was no prospect of France acting without British cooperation
That I'm not sure of. At least twice in the 1920's France threatened to invade Germany on her own over the German slow compliance with various sections of the demilitarization clauses. That will evaporated quite bit by the 1930s, but it's a narrow time window when the French could indeed STILL have pushed the renascent German army back out of the Rhineland AND forced some other punitive action on Germany. The fact that it didn't wasn't due to a lack of military strength compared to Germany, it was due to the lack of will in PARIS, not London and Paris together.

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Re: Remilitarization of the Rhineland

Post by glenn239 » 11 Jan 2009 17:08

As I said - the French lacked the political will to do what needed to be done.
The French could not and would not act without British cooperation in Germany. This had already been tried in the early 1920’s under Poincare, and the results were disastrous, with France being compelled into a humiliating withdrawal.
The fact that it didn't wasn't due to a lack of military strength compared to Germany, it was due to the lack of will in PARIS, not London and Paris together.
I think the blame is to be placed primarily upon the shoulders of Great Britain. There was probably sufficient will in France to act if (and only if) Great Britain had supported Paris in doing so. But Great Britain had learned little from the Great War period and continued to view Europe through the obsolete and entirely inappropriate lens of balance of power tactics. London never seemed to catch on to the fact that their doctrine was like trying to land a plane while looking backwards over the tail.

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