Hitler seizes army control in big shakeup

By United Press

BERLIN -- A diplomatic and military shakeup, most sweeping of the five-year Nazi regime, was believed far from complete today as Adolf Hitler assumed complete command of the German army as "chief of national defense."

Outstanding changes were the appointment of Joachim von Ribben-trop, Hitler's "roving ambassador," as foreign minister, and elevation of Air Minister Wilhelm Goering to field marshal.


The past of war minister, left vacant by Werner von Blomberg's retirement after marrying his 25-year-old secretary, was taken over by Hitler as part of his new duties. General Werner von Fritsch, commander-in-chief of the army, also retired.

Generals to Retire

Seven army and six air force generals will retire Feb. 28. Of the seven army men, five are of aristocratic family and thus regarded as conservatives. In some cases the retirement will be made with promotion in rank. Most of the men retired will have the privilege of continuing to wear army uniforms.


It was admitted semi-officially that the retirements were based on "differences of opinion." There were rumors that some officers had been under arrest for a time several days ago. Nazi quarters said that what had just occurred was "a further national socialization of the country" tantamount to tightening party control.

Economic Action Expected

A semi-official source said the same course would follow in the near future in economic life.

"It will be a strengthening of fundamental National Socialist principles," one informant said. "There is too much clinging to ideas of the past."

Walter Funk, as an old party member and present Minister of Economics, is expected to have a leading role in this new action.

Further light on the Reich's economic, foreign and political development will be shed Feb. 20 when Hitler, is due to address the Reichstag

Strong hints that the process of "amalgamation of the army and Nazi Party" had not been completed were thrown out by Nazi newspapers.

It was indicated that Hitler's Reichstag address might mark the end of a reorganization period.

With himself in full control of the entire fighting forces, with the, war minister and the army commander-in-chief eliminated, with a switch in foreign ministers and the recall of three key ambassadors, Hitler had effected what some diplomatic quarters called "a bloodless purge" but Nazis, while admitting that the shakeup cleared an atmosphere of political tension, denied stoutly t.hat there was anything to suggest bloodless version of the drastic purge of June 30, 1934.


Nazis Seen Strengthened

It was generally felt that, at least for the present, Nazi dominance in army and foreign policy had been vastly strengthened, partly by "promoting" certain conservatives, partly by frankly getting rid of other conservatives.

As to the possibility of a tightening up in the economic field, there has been dissatisfaction in some quarters with the development of the four-year plan of economic self-sufficiency, and it was felt that this field might be next. In this connection there was interest in the appointment of Karl von Jazwitz, advocate of foreign trade monopoly, as head of a new department of foreign, trade, exports and foreign exchange.

Normally restrained, newspapers celebrated the shake-up as a new and important stage in the historic process of establishing National Socialist (Nazi) leadership in the state and the army.

Observers expressed belief that Von Ribbentrop's promotion would mean a more active foreign policy. Also the recall of the ambassadors to Italy, Japan and Austria started speculation.

This speculation particularly revolved around Baron Franz von Papen, ambassador to Austria, and the possibility of some change in German relations with Austria.

Well-informed persons believed it likely that Von Papen and Dr Herbert von Dirksen, ambassador to Japan, will be retired on grounds of health. Disposal of Ulrich von Hassell, ambassador to Rome, who is believed to be not too friendly to the Rome-Berlin axis, remained uncertain.


Von Neurath Shifted

Baron Konstantin von Neurath, whom von Ribbentrop succeeds as foreign minister, has been made head of the newly-created privy cabinet council. An official statement said he has asked to be retired but that he could "not be spared."

In retiring Blomberg and Fritsch from the two highest army posts, Hitler wrote them warm letters em phasizing that they had asked retirement because of ill health. He praised both highly for their work in rebuilding and reorganizing the army, and assured them that this work never would be forgotten.

General Wilnelm Keitel was named to "supreme command, of the armed forces" directly under Hitler and his duties will approximate those of war minister.

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