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General Order No. 16 on the
By 1933 the Nazi Party, the NSDAP, had reached very substantial proportions. At that time its plans called for the acquisition of political control of Germany. This was indispensable for consolidation, within the country, of all the internal resources and potentialities.
As soon as there was sufficient progress along this line of internal consolidation, the next step was to become disengaged from some of the external disadvantages of existing international limitations and obligations.
The restrictions of the Versailles Treaty were a bar to the development of strength in all the fields necessary if Germany were to make war. Although there had been an increasing amount of circumvention and violation from the very time that the Versailles Treaty came into effect, such operations under disguise and subterfuge could not attain proportions adequate for the objectives of the Nazis. To get the Treaty of Versailles out of the way was indispensable to the development of the extensive military power which they had to have for their purposes. It was as a part of the same plan and for the same reason that Germany withdrew from the Disarmament Conference and from the League of Nations. It was impossible for the Nazis to carry out their plan on the basis of existing international obligations or on the basis of the orthodox kind of future commitments.
Every military and diplomatic operation undertaken by the Nazis was preceded by a plan of action and a careful coordination of all participating forces. At the same time each event was part of a long prepared plan of aggression. Each represented a necessary step in the preparation of the schedule of aggressions which was subsequently carried out.
Three of the steps in preparation for aggression were first, the withdrawal from the Disarmament Conference and the League of Nations; second, the institution of compulsory military service; and, third, the reoccupation of the demilitarized zone of the Rhineland. Each of these steps was progressively more serious in the matter of international relations. In each of these steps Germany anticipated the possibility of sanctions being applied by other countries, and, particularly, a strong military action from France with the possible assistance of England. However, the conspirators were determined that nothing less than a preventive war would stop them, and they also estimated correctly that no one or combination of big powers would undertake the responsibility for such a war. The withdrawal from the Disarmament Conference and from the League of Nations was, of course, action that did not violate any international obligation. The League Covenant provided the procedure for withdrawal. These actions, however, cannot be disassociated from the general conspiracy and the plan for aggression. The announcement of the institution of universal military service was a more daring action. It was a violation of the Versailles Treaty, but the Nazis got away with it. Then came outright military defiance, with the occupation of the demilitarized zone of the Rhineland.
A. Planning to Overthrow the Versailles Treaty.
The determination and the plans of the Nazi conspirators to remove the restrictions of Versailles, started very early. This fact is confirmed by their own statements, their boasts of long planning and careful execution. Hitler, in his speech to all Supreme Commanders on 23 November 1939, stated that his primary goal was to wipe out Versailles (789-PS). And Jodl, as Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces, delivered an address after four years of war, on 7 November 1943, in which he traced the development of German strength (L-172). The seizure of power to him meant the restoration of fighting sovereignty, including conscription, occupation of the Rhineland, and rearmament, with special emphasis on modern armor and air forces. In his speech, entitled "The Strategic Position at the Beginning of the 5th Year of War," General Jodl gave a retrospective summary of the war for the benefit of the Reich and Gau leaders. He stated :
"Introduction: Reichsleiter Bormann has requested me to