Hitler Reoccupies the Rhineland
Posted March 8, 2017
Topics: MilitaryEducation

World History in March

March 7, 1936 - Hitler Reoccupies the Rhineland

By Corey Gerdeman

On March 7, 1936, Adolf Hitler sent over 20,000 troops back into the Rhineland, an area that was supposed to remain a demilitarized zone according to the Treaty of Versailles. The area known as the Rhineland was a strip of German land that borders France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. This area was deemed a demilitarized zone to increase the security of France, Belgium, and the Netherlands against future German aggression. This area of Germany was also important for coal, steel, and iron production. Back in 1935, Adolf Hitler took over control of the Saar region, which was also taken away from Germany in the Treaty of Versailles to reduce the industrial capabilities of Germany. When Great Britain and France did nothing in reaction to this, Adolf Hitler was emboldened to reoccupy the Rhineland and reunify Germany. In May 1935, France and the USSR signed a treaty of friendship and mutual support. Hitler resented this and argued that it was a hostile move against Germany, and the area of the Rhineland could in turn be used by France to invade Germany. Hitler used this as an excuse to send German military forces into the Rhineland. This move was the first of many direct violations of the Treaty of Versailles by Adolf Hitler. Again, like with the Saar region, Great Britain and France did nothing substantial in reaction to this break of the treaty. Due in part to this lack of reaction, Adolf Hitler would begin to take over other lands throughout Western Europe.

Research questions for 9th-12th grades:

How did the lack of reaction by Great Britain and France to the treaty violations lead to an escalation in German aggression in the late 1930s?

Why was regaining control of the Saar region and Rhineland so important to Nazi Germany prior to the start of WWII?

In the Treaty of Versailles, 414 of the 440 clauses were dedicated solely to punishing Germany for WWI. These 414 clauses included loss of German control in the Saar region and the Rhineland. How could the design of the Treaty of Versailles have led to this increased aggression and the lack of response in the 1930s?

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