Armed Forces, Politics
Minister of War Blomberg is dismissed after a scandal, and Fritsch, commander-in-chief of the army, is forced to resign on false charges of homosexuality.
The slight irritation which Hitler felt towards Blomberg and Fritsch (the former had opposed the march into the Rhineland and the latter was hostile to the Nazis, especially the SS), was increased by the events which followed his decision to reoccupy the Rhineland. The generals were only too aware that the operation carried a grave military risk as insignificant forces could only carry it out - Germany’s rearmament had not by then advanced far. Hitler was contemptuous of their fears and later compared them with his own aplomb in bluffing his way through the crisis. This was the beginning of the constantly reiterated claim that the Führer was always right and his timid generals often wrong. In November 1937, Hitler warned the army to prepare for action against Austria and Czechoslovakia and stated that he was prepared to risk war with the Western powers. Blomberg and Fritsch were anxious about this and Fritsch even had the temerity to warn the Führer against such a suicidal course. While these two senior soldiers were low in Hitler’s esteem as a result of such faint-heartedness, they were framed and disgraced in a conspiracy which was probably organized by Göring and Himmler. Blomberg was a widower who was considering marriage to his secretary. This would have been a slight misalliance by the strict standards of the officer corps, but Göring encouraged the wretched “rubber lion” and even shipped off a rival for the young lady’s affections to South America. The 60-year-old field marshal married his secretary Fraulein Gruhn on January 12, 1938. On January 25, 1938, Göring brought the Führer startling evidence that Blomberg’s new wife was a prostitute with an extensive history with the German police. There were even salacious photographs of the new Frau Blomberg in pornographic poses. Blomberg was forced to resign, but before he left for an extended honeymoon on Capri to console himself with the arts which his new wife had learned in a Berlin massage parlour, he was given a word of encouragement by Hitler. As far as is known, Hitler told Blomberg that he would be recalled to the supreme command in the event of war. This promise was never fulfilled.
At that moment Himmler’s Gestapo was also moving against Fritsch. It produced a dossier which allegedly proved that Fritsch was a homosexual susceptible to blackmail. When Fritsch protested his innocence, the Gestapo produced a degenerate called Hans Schmidt who claimed to have seen the army chief committing an unnatural act with a certain “Bavarian Joe” in a dark corner near Potsdam railway station. Although Fritsch was later found innocent of this ludicrously clumsy frame-up, he was relieved of his command “for health reasons” on February 4, 1938.