12. Occupation of the Rhineland:

The Rhineland is part of western Germany and lies along Rhine River, and extends west to the borders of Belgium, France, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. It had been part of France during the Napoleonic wars (late 1790’s). It became part of the German state of Prussia in 1815. The land is rich of mineral resources and had a good location on the Rhine River. The location of the Rhineland contributed to the growth of the Ruhr coal-mining district.

Under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, the Rhineland had been made into a demilitarized zone. Germany had political control over the area but was not allowed to put troops into it and so the Germans claimed they did not actually fully control the area even though it was a part of Germany itself.

The German reoccupation and fortification of the Rhineland was the most significant turning point of the inter-wars. The reoccupation of the Rhineland was Hitler's test to see how far France would go to secure the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. Originally, Hitler had ordered to withdraw troops if France decided to attack or take action. But seeing that France did not do anything because they did not want to resort to war, Hitler continued with his plans. After March of 1936, the British and the French could no longer take forceful action against Hitler except by provoking the total war they feared.

Germany needed to reoccupy the Rhineland as part of Hitler’s plan to remilitarize and helped its people out of the Great Depression. It was also done to stir up nationalistic feelings of the Germans and to show that they were denouncing both the Treaty of Versailles as well as the Locarno Pact. Hitler wanted revenge for his country for being humiliated by world war one and the treaty as well, he had intentions to regain the land and freedom that Germany had lost.

Global collective security:
Global collective security was threatened by this act because it violated the terms of the Treaty of Versailles which nations had agreed to.

Germany wanted revenge for being humiliated by losing in world war one and the terms of the Treaty of Versailles.

Hitler wanted to expand Germany because they needed more land and space and he also wanted to have all Germans united. Hitler reoccupying the Rhineland is an example of expansionism.

National security:
Reoccupying the Rhineland was part of Hitler’s plan to solve Germany’s economic crisis. In order to save Germany from its depression, Hitler gave jobs to people by remilitarizing and putting together new troops and armies.

Nations like Britain and France were unprepared for war and so they did not want to create greater conflicts with Germany.

This act was in direct violation of the Treaty of Versailles but the League of Nations did nothing to stop Hitler therefore, appeasing him.

Regional security:
The Rhineland was ultimately under German soil and even though they had political control over it, they weren't allowed to put troops in and so it was argued that Germany didn't actually fully control the area.


The occupation of the Rhineland caused an escalation of tensions between Germany and other European states since this act was a direct violation of the Treaty of Versailles. It threatened global collective security because Germany was rebuilding its army again and more armaments. Nations feared that war would soon break out and so they began to try and appease Hitler. This act also stirred up the nationalistic feelings of the German people. Hitler promised that he would bring back the glory and redemption that Germany had lost through world war one and the Treaty of Versailles. He helped the Germans out of the depression by remilitarizing and giving people jobs. Hitler was an expansionist during his reign, similar to Napoleon Bonaparte. Germany took the Rhineland but started expanding East later on.


Copyright ©2009 by Ben Pi, Tony Fu, Amere Huang, Jeff Fong, Edwin Li, Irena Liu SS 20IB