Key Facts & Summary
- Hitler was the man behind the remilitarisation of Rhineland.
- He expanded the size of the German army and greatly armed them.
- Germany wanted to revenge their defeat by the Allied powers in the First World War.
Hitler seeks, by all means, a pretext to remilitarize the Rhineland. He finds it in May 1935 by the non-aggression pact signed between France and Russia, a military alliance to protect himself against the disarmament of Germany, which he considers to be a violation of the Locarno Treaty of 1925, the continuation of the Treaty of Versailles which governed the agreements between the bordering countries of Germany is Belgium, France, Great Britain, and Italy called “the stability pact (also called” Rhineland pact “).
This pact is made to respect the unanimity of borders decided by the Treaty of Versailles with clauses 41 and 42 which demilitarizes the Rhineland by France. The Treaty stipulated that Allied forces – including American forces – would occupy this region in the event of non-compliance with these provisions.
However, Hitler remilitarizing the Rhineland on March 7, 1936, violates the clauses of the Treaty of Versailles and by extension the Treaty of Locarno which ensures the sovereignty of the borders established by the Treaty of Versailles.
Head of the Nazi party in 1921, he led Germany from January 1933 (III Reich), with the title of chancellor and then “Führer” (guide). From this date, it sets up a policy of revenge in the face of the German defeat of 14 – 18 which passes in particular by the rearmament of Germany.
He leads an anti-communist and violently racist (anti-Semitic) policy.
As he had announced in his book Mein Kampf, he set up the final solution for the extermination of the Jews. More than 6 million people died in the concentration and extermination camps (Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, the disabled, etc.).
Adolf Hitler, the megalomaniac dictator, tried to impose his vision of the world, based on a difference of race between men: the Aryan race, and the others, the “subhuman”
Founder of a totalitarian dictatorship known as the Third Reich, its history, akin to the darkest hours of the twentieth century, remains in the collective memory as a warning against the murderous madness of men.
Starting in 1938, Hitler, head of the German army, set out to conquer the “living space” of “Greater Germany”. It annexed Austria (1938), Czechoslovakia (1938), and Poland in 1939, which triggered the Second World War.
Its imperialist, anti-Semitic and racist policy makes it responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity that have caused tens of millions of victims, crimes of which the Shoah remains the most striking.
The unprecedented scale of destruction, looting and mass crimes for which he is responsible, as well as the radical racism that characterizes his doctrine and the exceptional inhumanity of the treatment inflicted on his victims, have earned him particular attention. Negative by historiography, collective memory and popular culture in general.
The NAZIS Come to Power
Before the start of the great crisis in Germany in 1929-1930, the National Socialist Party of German Workers (the Nazi Party) was only a small formation on the extreme right of the German political spectrum. In the Reichstag (Parliament) elections of May 2, 1928, the Nazis won only 2.6% of the vote, a relative decline from the 1924 score (3% of the vote). These elections brought to power a “grand coalition” that united the Social Democratic Party, the Zentrum (Catholic Center), the German Democratic Party and the German People’s Party. This coalition led Weimar Germany during the first six months of the Great Depression.
Meanwhile, in the street, the communist and Hitlerite paramilitaries are fighting each other for the better. The Weimar Republic, therefore, appears to the disinherited as responsible for all the ills of the country: the “Diktat” of Versailles, war reparations, unemployment, etc.
The global economic crisis of 1929 is for Hitler to be heard by millions of unemployed and poor who aspire to revenge on fate.
Powerful and bewitching speaker, Hitler, exploits the anger and helplessness felt by a large number of voters. It attracts a large number of Germans who are desperate for change.
Nazi election propaganda promises to lift Germany out of the crisis. The Nazis pledge to restore the cultural values of the country, to cancel the clauses of the Treaty of Versailles, to ward off the threat of a communist revolution, to hand over the German people to work and to recover for Germany its “legitimate rank Of world power.
Hitler and the other Nazi propagandists achieved brilliant success by directing the anger and fear of the population against Jews, Marxists (Communists and Social Democrats) and against those whom the Nazis held responsible for the signature of both the armistice of November 1918 that the Treaty of Versailles, as well as the establishment of a parliamentary republic. Hitler and the Nazis described them as “November criminals”.
Hitler and the other Nazi speakers cautiously adapt their speeches to each audience. For example, when they turn to businessmen, the Nazis mitigate anti-Semitic themes, preferring anti-communism and the recovery of German colonies lost under the Versailles Treaty. In front of soldiers, veterans or other groups of nationalist obedience, the Nazi propaganda emphasizes the military reinforcement and the return of the other territories lost after Versailles. Nazi speakers pledge farmers in Schleswig-Holstein, a land located in the north of the country, that a Nazi government would support falling agricultural prices. In Germany as a whole, pensioners are told that the amount and the purchasing power of their monthly payments will remain stable.
Taking the pretext of the impasse between the partners of the “grand coalition”, Reich Chancellor Heinrich Brüning of the Zentrum party decided in July 1930 on the old Reich president, the marshal and hero of the First World War. Paul von Hindenburg, to dissolve the parliament and hold new elections for the month of September. To dissolve the House, the President applies Article 48 of the Constitution, which allows the German Government to govern without parliamentary consent and which must be applied only in the event of an immediate national emergency.
Brüning badly gauged the state of mind of the nation after six months of economic depression. The Nazis won 18.3% of the vote, becoming the second largest political party in the country. Great political instability becomes the rule.
For two years, repeatedly using Article 48 to promulgate presidential decrees, the Brüning government sought in vain to form a parliamentary majority excluding the Social Democrats, the Communists, and the Nazis. In 1932, Hindenburg dismissed Brüning for the post of Chancellor Franz von Papen, a former diplomat member of the Zentrum. Von Papen proceeded to a new dissolution of the Reichstag, but in the elections of July 1932, the Nazi party won 37.3.
As a result, in the Reichstag of 1932, more than half of the deputies were party representatives who had publicly pledged to end parliamentary democracy. All the traditional parties had lost votes, with the exception of the Catholic Zentrum, in favour of the extremist parties.
Von Papen proved unable to obtain a parliamentary majority to govern, his opponents among the advisers of President Hindenburg forced him to resign. His successor, General Kurt von Schleicher, dissolved the Reichstag once more. In the following elections, in November 1932, the Nazis lost ground, with a score of 33.1% of the votes. Communists, on the other hand, advanced, obtaining 16.9% of the votes. At the end of 1932, President Hindenburg’s entourage came to believe that the Nazi party represented the only hope of preventing communist chaos and seizure of power. Nazi negotiators and propagandists made a powerful contribution to reinforcing this impression.
In the following months, taking advantage of the awkwardness of the Democrats, he seizes all the powers with the title of Führer.
In two years, however, Hitler and the Nazis swept the conservative politicians and set up an extremist Nazi dictatorship entirely subject to the Führer’s personal will.
He sets up a totalitarian state based on that of Mussolini, in Italy, but much more brutal, and sets itself two evil objectives: to enlarge Germany at the price of annexations and conquests; somehow rid the country of its Jews.
The measures succeed one another: the annexation of Austria (Anschluss), then of Czechoslovakia, put away from the Jews, multiplication of pogroms and humiliations) until France and England, pushed to the limit, declare his war.