Risk in the Rhineland

Zachary Shore

in What Hitler Knew

Published in print November 2002 | ISBN: 9780195154597
Published online January 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199868780 | DOI:
Risk in the Rhineland

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On Saturday March 7, 1936, Adolf Hitler marched German troops into the demilitarized zone on the Rhine's left bank and, in doing so, launched his boldest “Saturday Surprise” to date. Against the more cautious advice of his generals, Hitler risked a war when Germany's military was too weak to repel the French. A French counterattack and victory would have been a major setback for Germany's revisionist aims, and a serious defeat for Hitler's young regime. Yet no French countermeasures occurred, no strong Western responses were forthcoming, and Hitler's success raised him to new heights of popularity with the German people. This chapter examines the factors behind Hitler's decision to remilitarize the Rhine. It shows how one man, the German foreign minister, Neurath, consistently urged the chancellor onward. In doing so, he took a considerable risk with his own political career.

Keywords: Adolf Hitler; Rhine; France; Germany; Neurath; foreign minister

Chapter.  7727 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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