Remilitarization of the Rhineland

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Sid Guttridge
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Re: Remilitarization of the Rhineland

Post by Sid Guttridge » 03 Apr 2015 19:03

Hi Guys,

It would be as well to remember how weak the German forces entering the Rhineland were.

Only 15,000 troops were used in total, of whom only 2-3,000 infantry actually crossed the Rhine.

It would have required very limited military efforts by France to secure the Rhine and bring the whole of the remaining Rhineland to its east within artillery range.

The whole operation was, militarily, a bluff by Hitler, the success of which was predicated on political, not military, factors.

Cheers,

Sid.

Leutnant Von Historian
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Re: Remilitarization of the Rhineland

Post by Leutnant Von Historian » 09 Apr 2015 04:43

Hitler was a gambler, a lot of events prove this and the remilitarization of Rhineland happen to be one of his successful gamble.

Georges JEROME
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Re: Remilitarization of the Rhineland

Post by Georges JEROME » 09 Apr 2015 12:31

The attitude of France toward remilitarization of the Rhineland was not really a surprise.
Since 30 june 1930 french troops left Rhineland, the question of remilitarization remain based on the respect of treaty.
The previous year Saarland people vote return to Germany after a plebiscite and the germany was allowed to set up anew conscription. So Hitler had not to face to a strong resistance from France.
French General Staff did'nt follow the wish of french PM Albert Sarraut in 1936 simply because french army was not ready to afford a new war with germany (1800 000 french soldiers (numerous Young people) died and 1 million of disabled). That was the reason of the defensive strategy of France which conduct to the building of the Maginot Line to protect boundaries of France. And in more France entered in 1936 in a votation period and french people was against a new war.

England too was not ready for a military operation in Germany.

So Hitler made a good analysis of the situation.

Georges

Sid Guttridge
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Re: Remilitarization of the Rhineland

Post by Sid Guttridge » 11 Apr 2015 20:42

Hi Jerome,

What you write is true, but if France was unready for war after building up millions of reservists from conscription since 1919, how much less ready must Germany have been, after 14 years under the Versailles restrictions and with no reservists accumulated since WWI?

Hitler was making a political rather than military calculation over the Rhineland. If he had been basing his actions on purely military rationale, he would have been foolish to attempt it.

Cheers,

Sid.

ljadw
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Re: Remilitarization of the Rhineland

Post by ljadw » 11 Apr 2015 21:49

France was unwilling because it was unready and it was unready because it was unwilling .France could not afford a war against Germany which would have as result a firther occupation of the Rhine Land .The French occupation forces in Germany had as mission not to prevent the remilitarisation of the RL,but to give Poland/CS assistance if they were attacked by Germany/the SU .In 1930 France took the decision that it was no longer needing Poland/CS and that thus there was no longer need for an occupation force in Germany .The French knew that the retreat of the occupation forces would result in the rearmament of Germany and a remilitarisation of the RL.

To prevent a German rearmament and a remilitarisation of the RL,an occupation force of 150000 men was needed,but France had no longer the means for such a force and took the conclusion to follow an other policy .

Sid Guttridge
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Re: Remilitarization of the Rhineland

Post by Sid Guttridge » 12 Apr 2015 09:56

Hi ljadw,

If France was unready militarily for war, how much more unready must Germany have been in 1936? See my previous post.

German plans show that they were not prepared to defend beyond the Rhine, and the small size of the force they sent over the Rhine was little more than token. It would require limited military effort by France to eject it and to bring most of the rest of the Ruhr within artillery range.

Hitler remilitarized the Rhineland successfully because he read the political runes right. Had it escalated to a military confrontation, Germany was simply unready due to the success of the Versailles restrictions.

Cheers,

Sid.

CNE503
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Re: Remilitarization of the Rhineland

Post by CNE503 » 12 Apr 2015 10:41

I totally agree with Sid. France military power was still sufficiently stronger than German one in April 1936 to ensure its victory if a war broke at this time. French peacetime establishment in 1936 was : twenty infantry divisions (1re, 3e, 5e, 9e, 10e, 11e, 12e, 13e, 14e, 15e, 19e, 21e, 23e, 25e, 27e, 29e, 31e, 36e, 42e and 43e Divisions d'infanterie), four cavalry divisions (1re, 2e, 3e and 5e Divisions de cavalerie), one light armored division (1re Division légère mécanique), and further "mobile forces" (eight north-african or colonial infantry divisions: 1re, 2e, 3e and 4e Divisions d'infanterie nord-africaine, 1re, 2e, 3e and 4e Divisions d'infanterie coloniale) based in metropolitan France. 33 divisions, to be added to the crack fortress troops deployed along the eastern borders and the numerous and well-trained general reserve units. And French did have a strong manpower reserve with full-trained reservists (in 1939, it will represent 55 additional divisions, including thirteen that stayed overseas for some time).

Germany had only 24 infantry divisions (most of them established only in October 1935 and lacking collective training and materials), three newly-created armored divisions, two cavalry divisions - ie 29 divisions - supported by unsufficient Heerestruppen, no draftees, an embryonic Luftwaffe... Had a war broke between France and Germany in April 1936, the Wehrmacht wouldn't have been a match for French army. So you're totally right: it was only French political personnel that wanted to avoid an armed conflict with Germany that allowed Hitler to win this poker game.

CNE503
"Sicut Aquila" / "Ils s'instruisent pour vaincre" / "par l'exemple, le coeur et la raison" / "Labor Omnia Vincit"

CNE503
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Re: Remilitarization of the Rhineland

Post by CNE503 » 12 Apr 2015 13:53

This excellent thread led me to a question: does anyone know the units committed to "Winterübung"? I read that at least parts of Infanterie Regimenter 17 and 38 (19. Infanterie Division), Infanterie Regiment 75 (5. Infanterie Division) and Artillerie Regiment 6 were involved, under the overall command of Generalleutnant Gunther von Kluge (commander of Wehrkreis VI). But if there were 19 infantry battalions and 13 artillery batteries, we are far of the account...

Cheers,

CNE503
"Sicut Aquila" / "Ils s'instruisent pour vaincre" / "par l'exemple, le coeur et la raison" / "Labor Omnia Vincit"

ljadw
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Re: Remilitarization of the Rhineland

Post by ljadw » 13 Apr 2015 07:38

CNE503 wrote:I totally agree with Sid. France military power was still sufficiently stronger than German one in April 1936 to ensure its victory if a war broke at this time. French peacetime establishment in 1936 was : twenty infantry divisions (1re, 3e, 5e, 9e, 10e, 11e, 12e, 13e, 14e, 15e, 19e, 21e, 23e, 25e, 27e, 29e, 31e, 36e, 42e and 43e Divisions d'infanterie), four cavalry divisions (1re, 2e, 3e and 5e Divisions de cavalerie), one light armored division (1re Division légère mécanique), and further "mobile forces" (eight north-african or colonial infantry divisions: 1re, 2e, 3e and 4e Divisions d'infanterie nord-africaine, 1re, 2e, 3e and 4e Divisions d'infanterie coloniale) based in metropolitan France. 33 divisions, to be added to the crack fortress troops deployed along the eastern borders and the numerous and well-trained general reserve units. And French did have a strong manpower reserve with full-trained reservists (in 1939, it will represent 55 additional divisions, including thirteen that stayed overseas for some time).

Germany had only 24 infantry divisions (most of them established only in October 1935 and lacking collective training and materials), three newly-created armored divisions, two cavalry divisions - ie 29 divisions - supported by unsufficient Heerestruppen, no draftees, an embryonic Luftwaffe... Had a war broke between France and Germany in April 1936, the Wehrmacht wouldn't have been a match for French army. So you're totally right: it was only French political personnel that wanted to avoid an armed conflict with Germany that allowed Hitler to win this poker game.

CNE503
This is a short-sighted argument : it is ignoring the post-war situation :if France won,what would it do ?Would it occupy the whole of Germany for several decennia ?Going for war would land France in the US situation after the defeat of Iraq.

Besides : Gamelin would disagree with you : he told the government that the French peacetime establishment was unable to start an invasion of Germany and that a general mobilisation was needed .

Sid Guttridge
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Re: Remilitarization of the Rhineland

Post by Sid Guttridge » 13 Apr 2015 14:31

Hi ljadw,

Not a short sighted argument. Just the facts.

You cannot go on discounting that the French had 14 years of trained reservists, or that Germany did not.

Do you really think that, if the political will had been there, the French would have handicapped themselves militarily by NOT calling up reservists?

Do you really think that the small force the Germans had across the Rhine could have held out long, even if the French did not mobilize?

Militarily, Germany was much the weaker at the time.

Furthermore, you are disagreeing with Hitler's own appreciation of the situation, as he outlined it to his three service leaders shortly before the outbreak of war! I will put that up next time.

Cheers,

Sid.

ljadw
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Re: Remilitarization of the Rhineland

Post by ljadw » 13 Apr 2015 17:09

The American historian Zach Shore (in :Hitler,intelligence and the decision to remilitarize the Rhineland):

"It was not lack of French wish to fight in 1936 which permitted Hitler's coup,but rather France's lack of funds,military might and therefore operational plans to counter German remilitarisation ."

The experts had told the politicians that France was bankrupt and that a military intervention would result in a devaluation of the Franc,which was politically inacceptable .

The military had told the politicians that the peace armed forces were insufficient (they had no offensive power) and that a general mobilisation was needed(which was financiallly and politically impossible).

A military intervention would result in a general war (which France could not afford);if this war was successful,he would result in an occupation of a part of Germany that was bigger than the part occupied in 1916,something France could not afford .

ljadw
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Re: Remilitarization of the Rhineland

Post by ljadw » 13 Apr 2015 17:26

Sid Guttridge wrote:
Do you really think that the small force the Germans had across the Rhine could have held out long, even if the French did not mobilize?



Furthermore, you are disagreeing with Hitler's own appreciation of the situation, as he outlined it to his three service leaders shortly before the outbreak of war! I will put that up next time.

Cheers,

Sid.

1) We can discount this,as Gamelin said that the French Army could not intervene without mobilisation


2)We can discount what Hitler said AFTER the events :he exaggerated the danger to position himself as the man who was not afraid to take risks : the German plans for a French intervention were to fight (which meant :war) ,not to slink off with the tails between the legs (source : Donald Cameron-Watt:German plans for the reoccupation of the Rhineland).

What is essential,and what most people are forgetting,is that a return to the statu quo was impossible;for the French intervention to be succesful,the return of the WM was insufficient,what would be needed was

a) elimination of the nazi-regime

b) a lasting occupation of a big part of Germany to prevent a new remilitarisation

France had not the power (militarily,financial,political) for these aims .

Besides: a year before (1935) France did not intervene when Hitler told the world the existence of the LW and his decision to reintroduce conscription,here also the problems were the same ,here also,France had not the power to undo Hitler's decision .

CNE503
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Re: Remilitarization of the Rhineland

Post by CNE503 » 13 Apr 2015 19:29

ljadw,

Please read the whole message. I didn't say that French situation was great. You're right saying that French economy was in shambles, and that French lacked political unity to provoke a war. But concerning the military might, France's power was stronger at this time than Germany's one, if the country was obliged to fight a general war.
Gamelin said that without the complete mobilization, he could not handle the German move in the Rhineland. He feared to have insufficient active troops to do that without their reserve complements. French process of mobilization was at this time very complicated - a lot more than in 1939. An active division had an active component, but reserve component counted as much as a half of the division, not speaking of reserve divisions (between 2,5% and 25% of active soldiers only!). That's why he asked to get the reserves mobilized, to have full-strenght units able to efficiently fight.

A general war should have declared between France and Germany, there is no doubt about the victorious country: France, alongside with Czechoslovakia and maybe Belgium and Poland, could have easily repulsed Germany back to the East.

CNE503
"Sicut Aquila" / "Ils s'instruisent pour vaincre" / "par l'exemple, le coeur et la raison" / "Labor Omnia Vincit"

ljadw
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Re: Remilitarization of the Rhineland

Post by ljadw » 13 Apr 2015 20:06

CNE503 wrote:ljadw,



A general war should have declared between France and Germany, there is no doubt about the victorious country: France, alongside with Czechoslovakia and maybe Belgium and Poland, could have easily repulsed Germany back to the East.

CNE503
And if the Germans were repulsed back to the East ? What would France do ? If the French Army was leaving Germany,the Germand would remilitarize the Rhine Land.If the French stayed in Germany,it would ruin France .

BTW: nobody was expecting an intervention by Belgium .

ljadw
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Re: Remilitarization of the Rhineland

Post by ljadw » 13 Apr 2015 20:23

The French-Canadian author Benoit Lemay wrote a paper (la remilitarisation de la Rhénanie en 1936 :une réévaluation du role des généraux Allemands) with as content the discarding of 2 old myths:

a) the post-war claim of the German generals that they had nothing to do with the whole thing,which was imposed by Hitler :

the truth is that they were already asking the remilitarisation in 1933 and that they were informed in december 1935.

b)that,if there was a French intervention,the Germans would retreat without fighting and that WWII would be prevented (post-war claim by Guderian,always him, who was blaming the Allies for the outbreak of the war).

the truth is that ,if there was a French intervention,the Germans would,if necessary,do a FIGHTING retreat to the East Bank of the Rhine,and that this would result in a general war.
Gamelin and the minister of war (Maurin) told the government that the peace army had no offensive power and that mobilisation was needed,which would cost daily 30 million francs,something France could not afford .

2 sources of Lemay : Donald Cameron-Watt: German plans for the occupation of the Rhineland

:Stephen Shuker : France and the remilitarisation of the Rhine Land .

BTW :it is not correct to compare (as has been done) the small German forces that would advance to the border with the 14 classes of reservists that France could mobilize:if France was mobilizing,Germany would do the same and it would mobilize the veterans of WWI (as it was doing in 1939/1940)

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