Rise of the beast - German secret armaments (1922-35)
The German military had been the most powerful in Europe. The Prussian officer class which had been the backbone of German military leadership was extremely resentful of the limitations imposed by the Treaty. Among the severe penalties that the treaty imposed on Germany was a comprehensive disarmament regime. Germany was prohibited from weapons such as combat aircraft, tanks, and submarines. Severe limitations were put on the size of the military forces. As a result, the Germans from the beginning set out to evade the limitations. The NAZI rearmament program beginning after their seizure of power is the best known evasion, but efforts to evade the Treaty began years before in the Weimar Republic. Some of these were authorized by the civilian Weimar Government. Others were conducted by the military in secret, both from the Allies and from the Government. Some of these efforts were subterfuges to like non-military names to disguise the purposes of groups and keeping military connections secret.
The NAZI rearmament program beginning after their seizure of power is the best known evasion, but efforts to evade the Treaty began years before in the Weimar Republic. The Weimar Republic is a fascinating period in German history. It is a democratic interlude between the authoritarian Imperial regime and the totalitarian NAZI Third Reich.
There were democratic elections and a parliament (the Reichstag) relatively free press in Imperial Germany, although real power lay with the kaiser and his chancellor. Even so, Germany did have some democratic institutions to build upon. Yet we know that democratic institutions failed in Germany. The history of the period is thus very instructive to our modern times. The Weimar Republic was a rich period of cultural flowering. It was also an era in which democracy failed and the NAZIs rose.
You, too, should join the Reichswehr. Therefore, sign up at the next enlistment post, Reichswehr-Gruppen-Kommando no. 4 (Bavarian), Möhl, Major General.
German had been united by The victory of Prussian Army aided by the smaller armies of other German states in the Franco Prussian War. Germany was thus united around the Prussian state with its important martial influence. The military thus had enormous influence in Germany, even after World War I.
The Germany army under the Weimar Republic was referred to as the Reichswehr. It was the Army that organized efforts to evade the disarmament restrictions of the Versailles Treaty. In the German Empire the military had been a virtual state within a state. There had been huge budgets, an aristocratic, cohesive social system, and close contacts with major industrialists. [Gumbel] Under the Weimar Republic the much-reduced and thus embittered military continued to control military policy and not civilian officials. A major factor here was civilian officials given the high-level of opposition needed to court the army knowing they might have to rely on the army to put down putches and rebellions. Civiliam Weimar officials never attempted to staff the Army with officers committed to the Republic and democracy. Rather the officer-corps was dominated by officers who continued to be sympathetic to the monarchy. As a result, despite the fact that Weimar elected officials from the the Center, Democratic, and Socialist parties supported by the industrial working class as well as sections of the middle class. [Gumbel] This was further complicated with Hindenburg was elected president (1925). Many Germans viewed the Reichwehr as the embodiment of German patriotism and civilian politicians with contempt.