BERLIN, March 16, 1935 (UP) - Reichsfuehrer Hitler, in a sudden, breath-taking announcement, today denounced the military clauses of the Versailles Treaty and proclaimed immediate general military conscription in Germany.
Germany's denunciation of the treaty clause and institution of universal military service rocked Europe, already tense with the increasing momentum of an arms race among the chief powers. France and Great Britain already had moved this week toward increased armed strength.
Neither the Hitler proclamation nor the new law specifically said that Germany denounced the military clauses of the Versailles Treaty, but the conscription act actually was a denunciation and violation of the treaty.
The Hitler decision was disclosed in an atmosphere of drama at the Propaganda Ministry after the Cabinet had approved it.
The Reichsfuehrer's proclamation revived Germany's objections to the Versailles Treaty and voiced the nation's disappointment over the failure of other powers to disarm.
Then it openly proclaimed the plans of Herr Hitler.
"Germany then saw herself forced to take measures for her own protection and is now publishing those measures, part of which already have been adopted," the proclamation said.
The air force was announced earlier as being put on a military basis.
The proclamation was divided into three sections: --
Universal military service.
Dividing the German peace-time army (limited to 100,000 men by the Versailles Treaty) into twelve army corps and thirty-six divisions (480,000 men).
Empowering General Werner von Blomberg, Defense Minister, to take measures necessary to carry out the law.
Joseph Goebbels, summoning correspondents to the Propaganda Ministry, read the proclamation and revealed that Herr Hitler on Friday afternoon had suddenly interrupted his Bavarian vacation and returned to Berlin where, Friday evening, a partial Cabinet meeting was held.
Tomorrow Herr Hitler will attend services commemorating the German heroes on memorial day at the State Opera House and will elucidate the proclamation to the assembled military leaders.
"There is a cry of war today as if there had never been a World War or a Versailles Treaty," the proclamation said.
The proclamation remarked that Germany in recent years repeatedly had indicated willingness to join in disarmament plans, but "these plans always were rejected by others."
Herr Goebbels' voice shook with suppressed emotion as he read the proclamation to foreign correspondents.
Later a crowd of 12,000, cheered wildly when Herr Goebbels read the proclamation at the Sports Palace.
In the statement, Herr Hitler insisted that Germany's purpose in rearming was to preserve peace for herself and the rest of Europe.
The German government, he said, in order to preserve the security and honor of the German people saw itself required to take the most necessary measures.
Therefore, "we recall Mr. Baldwin's (Stanley Baldwin of Great Britain) observation that that nation which fails to develop her own defenses will never find itself a powerful nation."
The proclamation bristled with such statements as: --
"After this fulfillment by Germany of a duty without parallel in the world's history (observation of the treaty), Germany has the right to expect others also would disarm.
"Germany was prepared to accept the MacDonald plan (Prime Minister MacDonald of Britain). Germany took it as the ground work for disarmament. But it was shattered on the opposition of other Powers.
"But since disarmament has not come, Germany could no longer take any part in such conferences."
(Germany withdrew from the disarmament conference.)
The proclamation emphasized the attitude of other powers toward disarmament, saying:-
"While Germany fulfills the carrying out of these duties (in the treaty), the carrying out was totally lacking on the other side.
"No, there was not an armament moratorium, but new pursuit and bombing machines, tanks and heavy artillery were constructed.
"The German people remember the horrors of war. A peace of 100 years would cure, but the world cannot bear a conflict of 100 years."
The law approved by the Cabinet stipulates that police will be included in the German military forces. In referring to failure of other nations to disarm the proclamation mentioned the "tremendous" increase in Soviet Russian armaments and also mentioned the new French law for two-year military service.
France yesterday adopted an extension of conscripts service from one year to two years, with Premier Pierre-Etienne Flandin citing to the Chamber of Deputies the rearmament of Germany.
Only a few days ago, the Nazi Air Minister Hermann Wilhelm Goering declared that Germany was giving part of her aviation service a military basis. The Versailles Treaty bars such action.
Great Britain in recent days has boosted her naval budget estimates and defended the rise in debate in Commons by citing the rearmament of the Reich.