The Saar plebiscite, 1935 : Hitler's triumph

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1974

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Abstract

Following Hitler's accession to power in 1933, he embarked on a series of provocative ventures in foreign affairs that created apprehension and disdain among the nations of the world. Hitler determined to restore the loss of his international prestige and to prove his viability as a national leader by means of a brilliant success in foreign policy. The Saar Plebiscite of 1935 provided an ideal setting to achieve such a victory. The Saar Territory, a small industrial region lying between France and Germany, had been governed by the League of Nations since the conclusion of the Treaty of Versailles in 1920. Wrested forcibly from German sovereignty to provide war reparations to France, the historically German territory was a source of unending conflict between the two countries. The 1935 plebiscite, provided for by the peace treaty, became the focus of German attention, the possible source of enhanced German prestige, and a proving ground for Nazi propaganda methods. This study explores Hitler's early moves in foreign policy and the decline in his prestige. It examines the situation in the Saar, the Saarlanders' attitude during the period of League rule, the methodology and aims of Nazism vis a vis the Saar, and the result of their confluence in the period 1933-1935. These factors yielded an overwhelming majority of votes for Germany which restored Hitler's reputation, proved the effectiveness of Nazi methodology, ended the experiment in international government, and returned the Saarlanders to their Fatherland.

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Keywords

History, Germany, Twentieth century, Saar Territory, Hitler, Adolf, 1889-1945

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