Germany History – The Third Reich Part IV

The unification action of the Protestant Churches led by the bishop of the Reich Müller and his juridical administrator Jäger led to a schism: on January 3, 1934, a first free synod of confessional groups met in Barmen. The bishop responded by accusing the rebellious pastors of propaganda against the regime and suspending the laws on the legal situation of pastors and officials. On March 21, the synod of the Church of Westphalia was constituted as a free confessional synod, refusing to recognize the authority of the bishop of the Reich and entrusting the spiritual direction of the community to a council of brothers. The minister of worship then intervened suspending the measures against the rebellious shepherds and suppressing the bishop’s decree. However, he could order the administrative unification of the Reich Church and proceed with the incorporation of the regional Churches. The churches of Bavaria and Württemberg refused to be absorbed. On September 23, 1934, the solemn enthronement of the bishop of the Reich took place, following the condemnation of Müller by a second confessional synod in Dahlem. Administrator Jäger was forced to resign, while the synod appointed a provisional administration of the Reich Church. A certain détente took over in July 1935 with the appointment of Kerrl as Reich Minister for Ecclesiastical Affairs, who, having full powers for the resolution of disputes, instituted ecclesiastical councils. Slowly the resistance of the confessional church waned. Many adherents of the synod ended up accepting nominations from Kerrl, Bishop Mahrarens left the Council of Brothers and Bishop Meiser recognized the juntas. However, a group met in February 1936 in a fourth confessional synod, deciding to continue the struggle for the integrity of the faith. And the struggle in fact continued with arrests and trials of pastors and with protests by the Council of the Confessional Church against the National Socialist secular school.

On January 15, 1935, the territory of the Saarland decreed its re-annexation to Germany with 476,039 votes out of 526,942 voting. The event aroused a wave of enthusiasm across the country. On 1 March, the German government regained possession of the territory.

According to localbusinessexplorer, the Saar plebiscite marked the beginning of the denunciations of the military clauses of the Versailles Treaty. Already on March 14, General Göring declared that Germany intended to possess an air force, and his declaration was followed by an official note presented to this effect to the governments of Paris, London and Rome. On 16 March compulsory military service was restored and the German army was brought to 12 corps with 36 divisions. The British government, rejecting the French proposal for a collective protest, confined itself to delivering a note, followed by similar notes from the French and Italian sides. In the meantime, however, the German government concluded (June 18, 1935) a naval agreement with England, setting the ratio of its fleet to the English one at 35%;

An attempt by the English minister Simon, who went to Berlin to induce Germany to sign an air pact, a Danubian pact and an Eastern pact, failed. Further insistence from the British led to the unofficial German declaration that Germany was hostile to the formula of collective security, but was willing to enter into pacts of friendship and non-aggression similar to the German-Polish one. The constant National Socialist pressure in Austria provoked the Stresa conference in April 1935, already prepared by the Mussolini-Laval meeting in Rome in January. Italy, France and Great Britain agreed to consult in the event of further unilateral acts by Germany. But the “Stresa front” fell apart quickly as a result of the attitude taken by Western powers in the Ethiopian question. The German government did not adhere to the “sanctions” and Hitler declared his sympathy for Italy. Taking advantage of the European tension, on 7 March 1936 the German government proceeded to occupy the demilitarized zone of the Rhineland (the left bank and a 50 km wide area along the right bank), violating the articles of the Treaty of Versailles, which prohibited territory the garrisons and the fortifications. At the same time he denounced the Locarno pact, citing the stipulation of the Franco-Soviet pact as a reason, but declared himself willing to create a mutual demilitarized zone with France and Belgium, to enter into pacts with these states – and possibly also with the Netherlands of non-aggression guaranteed by England and Italy, to conclude an air pact, to re-enter the League of Nations. Before the Reichstag, Hitler denied that Germany had any other territorial claims in Europe and declared the struggle for equality of German rights closed. A French appeal to the League of Nations, followed by a Belgian one, a conference in Paris among the representatives of the Locarno Pact, a meeting of the Council of the League of Nations in London (17 April) limited to finding the German violation of the pacts, that is they practically recognized the fait accompli. Nor did anyone follow a draft agreement between Belgium, France, Great Britain and Italy. On the contrary, the tenacious English hostility to the Italian conquest of Ethiopia, the protraction of the sanctions, the advent in France of the ” At the same time, the government of General Franco was recognized. Germany, which had assumed naval control in an area of ​​the Mediterranean coast of Spain, passed retaliatory measures in June 1937 following the bombing, by airplanes of Barcelona, ​​of one of its warships in the bay of Mallorca. The visit of General Göring to Rome in January 1937, that of the Foreign Minister von Neurath in May, that of Marshal von Blomberg in June and finally, in October, that of Mussolini, received with triumphal honors by Hitler in Munich and Berlin, they reaffirmed the agreement of the two authoritarian powers, who declared themselves determined to face the Bolshevik threat in the world. In this sense, already on 25 November 1936 the ambassador von Ribbentrop signed in Berlin with the Japanese ambassador a convention against the Communist International, which committed the two states to keep each other informed about the activity of that international, to consult on defense measures and to carry them out in close collaboration. Italy adhered to this anti-communist pact, with a protocol signed in Rome on November 6, 1937 by Minister Ciano, von Ribbentrop and the Japanese ambassador Hotta. The German recognition of the Man-chu kwo empire followed on February 21, 1938. The German government, on the other hand, intensified the cordiality of relations with Poland, resolving some difficulties that arose in Gdansk with direct negotiations, and settling the position of the respective national minorities with bilateral agreements. In a meeting between Polish Minister Beck and Hitler in Berlin on July 4, 1935, the German-Polish declaration of January 1934 was reconfirmed. A tension instead arose in relations with Lithuania as a consequence of the measures taken by the latter in the Memel regime (January 1935). A visit by the regent of Hungary Horthy to Hitler and a visit by the president of the ministers of Yugoslavia Stojadinović on January 18, 1938 intensified the relations, including economic ones, between these two states and Germany. Stojadinović signed, inter alia, an agreement relating to the press, for the exchange of information and the prohibition of the dissemination of news likely to damage the good relations between the two countries. On the other hand, relations with Czechoslovakia remained tense, especially after the conclusion of the Czechoslovakian-Soviet pact, and of course relations with Russia went sour,

Germany History - The Third Reich 5