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Why did the Allies let Hitler break the Treaty of Versailles?

Why did the Allies let Hitler break the Treaty of Versailles?


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I was reading about what led up to ww2 and I noticed that Hitler broke several of the agreements in the Treaty of Versailles such as getting a army of more than 100000 men.

I was wondering why the allies let him do this and didn't just stop him there before he could amass a even larger army?


The wording of the question betrays the bias of hindsight. The idea that Hitler could have been brought to heel by decisive collective action in the mid-1930s has tremendous appeal now. But at the time rigidly upholding the terms of an unworkable 20-year-old treaty would have seemed to most people to invite disaster not avert it.

Breaching the treaty

It isn't as if the treaty's terms hadn't already been breached, fudged and watered down even before Hitler's rise to power.

Hitler wasn't the first European leader to thumb his nose at the treaty in general and the French in particular. In 1923 little Lithuania engineered an occupation of the Memelland and effectively ousted the French authorities there (French administration of the territory had been mandated by the Versailles treaty). The Lithuanian action was accepted as a fait accompli by the international community.

An early exercise in strictly enforcing the Versailles terms was the French/Belgian punitive occupation of the Ruhr in 1923. Its objective was to force Germany to keep up reparation payments. It wasn't a success. The French action was seen as heavy-handed, and wasn't repeated.

In fact the schedule of reparation payments mandated by the treaty was never kept to. Pre-Hitlerite Germany had already revised down the reparations payments agreed to at Versailles, in 1921 and 1924. Arguably Germany was thereby defying the terms of the treaty long before Hitler's rise to power.

The same democratic German government was also breaching the limits on the size and scope of its armed forces, with the British and French turning a blind eye.

Unreasonable Versailles/Reasonable Germany

It's important to remember that the Versailles Treaty was a harsh peace, and was perceived as such. Not only in the defeated Germany but also, gradually but increasingly, amongst the victors. Keynes in 1920 called it a "Carthaginian Peace". According to Keith Robbins in History, Religion and Identity in Modern Britain a "certain shame" emerged at how even scholars had talked about the "Huns" twenty years before.

If you perceive the Versailles treaty to be unreasonable it's a very small step to perceiving the German demands as reasonable, even sensible.

Prior to Hitler, Germany had a decade long record of good behaviour, at least on paper. The Locarno Treaty and other treaties had effected Germany's diplomatic rehabilitation. Within the European democracies distaste for Hitler wasn't incompatible with the general feeling that German grievances were far from groundless.

The "Allies". Which Allies Exactly?

Ah, so it was job of the "allies" to force Hitler to back down. Which ones, exactly? Victory in the Great War had been a collective effort. Roughly speaking, the victorious allies responsible for the Versailles treaty included Japan, Russia, Italy, the United States, Britain and France.

So an operation to bring Hitler to heel and enforce the Versailles treaty? Japan and Italy? Nope. The USSR and the United States? No, and explaining why not would require a whole new set of questions and answers. So suffice it to say that we are talking about Britain and France.

Viewed from Britain, and more especially France, the job of upholding the Versailles treaty was beginning, by the 1930s, to look like something that everyone else wanted to volunteer France for.

Climate in Britain & France

Which brings us to the political and social climate in France. Not only was there instability at the political level but there was also a range of other problems. More than any other country in Europe France had been left exhausted by World War One. The currency had been left weak. The declining birth rate was a source of constant concern, so much so that prime minister Briand stated "Our birth rate dictates the foreign policy I make". These were France's so-called "hollow years". In the face of a resurgent Germany French solutions included accommodation/appeasement, turning away from Europe and towards empire, retreating behind the Maginot line. Confronting Germany depended heavily on a network of alliances, including at various times Britain, Russia and the smaller European nations. But these alliances were all problematic and burdened by mutual suspicion.

The British had as little appetite for confronting Germany as the French. The famous "King and Country debate" is often cited as an example of the pacifist mood in establishment circles in Britain. Equally famous and relevant to your question is Neville Chamberlain's objection to involving Britain in a "quarrel in a far away country between people of whom we know nothing". Britain's Ten Year Rule restricting rearmament indicates Britain was very far from being ready and able to counter technical breaches of the Versailles treaty.


The issue with any treaty provision is what will you do if the side does violate it. Ideally, you would instantly spring to war. However, will your allies and your own people support this?

Hitler was able to spin the 100000 man army and the limits on equipment into a straitjacket that wouldn't even let them defend themselves against their smallest neighbors. The Rhineland occupation was touted as a hostile takeover of a good chunk of their land. Many other countries, and parts of the population of England and France recognized enough validity in this that the leadership felt it wasn't worth going to war over.


Concentrating on the Rhineland as a major breach of the treaty, Britain and France had three choices.

1) War. This was out. A lot of blame has been heaped upon the politicians for that, but the populations of these countries, as well as their colonies and allies, were firmly opposed. In Britain, neither the Opposition nor the government nor the public agreed with Churchill's analysis until the destruction of Czechoslovakia.

2) Economic blockade. In modern times countries are relatively good at organising such things. It still takes months or years to organise them, and they're leaky, too. Britain and France had no way of making other countries go along, and would have suffered economically themselves.

Think about Iran: even with every one of the world's most powerful countries and the United Nations on one side, and Iran on the other side, it has still taken almost two decades to get them to back down. Britain and France had nothing like the power over Germany that the USA, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany have over Iran today.

3) do nothing.

3 is what they did.


I think it is important to understand the environment in the rest of Europe at that time.

Spain had a civil war 1936-1939 (some considering that it was a test for WW2) Italy was under control of fascism.

But lets talk about more "important" countries, in England, the primer minister at the time was more inclined to negotiate rather than to attack, the general idea was that Hitler would be a reasonable person and, worst case scenario, Hindenburg would control him.

Finally France was HIGHLY unstable from a politically point of view with several presidents in few years and a highly polarized society (where people would rather accept a German or a Soviet if that would rule out their enemies).

So it was a context in which European democracies where really weak, and regarding the USA, they were busy enough trying to control the problems generated after the wall street crack in 1929.

To summarize it, the context was really good for what Hitler did, no one would really bother him in his plans, unfortunately.


The Versailles Treaty was predominantly in France's interest (note the place of its signing). The US and UK initially acquiesced in the wake of World War I, but this acquiescence diminished as time went by. By the 1930s, Germany was no longer at the top of the "threat list" for Britain, at least. France, with Europe's largest army (now that Germany's had been suppressed) and its long Channel coast was in some ways more threatening.

Britain was willing to treat Germany as "another" nation with military parity compared to "others," (not Britain). Specifically, in 1935, Britain negotiated a naval treaty with Germany that allowed the latter a navy 35% the size of Britain's. This actually exceeded the limits allowed to France and Italy by the Washington Naval Conference of 1.67 to 5, or 33% of Britain's. More to the point, this was well in excess of Versailles Treaty limits that allowed Germany only a handful of cruisers, destroyers, and torpedo boats.


The Allied Powers’ Appeasement Toward Nazi Germany

British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain greeted by Adolf Hitler at the beginning of the Bad Godesberg meeting on 24 September 1938, where Hitler demanded annexation of Czech border areas without delay

After Hitler became Chancellor, Germany began to violate Treaty of Versailles provisions. The Allied Powers desired peace beginning a policy of appeasement.

After Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany on January 30th, 1933 marking the beginning of the Third Reich, he began to revise clauses of the Versailles Peace Treaty. Initially the Allied powers allowed Hitler’s revisals of the peace treaty for they believed specific aspects were too severe. Even more important understanding Western Europe’s history of conflicts, France and England feared if they opposed Hitler it would led to another world war.

However, after it was evident that Hitler had gone too far, England and France still remained a passive attitude. An appeaser is one who lacks courage to stand up to aggressors, which is exactly the policy that France and England obtained towards Germany in the late 1930s.

Hitler’s main goal was to rebuild German military power and to revise all the unreasonable aspects of the treaty. In March 1935 Hitler began conscription and to build up the German air force. Then in March 1936 Hitler remilitarized the Rhineland and in March 1938 engaged in Anschluss, which annexed Austria. Although these actions went against the Versailles Peace Treaty, the Allies did not condemn Germany. Finally when Hitler began to make demands on Czechoslovakia in the summer of 1938 the Allies began to become a little anxious.

British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain saw two primary methods on how to deal with German aggression. The first option would be to force the Versailles Treaty through military force and the second option would be negotiations with Hitler. Chamberlain was against military force on Germany for many reasons. Besides France, England did not have any real allies. England did not have an ally in Italy or Russia as it had in World War I. Therefore Chamberlain arranged a set of meetings with Hitler to negotiate peace.

Hitler announced during the second meeting that the Czechoslovakians had five days to evacuate the Sudetenland, which was primary composed of ethnic Germans. The third meeting took place in Munich and although the Czechoslovakian president was not invited to discuss the fate of his own country, France and Italy were involved in the negotiations. During the meeting it was decided that the Czech’s must accept Hitler’s demands and peace would then be restored. On March 1939 Hitler broke the Munich agreement and seized the rest of Czechoslovakia. Britain and France responded by guaranteeing Poland’s protection at any cost even if that meant finally engaging in war against Germany. Therefore when Hitler invaded Poland on September 1st, 1939, two days later Britain and France declared war on Germany. Although for a short period appeasement seemed to work in preventing a second world war, in the long run it only worsened relations between Germany and the Allies since Hitler began to view the Allies as weak and took advantage of their desire for European peace. In addition the years of Allied appeasement gave Germany time to once again become a strong nation and a dangerous enemy for France and England.


Why Did World War II Happen?

Understand the issues that drove countries back to battle just two decades after World War I.

Troops in a landing craft approaching "Omaha" Beach on "D-Day" on June 6, 1944.

Source: U.S. National Archives via Naval History and Heritage Command

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When World War I ended in 1918, the last thing people wanted was an even greater conflict. So why did the world return to combat just two decades later to fight World War II?

Granted, Germany’s invasion of Poland in 1939 triggered declarations of war from France and the United Kingdom, formally starting World War II. But that event was only the final straw in a series of events. Various other economic and political challenges had been building up tension for years.

This lesson examines the era between World Wars I and II—also known as the interwar period—breaking down those issues that set the stage for the world’s second and far deadlier global conflict.

The Treaty of Versailles

In 1919, representatives from more than two dozen countries gathered in France to draft peace treaties that would set the terms for the end of World War I. However, in a break with tradition, those on the losing end of the conflict were excluded from the conference. This particularly stirred resentment in Germany, the largest and most powerful defeated country.

Without German input, the victors—led by the United States, France, and the United Kingdom—decided what peace would look like after the conflict.

U.S. President Woodrow Wilson wanted to structure peace according to his framework for preventing future global conflicts. This framework, known as the Fourteen Points, advocated for the establishment of an international organization called the League of Nations, which would be staked on the idea of collective security, meaning the invasion of one country would be treated like a threat to the entire group. Wilson’s Fourteen Points also called for arms reductions and free trade and helped lay the groundwork for the principle of self-determination—the concept that groups of people united by common characteristics should be able to determine their political future.

Meanwhile, French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau, fearing a resurgent Germany on France’s border, pushed for a deal that seemed to some more punishment than peace.

Negotiations dragged on for months, but in the end, the Treaty of Versailles forced Germany to accept blame for the conflict, give up its overseas colonies and 13 percent of its European territory, limit the size of its army and navy, and pay reparations (financial damages) to the war’s winners.

Back home, Germans were incensed and staged protests over what they saw as harsh and humiliating terms. In 1923, Nazi leader Adolf Hitler said the treaty was designed “to bring twenty million Germans to their deaths and to ruin the German nation.” One of the central tenets of the Nazi party was to undo the deal, and campaign promises like those helped the group gain followers.

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The exact role of the peace agreement in dooming the world to another war is still hotly contested. But some observers at the time had doubts it would ensure an end to hostilities. Economist John Maynard Keynes quit his post with the British delegation to Versailles over the treaty, which he argued was too punitive and would lead to catastrophe in Europe. One French military leader predicted with alarming accuracy that the treaty did not represent peace but rather an “armistice for twenty years.”

The aftermath of World War I revealed that the way leaders make peace can be used as kindling for the future fires of war.

The League of Nations and Diplomatic Idealism

The League of Nations emerged from the Treaty of Versailles with thirty-two member countries, including most of the victors of World War I, and eventually expanded to include Germany and the other defeated nations. (Despite President Wilson’s ardent campaigning, the U.S. Senate rejected membership.) Under the organization’s founding agreement, these countries promised not to resort to war again.

The League was premised on the idea that security threats to one member demanded responses from all members. But when it came time to respond to those threats, the organization largely failed.

The League’s department for settling international disputes required unanimous agreement before taking action, which severely limited its ability to act. For example, after Japan invaded the Chinese region of Manchuria in 1931, the League was unable to compel Japan to leave given the country’s veto power.

In 1935, Italy invaded Abyssinia (now Ethiopia), and, once again, the League’s response was minimal. In an urgent address to the organization, Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie asked, “What have become of the promises made to me?”

The unrealistic optimism that helped doom the League also plagued international relations more widely at the time. For example, the 1928 Kellogg-Briand Pact obligated its signatories to resolve conflicts without resorting to violence. However, the pact was effectively meaningless, as countries like Germany, Italy, and Japan blew through international agreements meant to prohibit aggression and expansionism and countries such as France and the United Kingdom refused to act to preserve the balance of power.

Traumatized and weakened from the First World War, the League’s great powers proved not only unable to respond to these security threats but uninterested in addressing them. As a result, the group’s toothless response to blatant aggression only encouraged more invasions.

By the onset of World War II, the League had been effectively sidelined from international politics. Many experts believe its lack of U.S. membership doomed the organization from the start. Meanwhile, the withdrawal of other countries—Germany, Italy, and Japan had all left by 1937—also undermined the group’s credibility.

Though the League ultimately failed to prevent World War II, the organization made critical inroads on issues such as global health and arms control. Many of the group’s agencies and ideals carried over to its successor organization, the United Nations. But the challenges associated with collective security remain. Even amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the United Nations has struggled to take action due to disagreements among powerful member countries.

The Rise of Hitler

Germany’s road to the Second World War began near the end of the first, when it signed an armistice in November 1918. Although leaders on the frontlines saw the war was unwinnable, others refused to accept defeat.

A myth began to take hold that Germany could have won the war had it not been for unrest at home. This myth, promoted by conservatives and the military, falsely accused Jewish people and left-wing activists of stabbing the country’s war effort in the back. Some called members of the Weimar Republic—Germany’s new, democratic government—the “November criminals” and blamed them for Germany’s loss in World War I.

Then, back-to-back crises hit the German economy. In the early 1920s, the country experienced hyperinflation, a situation in which prices skyrocketed so quickly that German currency lost much of its value. Savings were suddenly worthless, and by 1923, buying bread required a wheelbarrow for carrying bills.

A boy holds a kite made of banknotes in Germany in 1922, during an economic crisis in which Germany currency lost much of its value.

Source: Keystone/Getty Images

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After a period of economic recovery—and a moment in which it seemed democracy could take hold in Germany—the Great Depression kicked off a new era of financial and political turmoil. Between 1929 and 1932, German unemployment skyrocketed nearly fivefold, eventually affecting a quarter of the labor force. Against this backdrop, popular support for the Nazi party surged. Between parliamentary elections in 1928 and 1933, the party went from winning 3 percent of the vote to 44 percent.

The Nazis promised to tear up the Treaty of Versailles, resurrect the economy, and restore German honor. They also sought to create a much larger, racially pure Germany. Under Nazi ideology, Germans were racially superior and entitled to greater territory or lebensraum (living space) in the east. When they ascended to power, the Nazis persecuted those they saw as inferior, including Jewish, Slavic, Black, and Roma people.

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In 1933, German President Paul von Hindenburg appointed Hitler chancellor of the government. Many of the political elite thought they could control him. Instead, Hitler quickly seized the reins of the country, centralizing power and suspending civil liberties. Germany’s short-lived experiment with democracy had failed.

As Germany’s absolute ruler, or führer, Hitler reintroduced conscription, or mandatory military service rebuilt the country’s armed forces ordered the genocide of millions and invaded countries across Europe. Three-quarters of a century after his death, Hitler’s rise to power and Germany’s fall from democracy into fascism serve as frightening reminders of the dangers of racism and extremism in politics.

Japanese Imperialism

Japan’s 1941 aerial bombardment of the Pearl Harbor naval base in Hawaii brought the United States back into another global conflict. Though U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt called the strike a surprise attack, it did not come out of nowhere rather, it grew from Japan’s ambitions for imperial power.

Frustrations had been building for decades in Japan over the country’s role in the world. In 1919, representatives from the country pushed for a statement affirming racial equality to be included in the Treaty of Versailles but were rejected. Discriminatory laws in several Western countries targeted Japanese immigration. And to many in Japan, the international system that emerged after World War I seemed designed to privilege Westerners’ access to wealth and resources.

Japan had long sought to accumulate imperial power. Taiwan became Japan’s first colony in 1895, and more territory followed. In 1931, Japan invaded China’s Manchuria region, which provided a geographic buffer against Soviet communism as well as abundant natural resources that the island nation desperately lacked. After provoking a war in 1937, the Japanese invaded huge parts of China to the south of Manchuria.

The invasion of Manchuria arguably marks the first salvo of the Second World War. Over the next decade, conflict escalated into outright war between Japan and China.

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During the war, Japanese forces massacred military prisoners and civilians and committed widespread sexual violence. Up to twenty million Chinese people are estimated to have died between 1937 and 1945. Despite these tactics and global outrage over atrocities like the Rape of Nanjing, years passed before Japan’s aggression provoked international retaliation.

But Japan’s ascendancy and the conflict in Europe concerned Roosevelt. He instituted an embargo cutting Japan off from U.S. oil in response to the country’s expansionism. Japan’s navy had only about six months of oil in reserve. The country decided it was time for an offensive strategy toward Western targets, including at Pearl Harbor.

The United States declared war on Japan on December 8, 1941, one day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. On December 11, Germany and Italy (allies with Japan under the 1940 Tripartite Pact) retaliated by declaring war on the United States.

Isolationism

The United States of the 1920s and 1930s had, in many ways, turned inward. The mood back home was dour in the aftermath of the First World War, which had taken so many lives, and the Great Depression, which had ruined many of those who survived. Though the country continued to play an active international role, especially in Latin America and the Caribbean, it stayed mostly aloof from the armed conflicts unfolding across Europe and Asia.

Against this backdrop, Congress enacted high, protectionist tariffs intended to shield American businesses from competition, which damaged relations between the United States and its trading partners. It also passed several neutrality acts aimed at ensuring the United States avoided foreign conflicts. (The Senate had rejected U.S. membership in the League of Nations in 1919 for similar reasons.) Meanwhile, domestic resistance to President Roosevelt’s moves to support the Allies in the 1930s revealed to Germany and Japan that aggression had few downsides.

At the start of the 1940s, isolationism had strong support from a political organization called the America First Committee. The group had about eight hundred thousand members and a famous proponent—Charles Lindbergh, the first pilot to cross the Atlantic Ocean solo. The organization’s stated aim was to keep the United States out of the war, which began in Europe in 1939, but the group also served as a platform for racism and anti-Semitism.

A public opinion poll from May 1940 showed 93 percent of Americans surveyed were against the United States declaring war on Germany. But on December 7, 1941, the argument over whether to join the fighting became moot. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the German declaration of war, the United States was ready for war both in Europe and the Pacific.

Whether the United States could have helped prevent conflict through less isolationist economic and foreign policies is difficult to know. But the debate over the country’s role in international politics—and whether U.S. leaders should put “America First”—has continued into the present.

Appeasement

In the 1930s, France and the United Kingdom practiced a policy of appeasement toward Nazi Germany in which they tolerated some of its territorial aggression, rather than confronting it with force, in the hopes that Germany would settle down peacefully. This policy reached its nadir in the late summer of 1938 when Hitler threatened to drag Europe into war if the Sudetenland, a majority-German region in Czechoslovakia, was not awarded to Germany.

Just months earlier, Germany had annexed Austria in an event called the Anschluss. Hitler aimed to unite ethnic Germans across Europe under his rule, and British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain hoped Hitler would be satisfied after acquiring the Sudetenland. British and French leaders signed the Munich Agreement and accepted Hitler’s demands in exchange for a promise that Germany would make no further demands. When Chamberlain returned to London with an agreement signed by Hitler, affirming “the desire of our two peoples never to go to war with one another again,” he believed he held the means to ensure “peace for our time.” Needless to say, that was not the case, as fighting erupted the following year.

British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain at Heston Airport in London on his return from Munich after meeting with Hitler, making his "Peace for Our Time" address, on September 30, 1938.

Source: Central Press/Getty Images

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But according to the dictator himself, an earlier challenge from the French could have spelled the end of his ambitions. In 1936, after remilitarizing the Rhineland—a region on Germany’s border with France—in violation of the Treaty of Versailles, Hitler reportedly said, “The forty-eight hours after the march into the Rhineland were the most nerve-wracking in my life. If the French had then marched into the Rhineland, we would have had to withdraw with our tails between our legs.”

In the decades since World War II, appeasement has been condemned as a disastrous foreign policy failure. Leaders have used and abused the term to justify (or deride) foreign intervention. But judgments of this strategy have the benefit of hindsight. When British and French leaders signed the Munich Agreement, they faced intense domestic pressure to avoid war. And though Chamberlain and others misjudged the massive scale of Hitler’s ambitions, it’s difficult to know whether more interventionist policy measures would have stopped him.

How World War II Eclipsed World War I

World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history. Unlike World War I, which resulted in mostly military casualties, World War II saw civilian deaths outnumber soldier deaths three to one, reflecting the rise of aerial warfare that made it possible to bomb faraway cities and towns.

Another uniquely horrifying aspect of the conflict was the Nazis' state-sponsored mass murder of six million Jews. The Holocaust, as it came to be known, involved eleven million murders total, including five million gay people, Roma people, people with disabilities, and others whom the Nazis deemed inferior.

In total, forty-five million civilians died during World War II amid rampant mass killings, starvation, and disease.

World War II led to the creation of the world as it exists today, with its international system of institutions promoting free trade, human rights, and collective security. But it also introduced the potential for cataclysmic destruction, as it ushered in the era of nuclear weapons.

It can be tempting to trace the causes of World War II back to one moment, such as Hitler’s invasion of Poland. But this moment only tells one part of the story. In reality, complex dynamics—including the rise of radical nationalism, U.S. isolationism, the failure to maintain a global balance of power, and misplaced optimism that World War I had been the war to end all wars—propelled countries around the world into combat.

Despite the simmering tensions around the globe at the time, World War II was not inevitable. It happened because people in power made decisions throughout the interwar period that helped set the fuse of conflict on fire, ultimately leading to an explosion. Evaluating those decisions is one of the benefits students of history have—and by studying them, the world can learn how to avoid similar conflicts in the future.


Why did the Allies let Hitler break the Treaty of Versailles? - History

Post by TdA » 8 years 2 weeks ago (Sat Jun 01, 2013 4:06 pm)


Pre-NSDAP Reich propaganda poster depicting the strength imbalance between Germany and her neighbors.

Ages ago I wondered why exactly did Germany and more importantly Hitler supposedly 'break' the Versailles Treaty and leave the League of Nations. Contemporary historians on the subject pretty much agree that the German government simply shook the chains off as a matter of course, which is fine as the Versailles Treaty itself was little more than a slave treaty.

But did Hitler have justification for leaving the League and opposing the Treaty? I believe one of the most obvious pieces of evidence for this is in the very first article of the Versailles Treaty in its final June 28th, 1919 manifestation. Thankfully the entire document is provided online via Avalon so it can easily be accessed.

Article 8 of Section I. states explicitly that,

France had a population of

35m during peacetime between the wars. Germany have over 80m. Of course Germany's reduction is a specific addendum in the treaty but France was obligated by the treaty to reduce the standing military forces of 4-5 million it had during peacetime. That figure also happens to be the number of French members in the armed forces during the First World War. Simply put - Section I, Article 8 of the Versailles Treaty was not respected by anyone but Germany. After all, the German military, despite mewlings from Ludendorff, was more than capable of actually defending the Reich had hostilities broken out after the 11th November, 1918 armistice, potentially forcing the Allies into an impasse with Germany. However, the "Hun" was honorable enough to not only sign a deplorable treaty, but follow it to the letter as best possible given the ludicrous and impossible hardships it would cause.

There are references to Hitler wanting to reduce strategic bombing, knowing that it would be an unpredictable weapon and devastate civilian lives - this also was not even considered by the other League states implied in the Treaty. Hitler successfully stopped the usage and proliferation of gas - which he had experienced himself in 1918 - though not via the treaty. As far as I know these two sincere attempts to reduce war production and militarism were the only ones ever brought forth to the League, and both were rejected de jure.

My point is simply that, Hitler and the German people were not obliged to support or stand such a treaty that was not only slavish and deplorable but also already dishonoured and broken by all other member states in the League of Nations. That anyone ever accused Hitler of 'breaking' the Treaty to be a dishonourable act (and it was used to bolster the sabre-rattling against Germany in the mid-to-late 1930s) is hypocrisy, pure and simple.

Hektor Valuable asset
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Re: "Hitler Broke The Versailles Treaty" bunkem

Post by Hektor » 8 years 1 week ago (Sun Jun 02, 2013 8:49 am)

Re: "Hitler Broke The Versailles Treaty" bunkem

Post by TdA » 8 years 1 week ago (Sun Jun 02, 2013 5:57 pm)

One issue of breaking the treaty is that, even today, the wording of how it was 'broken' serves as an indemnity to National Socialist Germany, insinuating its hostility towards the world and particularly the nations which it faced in the Second World War. The issue, though somewhat footnoted, is drilled into students' heads in all cursory studies of NS Germany, whether it be in the classroom or in a historical documentary. Just like the Holocaust.

Secondly the wording - 'broke,' 'violated,' 'ignored,' are all specifically used to direct public opinion that Hitler and his government were rather brutish and rogue-like in international politics. The truth however is that at first Hitler lead the only movement to actually uphold Section I, Article 8 of the Versailles Treaty. He and his government were obviously disenchanted by the League of Nations and by October, 1933, left the organization and ended the payments stipulated in the original agreement. This is never discussed in or out of the classroom, for obvious reasons.

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Re: "Hitler Broke The Versailles Treaty" bunkem

Post by Hektor » 8 years 1 week ago (Mon Jun 03, 2013 10:25 am)

Re: "Hitler Broke The Versailles Treaty" bunkem

Post by sweetie pie » 8 years 1 week ago (Wed Jun 05, 2013 7:37 pm)

Hector,
Those nations defeated and occupied by Germany that signed an armistice (like France) or other agreement (like Czechoslovakia) were morally and legally obliged to comply with what they agreed to as written in what they signed. Not "everything demanded of them," as you put it. And that was all they were ever asked to do.

I think your wording of the question you want posed leaves a bit to be desired. France was not forced and tricked into signing the 1940 Armistice with Germany, but Germany was forced and tricked into signing the Versailles Treaty (which you agree with, I know). The unfairness of it all has been recognized almost from that very time, but France's PM Clemenceau insisted on holding to the harsh terms because of his fear of any German strength. That's why France deserved it's occupation by Germany in 1940 and got off easy.

But I question your assumption that Germany made unreasonable or harsh demands on other countries that they defeated, if that is what you mean.

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Re: "Hitler Broke The Versailles Treaty" bunkem

Post by Kingfisher » 8 years 1 week ago (Wed Jun 05, 2013 9:35 pm)

Hector,
Those nations defeated and occupied by Germany that signed an armistice (like France) or other agreement (like Czechoslovakia) were morally and legally obliged to comply with what they agreed to as written in what they signed. Not "everything demanded of them," as you put it. And that was all they were ever asked to do.

I think your wording of the question you want posed leaves a bit to be desired. France was not forced and tricked into signing the 1940 Armistice with Germany, but Germany was forced and tricked into signing the Versailles Treaty (which you agree with, I know). The unfairness of it all has been recognized almost from that very time, but France's PM Clemenceau insisted on holding to the harsh terms because of his fear of any German strength. That's why France deserved it's occupation by Germany in 1940 and got off easy.

But I question your assumption that Germany made unreasonable or harsh demands on other countries that they defeated, if that is what you mean.

I think you are missing Hektor's point here, and reading into his post things he didn't say. His question is addressed not to Revisionists but to 'those that are outraged about Germany violating the "Treaty of Versailles" '. He assumes that such people will in general support and justify resistance in occupied countries on the grounds that these terms were imposed, while not allowing the same justification to Hitler and Germany. There is therefore, in Hektor's view, and probably in yours and mine, an inconsistency in their position. I don't see him as taking a position on it himself in his post.

Re: "Hitler Broke The Versailles Treaty" bunkem

Post by sweetie pie » 8 years 1 week ago (Thu Jun 06, 2013 1:22 am)

Hektor Valuable asset
Posts: 3778 Joined: Sun Jun 25, 2006 7:59 am

Re: "Hitler Broke The Versailles Treaty" bunkem

Post by Hektor » 8 years 1 week ago (Thu Jun 06, 2013 10:38 am)

Kingfisher is summarizing my point quite well.

My point is indeed that those critiquing Hitler (or anyone that wanted to get rid of Versailles), will almost always laud any resistance efforts by countries occupied or defeated by Germany. If Germany would have imposed Versailles Treaties on other countries hypothetically, not one of them would hold it against those countries leaders, if they breached that kind of treaties.

Hitler and Germany are clearly singled out again.

Re: "Hitler Broke The Versailles Treaty" bunkem

Post by sweetie pie » 8 years 1 week ago (Thu Jun 06, 2013 11:27 am)

Hektor wrote: Kingfisher is summarizing my point quite well.

My point is indeed that those critiquing Hitler (or anyone that wanted to get rid of Versailles), will almost always laud any resistance efforts by countries occupied or defeated by Germany. If Germany would have imposed Versailles Treaties on other countries hypothetically, not one of them would hold it against those countries leaders, if they breached that kind of treaties.

Hitler and Germany are clearly singled out again.

Hector, I understood what you were trying to say. I didn't need it to be summarized by kingfisher, nor did I want to debate some non-existent point with him. What I'm saying to you is that your wording of "everything the Germans demanded of them" is prejudicial, even though I know you didn't mean it that way. It might seem like nit-picking, but wording is important and those words "what the Germans demanded" stood out to me.

We are all agreed, and the title of the thread indicates also, that the Versailles Treaty is bunkum. But TdA points out that what is taught in schools and the media is worded in such a way as to give the worst impression of Hitler's Germany. He makes some very good points, to which you reply that the question to ask is: "Were those nations defeated and occupied by Germany in world war II morally and legally obliged to comply with everything the Germans demanded from them, yes or no?" This definitely sounds like German-occupied countries had unreasonable demands made on them. Yes? Does it not sound that way? It's the wording I objected to.

Now you clarify and say: "IF Germany would have imposed Versailles Treaties on other countries, would they not have the right to breach them?" Much better.

My point is that it is hoped we don't have to guess at what the other person means (leading to misunderstandings and even disinfo), but that we can speak precisely enough to get across our exact ideas to others. I knew what you meant but I didn't think it was the same as what you wrote.

And my other point stands - that when a treaty is gone into under honorable conditions and is fully accepted from the start, there is no excuse for breaching it as long as it's followed by the other party. There was no excuse for some part of the French nation, with the encouragement and help from Britain and the U.S., to disregard their country's armistice with Germany. They are the ones who should be considered war criminals for doing so. That includes Charles de Gaulle and the French resistance movement.

hermod Valuable asset
Posts: 2076 Joined: Sun Feb 03, 2013 10:52 am

Re: "Hitler Broke The Versailles Treaty" bunkem

Post by hermod » 8 years 1 week ago (Fri Jun 07, 2013 8:21 pm)

35m during peacetime between the wars. Germany have over 80m. Of course Germany's reduction is a specific addendum in the treaty but France was obligated by the treaty to reduce the standing military forces of 4-5 million it had during peacetime. That figure also happens to be the number of French members in the armed forces during the First World War. Simply put - Section I, Article 8 of the Versailles Treaty was not respected by anyone but Germany. After all, the German military, despite mewlings from Ludendorff, was more than capable of actually defending the Reich had hostilities broken out after the 11th November, 1918 armistice, potentially forcing the Allies into an impasse with Germany. However, the "Hun" was honorable enough to not only sign a deplorable treaty, but follow it to the letter as best possible given the ludicrous and impossible hardships it would cause.

There are references to Hitler wanting to reduce strategic bombing, knowing that it would be an unpredictable weapon and devastate civilian lives - this also was not even considered by the other League states implied in the Treaty. Hitler successfully stopped the usage and proliferation of gas - which he had experienced himself in 1918 - though not via the treaty. As far as I know these two sincere attempts to reduce war production and militarism were the only ones ever brought forth to the League, and both were rejected de jure.

My point is simply that, Hitler and the German people were not obliged to support or stand such a treaty that was not only slavish and deplorable but also already dishonoured and broken by all other member states in the League of Nations. That anyone ever accused Hitler of 'breaking' the Treaty to be a dishonourable act (and it was used to bolster the sabre-rattling against Germany in the mid-to-late 1930s) is hypocrisy, pure and simple.

You're right. The Treaty of Versailles was broken by all the other member states in the League of Nations. But it's really France's behavior during the Disarmament Conference that blocked the debates and forced Hitler to leave the League of Nations and start to rearm his country. The French representatives at the Disarmament Conference obstinately refused to let their German secular enemies rearm or to disarm their own country as promised at Versailles 15 years earlier. Hitler tried to make them become more sensible for months, but it didn't work. So Hitler left the Disarmament Conference and the League of Nations. Fruitful agreements were impossible to reach with stubborn debatters as the French representatives at the Disarmament Conference. Hitler had understood that and he made the right choice.


Lessons Learned: Hitler’s Rearmament of Germany

On March 16, 1935, Adolf Hitler announced that he would rearm Germany in violation of the Treaty of Versailles. Hitler revealed that Germany had begun to construct an air force , and unveiled plans to reinstitute conscription and create a German army of more than half a million men. Britain, France, Italy, and the League of Nations all issued statements condemning Hitler’s decision, but did little else to penalize Germany.

James M. Lindsay, CFR’s senior vice president and director of studies, notes that it was only on September 1, 1939, when Germany invaded Poland , that "the rest of Europe confronted, rather than appeased, Hitler." This four-year delay, he argues, points to a basic difficulty in international relations . "Aggressive, expansionist states are most easily stopped early on when they are weak and vulnerable," he says, but "precisely because their capabilities are limited at that point--and their intentions can only be guessed at--it is often hard to persuade other countries to act."

This video is part of Lessons Learned, a series dedicated to exploring historical events and examining their meaning in the context of foreign relations today.


A stab in the back

German cartoon: Wilson goes to meet his master in hell © Inevitably, it proved impossible to frame a treaty which would both satisfy the demands of the French and British populations for a punitive treaty and comply with German conceptions of a fair and 'Wilsonian' peace. The Allies constructed the peace settlement on the assumption that while the Germans would not like many of the terms, they would accept them as the inevitable consequence of defeat.

But large sections of the population in Germany did not believe that their country had been honourably defeated on the battlefield. They believed in the rumours sweeping across Germany that the push for victory of their valiant troops on the Western Front had been sabotaged by traitors and pacifists at home who had spread disaffection and revolution.

This 'stab in the back' had prevented the gallant soldiers from securing the victory which was almost in their grasp. Thus a treaty which not only confirmed German defeat, but which, in clause 231, justified its demands for punitive war costs by laying the blame for the outbreak of the war firmly on German shoulders, was bound to provoke fury. Germany was a country which saw itself as having been encircled by France, Russia and Britain in 1914 and provoked into war.

In the frenzied post-war atmosphere, politicians from all parties agreed that the treaty, and in particular its despised 'War Guilt' clause, was vindictive, unfair and impossible to execute. They portrayed it as an unjust peace, and appealed to progressive forces across Europe to help them to revise it.

Such tactics were extremely successful in dividing the victorious coalition which had defeated Germany and negotiated the peace. Within a year, the United States Senate rejected the Treaty of Versailles and signed a separate peace with Germany, leaving Britain and France bitterly opposed over how to proceed. While British leaders now sought further revisions to the treaty in a bid to conciliate Germany, France demanded strict enforcement of the terms.

It was the total failure of the victorious powers to work closely together after 1919 to contain German power, rather than the specific terms of the peace settlement, which was one of the contributing factors to the outbreak of a second world war 20 years later.


How did the allies feel about the Treaty of Versailles?

Many Americans felt that the Treaty was unfair on Germany. They were concerned that belonging to the League would drag the USA into international disputes that were not their concern. In the end, the Congress rejected the Treaty of Versailles and the League of Nations.

Beside above, what were the 5 main terms of the Treaty of Versailles? (1) The surrender of all German colonies as League of Nations mandates. (2) The return of Alsace-Lorraine to France. (3) Cession of Eupen-Malmedy to Belgium, Memel to Lithuania, the Hultschin district to Czechoslovakia. (4) Poznania, parts of East Prussia and Upper Silesia to Poland.

Subsequently, one may also ask, how did Germany feel about the Treaty of Versailles?

The main reasons why the Germans hated the Treaty of Versailles was because they thought it was unfair. The Germans were also furious about the various terms of the Treaty. They hated clause 231 &ndash the 'War Guilt' clause &ndash which stated that Germany had caused 'all the loss and damage' of the war.

What was wrong with the Treaty of Versailles?

Its &ldquowar guilt&rdquo article humiliated Germany by forcing it to accept all blame for the war, and it imposed disastrously costly war reparations that destroyed both the post-World War I German economy and the democratic Weimar Republic. The treaty, therefore, ensured the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party.


The 'Stabbed in the Back' Myth

At the end of World War I, the Germans offered an armistice to their enemies, hoping negotiations could take place under the "Fourteen Points" of Woodrow Wilson. However, when the treaty was presented to the German delegation, with no chance to negotiate, they had to accept a peace that many in Germany saw as arbitrary and unfair. The signatories and the Weimar government that had sent them were seen by many as the "November Criminals."

Some Germans believed this outcome had been planned. In the later years of the war, Paul von Hindenburg and Erich Ludendorff had been in command of Germany. Ludendorff called for a peace deal but, desperate to shift the blame for defeat away from the military, he handed power to the new government to sign the treaty while the military stood back, claiming it hadn’t been defeated but had been betrayed by the new leaders. In the years after the war, Hindenburg claimed the army had been "stabbed in the back." Thus the military escaped blame.

When Hitler rose to power in the 1930s, he repeated the claim that the military had been stabbed in the back and that surrender terms had been dictated. Can the Treaty of Versailles be blamed for Hitler's rise to power? The terms of the treaty, such as Germany's acceptance of blame for the war, allowed myths to flourish. Hitler was obsessed with the belief that Marxists and Jews had been behind the failure in World War I and had to be removed to prevent failure in World War II.


The Changing Reading of the Hitler–Stalin Alliance

On August 23, 1939 in Moscow, Hitler’s foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop and Stalin’s people’s commissar for foreign affairs Vyacheslav Molotov signed a nonaggression pact between Germany and the Soviet Union. Germany and the Soviet Union promised to maintain neutrality in the event of military conflicts with a third party and to refrain from attacking each other. The two regimes also secured their respective zones of influence in Eastern Europe and described those zones in a secret supplementary protocol, a document whose very existence the Soviet Union denied for decades. The treaty, known in Germany as the Hitler-Stalin Pact (though more commonly referred to as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact), laid the foundation for the outbreak of World War II in Europe.

The Beginnings

On August 23, 1939, the German foreign minister’s plane landed in Moscow. Joachim von Ribbentrop had reluctantly interrupted his summer vacation in Salzburg for the signing of a treaty, which he thought was already a done deal. The talks between Britain, France, and the Soviet Union on a potential triple alliance had just failed. The big threat had just been avoided everything else, in Ribbentrop’s view, paled in significance.

Yet Stalin did not think the matter resolved. He demanded that Ribbentrop go to Moscow so that, as Hitler informed his minister, “the essentials of the additional protocol desired by the Government of the USSR . could be finalized as soon as possible.” After seven hours of intense negotiations, the parties drew up a secret supplementary protocol. In it, Germany and the Soviet Union agreed on the partition of Poland and Eastern Europe, including Finland. Four hours later, Ribbentrop and Molotov signed a nonaggression pact between Germany and the USSR. With this, the road to World War II in Europe was opened.

A few days later, on September 1, the German Wehrmacht entered Poland, and on September 17 the Red Army approached from the east. For the first twenty-two months of World War II, the Third Reich and the Soviet Union acted as allies and divided up the European continent between themselves. When, almost two years later, on June 22, 1941, the pact was violated, the territory that Hitler was adding to his realm had increased by 800,000 square kilometers, while Stalin had expanded his empire to the west and southeast by 422 square kilometers. Contrary to Nazi propaganda claims and the words of Ribbentrop, who said he felt in Moscow “as if among Party comrades,” Hitler and Stalin were never real friends. Negotiated with mutual distrust and suspicion, the Hitler-Stalin Pact pursued explicit geopolitical interests, which for Hitler to a lesser extent, for Stalin always, prevailed over ideological motives. These interests in territorial expansion were enshrined in the notorious supplementary protocol. Until the Gorbachev reforms of the late 1980s, the Soviet Union denied the existence of the protocol.

The Partition of Poland

The partition of Poland secured by the secret supplementary protocol was Germany’s and the USSR’s first goal. Despite their stated commitments, neither Britain nor France in the fall of 1939 rushed to help Poland, a country that Molotov had cynically called “the ugly brainchild of the Versailles Treaty.” Hitler and Stalin established a regime of brutal violence and terror on the occupied territories. The Germans turned what they now called the General Governorate into a “discharge tank” to which thousands of deported Jews and Poles flocked. Here, in the Governorate, the Holocaust began, the mass murder of European Jews. Stalin, in his turn, used ruthless methods to Sovietize the Soviet-occupied areas. Western Belarus and Western Ukraine were now parts of his empire.

Both dictatorial regimes committed heinous war crimes and massacres. In the spring, the German invaders organized the so-called Extraordinary Operation of Pacification (AB-Aktion), during which thousands of real and imaginary participants in the Polish resistance were captured and murdered. Around the same time, the NKVD units shot more than 20,000 Polish officers during the Katyn mass executions.

Among the forgotten pages in the history of the Hitler-Stalin Pact is the fact that the perpetrators of those campaigns of violence acted not only independently of each other but also coordinated their actions in some areas. SS servicemen and high-ranking NKVD officers met more than once and exchanged visits on the occupied territories. For example, in December 1939 they discussed actions to crack down on the Polish resistance and coordinated large-scale resettlement operations. In 1940 the German-Soviet Refugee Commission was set up for the purpose of curbing refugee flows.

The Alliance’s Highest Point

The catastrophic consequences of the Hitler-Stalin Pact were not limited to Poland. At the highest point of the pact’s existence, in the spring of 1940, Hitler launched his Blitzkrieg campaigns across Western Europe. Large-scale supplies from the Soviet Union provided the German military machinery with raw materials, such as oil and iron. In return, Germany, based on an economic agreement reached with the USSR in February, sent eastward factory and industrial equipment. With the Germans' entry into Paris and the fall of France in June 1940, the Nazi expansion in Western Europe reached its climax. It would not have been possible without the Hitler-Stalin Pact.

Germany’s military success, achieved with no visible effort, marked a turn in the history of the German-Soviet alliance. Stalin watched Hitler with increasing mistrust and dismay. To secure a share of the “spoils,” he occupied and annexed the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, which had barely retained any sovereignty since 1939. “They had nowhere to go,” Molotov said decades later. “One had to protect oneself. When we laid out our demands … one’s action has to be timely or it will be too late.… They vacillated back and forth, . hesitated and finally made up their mind. We needed the Baltics.”

When the Soviet Union then staked its claims to Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina, the union cracked at every seam. Germany was interested in those Romanian regions too. Hitler reckoned on Romania’s oil fields and agricultural resources in his designs for southeastern Europe. Stalin won Bessarabia for himself, but after that, no assurances of friendship could fix the cracks in the Soviet-German alliance. Since the early fall of 1940 both powers were looking for new partners. Stalin received Britain’s ambassador-at-large in Moscow. Hitler, on September 27, signed the Tripartite Pact between the German Reich, Italy, and Japan, thus creating the Berlin-Rome-Tokyo axis.

Molotov Goes to Berlin

The November 1940 visit of the Soviet people’s commissar of foreign affairs to the German capital is usually seen as the last attempt to breathe life into the Hitler-Stalin Pact. At the same time, Hitler had already decided on a war against the USSR. The offensive was being prepared, and the army’s top brass was in the know. During the summer of 1940 military units were transferred eastward and to Finland, causing much concern in Moscow.

In the meantime, Hitler worked to set his eastern ally at loggerheads with Britain over Asia, thereby creating potential conditions for a two-front war. Hitler suggested that Stalin take India as compensation for leaving Finland and southeastern Europe to Germany, a move that Molotov deciphered easily. Although Soviet claims on Finland were fixed in the secret supplementary protocol and recognized by the Germans, Stalin’s insistence on keeping Finland for himself irritated Hitler and reinforced his anti-Bolshevik sentiments, which he never gave up. With his sense of superiority toward an ideological adversary, Hitler would never have treated the USSR as an equal, seeing it only as an inferior partner. On December 18, 1940, Hitler dictated Directive No. 21, ordering an attack on the Soviet Union. According to the directive, the Wehrmacht was to enter Soviet territory from mid- to late July 1941.

From Alliance to War

The history of the Hitler-Stalin Pact ends on June 22, 1941. Years later, at the height of the Cold War, Stalin yearned deeply for the lost treaty. “Together with the Germans we would be invincible!” Stalin’s daughter Svetlana remembered her father exclaiming. Hitler was dead set on expelling Stalin from Europe he wanted a crusade against Bolshevism. He led his campaign as a terrible war of annihilation of the USSR. The allies turned into sworn enemies and could now base their mutual hatred on long-standing ideological disagreements. Stalin would prefer to do without this war, though he did not have any principled objection to territorial conquests. But Hitler deliberately sought war, a war that, in May 1945, after unimaginable suffering and millions of deaths, ended in the Third Reich’s defeat.

The Pact and Its Memory

World War II during its first twenty-two months was a coordinated effort of Nazi Germany and the USSR. Despite its tremendous historical significance, the German-Soviet alliance is often seen as a prelude, an opening overture to the war proper, which, according to many historical accounts, unfolded only with the start of the fierce struggle between Hitler’s Reich and Stalin’s USSR. An ultimate battle between National Socialism and Stalinism was to give meaning to all the violence of the century of the ideologies. The global contradictions of the first half of the twentieth century reached their climax in the military confrontation between Hitler and Stalin. That struggle became a safe memory zone both for contemporaries and for later generations. The history of the Hitler-Stalin Pact, on the other hand, caused and continues to cause a lot of tangible discomfort.

The significance of the Hitler-Stalin Pact for the entire history of World War II remains understated. Seen only as a tactical move that allowed Hitler to attack Poland while changing nothing in his intention to destroy the USSR, the pact did not attract much attention in the context of the Third Reich’s history. The Soviet narrative treated the alliance as Stalin’s attempt to delay the supposedly inevitable war. Stalin himself circulated this interpretation in 1941. A reading that became popular in the 1990s shifted emphasis to the geopolitical partition of Eastern Europe as written down in the secret supplementary protocol. The debate over the memory of this event was of great importance to the newly independent Eastern European states that had just left the Soviet empire.

At that time, the attitude toward the pact defined the entire debate surrounding Europe’s common historical memory. The demand for equal recognition of the victims of Stalinist and Nazi terror was sometimes mistakenly seen as an attempt to deny the singularity of the Holocaust. In fact, the debate was not about downplaying the importance of the Holocaust. It was a matter of critically rethinking a Western-centered understanding of European history and a prod to remind the world of the overlooked tragedy of twentieth-century Eastern Europe. That the voices vehemently raised at the time strengthened the impression that the Hitler-Stalin Pact was primarily an Eastern European affair is one of the results of the historical work of the post–Cold War decades. Even the introduction of August 23 as the European Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Stalinism and Nazism has not changed much in that respect.


Hitler and the Rhineland, 1936 - A Decisive Turning-Point

Hitler's march into the demilitarised Rhineland heralded Churchill's 'gathering storm' – but could the Fuhrer's bluff have been called and the Second World War prevented? Sir Nicholas Hederson, who as Britain's ambassador in Washington during the Falklands crisis saw diplomatic poker eventually turn to war, offers a reassessment of the events of 1936.

We and all nations have a sense that we have come to the turning point of an age.

Hitler. March 22nd, 1936

It is tempting to look for turning points in history and try to perceive in them guidelines for later conduct. Hitler's military re-occupation of the Rhineland in March 1936, in breach of the Versailles Treaty and the freely-negotiated Treaty of Locarno, and the failure of France and Britain to offer any resistance to it, is often cited as a supreme example of where the wrong turning was taken. Eden had this precedent in view when Nasser nationalised the Suez Canal as apparently did Bush when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. It was at the forefront of Mrs Thatcher's mind when she decided to resist Galtieri's occupation of the Falklands and when she urged Bush to confront Saddam Hussein.

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