German rearmament is generally conceived as a program initiated by the NAZIs after Hitler seized power (1933). Many Germans and not just NAZIs viewed the Versailles Treaty as unfair and affornt to national honor. The Germany military even in Weimar Republic was violating the terms of the Versailles Peace Treaty. The Reichwehr almost from the onset attempt to circumvent the restrictive provisions of the Versailles Treaty. There were a range of programs devrloped by the German Army to expand the military beyond the limits agreed to under the Versailles Agreement. German companies set up operations in other countries like the Netherlands where airplanes were built. German companies wirked on submarines in Japan. The Army conducted many of the programs in secret. It is unclear to what extent the German Government was informed.
The Reichwehr developed personnel systems that permitted it to maintain a far larger force than 100,000 men. One of the major such programs was a rotational system which involved officers and non-commissioned officers rotating active duty with the Reichwehr so only about 100,000 men were on active duty at any given time. Thus a much larger body of men were associated with the Army than that provided for in the Versailles agreement. Other subterfuges were adopted so the actual number of men exceeded 100,000. It is difficult to determine what the actual size of the Reichwehr was.
The Germans as part of a secret agreement associated with the Rapallo Treaty worked with the Soviet Union. Major General Otto Hasse helped negotiate the terms of military cooperation (1923). Germany assisted the Soviets with major industrial projects. Militry cooperation include aircraft, tanks, and poson gas. This allowed the Germans to conduct training and weapons development projects where Allied inspectors cold not investigate. The Soviets benefited from German technology and industry. About About 300 German pilots trained near Lipetsk. Tank training occurred near Kazan. Improved chemical weapons were developed at Saratov. Military equipment was secretly tested in the Soviet Union during the 1920s under the Rappolo Agreement. Early German Panzers were actually tested in Russia.
German companies set up operations in other countries like the Netherlands where airplanes were built. German companies wirked on submarines in Japan.
The Army promoted glider clubs where many future Luftwaffe pilots learned basic flying skills.
As rockets were not mentiined in thecVersailles Treaty, the Army began work on rockets which was to lead to the V-2.
The Army conducted many of the programs in secret. It is unclear to what extent the German Government was informed. The programs were of such an extent that if the Government was not aware of some of the projecrs it was because officials did not want to ask to many questions. Of course during the Weimar era, Field Marshall Hindenburg was elected president. As a result, Hitler and the NAZIs did not begin from scratch when they seized power in 1933, but inherited a professiinal military that was substantially larger than known to the Allies with an advanced weapons development program. While many of the Reichwehr programs may seem innocuous, such as glider clubs, without the programs, the NAZIs would have not been able to so rapidly rearm Germany.
Fest, Joachim C. Hitler (Vintage Books: New York, 1974), 844p.
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