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

By Harold C. Deutsch | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XII
The Rehabilitation Issue

On January 31 Hitler had grudgingly promised Rundstedt that if Fritsch were fully exonerated he would be granted an appropriate satisfaction. On March 18 that exoneration had been accomplished beyond argument. Thereby, as Goltz puts it, "the problem of the colonel general's rehabilitation stepped giant size into the foreground."1 But precisely what should Fritsch and his backers demand, what pressures should they seek to mobilize, and how much could they wring out of an unwilling dictator?


Hitler's Calculations

Hitler, in his many statements of the considerations which had guided his steps in the affairs of the two generals, had unintentionally defined the course an out-and-out rehabilitation ought to take. Again and again he had insisted that he allowed the charges to be raised only because Fritsch was the obvious successor to Blomberg and that it was imperative to clear the way to his becoming so without the threat of a new scandal hanging over all their heads. As late as mid-February he had delineated this position to Biron, Heitz, and Sack with so much emphasis that Sack wondered how he would evade appointing Fritsch War Minister once the charges against him had been conclusively disproved.2

It scarcely requires reiteration that Hitler did not for a moment entertain the thought of appointing Fritsch to this post. He would never have pursued this line of explanation with such fervor and

____________________
1
Goltz, Erinnerungen, 208.
2
Ibid., 208-209.

-383-

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