Britain, France, and the German problem with special reference to the Rhineland Crisis, 1936

by Robert John Young

Institution: University of Saskatchewan
Year: 1965
Record ID: 1882333
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10388/etd-07232010-100951


The Paris Peace Conference meant more than the cessation of hostilities with Germany and her allies; it brought about a profound political and territorial transformation of Europe. These two aspects were, however, closely connected in that the settlement of 1919 had as its foundation a disarmed and defeated Germany. This was a delicate basis for European peace, for the moment Germany felt capable of revising the Versailles settlement the continental status quo would be jeopardized. Yet if that settlement was threatened by an increase in German strength, so was it endangered by German weakness. The Weimar Republic could not defend successfully the settlement of 1919 unless German strength were allowed to recover. For more than ten years it was thought in western Europe that the political and economic instability of Germany was of deep concern for all.1 Bolshevism waited quietly at the gates, anxious to remove another capitalist power. Yet, by the mid-years of the next decade, the fear that German impotence might draw the west into the turmoils of central Europe was, slowly in the case of Britain and quickly in the ease of France, transformed into a fear of the Reich's increasing strength. On the eve of the second great war, Britain and France were attempting to rally Bolshevik support behind an anti-German front. The wheel had gone full circle, its revolution determined almost exclusively by the nature and seriousness of the German problem. 1. A. J. P. Taylor, The Origins of the Second World War (London, 1961), 67.