Europe 1936: Remilitarization of the Rhineland
In late 1935, Italy launched an invasion of Ethiopia in defiance of the League of Nations. Hitler took advantage of this crisis to move German forces into the Rhineland. Despite the fact that this act was in breach of Treaty of Versailles, Britain and France did nothing.
12–16 Feb 1934 February Uprising in Austria▲
On 12 February 1934 armed conflict broke out in Linz, Austria, between the Heimwehr (Austrian Nazis) and the outlawed, but still existent, socialist Shutzbund, with skirmishes between the two factions soon spreading throughout the country. The Austrian armed forces soon stepped in on the side of the Heimwehr, leading to the crushing of the Shutzbund by the 16th. Using the incidents as an excuse, the conservative government reorganized along the lines of Benito Mussolini’s Italy, sidelining the Heimwehr and creating what was dubbed ‘Austrofascism’.
25–30 Jul 1934 July Putsch▲
On 25 July 1934, in an Austrian Nazi bid to overthrow the incumbent Austrofascist regime and bring about closer ties with Nazi Germany, 154 German and Austrian SS soldiers disguised as Bundesheer stormed the Austrian Chancellery and killed Austrian chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss, but were unable to stop the rest of the government from escaping. Several days of fighting followed, in which it soon became clear that the majority of the Austrian military and police remained loyal to Dollfuss’ successor Kurt Schuschnigg. Angered by the assassination of Dollfuss, the Italian leader Benito Mussolini moved troops to the Austrian border and warned Hitler not to invade Austria, prompting Hitler to deny his support of the coup. Without official German support, the Austrian Nazis were eventually defeated by Austrian government forces, at the cost of over 200 dead.
13 Jan 1935 Saar status referendum▲
At the end of World War I the Saar Basin had been separated from Germany and placed under the administration of the League of Nations. In January 1935 a referendum was held on the Saar’s status, with 90.7% of voters opting for reunification with Germany, 8.9% voting to retain the status quo, and 0.4% asking for unification with France. As a result, the League of Nations agreed to withdraw and the Saar was returned to Germany on 1 March 1935.
3 Oct 1935 Outbreak of Second Italo-Ethiopian War▲
At 5:00 am on 3 October 1935 Italian troops under General Emilio de Bono crossed the Mareb River from Eritrea into Ethiopia. On the same day, Italian forces in Somalia began a series of attacks across the Ogaden into southern and eastern Ethiopia. In response to these undeclared Italian invasions, Ethiopia declared war on Italy.
7 Mar 1936 Remilitarization of the Rhineland▲
On 7 March 1936, using the 1935 Franco-Soviet Treaty of Mutual Assistance as a pretext, the German Führer Adolf Hitler ordered the Wehrmacht to march 3,000 troops into the Rhineland—Germany territory which had been demilitarized in accordance with both the Treaty of Versailles and the Locarno Treaties. The move was greeted with celebrations across Germany, while the British and French governments decided against enforcing the treaties for fear of war. This unwillingness on the part of the former Allies to intervene further emboldened Hitler, encouraging him as he embarked on a more aggressive German foreign policy.