How did Hitler challenge and exploit the Treaty of Versailles?

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Hitler's Plan's

Abolish the Treaty of Versailles -The treaty was hated by the Germans and was a comstant reminder of their defeat.

Expand German Territory-  He wasnted germany to unite with Austriaand carve out an empire to give extra LEBENSRAUM for Germans.

Defeat Communism-  Hitler was very anti communist and thought that they helped to bring about the defeat of germany.  

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In 1933 Hitler became chancellor and immediatley wanted to expand the German empire. The same year Hitler made a speech to the League of Nations at a disarmament conference.  He stated that unless all countries disarm in the next 5 years germany would rearm.  They rejected this idea and Hitler removed Germany from the League of Nations.

Rearmament began in secret at first.  He signed a non-aggression pact in 1934 with Poland which only strengthened his position.  Hitler introduced conscription in March 1935.  He got away with this despite being against the treaty as he could argue it was being used to fight unemployment.

Hitler rearming germany increased his popularity as a new leader of Germany.  Britain helped to further break the treaty by signing a naval agreement with Hitler stating that Germany could increase its navy to up to 35% of the size of the British navy.  The french were against this agreement but they were powerless.

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Return of the Saar 1935

The Saar region was controlled by the League of Nations.  In 1935 the League of Nations held a plebiscite to decide whether the region should return to German rule.

The vote was a success for Hitler with 90% voting to return under German rule.  This was legal under the treaty.

This was a morale booster.

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Remilitarisation of the Rhineland 1936

In March 1936 Hitler took his first big gamble.  He moved his troops into the Rhineland area a zone that was demilitarised under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles.  If he faced any resistance from the French this could've completley undermined his position as Chancellor.

France and the USSR had just signed a treaty to protect each other against german attack. Hitler claimed this was a threat to Germany and should be able to place troops on his own frontier as protection.  Hitler knew the British wouldnt resist but the French might.

As troops moved into the Rhineland Hitler told troops that if there was any resistance to pull out immediatley.  Hitler knew that the german army was no match for the French.  The French were unsure if what to do as they were in the middle of an election.   No one wanted to be responsible for starting another war with germany and the french's attention was on the Abyssinian crisis.  The French refused to act without Britains help so did nothing.

This only encouraged hitler to take a bigger risk next time.

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Spanish Civil War and Anti-Comintern pact

In 1936 when the Spanish Civil War broke out it gave Hitler the oppourtunity to test out his new armed forces abd to fight communism.  In 1937 Germany bombed civilian populations in Spanish cities and the league could do nothing to stop this.

Mussolini was also heavily involved in the Spanish Civil War.  Hitler and Mussolini saw many similarities in their beliefs and how they ran a country along with Japan.  In 1937 they signed an anti-cominterm pact with the aim to limit communist influence around the world.

This new alliance was called the new Axis Alliance.

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Anschluss with Austria 1938

The Austrian people were mainly German.  Hitler used this as one of the main reasons for wanting the Anschluss.  Many austrians wanted it due to the weak economy.  Hitler was confident he could unite the two countries to create a 'grater Germany'.  He had tried in 1934 but was stopped by Mussolini however, he was now an ally.

There was a strong Nazi party in Austria and Hitler encouraged them to stir up trouble and start riots.  Hitler told the Austrian Chancellor Schuschnigg that only the Anschluss could stop this.  Schuschnigg asked Britain and France for help but they refused.

Schuschnigg called for a plebiscite to see what the people really wanted.  Hitler sent troops to threaten civilians to vote for the Anschluss but claimed that this was to ensure the plebiscite was trouble free.   99.75% of the population voted for the Anschluss.

The Anschluss was completed without any military confrontation from France of Britain. Chamberlain thought that Austria and Germany should be united.  Hitler's risk had payed off.  He recieved all of Austria's soldiers, weapons and rich deposits of gold and iron were added to Germany's increasingly strong army.

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