Occupation of the Rhineland 1936

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Bart150
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Occupation of the Rhineland 1936

Post by Bart150 » 17 Sep 2017 13:40

One often comes across the statement that if only Britain and France had stood up to Hitler in 1936 and made him withdraw ignominiously from the Rhineland, then the Nazi regime would have collapsed and everything thereafter would have been different. William Shirer, for example, says this.

Maybe, but I'm not sure. How exactly would the collapse of the Nazi regime have worked? I've never seen that explained.

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Steve
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Re: Occupation of the Rhineland 1936

Post by Steve » 26 Sep 2017 18:48

Hitler was very popular in 1936 and the Nazis were firmly in control. If there had been a withdrawal Goebbels propaganda machine would have probably gone into overdrive to show that this humiliation was yet another reason why Germany needed a powerful military. It is hard to believe that mass civil unrest would have broken out. The only possible danger could have come from a humiliated army. The army though was not against the idea they were for it but they had cautioned that now was perhaps not the right time. If the French had moved then the troops who went in were prepared to immediately come out.

If forced to withdraw Hitler quite likely have been more cautious in the future but the idea that his regime would have collapsed is I think fanciful. A great shame the French did not move.

Bart150
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Re: Occupation of the Rhineland 1936

Post by Bart150 » 26 Sep 2017 20:49

I agree.
The idea that the Nazi regime would have collapsed seems a kind of retrospective wishful thinking. Odd because Shirer of Berlin Diary seems quite sensible otherwise.

Bart150
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Re: Occupation of the Rhineland 1936

Post by Bart150 » 29 Sep 2017 11:53

So what would have happened if the French had turned the German forces out of the Rhineland in 1936? Here’s my guess.
The same as happened in real history but more slowly: Hitler just as pushy as in history but meeting stronger diplomatic resistance than actually occurred, leading to war in, maybe, 1943.
So both sides would have had an extra four years to prepare for war. Who would have made better use of the time? I fear it might have been Germany. Think of all the U-boats it might have built.

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Steve
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Re: Occupation of the Rhineland 1936

Post by Steve » 29 Sep 2017 22:47

If Hitler had retreated surely his number one priority would then have been the Rhineland and you would have expected him to wait until he was confident of military superiority. The outbreak of war would very likely have been delayed. This would presumably have been a good thing for the French while Germany would certainly have been stronger but what about the British?

A popular point of view is that Britain was poorly prepared for war in 1939. British military spending had been rising steeply for some time before 1939 and in fact the army was having trouble spending all the money it was allocated. The level of spending on armaments in a peacetime economy was getting to the stage where it was unsustainable. There would probably have been cut backs in defence spending if war had not come in 1939. I would guess that if war had been delayed the overall British military strength while larger would not have been dramatically so.

During the war Britain’s navy maintained control of the seas and imposed a blockade on Germany while the RAF was able to beat the Luftwaffe in 1940 when fighting on the defence. More U boats immediately available may have changed things but there would have more U boat hunters as well. The problem child for the British was their army which though small was in 1939 the only fully mechanised one in Europe and by the standards of the day well equipped. A delay to the start of war would have seen a larger army but it is unlikely that it would have had any more success against the Germans than it did between 1940 and 1942. Though it had time to prepare it performed abysmally against the Japanese in 1942. A delay of say a couple of years would not I think have saved the French and British armies from the same sort of defeat they sustained in 1940.

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