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Lecture 2

388 - Week 2 – Lecture 2 - Hitler, the Generals and Pre-War Diplomacy.docx

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McGill University
HIST 388
Peter Hoffmann

Week 2 – Lecture 2 History 388 – the Second World War Hitler and the Generals Recap: Hitler was not elected as Chancellor of Germany; his Party received just under 34% of the national vote in a national parliamentary election in November 1932 and they received approximately 48% in the semi-free elections of the 5 March 1933 BUT this does not mean he was elected by any majority  he was actually appointed by the President of the Republic, Paul von Hindenburg = appointed through intrigues and fraud - H.A. Turner – ‘Hitler’s 30 Days to Power’ ▯ describes the machinations of Hitler as he got to power in which there was multiple moments at which things could have gone differently - Took deception of the president of the republic to make him appoint Hitler  Papen, whom was Chancellor from May to November 1932 and succeeded by the armed forces minister, von Schleicher o Papen’s entire concern and intentions after his fall in 1932 was to bring down Schleicher  regardless of the state and the nation/the semi-civil war situation between Nazis and Communists, his successor had to be destroyed primarily - President von Hindenburg was persuaded to appoint Hitler by the commitment and promise that Hitler would head a majority, coalition government with no new elections o From Hitler’s perspective, these were 2 outright lies = he negotiated with the centre party for show until he was appointed and he had the intention of holding one more election – ‘the last election’ Even before the elections = 4 February Emergency Decree gave the Nazis control of the streets and to a large extent, control of thethlection campaign 28 February – 1 day after the burning of the Reichstag – the constitution was suspended even before his appointment, Hitler always made clear that he was interested in military activity  November 1930: he addressed students saying that no nation had the better right to fight for the rule of the world than the German nation  suggested that he thus intended to fight for the rule of the world - Germany was not defeated in WW1 because it’s soldiers were inferior, but only because the forces of the world had combined against it ▯ contrary to much of the propaganda the Nazis used regarding being stabbed in the back etc., this was actually a rather realistic assessment o Implication – this would not happen again: this would not be risked again – PLAN IN NOVEMBER 1930!  3 days after this address, he addressed 12,000 at a Party Rally, saying that the nation with the strongest vitality will possess the earth first concern after this appointment was the army – 3 February 1933 = luncheon address to senior commanders in the official quarters of the CiC of theArmy in Berlin  covered 4 points: 1 – there will be an entire reversal of internal conditions with no toleration of pacifism or any anti-war attitudes – Marxism will be exterminated – the youth and the whole nation must be orientated towards the idea that ‘only combat can save us’ – the cancer of democracy will be removed; the death penalty for treason will be imposed and the government will be authoritarian 2 – struggle against the regime of Versailles and equality in Geneva re. armaments during the disarmament conference in Geneva  if this equality is conceded by the other states esp. France and Britain, is useless unless the nation is willing to fight - the appointment of Hitler signalled danger to France and Britain ▯ he was ‘on probation’= what the powers had been ready to agree to in December 1932 of principled equality w. the right to defend and rearm, was revoked in Summer 1933 and in October 1933, Hitler withdrew the German delegation from the disarmament conference and for good propaganda, withdrew Germany from the league of nations o having withdrawn from the League of Nations, he was no longer under any obligation or pressure to adhere to their statutes = rearmament was now certain; only a question of how dangerous rearmament would be in terms of foreign relations  talk between Poland and France re. a preventive war against Germany, though France eventually backed out  spring 1933 = one had to tread carefully with rearmament and not provoke another French intervention until one was ready to meet it 3 – economy with the priority of saving the farmer BUT increasing agricultural production was a useless pursuit, as was increasing exports since the receptive capacity of the world is limited with overproduction everywhere  the solution would be new settlements and living space  this would take time since an immediate radical change is not possible (necessary to wait for war as they rearmed) 4 – armaments  the most important precondition for the realisation of the objective of expanded living space and conquest of territory = political power must be required; universal military service is necessary but first the government must prevent the draft capacity being poisoned by bolshevism and pacifism - revealing ▯Hitler shows his intentions in this speech as he posed the rhetorical question of how to use political power once it was won = realised that though he had been in office of chancellor for 4 days, he still needed to get a grip of the political power o get it through getting new export markets and expansion into greater land – lebensraum  this was as far as Hitler went in revealing his genocide intentions to the Generals in 1933 Also said: armed forces are the most important institution in the nation, the ‘most socialist national institution’is theArmy - internal struggle for political power would not be the army’s concern but the task of the Nazis internal associations o there would be no mixing of theArmy and the SA(3 or 4 million members) = reassuring to theArmy whom saw itself as professional, not a civilian militia the most dangerous phase = the period when the army was being rebuilt  this phase would show the ability of the French statesmen since if they were good then they would not let the army be rebuilt but instead attack Germany, probably together with eastern satellites - Generals did not really take this statement of intent wholly seriously – ‘talk is always bolder than action’ - Only in 1934 was rearmament taken up seriously, with the decapitation of the SAleadership sometimes referred to as ‘the night of the long knives’ o About 85 persons were executed – most high ranking officials within the storm-troopers th o 4 July 1933 = announcement made that there was an apprehended state of emergency and the nation had to be defended against a coup  not entirely wrong given that the leader, Ernst Rohm, believed that the new army should be a people’s army with the basis of this being the SAof which he would be CiC = little more than just a latent rivalry between Rohm and Hitler, and Hitler was forced to make a decision between Rohm or theArmy • he knew that the SAwas not viable  out of discipline; could be used as auxiliary forces perhaps but not as a first line, striking army • it would have been very difficult to try and select suitable candidates for inclusion in the army whilst keeping out the greater part of 4 million members April 1934 = directed the leadership to set up a 300,000 strong army by 1April 1935 = the person whom would have to organise and oversee this was NOT the CiC of theArmy whom had to command whatever was available to him; instead it was the job of the Chief of the General Staff to organise and build theArmy = General Beck - Beck naturally agreed that theArmy needed an expansion ▯ needed tanks and motorisation: wanted to organise and mechanise theArmy o France has a peacetime army of 300,000 with 900,000 reservist o Poland had 284,000 peacetime army and could mobilise another million o Czechoslovakia had 110,000 peacetime armies o Yugoslavia – 115,000 o Romania – 246,000 o Soviet Union – 562,000; from 1935 – the Soviet Union had an alliance against Germany with France o Germany – 100,000 army with NO reserves = Germany was surrounded by armed forces to the sum of 2.817 million individuals against them - also needed the officer class to be supplemented = there was only just enough for an army of 100,000 and it would take a long time to train the▯ once the cadres are trained then recruitment could begin o impossible to do within a year to the level of 100,000 Beck also cited the foreign policy dangers and concerns = if France disapproved, it was impossible to hide 300,000 men - the rearmament proceeded more slowly than Hitler wanted, but it did proceed with one of the conditions for expanding theArmy to the level that Hitler wanted = ththuniversal draft o universal draft = announced on the 16 March 1935 and then the government waited to see what would occur as they clearly violated the Treaty of Versailles  Britain and France did nothing though  made their discontent known but that was all May 1935 = War Minister then ordered a stud
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