Remilitarization of the Rhineland

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Jon G.
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Re: Remilitarization of the Rhineland

Post by Jon G. » 11 Jan 2009 17:16

Tim Smith wrote:
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.
It's important to remember that France was in total politcal turmoil when Hitler remilitarized the Rhineland. There were waves of strikes all over the country and street fights between conservative and progressive/communist groups. The period 1934 to 1937 has been described as a French civil war. When the first Popular Front government won the election in May 1936, the vote was split nearly 50-50 between PF and conservatives/moderates. That political climate prevented France from taking a firm position on the Rhineland remilitarization.

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Tim Smith
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Re: Remilitarization of the Rhineland

Post by Tim Smith » 12 Jan 2009 15:08

Interesting post, Jon, however, that particular cookie could potentially have crumbled a different way.

If you are the leader of a country with serious political problems at home, then jumping up and down screaming your head off about a 'terrible' external threat that could 'destroy your entire nation' can often serve to distract the masses from their domestic problems. Indeed, getting your country into a war before the people have time to think about the consequences can potentially unite your deeply divided people against a common (and unpopular) enemy.

Isn't this what Mussolini did by invading Ethiopia in 1935? The Italian economy wasn't doing very well, thanks to the Depression, but a sudden war rallied the Italians behind their Duce and made him and the Fascists very popular again.

Another case (though an unhappy one) is Argentina invading the Falklands as a way to stop the political rot at home.

Oh, and BTW, the French election in May 1936 is after the German move in the Rhineland, not before it. Indeed, firm military action on France's part might have saved the government's bacon in the impending election and prevented the Popular Front from winning.

So Hitler was very lucky the French did nothing - the whole Rhineland scheme could very easily have blown up in his face.

Jon G.
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Re: Remilitarization of the Rhineland

Post by Jon G. » 12 Jan 2009 16:32

Tim Smith wrote:...
If you are the leader of a country with serious political problems at home, then jumping up and down screaming your head off about a 'terrible' external threat that could 'destroy your entire nation' can often serve to distract the masses from their domestic problems. Indeed, getting your country into a war before the people have time to think about the consequences can potentially unite your deeply divided people against a common (and unpopular) enemy.
Yes, but in 1936 there was no common enemy. The leftists who eventually won the 1936 elections (just) considered Germany and the spread of Fascism enemy #1, but the political right - which, to a degree, was connected to the army - was far more concerned about the spread of Communism.
Isn't this what Mussolini did by invading Ethiopia in 1935? The Italian economy wasn't doing very well, thanks to the Depression, but a sudden war rallied the Italians behind their Duce and made him and the Fascists very popular again.
...yes, but France was a democracy, albeit a democracy in crisis at the time. There was no single leader who could do as he wished at a whim. Also, while the army was loyal to its government, you could well ask how loyal the army might be if push came to shove. France was on the edge of bankrupty in 1936; in order to counter the German remilitarization France would have to mobilize, or so army CinC Gamelin apparently informed the government, which would have further damaged the economy.
...
Oh, and BTW, the French election in May 1936 is after the German move in the Rhineland, not before it. Indeed, firm military action on France's part might have saved the government's bacon in the impending election and prevented the Popular Front from winning.
But it was (among other things) the turmoil up to the election which left the French government politically too preoccupied to deal firmly with the Rhineland remilitarization. In Spain, a roughly similar situation (= political unrest followed by an election won by the Popular Front) lead to outright civil war just a few months later.
So Hitler was very lucky the French did nothing - the whole Rhineland scheme could very easily have blown up in his face.
Perhaps Hitler was lucky, but his decision to move into the Rhineland seems quite calculated to me. He knew that the French were too busy with domestic problems to do too much about it. The Rhineland remilitarization was a calculated risk, not an outright gamble.

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Re: Remilitarization of the Rhineland

Post by glenn239 » 12 Jan 2009 18:37

France was on the edge of bankrupty in 1936; in order to counter the German remilitarization France would have to mobilize, or so army CinC Gamelin apparently informed the government, which would have further damaged the economy.
It was the financial aspect to an occupation that made the move impossible without British support. The original occupation failed because the French government could not cover expenses.
Perhaps Hitler was lucky, but his decision to move into the Rhineland seems quite calculated to me.
In the 1920’s occupation the German government paid its miners not to work for the French, which undercut French financing of the occupation and forced a withdraw – but at the expense of severe damage to the German economy. With Hitler, his solution would have been more brutal and straightforward, but far less damaging to Germany’s finances.; if you worked for the French, you would be shot.

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Re: Remilitarization of the Rhineland

Post by tigre » 18 Mar 2015 23:51

Hello to all :D; a little complement..............

Winterübung - March 1936!

On 5 February 1936, after de Opening ceremony of the Olympic Winter Games Hitler took the War Minister Field Marshal Werner von Blomberg to the side and told him that he would reoccupy the Rhineland in the coming month. Blomberg said later: "I almost fell in terror in the snow."

Hitler then commissioned von Hassell in February 1936, to ask Mussolini, as whether he would see the German response to the Franco-Soviet treaty of alliance. Von Hassell presented the question to Mussolini in an interview on February 22, 1936. The Duce confirmed "twice as properly". Thus, Hitler believed to almost have free hand from Italian side with respect to the demilitarized zone. March 2nd was the day of the crucial meeting between Hitler and his intimates. Hitler met with von Hassell, the chief of the army Werner von Fritsch, the War Minister von Blomberg, the Foreign Minister Konstantin von Neurath, Hermann Goering and Joachim von Ribbentrop, the former professional in charge of the foreign policy issues for the Nazis. Although his political and military leaders at the time tried to dissuade the Führer about of a remilitarization of the Rhineland because they believed the risk of a hostile coalition against the German Reich was to be too high, Hitler decided for the action and put March 7, 1936 as the date for carrying out the operation.

As ordered on March 7, 1936 a Saturday, the German troops marched into the demilitarized zone. The entire force that marched into the Rhineland, consisted of about 19 infantry battalions and 13 artillery battalions. But, there were 30,000 men militarily equipped of the Landespolizei already stationed there, as particularly pointed out the French Military attaché. To preserve the nature of the operation, only three weak units (battalions) advanced to Trier, Saarbrücken and Aachen.

Sources: Frankreich und die Remilitarisierung des Rheinlandes
http://docserv.uni-duesseldorf.de/servl ... 6/1286.pdf

Cheers. Raúl M 8-).
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tigre
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Re: Remilitarization of the Rhineland

Post by tigre » 23 Mar 2015 04:40

Hello to all :D; something more...................

Winterübung - March 1936!

Image
The DMZ...................................

Sources: Frankreich und die Remilitarisierung des Rheinlandes
http://docserv.uni-duesseldorf.de/servl ... 6/1286.pdf

Cheers. Raúl M 8-).
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Re: Remilitarization of the Rhineland

Post by ljadw » 23 Mar 2015 17:46

tigre wrote:Hello to all :D; a little complement..............

Winterübung - March 1936!

On 5 February 1936, after de Opening ceremony of the Olympic Winter Games Hitler took the War Minister Field Marshal Werner von Blomberg to the side and told him that he would reoccupy the Rhineland in the coming month. Blomberg said later: "I almost fell in terror in the snow."

Hitler then commissioned von Hassell in February 1936, to ask Mussolini, as whether he would see the German response to the Franco-Soviet treaty of alliance. Von Hassell presented the question to Mussolini in an interview on February 22, 1936. The Duce confirmed "twice as properly". Thus, Hitler believed to almost have free hand from Italian side with respect to the demilitarized zone. March 2nd was the day of the crucial meeting between Hitler and his intimates. Hitler met with von Hassell, the chief of the army Werner von Fritsch, the War Minister von Blomberg, the Foreign Minister Konstantin von Neurath, Hermann Goering and Joachim von Ribbentrop, the former professional in charge of the foreign policy issues for the Nazis. Although his political and military leaders at the time tried to dissuade the Führer about of a remilitarization of the Rhineland because they believed the risk of a hostile coalition against the German Reich was to be too high, Hitler decided for the action and put March 7, 1936 as the date for carrying out the operation.

As ordered on March 7, 1936 a Saturday, the German troops marched into the demilitarized zone. The entire force that marched into the Rhineland, consisted of about 19 infantry battalions and 13 artillery battalions. But, there were 30,000 men militarily equipped of the Landespolizei already stationed there, as particularly pointed out the French Military attaché. To preserve the nature of the operation, only three weak units (battalions) advanced to Trier, Saarbrücken and Aachen.

Sources: Frankreich und die Remilitarisierung des Rheinlandes
http://docserv.uni-duesseldorf.de/servl ... 6/1286.pdf

Cheers. Raúl M 8-).

That the German political and military leaders were opposed to the remilitarisation of te Rhineland,is something that was claimed AFTER the war,was was very convenient for these leaders(those who were still living)

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tigre
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Re: Remilitarization of the Rhineland

Post by tigre » 23 Mar 2015 19:12

Hello ljadw :D; thanks for joining.........................
That the German political and military leaders were opposed to the remilitarisation of te Rhineland,is something that was claimed AFTER the war,was was very convenient for these leaders(those who were still living)
I'm guessing were the same leaders who were fired by Hitler later when they also tried to oppose to the campaign against the Czechs ie: Werner von Fritsch (sacked for homosexual); von Blomberg (sacked for marrying a prostitute); Konstantin von Neurath (replaced by Joachim von Ribbentrop). Cheers. Raúl M 8-).

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Re: Remilitarization of the Rhineland

Post by ljadw » 24 Mar 2015 11:25

1)From what I have read,already before 1936,the German military leadership was advocating the remilitarisation of the Rhineland (from the German POV,something indespensable)


2)There are no proofs that Fritsch,Blomberg,Neurath opposed the remilitarisation

3)There are no proofs that their dismissal (2 years after the remilitarisation !) was related to what happened in 1936

4)After he was fired,Neurath had NO objection to serve the regime again,as governor of Chechia;Blomberg was doomed due to his own stupidity:no one could have saved him,even not Hitler .Fritsch was cleared /proved to be innocent,but meanwhile there was already a successor appointed .

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Re: Remilitarization of the Rhineland

Post by Sid Guttridge » 24 Mar 2015 12:14

Hi Guys,

I doubt any German military leaders (and few of the general population) were opposed to the remilitarization of the Rhineland in principle.

The disagreements were over risk, timing and tactics.

Given the disparity in strength between German and French forces in 1936, no German military leader could have looked upon war with France with any confidence at the time. On purely military grounds, their professional opinion would sensibly have been against the premature risk. This sense of inordinate risk endured widely within the senior officer corps into 1939.

The Rhineland, Austrian, Sudetenland, Bohemia-Moravia and Memel occupations were all premised on there being no wider war. In this, Hitler's instincts were good. Only over Danzig/Poland did his political judgement fail him. Then even he put the invasion of Poland off for several days at the last minute when it became evident actual war with Britain and France would result.

Cheers,

Sid.

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tigre
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Re: Remilitarization of the Rhineland

Post by tigre » 24 Mar 2015 14:35

Hello to all :D; hey guys................................
3)There are no proofs that their dismissal (2 years after the remilitarisation !) was related to what happened in 1936
ljadw, in fact I did not mean 1936 but to so say...put sticks in AH's expansion policy....others points....good points.
their professional opinion would sensibly have been against the premature risk
Sid you put better.....

Thanks for shedding light on me pals. Cheers. Raúl M 8-).

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Re: Remilitarization of the Rhineland

Post by ljadw » 24 Mar 2015 18:49

Sid Guttridge wrote:Hi Guys,

I doubt any German military leaders (and few of the general population) were opposed to the remilitarization of the Rhineland in principle.

The disagreements were over risk, timing and tactics.

Given the disparity in strength between German and French forces in 1936, no German military leader could have looked upon war with France with any confidence at the time. On purely military grounds, their professional opinion would sensibly have been against the premature risk. This sense of inordinate risk endured widely within the senior officer corps into 1939.

The Rhineland, Austrian, Sudetenland, Bohemia-Moravia and Memel occupations were all premised on there being no wider war. In this, Hitler's instincts were good. Only over Danzig/Poland did his political judgement fail him. Then even he put the invasion of Poland off for several days at the last minute when it became evident actual war with Britain and France would result.

Cheers,

Sid.
There was no premature risk : France was NOT going to war over the Rhineland .

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Re: Remilitarization of the Rhineland

Post by Sid Guttridge » 25 Mar 2015 11:34

Hi ljadw,

You write, "There was no premature risk : France was NOT going to war over the Rhineland."

That is easy to write with hindsight, but the military balance at the time was heavily against Germany.

Germany clearly felt there was a risk of war with France because it had already begun the construction of a fortification line opposite the Rhine and Rhineland (later abandoned in favour of the West Wall) and there were much bigger military preparations for a possible war with France that went beyond the occupation force sent into the Rhineland, including by the navy. (For one brief description of this, see Guderian's memoirs).

France had the military power and legal right to oppose the remilitarization of the Rhineland. That it did not do so was down to Hitler reading the political, not military, situation correctly.

Cheers,

Sid.

P.S. There is also the fact that, although in late 1937 the Army high command (under Blomberg and Fritsch) was instructed by Hitler to prepare plans for the military occupation of Austria, no such plans existed in March 1938 and the occupation had to be improvised at very short notice by Manstein.

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Re: Remilitarization of the Rhineland

Post by ljadw » 25 Mar 2015 12:05

France had done nothing a year before when Hitler reintroduced conscription and announced the existence of the LW .

Besides,for intelligent observers it was obvious already in 1929,when France started the construction of the Maginotline,that it would do nothing to PREVENT Germany from rearming .In 1936,the French political and military leaders could not say that the remilitarisation was a threat to France (and it wasn't),because that would mean that the Maginotline could not protect France,that all the money was wasted and that the whole thing was a fraud .

Thus,what did the French leadership ? The usual thing when,just before an election,politicians are faced by something they could not solve : big declarations(they would do this and that) folowed by no actions,hoping that the electors would forget the whole thing very quicky .

And I forget : they would blame their allies : Perfide Albion,something that's accepted easily by the public opinion: we are betrayed by our allies .

The French did nothing ,because they had only one option :war with Germany,defeat Germany and occupuy the whole country,something for which they had not the power .

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Re: Remilitarization of the Rhineland

Post by Sid Guttridge » 27 Mar 2015 13:41

Hi ljadw,

Again, you are writing with hindsight. It is easy to have 20/20 vision retrospectively.

If it was obvious as early as "1929 when France started the construction of the Maginotline,that it would do nothing to PREVENT Germany from rearming", one wonders why it took Germany six years before doing so? I would suggest that, even though almost everybody in Germany was in favour of remilitarizing, the military risk was adjudged too great. It was only when a military head of state (Hindenburg) was replaced by a political head of state (Hitler) that political rather than military considerations became paramount.

Of course, military risk continued to preoccupy the Army general staff until the end of the 1930s, but Hitler was operating on a different level - that of political, not military risk. If at any time until 1939 his political judgement had proven flawed, the German armed forces would have had a difficult time holding off the enemies he had accumulated, if they included France.

The French certainly had the military power to prevent the remilitarization of the Rhineland in 1936, and they had no need to occupy the whole of Germany to achieve this, as they had proved in the 1920s when they had last occupied the Rhineland.

Cheers,

Sid.
Last edited by Sid Guttridge on 28 Mar 2015 13:01, edited 1 time in total.

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