Double Victory: Minorities and Women During World War II
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German Memorandum Respecting the Termination of the Treaty of Locarno and the Reoccupation of the Rhineland, 7 March 1936

In May 1935, the French government, alarmed by German rearmament, concluded a treaty of mutual assistance with the Soviet Union. In March 1936, this document was submitted to the French parliament for ratification. The German government, declaring the treaty constituted a breach of the 1923 Treaty of Locarno, promptly announced that it considered the latter treaty as ipso facto terminated. German troops would therefore re-occupy the Rhineland, which the Treaty of Versailles had stipulated should remain demilitarized. International protests ensued, but no country instituted concrete measures to reverse the German action. Although Germany stated its readiness to reenter the League of Nations, that event never took place.

. . . . The latest debates and decisions of the French Parliament have shown that France, in spite of the German representations, is determined to put the pact with the Soviet Union definitively into force. A diplomatic conversation has even revealed that France already regards herself as bound by her signature of this pact on the 2nd May 1935. In the face of such a development of European politics, the German Government, if they do not wish to neglect or to abandon the interests of the German people which they have duty of safeguarding, cannot remain inactive.

The German Government have continually emphasized during the negotiations of the last years their readiness to observe and fulfill all the obligations arising from the Rhine Pact (Locarno Agreements) as long as the other contracting parties were ready on their side to maintain the peace. This obvious and essential condition can no longer be regarded as fulfilled by France. France has replied to the repeated friendly offers and peaceful assurances made by Germany by infringing the Rhine Pact through a military alliance with the Soviet Union exclusively directed against Germany. In this manner, however, the Locarno Rhine Pact has lost its inner meaning and ceased in practice to exist. Consequently Germany regards herself for her part as no longer bound by this dissolved treaty. . . . In accordance with the fundamental right of a nation to secure its frontiers and ensure its possibilities of defence, the German Government have today restored the full and unrestricted sovereignty of Germany in the demilitarized zone of the Rhineland.

. . . . The German Government declare themselves ready to conclude new agreements for the creation of a system of peaceful security for Europe on the basis of the following proposals:

(1) The German Government declare themselves ready to enter into negotiations with France and Belgium with regard to the creation of a zone demilitarized on both sides. . . .

(2) The German Government propose . . . the conclusion of a non-aggression pact between Germany, France and Belgium. . . .

(3) The German Government desire to invite Great Britain and Italy to sign this treaty as guarantor Powers. . . .

(5) The German Government are prepared . . . to conclude an air pact calculated to prevent in an automatic and effective manner the danger of sudden air attacks.

(6) The German Government repeat their offer to conclude with the States bordering Germany in the east non-aggression pacts. . . .

(7) Now that Germany's equality of rights and the restoration of her full sovereignty over the entire territory of the German Reich have finally been attained, the German Government consider the chief reason for their withdrawal from the League of Nations removed. They are therefore willing to re-enter the League of Nations. In this connection they express the expectation that in the course of a reasonable period the question of colonial equality of rights and that of the separation of the League Covenant from its Versailles setting may be clarified through friendly negotiations.


Further Reading
G. A. Kertesz, Documents in the Political History of the European Continent 1815–1939 (Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press, 1968), 486–487. .
 

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