Lessons Learned: Hitler’s Rearmament of Germany

March 13, 2012
9:23 am (EST)

Lessons Learned: Hitler’s Rearmament of Germany
Explainer Video
from The Water's Edge

On March 16, 1935, Adolf Hitler announced that he would rearm Germany in violation of the Treaty of Versailles. Hitler revealed that Germany had begun to construct an air force, and unveiled plans to reinstitute conscription and create a German army of more than half a million men. Britain, France, Italy, and the League of Nations all issued statements condemning Hitler’s decision, but did little else to penalize Germany.

More From Our Experts

James M. Lindsay, CFR’s senior vice president and director of studies, notes that it was only on September 1, 1939, when Germany invaded Poland, that "the rest of Europe confronted, rather than appeased, Hitler." This four-year delay, he argues, points to a basic difficulty in international relations. "Aggressive, expansionist states are most easily stopped early on when they are weak and vulnerable," he says, but "precisely because their capabilities are limited at that point--and their intentions can only be guessed at--it is often hard to persuade other countries to act."

More on:

Germany

Political History and Theory

This video is part of Lessons Learned, a series dedicated to exploring historical events and examining their meaning in the context of foreign relations today.

More From Our Experts

More on:

Germany

Political History and Theory

Close

Top Stories on CFR

Pharmaceuticals and Vaccines

Some governments and businesses are starting to use digital and paper passes that certify a person has been immunized against COVID-19, spurring debate over the ethics of vaccine passports.

China

The Spring Meetings should address BRI’s pitfalls and advance policies to help put BRI countries on the path toward recovery and sustainable growth.

Democracy

In this special series of The President’s Inbox on the future of democracy, James M. Lindsay speaks with experts to discuss whether and where democratic governance is faltering around the world. This week, Pratap Bhanu Mehta, leading scholar of political theory, constitutional law, international affairs, and society and politics in India, breaks down the health of democracy in India. This episode is part of the Council on Foreign Relations’ Diamonstein-Spielvogel Project on the Future of Democracy.