The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Volume I Chapter IX
Preparation for Aggression
(Part 12 of 14)

G. Reoccupation of the Rhineland.

The demilitarized zone of the Rhineland was a sore spot with the Nazis ever since its establishment after World War I. Not only was this a blow to their increasing pride, but it was a bar to any effective strong position which Germany might want to take on any vital issues. In the event of any sanctions against Germany, in the form of military action, the French and other powers would get well into Germany east of the Rhine, before any German resistance could even be put up. Therefore, any German plans to threaten or breach international obligations, or for any kind of aggression, required the preliminary reoccupation and refortification of this open Rhineland territory. Plans and preparations for the reoccupation of the Rhineland started very early.

A document apparently signed in the handwriting of von Blomberg, deals with what is called "Operation Schulung", meaning schooling or training (C-139). It is dated 2 May 1935 and refers to prior staff discussions on the subject. It is addressed to he Chief of the Army Command, who at that time was. Fritsch; the Chief of the Navy High Command (Raeder); and the Reich Minister for Air (Goering). The document does not use the name "Rhineland" and does not, in terms, refer to it. It seems clear, however, that it was a plan for the military reoccupation of the Rhineland, in violation of the Treaty of Versailles and the Rhine Pact of Locarno., The first part, headed "Secret Document," provides:

"For the operation, suggested in the last staff talks of the Armed Forces, I lay down the Code name Schulung [training]

"The supreme direction of the operation 'Schulung' rests with the Reich Minister of Defense as this is a joint undertaking of the three services.

"Preparations for the operation will begin forthwith according to the following directives:

"1. General.

"1. The operation must, on issue of the code word 'Carry out Schulung,' be executed by a surprise blow at lightning speed Strictest secrecy is necessary in the preparations and only the very smallest number of officers should be informed and employed in the drafting of reports, drawings, etc., and these officers only in person.

[Page 441]

"2. There is no time for mobilization of the forces taking part. These will be employed in their peace-time strength and with their peace-time equipment.

"3. The preparation for the operation will be made without regard to the present inadequate state of our armaments. Every improvement of the state of our armaments will make possible a greater measure of preparedness and thus result in better prospects of success." (C-139)

The rest of the order deals with military details. There are certain points in this order which are inconsistent with any theory that it was merely a training order, or that it might have been defensive in nature. The operation was to be carried out as a surprise blow at lightning speed. The air forces were to provide support for the attack. There was to be reinforcement by the East Prussian division. Furthermore, since this order is dated 4 May 1935, which is about 6 weeks after the promulgation of the conscription Law of 16 March 1935, it could hardly have been planned as a defensive measure against any expected sanctions which might have been applied by reason of the passage of the Conscription Law.

The actual reoccupation of the Rhineland did not take place until 7 March 1936, and this early plan (C-139) necessarily underwent revision to suit changed conditions and specific objectives. That the details of this particular plan were not ultimately the ones that were carried out in reoccupying the Rhineland does not detract from the fact that as early as 2 May 1935, the Germans had already planned that operation, not merely as a staff plan but as a definite operation. It was evidently not on their timetable to carry out the operation so soon, if it could be avoided. But they were prepared to do so if necessary.

It is significant to note the date of this order is the same as the date of the signing of the Franco-Russian Pact, which the Nazis later asserted as their excuse for the Rhineland reoccupation.

The military orders on the basis of which the Rhineland reoccupation was actually carried into execution on 7 March 1936, were issued on 2 March 1936 by the War Minister and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, von Blomberg. They were addressed the Commander-in-Chief of the Army (Fritsch), the Commander-in-chief of the Navy (Raeder), and the Air Minister and C-in-C of the Air Force (Goering) (C-159). That order, classified "Top Secret", in the original bears Raeder's initial in green Pencil, with a red pencil note, "To be submitted to the C-in-C of the Navy".

[Page 442]

The first part of the Order reads:

"Supreme Command of the Navy:

"1. The Fuehrer and Reich Chancellor has made the following decision:

"By reason of the Franco-Russian alliance, the obligations accepted by Germany in the Locarno Treaty, as far as they apply to Articles 42 and 43 of the Treaty of Versailles, which referred to the demilitarized zone, are to be regarded as obsolete.

"2. Sections of the army and air force will therefore be transferred simultaneously in a surprise move to garrisons of the demilitarized zone. In this connection, I issue the following orders: ***" (C-159)

The original plaintext version of this file is available via ftp.

[ Previous | Index | Next ]

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.