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The German re-armament (Aufrüstung) was a massive effort led by the NSDAP in the early 1930s in violation of the Treaty of Versailles.During its struggle for power the National Socialist party promised to recover Germanymarker's lost national pride. It proposed military rearmament claiming that the Treaty of Versailles and the acquiescence of the Weimar Republicmarker were an embarrassment for all Germans.

Despite its scale, the Aufrüstung was largely a secret operation, carried out mostly in a cloak-and-dagger manner through organizations engaged in covert operations.

Disclosures of Nazi re-armament triggered the Re-armament policy in the United Kingdom, which escalated after Adolf Hitler withdrew Germany from the League of Nations and the Geneva Disarmament Conference in 1933.


Germany's post World War I re-armament began already at the time of the Weimar Republic, when the Chancellor of Germany Hermann Müller, who belonged to the SPD Social Democratic Party, passed cabinet laws that allowed secret and illegal re-armament efforts.

After the Nazi takeover of power the re-armament became the topmost priority of the German government. Hitler would then spearhead one of the greatest expansions of industrial production and civil improvement Germany had ever seen.

Third Reich Interior Minister Wilhelm Frick, one of the most influential Nazi figures of the time, and Hjalmar Schacht, a Nazi ecomomist who introduced a wide variety of schemes in order to tackle the effects that the Great Depression had on Germany, were the main key players of German rearmament policies.

Dummy companies like MEFO were setup to finance the re-armament; MEFO obtained the large amount of money needed for the effort through the Mefo bills, a certain series of credit notes issued by the Government of Nazi Germany.Covert organizations like the Deutsche Verkehrsfliegerschule were established under a civilian guise in order to train pilots for the future Luftwaffe.

Although available statistics don't include non-citizens or women, the massive Nazi re-armament policy, almost led to full employment during the 1930s. Real wages in Germany, however, dropped by roughly 25% between 1933 and 1938.

The re-armament began a sudden change in fortune for many factories in Germany. Many industries were taken out of a deep crisis that had been induced by the Great Depression.Some large industrial companies, which had until then specialized in certain traditional products began to diversify and introduce innovative ideas in their production pattern. Shipyards, for example, created branches that began to design and build aircraft. Thus the German re-armament provided an opportunity for advanced, and sometimes revolutionary, technological improvements, especially in the field of aeronautics.

The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939 would provide an ideal testing ground for the proficiency of the new weapons produced by the German factories during the re-armament years. Many aeronautical bombing techiques were tested by the Condor Legion German expeditionary forces against the Republican Government on Spanish soil with the permission of Generalísimo Francisco Franco. Hitler insisted, however, that his longterm designs were peaceful, a strategy labelled as "Blumenkrieg" (Flower War).

See also

Notes and references

  1. Hakim, Joy (1995). A History of Us: War, Peace and all that Jazz. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 100–104. ISBN 0-19-509514-6.
  2. UK War Production
  3. Michael Geyer, Deutsche Rüstungspolitik 1860 bis 1980, Frankfurt 1984
  4. Wilhelm Frick (1877-1946)
  5. Nuremberg Trials discussion of the Mefo bill
  6. Ernst Sagebiel 1892-1970
  7. Blohm & Voss Geschichte v. 1933/1938, Die Rüstungskonjunktur ab 1933
  8. Evidenced in a January 1937 speech prior to the outcry over the bombing of the Basque city of Guernica, known by the Luftwaffe as Operation Rügen. Hitler speech to Reichstag 30 January 1937 available via the German Propaganda Archive.

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