Thursday, 17 November 2011

Under the terms of Versailles, the Rhineland had been made into a demilitarised zone. Germany had political control of this area, but she was not allowed to put any troops into it. Therefore, many Germans concluded that they did not actually fully control the area despite it being in Germany itself.

In March 1936, Hitler took what for him was a huge gamble - he ordered that his troops should openly re-enter the Rhineland thus breaking the terms of Versailles once again. He did order his generals that the military should retreat out of the Rhineland if the French showed the slightest hint of making a military stand against him. This did not occur. Over 32,000 soldiers and armed policemen crossed into the Rhineland

Why didn’t the Allies (Britain and France) do anything about this violation of the Versailles Treaty ?

France was going through an internal political crisis at the time and there was no political leadership to concentrate against Nazi Germany. Britain generally supported the view that Nazi Germany was only going into her own "backyard" and that this section ofVersailles was not needed to be enforced in the mid-1930’s. It was believed that Germany was behaving in a reasonable and understandable manner.

Therefore, no action was taken against Nazi Germany, despite Hitler’s later comment that the march into the Rhineland had been the most nerve-racking 48 hours of his life.

"If France had then marched into the Rhineland, we would have had to withdraw with our tails between our legs." - Hitler

Hitler learned from this episode that he could all but gamble on France not doing anything. The Rhineland affected the French in that a demilitarised Rhineland was created at Versailles to act as a barrier for the French if the Germans ever got war-like again. It appeared that in 1936 that France was not even willing to fight for this. Therefore, Hitler concluded that it he turned his attentions to the east of Europe, France would be even less willing to involve herself. From the British point of view, Hitler concluded that there was room for movement with regards to Versailles as the media, in some areas, had made it clear that they believed that some of the terms of Versailles were not appropriate for the 1930’s.

 Occupation of the Rhineland:

The Rhineland is part of western Germany and lies along Rhine River, and extends west to the borders of Belgium, France, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. It had been part of France during the Napoleonic wars (late 1790’s). It became part of the German state of Prussia in 1815. The land is rich of mineral resources and had a good location on the Rhine River. The location of the Rhineland contributed to the growth of the Ruhr coal-mining district.

Under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, the Rhineland had been made into a demilitarized zone. Germany had political control over the area but was not allowed to put troops into it and so the Germans claimed they did not actually fully control the area even though it was a part of Germany itself.

The German reoccupation and fortification of the Rhineland was the most significant turning point of the inter-wars. The reoccupation of the Rhineland was Hitler's test to see how far France would go to secure the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. Originally, Hitler had ordered to withdraw troops if France decided to attack or take action. But seeing that France did not do anything because they did not want to resort to war, Hitler continued with his plans. After March of 1936, the British and the French could no longer take forceful action against Hitler except by provoking the total war they feared.

Germany needed to reoccupy the Rhineland as part of Hitler’s plan to remilitarize and helped its people out of the Great Depression. It was also done to stir up nationalistic feelings of the Germans and to show that they were denouncing both the Treaty of Versailles as well as the Locarno Pact. Hitler wanted revenge for his country for being humiliated by world war one and the treaty as well, he had intentions to regain the land and freedom that Germany had lost.
Global collective security:
Global collective security was threatened by this act because it violated the terms of the Treaty of Versailles which nations had agreed to. 

Germany wanted revenge for being humiliated by losing in world war one and the terms of the Treaty of Versailles.

Hitler wanted to expand Germany because they needed more land and space and he also wanted to have all Germans united. Hitler reoccupying the Rhineland is an example of expansionism.

National security:
Reoccupying the Rhineland was part of Hitler’s plan to solve Germany’s economic crisis. In order to save Germany from its depression, Hitler gave jobs to people by remilitarizing and putting together new troops and armies.

Nations like Britain and France were unprepared for war and so they did not want to create greater conflicts with Germany. 

This act was in direct violation of the Treaty of Versailles but the League of Nations did nothing to stop Hitler therefore, appeasing him. 

Regional security:
The Rhineland was ultimately under German soil and even though they had political control over it, they weren't allowed to put troops in and so it was argued that Germany didn't actually fully control the area.


The occupation of the Rhineland caused an escalation of tensions between Germany and other European states since this act was a direct violation of the Treaty of Versailles. It threatened global collective security because Germany was rebuilding its army again and more armaments. Nations feared that war would soon break out and so they began to try and appease Hitler. This act also stirred up the nationalistic feelings of the German people. Hitler promised that he would bring back the glory and redemption that Germany had lost through world war one and the Treaty of Versailles. He helped the Germans out of the depression by remilitarizing and giving people jobs. Hitler was an expansionist during his reign, similar to Napoleon Bonaparte. Germany took the Rhineland but started expanding East later on.

No comments:

Post a Comment