Adolf Hitler Visits Benito Mussolini in Venice
In February 1934, Hitler met with the British Lord Privy Seal, Sir Anthony Eden, and hinted strongly that Germany already possessed an Air Force, which had been forbidden by the Treaty of Versailles.
In the fall of 1934, Hitler was seriously concerned over the dangers of inflation damaging his popularity. In a secret speech given before his Cabinet on 5 November 1934, Hitler stated he had "given the working class his word that he would allow no price increases. Wage-earners would accuse him of breaking his word if he did not act against the rising prices. Revolutionary conditions among the people would be the further consequence."
Although a secret German armaments programme had been on-going since 1919, in March 1935, Hitler rejected Part V of the Versailles treaty by publicly announcing that the German army would be expanded to 600,000 men (six times the number stipulated in the Treaty of Versailles), introducing an Air Force (Luftwaffe) and increasing the size of the Navy (Kriegsmarine). Britain, France, Italy and the League of Nations quickly condemned these actions. However, after re-assurances from Hitler that Germany was only interested in peace, no country took any action to stop this development and German re-armament continued. Later in March 1935, Hitler held a series of meetings in Berlin with the British Foreign Secretary Sir John Simon and Eden, during which he successfully evaded British offers for German participation in a regional security pact meant to serve as an Eastern European equivalent of the Locarno pact while the two British ministers avoided taking up Hitler's offers of alliance. During his talks with Simon and Eden, Hitler first used what he regarded as the brilliant colonial negotiating tactic, when Hitler parlayed an offer from Simon to return to the League of Nations by demanding the return of the former German colonies in Africa.
Starting in April 1935, disenchantment with how the Third Reich had developed in practice as opposed to what been promised led many in the Nazi Party, especially the Alte Kämpfer (Old Fighters; i.e., those who joined the Party before 1930, and who tended to be the most ardent anti-Semitics in the Party), and the SA into lashing out against Germany's Jewish minority as a way of expressing their frustrations against a group that the authorities would not generally protect. The rank and file of the Party were most unhappy that two years into the Third Reich, and despite countless promises by Hitler prior to 1933, no law had been passed banning marriage or sex between those Germans belonging to the “Aryan” and Jewish “races”. A Gestapo report from the spring of 1935 stated that the rank and file of the Nazi Party would "set in motion by us from below," a solution to the "Jewish problem," "that the government would then have to follow." As a result, Nazi Party activists and the SA started a major wave of assaults, vandalism and boycotts against German Jews.
It was Benito Mussolini's show and small limelight did he give Adolf Hitler. Up to the very morning of their meeting in Venice last week both were nervous as tomcats. Each seemed to fear some hitch or double-cross. Each whipped his Press into absolute silence. Round about Venice, which Il Duce had not visited for eleven years, citizens, puzzled by elaborate preparations for they knew not what, jumped to a conclusion that Crown Prince Umberto was coming. Germans supposed their Chancellor was still in the Fatherland until their Press told them that he was already soaring over the Alps. Rome stressed that Berlin had asked for the meeting. Berlin tried to give an opposite impression by releasing press handouts explaining Chancellor Hitler's departure, with the stipulation that they must be falsely datelined so as to seem to have come from Italy. For the big show 3,000 picked Fascist militia were mobilized in Venice by steel-muscled, pantherlike Secretary of the Party Achille Starace and 80 bulging German detectives shook Venice's Grand Hotel with the tramp, tramp of their arrival.