Hitler and His Generals: The Hidden Crisis, January-June 1938

By Harold C. Deutsch | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II
Growing Estrangements, 1936-37

The year 1935 may have marked the high point of Werner von Blomberg's position in the National Socialist state. On June 1, some weeks after Germany had cast off the military shackles of Versailles, he was appointed Reich Minister of War and commander in chief of the Wehrmacht. In command matters his office was later known as the High Command of the Wehrmacht ( Oberkommando der Wehrmacht -- OKW). To external appearances, the authority he exercised exceeded that hitherto given to any German soldier. None had ever stood above all branches of the military establishment. It was an eminence purchased at great cost -- growing alienation from the core service, the Army.


Weakening of Blomberg's Position

The War Minister was caught in a developing vicious circle. As his prestige and position became more dependent on Hitler, there was a corresponding estrangement from the Generalität, which in turn accentuated dependence on the Fuehrer. It was whispered about Berlin that when the Army asked that a case be presented to Hitler, Blomberg failed to give it loyal support.1 In OKH (Oberkommando des Heeres -- Army High Command) the whispers were not so guarded. Fritsch actually believed that, when he used Blomberg as an intermediary, difficulties were enhanced rather than ameliorated. "When it goes through Blomberg," he would say, "there are always frictions and misunderstandings."2

Nor could Blomberg look to the party for backing. However much

____________________
1
Ogilvie-Forbes to Eden, January 6, 1938 (in PRO, C23/83/18), 2.
2
Foertsch, "Aktenvermerk", 4.

-33-

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