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German Rearmament and the West, 1932-1933

German Rearmament and the West, 1932-1933

Copyright Date: 1979
Pages: 592
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  • Book Info
    German Rearmament and the West, 1932-1933
    Book Description:

    This probing examination of the period just before and after Hitler came to power corrects many misconceptions about German rearmament. Drawing on previously unexploited sources, Edward Bennett unravels German military plans and shows their implications, undermining the notion that Hitler's accession represented a radical break with Germany's past. He also lays bare the fears and rivalries that hindered the West's response, particularly at the 1932-1933 World Disarmament Conference.

    Originally published in 1979.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-7199-5
    Subjects: Technology, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
    (pp. xi-xii)
    (pp. xiii-2)
    (pp. 3-8)

    This volume describes German military planning in the early 1930s, and relates this to German politics, but it is also very definitely a study in international relations. For me, a non-German, the most compelling reasons for studying German history are, first, to learn about German ideas, so original in so many fields, and so different from our own, and second, to judge the extent of German responsibility for the two world wars, which have shaped our present-day world. One must also, however, consider the ideas and responsibilities of others, which can also hold compelling interest.

    My first acquaintance with Germany,...

  6. PART I

    • CHAPTER ONE The Political Implications of Reichswehr Plans
      (pp. 11-77)

      Most Germans felt that the 1919 peace settlement had perpetrated a colossal series of wrongs. They considered the reparations prescribed to be an unbearable burden, and blamed them for German economic distress. They regarded the occupation of the Rhineland by foreign forces as a shame and a scandal, especially when carried out by French African troops. They believed the boundaries laid down in the East to be unjust and irrational, particularly those that established a Polish Corridor between East Prussia and the rest of Germany; the Corridor problem seemed all the more urgent because the lost territories were becoming increasingly...

    • CHAPTER TWO Perceptions and Preoccupations of France and Britain
      (pp. 78-130)

      If historians find that German military preparations began early, then they will naturally expect an early Western reaction. Or if they find that the preparations began later, then they will expect the reaction to come later. In the 1940s, when it was taken practically for granted that Adolf Hitler had long planned and prepared for world conquest, Western appeasement seemed obviously culpable. On the other hand, when A.J.P. Taylor published in 1961 his revisionist study,The Origins of the Second World War,his partial exculpation of Western leaders for their concessions to Hitler went hand in hand with a description...

    • CHAPTER THREE The United States and the Legends of Lost Opportunity
      (pp. 131-168)

      Ironically, the problem of German rearmament came to a head just as the nations finally gathered to consider the limitation and reduction of armament. The World Disarmament Conference had its origin in Point 4 of Wilson’s Fourteen Points and in the implied Allied promise to disarm, contained in the preamble to Part V of the Treaty of Versailles, in Article 8 of the Covenant, and in the Allied letter of June 16, 1919. Preparations had begun in 1920 for a general agreement to reduce the armed strength of those nations not disarmed by the postwar treaties, and these preparations had...

    • CHAPTER FOUR General von Schleicher’s New Approach
      (pp. 169-207)

      Although Franz von Papen was a poor choice as chancellor from the standpoint of retaining the confidence of foreign governments, this had not been a major consideration when General von Schleicher recommended him to Hindenburg. Nor had it much mattered that Papen had little standing in his own party, the Catholic Center. Indeed, the very fact that Papen was an outsider in his own party as well as independent of Alfred Hugenberg, the obstinate and uncontrollable leader of the DNVP, may have been part of his attraction; for these reasons, and because of his wealth, party considerations would presumably not...

    • CHAPTER FIVE Britain Intervenes to Prevent a Break
      (pp. 208-272)

      Despite their disapproval of German rearmament, neither the British nor the United States government would in fact side with France in the coming months. The position of the American government can be quickly explained. Americans did not see the European balance of power as their concern. And of all times, the period of an election campaign was the poorest for a policy of European involvement—all the more if that policy seemed to mean supporting France against Germany. There was no “French vote” in the United States, and there was a German vote. Stimson himself never ventured to give the...

    • CHAPTER SIX Schleicher Reaches a Dead End
      (pp. 273-304)

      Diplomatically, Schleicher had had a real success. Of course, problems remained. Approval had not been won for the army's more specific aims. Even when claiming a triumph at the cabinet meeting of December 14, Neurath had to point out that there was unanimous opposition abroad to letting Germany rearm.¹ The discussion of specifics at Geneva might lead to further disclosures and alarms, such as had followed the attempt to negotiate with the French in August. Moreover, the Reichswehr was already beginning to carry out its plans, and in 1933 this implementation would foreseeably become harder to conceal.² Yet Germany had...

  7. PART II

    • CHAPTER SEVEN Hitler’s Accommodation with the Military
      (pp. 307-355)

      As we turn to Hitler’s accession to power, we face a broad problem, which German historians have warmly debated: did Hitler’s rule represent a break with Germany’s past, or did it fit in with the established patterns of German history? Before, during, and after World War II, some British and American writers found antecedents of Nazism in German history—in the German reformation, in the Thirty Years War, in Hegel and Herder and Nietzsche, in the Germany of Frederick the Great and Bismarck and William II.¹ After the war, some German historians, naturally enough, came to the defense of Germany’s...

    • CHAPTER EIGHT Britain Reconsiders Its Policy
      (pp. 356-405)

      The foreign policy of a nation might be compared to a loaded supertanker: once the ship of state is in motion in a given direction, the men on the bridge cannot suddenly bring it to a stop, or quickly turn it in a radically different direction, nor would they likely want to do these things. Changing course is particularly difficult in a democracy like Great Britain, as it requires a change in public opinion. Thus we should not be surprised if British policy showed no immediate reaction to Hitler’s accession. It is more remarkable that there should have been, as...

    • CHAPTER NINE France Attempts to Form a New Alliance
      (pp. 406-448)

      The French Foreign Minister, Joseph Paul-Boncour, had begun by the end of February to doubt the feasibility of his “constructive plan.” Even if the German military had been more ready to accept the pro visions of the French plan, the French government itself now had a more profound distrust of German denials and assurances. For example, the French regarded the SA and Stahlhelm as illicit militia organizations, whatever Hitler might publicly claim. Moreover, while Britain and the United States now seeemed to be somewhat more wary of the Germans, nothing that representatives of the British and American governments had said...

    • CHAPTER TEN Hitler’s Hand Is Forced, and He Frees It
      (pp. 449-505)

      If British ministers and officials had difficulty in fixing their eyes on the ugly reality of German rearmament, German observers found it hard to fathom British intentions. Despite Hitler’s desire for an Anglo-German understanding, his warlike ideology obviously hobbled his comprehension of Britain’s peace-seeking tendencies. In particular, neither he nor even his more traveled officials adequately sensed the British resistance to the idea that the first result of a disarmament convention should be Germany’s acquisition of new and more destructive weapons. They also suffered from a plain shortage of factual information on British official policy. And the most mysterious and...

    (pp. 506-512)

    In early 1932, at the beginning of the Disarmament Conference, the impression was widespread in Britain and America that Germany had learned from its defeat in 1918, that the country had a moderate, responsible government, and that in military affairs, the Germans now wanted only the disarmament of others, for the sake of their own security. Germans did not want war, and they had no significant military power; thus there was no need to think of trying to balance German military power. If anything, it was French power that needed to be reduced.

    The only element of truth in this...

    (pp. 513-516)
    (pp. 517-552)
  11. Index
    (pp. 553-570)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 571-571)