From the book Inspection For Disarmament
Edited by Seymour Melman
Columbia University Press, 1958 hardcover
from pages 203 -219
DISARMAMENT AND CLANDESTINE
REARMAMENT UNDER THE WEIMAR REPUBLIC
by E. J. Gumbel
[Note: This paper bears especially on the role of government in a clandestine rearmament effort that followed disarmament by law, and on the nationalist atmosphere which surrounded and supported this effort in Weimar Germany. E. J. Gumbel writes on this subject with special competence. He was one of the small group of pacifists who exposed the illegal rearmament and the terrorism connected with it. For this activity he was three times charged with high treason.Editor.]
ILLEGAL REARMAMENT in Germany following the First World War is a classic example of the use of governmental powers to evade a disarmament agreement.
In this paper the crucial role of government will be emphasized. The actions of government, however, were made feasible by the presence of several essential social and economic conditions. Public support for the illegal rearmament was based upon the widespread resentment against the unilateral military restrictions of the Treaty of Versailles and reinforced by the manifest impoverishment after the First World War, due to the largest inflation of all times.
The re-creation of the military machine was made possible by: (a) the existence of substantial popular backing for the evasion effort, (b) the presence of a group of men dedicated to evasion of the Versailles Treaty, a group composed of parts of the military forces and their highly nationalist political supporters, who later backed the Nazi party, and (c) the availability of adequate technical methods for the clandestine rearmament. Each of these major aspects of the German clandestine rearmament will now be considered.
THE ARMY AND ILLEGAL REARMAMENT
Within the government of the Weimar Republic the army organization was decisive in organizing the illegal armament effort. Under the emperor the army had been a "community of its own," a virtual state within a state, with large budgets, tightly-knit social groups, and elaborate connections with industrial management circles. The Republic, born out of defeat, never tried to create a Republic-minded officer corps. Instead, it accepted the monarchist-minded officers. Owing to this general characteristic, it was possible for the military to carry out the illegal rearmament despite the specific antagonism of an important sector of German societythe Center, Democratic, and Socialist parties which formed the government and had their base in the industrial working class and parts of the bourgeoisie.
The methods used by the limited Reichswehr of Versailles Treaty creation to transform itself into a formidable military machine required extensive government complicity at all stages of the operation. The feudal origin of the army put this institution on a higher moral level than any other government institution. It identified the imperial army with the state, whose chief, himself, claimed a specific divine grace.
Although national unity has been an ideal of the bourgeoisie, feudal powers played a larger role within Imperial Germany than in other contemporary liberal states. The army, where the higher echelons were chosen from the aristocracy, was a strong political force. The emperor was, first of all, the Chief of the Army. Thus, the army had been identified with the empire. Its very continuation under monarchist-minded officers was a contradiction to the Republic. The army was a body foreign to the socialist, and later liberal, aims of the Republic. As a sign, the army never accepted the black-red-gold colors of the Republic, taken from the Revolution of 1848. The whole history of Weimar is characterized by the antagonism of the army and civilian powers. The secret armaments were a tool by which the army tried to regain its power.
Defeat, and widespread hatred of war and bloodshed, had deprived the army of its respectability. Now, by definition, every national army is invincible and, since the defeat was evident, it had to be disproved. Different fictions are available for such purposes. Usually, traitors are found in the government and in the army. This time, it was the Fatherland which had betrayed the army. Thus, the legend of the "stab-in-the-back" was invented. The civilian power, derived from these traitors, was therefore illegal. The army was the only remnant of the legal government. For many weeks no officer had dared to show his insignia. The desecration cried for revenge. The leaders of the revolution had to be punished. The workers, the basis of the Republic, had to be restored to their "proper place." Thus, the important elements of the new army saw their task as the restoration of order and justice by plotting crime and murder.
The reduction of the army as foreseen in the Versailles Treaty was based on the premise of a defeat. It was therefore the alleged right of the army to regain its power lost through treason. Any illegal expansion of the army was thus the true legality of a hidden, invisible, but real government.
Within the framework of defeat and drastic reduction in manpower and resources, the army maintained a tight core of officers whose first loyalty was to the grand political role of the German army and its continuation in politics. For these men there was no possibility in society other than to recreate the army and its "just" position as a leading element of a renascent German imperial state. Toward these ends, the officer group contrived a military machine that could be readily expanded from a small nucleus, and could maintain itself with legal as well as illegal sections.
THE ARMY AS A CENTER OF EVASION EFFORT
The disarmament prescriptions of the Versailles Treaty consisted of four parts. First, the demilitarization of a border line adjacent to the Rhine. This was carried out. Until the occupation of the Rhineland under the Nazi government in 1936, no German soldier existed in the demilitarized zone and no illegal armament took place there. Second, certain heavy weapons, tanks, and military airplanes were prohibited. Third, the number of ships for the navy and their size were limited. Fourth, the army was to be reduced to 100,000 men.
At the beginning of the Republic, during the demobilization and the formation of the new troops, there was no clear distinction between legal and illegal parts of the army. This distinction became clearer when the reduction was enforced by the federal government under pressure of the Allied powers.
The army reaction was in two phases: first the Kapp Putsch, then the systematic illegal rearmament. The Kapp Putsch in 1920 was an open revolt of army officers. Threatened by demobilization, parts of the army, led by an East Prussian Junker, Kapp, General Ludendorff, and Captain Ehrhardt, seized Berlin. The Minister of War, Noske, a Socialist, had vouchsafed in parliament the loyalty of the same troops which overthrew the government. The Kapp government declared military law and instituted the death penalty against strikers. No military action against the rebels was possible, since no loyal troops were available. The Kapp Putsch was finally defeated by a general strike.
The failure of the Kapp Putsch brought a change in the illegal methods of the army. Instead of engaging in open revolt, it worked at undermining the Republic from within, especially through organizations which it dominated, financed, trained, and equipped with arms, such as the Free Corps, border patrols, home guards, patriotic (i.e., anti-Republican) organizations, and innocent-looking youth organizations with ever-changing names, headquarters, forms, admitted and non-admitted aims.
The official army (Reichswehr) consisted of 4,000 officers, 20,000 noncommissioned officers, 38,000 Gefreite, and 38,000 soldiers. Of course the army took advantage of any loophole that existed or could be constructed in the Versailles disarmament rules (14). Each company continued the tradition of an imperial regiment and got the corresponding numbers and colors. Since four companies make up a battalion, the battalion corresponded to a division and the regiment to an army corps. Thus, the Reichswehr threw a shadow, and the shadow was the larger of the two. The meaning of this shadow was the image of the Imperial Army.
The officers in the Reichswehr served longer in the same ranks, sometimes up to two and a half times the length of service in the Imperial Army. Thus, the average officer was actually a higher-ranking officer in the shadow army. Reserve officers were illegally trained and advanced in a legally nonexisting reserve. Fifty-eight thousand noncoms were able to train a much larger army which existed, partly on paper, in the patriotic organizations forming an illegal reservoir, and in illegal parallel military formations. The instructions in official manuals were based on the strength of arms and munitions of a great modern military power and not on the legal 100,000-man army. Since the soldier had to sign up for twelve years, 8,000 could leave after each twelve years and 8,000 new soldiers could then be enrolled. In reality, various devices such as unforeseen illnesses were used to justify large, premature dismissals and new entrants. New soldiers were introduced under the identification of legal soldiers, so that the formal number remained constant.
The legal army maintained close liaison with various groups which trained men in arms, and had a variety of "cover" identities to shield them from view as military groups. The Stahlhelm, for example, was a nationalistic, middle-class organization which advocated the merit of military life and agitated publicly for restoration of the German military machine. Unlike the Nazis, the Stahlhelm was not a terroristic body. The Nazis started as a movement of the outcasts of society, the Lumpenproletariatlong-standing unemployed. This movement, originating with desperate men who had little to lose, took on a politically fanatic and terroristic character. Here, military methods were important for use in the party's struggle for political supremacy.
Finally, the illegal military groups included an array of fanatic terroristic organizations, small in size, but important for their work of political assassination in eliminating first the leaders of the Revolution, then prominent Republicans, and finally the enemies of the illegal rearmament.
THE LEGAL AND ILLEGAL ARMIES
The position of the officers in the legal army was clear, open, and unambiguous. They enjoyed the income and social status which their official occupation gave them. In the illegal army, however, such rewards were hardly possible. This was a major source of conflict between the two elements in the illegal rearmament effort. Also, the connection between the illegal military groups and the Nazi political parties was a source of open struggle between them and the Reichswehr. Thus, the legal and the illegal army were not always on good terms. "If you succeed you will get no honor, if you fail no help." This is the permanent procedure applied by any army to this type of friend. The officers in the illegal army wanted recognition and the pension of the regular officers and this was exactly what the legal army could not grant them.
PUBLIC SUPPORT FOR ILLEGAL ARMAMENTS
Within the German population, especially during the inflation period, substantial popular backing, or acquiescence, was given to the evasion of the Versailles Treaty. For the nationalists of all shades, these efforts were necessary for restoration of national honor.
The Economic Stake in Rearmament. Disarmament shares certain properties of demobilization. The army is always one of the greatest buyers and represents a secure market for certain products, ranging from the essentials for the bare living of the soldiers and for the good living of the officers up to the most elaborate technical materials. Therefore, the existence of an army is deeply embedded in the national economy. The disappearance of the largest single buyer entails deep social changes. The classical argument of the socialists that big industry has an interest in armament and is therefore to blame for the political tensions thus created, was valid at times when armament played only a minor economic role. The argument becomes invalid as soon as armament provides the livelihood for large masses. The millions employed in military production have a vested interest in maintaining their jobs. Disarmament, as well as demobilization, means a threat of unemployment until the economy has been transferred to a peacetime status. Such transformation may be simple, quiet, and without many social repercussions, if machinery for civilian production is available and a large-scale market, based on accumulated desire and ability to purchase goods, leads to a new start of production. In the absence of such favorable conditions, unemployment caused by disarmament must create powerful movements of discontent.
The nationalist political ideology of the army officers found ready acceptance among a part of an impoverished population, especially the lower middle class. After the military defeat of the First World War, and abortive revolutionary attempts by German communists, the country experienced a disastrous inflation which impoverished a substantial part of the middle class.
The war had been financed by inflation. The Republic continued inflation, which lasted up to 1923. It reached unheard-of dimensions. From 1917 to the beginning of 1923, the dollar rose from 4.20 to 10,000 marks. However, in the single year 1923, it rose from 10,000 to 4.2 x 10¹². In other words, in five years, the mark fell to the 10¹²th part of its original value. This created moral degeneration, wide-spread corruption (a new phenomenon in German history), and new riches of doubtful origin and aims. It made large parts of the population hostile to the government.
Inflation meant the complete impoverishment of people living on fixed incomes, the pauperization of government employees and vast parts of the bourgeoisie. It alienated the juridical apparatus from the Republic. The counterpart of inflation was the gain of the great debtor. The big estates, the seats of the feudal powers, paid the mortgages accumulated during decades with the price of a match. The exporting industry flourished because of the difference between wages paid in marks and the payment for goods in hard currencies.
The main result of inflation was general unrest: the wide-spread belief that a government which produced the inflation could only be illegal. Consequently, the Republic lacked a Republic-minded population. The youth, devoid of hope, looked for new ideals and found them in National Socialism. The older people continued to long for the virtues of the "good old times" of the Raiser to restore order and justice.
Terror as an Instrument for Enforcing Support for Illegal Armaments. During the period of illegal German rearmament, terrorist methods were wielded against the opponents of rearmament. These included acts of personal violence carried out by the terroristic nationalist groups supported by the manipulation of the legal system.
Altogether, there were about four hundred political assassinations of the nationalists' foes. A considerable literature was published in Germany which detailed such charges. In reply to these charges the Federal Minister of Justice published a brochure in 1923 (2) full of details which officially confirmed the nature and the actions of the terrorist campaign against the opponents of the rearmament, and the fact that the murderers, with few exceptions, were not brought to justice.
The nationalist terrorists who enforced acquiescence in the rearmament of the Reich included many of the men who later became Hitler's trusted adjutants for overseeing the mass extermination program which the Nazis carried out during the Second World War.
Many of the nationalist terrorists were at the same time members of different organizations. Therefore, it is not always possible to fix the higher responsibilities. Since the victims were "traitors to the national cause," the murderers did not try, as a rule, to hide their responsibilities. On the contrary, there were even imposters who claimed to have engaged in such activities without having done so. In their memoirs the different terrorists, such as Salomon (who participated in the assassination of the foreign minister Rathenau), never showed the slightest trace of repentance, a fact which strongly speaks for the sincerity of their convictions. Nationalist terrorists have their code of honor like the members of any other criminal organization. The first rule is that no appeal to legal institutions is permissible. The second rule is that its arms must be protected from those who are deemed to be traitors. "Traitors" existed everywhere: law-abiding citizens who realized that the Republic was threatened by the military gangs; the Republic-minded Prussian police; profiteering merchants dealing in arms; agents of competing organizations; agents of the Communist party; agents of foreign powers attracted by payments in hard currencyall fell under the heading of "traitors."
A reliable administrator of secret arms cannot ask the legal authorities for aid; he cannot ask his illegal or semi-legal superiors' advice. Faced with the danger that the whole organization may blow up, he has no choice but to administer justice as he sees it. Such was the case with the illegal arms in Germany. "Traitors" had to be eliminated at all costs, with the tacit or explicit approval of the legal superiors. Military orders which clearly indicated that traitors should be eliminated were produced in court at the law suits against some of the murderers.
The Role of the Law Courts. The political assassinations committed by the members of the former Imperial and the secret armies put a heavy burden on the administration of justice. The murderers had to be acquitted and the victims had to be shown as guilty. This task was fulfilled by the employment of military courts which sided with military men when they were accused of murder, by the slowness of the justice-enforcing agencies, by inability to find the guilty, by issuance of false papers of identity by the police, etc.
Another procedure consisted in accepting at face value the claim of the accused murderer that the victim had tried to escape. Since arrest by an illegal gang was legal, the victim had to bear the consequences of his resistance by "trying to escape."
For the protection of secret armaments, the law courts, following the Supreme Court, introduced a new notion: high treason committed by the press. In English the phrase "high treason" has two aspects. First, to prepare for revolution or to aid the enemy in time of war. This corresponds to Hochverrat in German. Second, stealing secret documents with the intent to transmit them to a present or potential enemy foreign power. This corresponds to Landesverrat which, of course, was a rare crime. Now, public opinion, as expressed by the leading newspapers, was strongly opposed to the secret rearmament. However, such publications, aimed at stopping illegal actions committed by branches of the government, were interpreted as high treason.
Accusation of "high treason" was the big weapon of defense of the illegal rearmament effort. Even the spread of well-known news and publication of facts concerning the relation between the army and the military groups, especially the Nazis, led to a lawsuit of "high treason." As a rule, no proof of the illegal activities was admitted in court. By this procedure, the Supreme Court could affirm at the same time that secret armaments did not exist and that any publication of such a fact was a crime. To insure sentences, officers of the Reichswehr responsible for the secret armament were called as witnesses of the prosecution. In order to terrorize the public, many more trials were started than could ever be completed.
TECHNIQUES OF CLANDESTINE REARMAMENT¹
The techniques used by the German government, and by quasi-governmental and private organizations, to conceal weapons covered an extremely wide range. In the following summary only the principal devices are noted, because they have important implications for any disarmament inspection system.
¹This section was prepared with the assistance of Mr. John E. Ullmann of the Department of Industrial and Management Engineering, Columbia University.
In 1919 the victorious powers instituted an Inter-Allied Control Commission. It was authorized to make payments for reports leading to discoveries of arms caches. Some rewards were claimed. The extra-territoriality of the Commission was never clarified and its personnel was left without protection. Individual inspectors were physically molested at times.
From its beginning the Commission was handicapped by the failure of the Allies to maintain a common front. In general, the French were the most interested in disarmament and the British the least. The French members of the Commission, especially General Nollet, objected to the fraternization between British Commission officers and German liaison personnel. This is borne out by Guhr, who successfully sabotaged Commission work in Silesia and commends the British attitude. After the France-Belgian Ruhr occupation in 1923, the German authorities refused to furnish liaison personnel to the French members and enforcement was further hindered.
War material was defined in an unpublished Blue Book of the Inter-Allied Control Commission. War weapons were to be destroyed and convertible equipment converted. Of course, a widespread effort was made to prevent the destruction of military equipment. Many thefts, especially of small arms, took place. Some arms were concealed. The actual level is hard to determine, but finds such as 600 105 mm. gun barrels were made (11).
Plant inspection visits could generally be made only with German liaison personnel present. Visits were also often prevented by management refusal to "guarantee safety" of visitors. Factory inspections were resented as commercial espionage (20). Guhr reports (6) that the French General LeRond refused liaison officers and, by making impromptu visits, discovered a great deal of illegal manufacturing. In one case, the management claimed that the arms had been smuggled in by a disgrunted employee who then reported them to the Commission. The Commission, at Guhr's request, eventually accepted this story. In Silesia, the chief problem was small arms manufacture. At the time German and Polish border patrols engaged in continual raids in preparation for the plebiscite, and thereafter.
The few approved factories for arms were not allowed to make anything else and had to be kept small. The separation from peacetime production was to hinder sudden conversions and to facilitate inspection. A further criterion of approved plant selection was that no space for expansion at the plant site was available. A control commission was maintained at Krupp's factory until 1932 but much of Krupp's equipment had been shipped to Holland for safekeeping at the end of the war (15). In addition, Krupp owned a part of Bofors, in Sweden, and produced arms there (1).
Another technique was the maintenance of a floating stock of arms in constant transit. There were many lonely branch lines in Germany's railroad system.
Permitted quantities in authorized plants were widely exceeded. By 1924 the Control Commission estimated that Germany could, within a year, produce arms at First World War rates. The industrial base had been increased and several wartime bottlenecks eliminated (1, 12).
With regard to specific equipment, the German authorities maintained that flame throwers were necessary for insecticide spraying and range finders to determine cloud heights (17). There were also dispersals and physical removal of unusually large aggregates of machines harmless in themselves but usable in numbers for large-scale war production.
The growth of the automobile industry provided an opportunity for development of cross-country vehicles, tractors, etc., thus setting the base for some tank manufacture.
In 1926 the Inter-Allied Control Commission was replaced by a conference of ambassadors which had always exercised a right of veto over its decisions. Thereafter effective control ceased. At the time Britain was most alarmed over Russia and less concerned with illegal German acts.
ARMAMENTS PRODUCTION AND TRADE
German export trade flourished with arms to China, the Baltic states, etc. Corporate ties between German manufacturers and Skoda (Czechoslovakia, partly owned by Schneider-Creuzot), Schneider-Creuzot itself, Vickers-Armstrong, Hotchkiss, etc., facilitated this trade.
The League of Nations convention against arms shipments was not ratified by a sufficient number of countries. (The U.S.A. did not do so, for example.) This fate was typical of the fruitless and interminable disarmament negotiations of the 1920s. By 1929, League of Nations statistics listed Germany as the major arms supplier of thirteen countries. France and Belgium gave Germany as their chief foreign source. In addition to the discrepancies in the League of Nations statistics themselvesimports and exports reported never balancedso much trade was camouflaged under false customs declarations, etc., that estimates range up to five times the reported figure.
In all major countries the aircraft industries have always been grossly overexpanded relative to any conceivable need of civil aviation. Government subsidies have been the rule. In Germany the government guaranteed the interest on bonds of individual manufacturers and set up a cartel to standardize products. Junkers, Heinkel, Dornier, and the Bayerische Motorenwerke were all active in the production of engines and air frames, and several smaller companies made air frames only. In 1930 the export of war planes started, especially to China for use against the Japanese and between rival war lords (1). In 1930 the first German tests of rockets and missiles were made, including liquid fuels and solid propellants (5). The large German aircraft of 1925-1935 were actually intended as prototype bombers, e.g., the JU-52 and the Junkers G-38, the first flying wing type aircraft. There were many flying clubs and by 1930 Germany had 1,000 planes, of which 500 were convertible for war purposes (1).
In the chemical industry war and peace products are often almost identical. Nitrates, ammonia, etc., are well-known examples. After the First World War the Germans held on to their plants successfully, although Nollet (15) warned of their war potential and even foresaw "energy released through disintegration of matter." By 1926 Germany made a third of all nitrates in the world, having in effect eliminated the Chilean natural product. Hydrogenation of coal, synthetic rubber, etc., were all started in the first instance because of autarchy objectives and military needs.
An explosion in a chemical factory in Hamburg in 1928, causing the death of eleven persons, proved that poison gas had been producedfor use by the army.
Germany also maintained large powder factories for "sporting arms" and by 1924 was DuPont's greatest competitor in Europe (20). Because of the convertible products involved, control over filling facilities and delivery vehicles is paramount in the control of chemical weapons (12).
Many of the major German arms manufacturers had subsidiaries in the countries neutral in the First World War, particularly Sweden, Holland, Switzerland, and Spain. These served as branches of the German parent companies engaged in armament production, research, and development. Thus the Swedish branch of Junkers, A. B. Flygindustri, in 1931 tested a pioneer two-seater fighter. A Dutch subsidiary of Pintsch made torpedoes. German advisers were sent to Spain, Turkey, and Finland, and organized arms production there for the regimes of Prime de Rivera, Kemal Ataturk, and Mannerheim. Shipping companies were formed under flags of convenience to serve naval rearmament (5, 23). Submarines were also made in Holland, according to Raeder's testimony at Nuremberg. The German government used neutral banks to lend government funds to its own industries, as in the case of a loan to Krupp's via Holland (20). Austrian industry collaborated both with German and with Swiss (Solothurn) and Dutch interests to continue illegal arms production.
After the First World War, Austria was under military restrictions similar to those imposed on Germany, in accordance with the treaty of St. Germain. The so-called "Hirtenberg-St. Gotthard incident" is a good example of operation of "inspection by the people." A group of social democratic Austrian railroad workers halted shipments of Italian arms to the Austrian government because these arms were suspected to be meant for the use of Austria's fascist militias. An attempt was made to bribe railway workers to divert the shipments to a line which loops briefly into Hungarian territory, so that the arms could be unloaded in Hungary. Such a shipment to Hungary would have violated the Treaty of Trianon, which restricted Hungarian armaments. Under pressure from Britain and France the intercepted arms shipment was finally returned to Italy.
THE RUSSIAN PHASE OF GERMAN REARMAMENT
The use of neutral facilities was in addition to the large scale collaboration with Russia. It extended beyond manufacturing to the clandestine training of army personnel.
Starting their collaboration with the Rapallo Treaty (1921), the contracting powers, the Russian government and the German Army, had different aims. The Russians wanted to profit from German industrial technology and were keen on getting an armament industry of their own to be built by the Germans. The German Army had an interest in producing weapons and munitions which could not be controlled by the power of Versailles.
This connection led to the construction of an air force. The Junkers airplane factory in Dessau built airplane factories in Russia. The costs were, of course, to be provided by the army. Other airplane factories were built near Moscow, and in Samara (Kuibyshev) and Saratow. Military air personnel got their instruction in Russia. To this end, German officers dismissed from the army went to Russia as civilians and, after a period of training there, returned to the army with a higher rank. In addition to airplanes, the army built a poison gas factory. Krupp had a firm in Russia which produced heavy artillery, especially howitzers (13).
In October, 1926, three Russian ships landed in Stettin with about 350,000 illegal grenades. But the workers became suspicious and wanted to know the content of the cases. Thus, it became known that grenades had been introduced for illegal uses by the Reichswehr from Russia. (The Communist Party denounced this news as false, since it could not admit that Russia had collaborated with the illegal Reichswehr.)
In the Moscow purges of 1936, one of the main accusations was the collaboration of Russian officers with the German army identified with the Nazis. The defendants had collaborated, but on official orders of the Russian government.
FINANCING THE CLANDESTINE REARMAMENT
The nationalist supporters of illegal rearmament received funds from big industry and the feudal estates, difficult to trace, except for the subventions paid by Thyssen. But the main source was the army's budget.
About 25 percent of the military budget consisted of amounts which could be transferred, i.e., used for purposes different from those they were intended for. Another source of income was the fantastically high prices that were charged for munitions, far exceeding the real costs. Surplus funds were thus made available. Large amounts were at the disposal of the military for aims not specified. A further source was the private funds which the army collected through its public relations. The army sent agents to big business and asked for contributions to defray the costs of secret armaments, from which industry profited. Certain military items appeared in the budget as innocent-looking civilian needs. From all these sources the army disposed of enormous sums for which it did not have to account. In 1929, this led to so large a surplus that illegal army funds were invested in films, real estate, shares, ships, and aviation. But the investments were bad. The secret fund lost 28 million marks, about $7 million, which had to be reimbursed from the legal budget.
The Weimar Republic was killed by the great depression, which brought a revival of illegal party armies and their fight for power. When the Nazis took over, the secret armament stopped because armament became legal; the great powers had accepted the Nazi breach of the Versailles Treaty. The secret armament under the Weimar Republic is a link between the defeat of 1918 and the holocaust of the Second World War.
From this account of aspects of clandestine rearmament under the Weimar Republic several general inferences may be made:
1. Secret rearmament in conventional weapons is possible if a large reservoir of trained soldiers, especially with war experience, is available; if it is supported by some parts of public opinion; and if secret production or illegal importation of arms is available. Complicity of at least a part of the government is an essential condition for successful illegal rearmament and terroristic activity, its consequence.
2. Reliance cannot be placed merely on the existence of groups which oppose rearmament. Reporting of illegal rearmament efforts to an international authority must be regarded as both legal and praiseworthy. This condition is possible if a non-monopolistic, competitive free press exists. International authority must supersede national authority. The personal safety of those giving information to a disarmament control commission must be legally assured.
3. No law has any force if its violation is encouraged by habit, vested interests, economic powers, or by the law enforcing agencies. If disarmament is legal, rearmament must be illegal. This distinction must be firmly embedded in the minds of the citizens and the law-enforcing agencies. Any illegal act by any part of the government should be a crime.
4. In formulating and implementing a disarmament agreement, the identification of war materiel and its destruction are likely to be extremely difficult, and fraught with risks of evasion unless the agreement has substantial support from the general population. The production of arms is difficult to control in the absence of surveillance of international trade in arms. Disarmament must be universal, i.e., no countries may be left out of the control setup.
5. The more comprehensive a disarmament agreement, the simpler is its implementation, and the more difficult and elaborate must be the methods used for its evasion.
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E. J. Gumbel was Professor of Statistics at the University of Heidelberg, from 1923 to 1932. He has been responsible for extensive scientific research and publications. Under the Weimar Republic he wrote numerous articles, brochures, and books against political murders and secret armaments, was therefore dismissed from the University under Nazi pressure, and expatriated by the Nazi government on its first list. He then went to France and became Professor at the University of Lyon. Threatened by extradition, according to the Armistice of 1940, he came to the United States and is now Adjunct Professor of Industrial Engineering at Columbia University. During the summers of 1953 to 1957 he was Visiting Professor at the Free University of Berlin, West Germany. His dismissal of 1932 from Heidelberg was declared void twenty-four years later.