Blomberg, Werner von

(1878-1946)
   general; named Defense Min-ister upon Hitler's* appointment as Chancellor. Born in Stargard, Pomerania, he was educated in the cadet corps before entering the infantry. First appointed to the General Staff in 1911, he was assigned to the new Defense Ministry in 1919. During 1925-1927 he headed the Truppenamfs training department, then became Chief of the Truppenamt. Embroiled in a policy conflict—Defense Min-ister Wilhelm Groener* and Kurt von Schleicher* sustained the Locarno Trea-ties* by reorienting German defenses toward Poland,* while Blomberg, foreseeing a two-front war, urged illegal rearmament in the demilitarized west— he was reassigned in 1929 as Commander of the First Army District in Ko-nigsberg. While he was in East Prussia,* he came under the influence of men sympathetic to the NSDAP. Given leave in 1932 to lead the military delegation at the World Disarmament Conference,* he resisted concessions that impeded preparation for a two-front war. He also employed his special assignment to gain access to Hindenburg,* advising the President to avoid disputes with the NSDAP and then urging Hitler s appointment as Chancellor. In late January 1933 Hindenburg asked him to serve as Defense Minister in a Hitler-led cabinet; Hitler was delighted, retaining Blomberg until 1938.
   The Nazis dubbed Blomberg, who was impulsive and easily charmed, the "rubber lion. Ironically, he demanded heavier and faster rearmament and less international cooperation than Hitler initially condoned. In June 1934 he con-cluded an alliance with Hitler aimed at the SA*; the purge of Ernst Rohm* occurred weeks later. Shortly thereafter he helped draft the Hitler oath required of all members of the armed forces upon Hindenburg s death. Only in November 1937, when he fathomed Hitler s intent to use the army before it had achieved a margin of advantage, did he express misgivings about Hitler. When it became known that he had married a Berlin prostitute, Hitler had him dismissed (January 1938). Hitler ensured that he remained persona non grata; his former General Staff colleagues ostracized him until his death.
   REFERENCES:Bennett, German Rearmament; Deutsch, Hitler;Gorlitz, History of the German General Staff; NDB, vol. 2; Post, Civil-Military Fabric.

A Historical dictionary of Germany's Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. .

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