Date of Award


Degree Type

Master's Essay - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Alfred Low


The Rhine River, and the valley which surrounds it, is both one of the most beautiful areas in Europe as well as one of the most important areas strategically. The Rhine Valley forms a sort of "natural boundary" between France and Germany and Belgium and Germany. In the interwar years, 1919-1939, the Rhine Valley was the key to European peace, It is my intent in this paper to discuss the remilitarization and the reoccupation of the Rhineland by German troops in March, 1936, and its subsequent effect on international relations in Europe. I will briefly examine first the several covenants and treaties which were set up in the interwar years concerning the Rhineland. It was these treaties which set the tone, which made the Rhineland the key to European security, and it was the breaking of these treaties in 1936 which brought Europe close to a general war. The beginning of this crisis centered on the Franco- Soviet Pact, which was signed in May of 1935 by M. Pierre Laval, the French Minister President, and by M. Vladimir Potemkin, the Soviet Ambassador to France, and which was finally ratified, after a bitter political struggle, by the French Chamber of Deputies in February, 1936,1 Adolph Hitler, as Chancellor of the German Third Reich, used this pact as an excuse to break the Locarno agreements of 1925. For the most part, the rest of the paper deals with interactions and reactions of the Locarno Powers (Germany, France, Belgium, England, and Italy) during and after the crisis.