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#13: German Rearmament to a New World War, 1935-1940.pdf

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University of Toronto St. George
Doris Bergen

GERMAN REARMAMENT TO A NEW WORLD WAR, 1935-1940 INTRODUCTION •Why didn’t the world stop Hitler? Hitler became chancellor in 1933 — a lot of other things were going on in the •world at this time • USSR — The Holodomar, 1932-3 • Fascist Italy — the Italian invasion of Ethiopia, 1935 •It is easy in hindsight to say “Chamberlain was a fool to appease Hitler” — but, there was a very real fear of war that changed the behavior and decisions of many Europeans •Many debates about the origins of WWI — such debates do not occur with respect to WW2 •The war that Hitler launched in 1939, with the Invasion of Poland, was not about overturning the terms of the Treaty of Versailles (TV) •1939 — TV was completely overturned • The Germans had got most of what they wanted before the war began •WWII has some connections with WWI — but WWII is a very different conflict W HY W EF IGHT: DIVIDE ANDCONQUER •10,000 troops arrived in Rotterdam as paratroopers — before the citizens knew they were at war •The troops quickly captured the airport and outlying parts of the city •The paratroopers combined with the troops that were coming via the land, forced the Dutch to defeat •On the 4 day of the invasion, the Nazis gave the Dutch an ultimatum: all resistance must cease OR Rotterdam will be boomed flat •The Dutch had not choice but to surrender •After their involuntary surrender, the Nazis still bombed Rotterdam • Over 30,000 men, women, and children were killed in the space of 90mins! • Even though Hitler had said, not 6 months before, that “the Third Reich is endeavored to continue the traditional friendship with Holland” INITIAL S TEPS : R EARMAMENT , R EMILITARIZATION ,AND E XPANSION •Nazi Germany had made this transformation through steps •Hitler improvised toward realization of a rather vague set of roles that might be summed as race and space — the creation of new world order based on some kind of racial hierarchy • German Aryans and co-opting European peoples • Russian and Poles — forced to be workers • Jews — erased from the earth GERMAN REARMAMENT TO A NEW WORLD WAR, 1935-1940 • Non-Europeans and people of color — reduced to powerlessness and irrelevance • This was a vague and grandiose view of the future • Through a series of steps, Nazi Germany changed from 1933 (Hitler as Chancellor) to 1940 (Bombing of Rotterdam) R EARMAMENT , 1935 • The 12 years of Nazi rule, were divided almost equally into “peace” years (1933-9) and wartime years (1939-45) • The first period was also crucial for the preparation of war In contrast to Stalin’s notion of socialism, Hitler’s vision of the future depended • upon conquest because he believed that any group of people that was not expanded was bond to disappear — expansion meant for territory and population • For this reason rearmament was a crucial goal from the beginning of Hitler’s ruler • According to the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, the German military was reduced to 100,000 men • Secret rearmament had already begun in the Weimar period, but after Hitler became Chancellor the plan to rearm was implement as a major priority 1935 — German government announced to the world that it would not longer adhere • to the 100,000 limit and that instead conscription (the draft of all adult males) was to be reintroduced • Major violation the Treaty of Versailles • Beginning in 1935 Germany had a national army, the Wehrmacht — based on universal adult male service • Part of this program was the creation of the air force, the Luftwaffe • Another violation of the Treaty • 1937 — Germany air force had it’s first public debut in the Spanish Civil War LIMITATION • 2 months after the introduction of rearmament, an additional regulation was imposed — all German-Jews were excluded from military service • The Nazis had always claimed that Jews were disloyal and inferior soldiers — by excluding them from military service, it was impossible for Jewish men to disprove these accusations • 1935 — attacks on other members of the German population • Linked to rearmament • Large scale arrest of Jehovah’s Witnesses — refused to serve in the military • Measures against homosexual men — paragraph 135 of the German criminal code criminalized sexual relations between men • Charges increased dramatically due to the reduced standard of evidence — simple denunciation was enough GERMAN REARMAMENT TO A NEW WORLD WAR, 1935-1940 • Connected to the accusation that homosexual men were unreliable soldiers and susceptible to blackmail NUREMBERG LAWS • 1935 — the German state introduced the Nuremberg Laws • A set of laws that defined who counted as Jewish or Aryan in the new Germany — distinction based on the religion of one’s grandparents • Stripped those defined as Jews of the rights of citizenship • Introduced a number of measures to isolate German Jews from the non-Jewish population • Note: the Jewish population in contemporary Germany was 1% • Made it illegal for someone defined as a Jew and an Aryan to marry, to have sexual relations — tried to drive a wedge between Jews and non-Jews R EMILITARIZATION , 1936-40 1936 — the Olympics were a huge public relations success for the Germans • • Both summer and winter Olympics were held in Germany • The Olympics, aside from being an opportunity to showcase the new Germany to the world, also provided an excuse to remove certain undesirable elements of the population from public view • Hence, the first round-ups of Roma in Germany — removed from the city of Berlin and sent to a concentration camp • The arrests of homeless people and people accused of prostitution as part of the “clean-up” of Germany for public presentation • Olympics were not the most important event of 1936 — in between the two sets of Olympics, on Hitler’s order units of the new Wehrmacht marched into the demilitarized zone of the Rhineland — territory that had been demilitarized under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles • Hitler sent in the units with the instruction that if they encounter French resistance, they should fall back — they should engage the French, but retreat • They did not encounter the French opposition — the French feared they would not receive any support • The Germans were able to remilitarize the Rhineland — this was a huge success for Hitler • The first steps inside Germany soon flowed over into testing the new military and military acts of aggression beyond German borders FOUR YEAR P LAN 1936 — Hitler delegated Goering to begin the first Four-year Plan, 1936-40 (like • Stalin’s Five-year Plan) • It was a
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