26 February 1935

Adolf Hitler directs that the Luftwaffe to be re-formed. This violates the provisions of the Treaty of Versailles.

The first way Hitler broke the Treaty was over Germany’s armed forces. In 1934, he destroyed the League of Nations Disarmament Conference by demanding equality of arms with France and Britain – this broke the Treaty because it had set up the League with the stated aim of achieving disarmament. At first, Hitler broke the Treaty’s terms by building up his army in secret, drilling volunteers with spades instead of rifles. Then, in 1935, he openly held a huge rearmament rally. The other nations let him get away with it – Britain even made a naval agreement with Germany, accepting that Germany had a right to have a navy of 35% of the British navy. After 1936, Hitler reintroduced conscription, and began to pump huge sums into Germany’s armed forces. Germans were told ‘guns not butter’.

By the end of 1938, Hitler was doing the same thing in the Sudentenland, which the Treaty of Versailles had given to Czechoslovakia. Sudeten Nazis, led by Henlein, caused trouble, claiming that they were being oppressed by the Czechs. Hitler demanded union, and threatened war. This time, although the Czech leader Beneš was prepared to fight, it was Britain and France who, at Munich, broke the Treaty of Versailles and gave the Sudetenland to Germany. Which just left Danzig, and the Polish corridor . It can be argued that it was not just Hitler who broke the Treaty of Versailles, but also Britain and France, when they allowed him to do what he did.