HC Deb 16 April 1934 vol 288 cc689-91

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he can give any further information regarding the increases in the German naval, military and air estimates; and whether His Majesty's Government propose to take any action in the matter?


Yes, Sir, the German Government, in reply to an inquiry addressed to it by His Majesty's Ambassador at Berlin, have supplied information on this subject in the form of a note, the relevant portions of which I propose to have printed in the OFFICIAL REPORT.


Does it not appear from the contents of that note that rearmament is going on in Germany on a considerable scale at the present time?


I think it would be to the interest of us all that we should examine the note. I would read it now, but it is a long one.

Following are the relevant portions of note:


April 11th, 1934.

Your Excellency,

As is apparent from the recently published German budget for the budget year 1934–35, the estimates for the army have been fixed at 654.6 million reichsmarks, which represents an increase of 172 million reichsmarks in comparison with the budget of the previous year. This increased expenditure is necessary for the preparations, due to take place in the course of the budget year 1934–35, for the conversion of the Reichsheer into a short-service army. The allocation of these sums in the budget for this purpose arises from the state of the negotiations in regard to the disarmament question. The expenditure for the naval budget has been estimated at 236 million reichsmarks, which represents an increase of some 50 million reichsmarks in comparison with last year. This increased expenditure is due to the increasing cost of the systematic renovation of the long since obsolete units of the German fleet, the replacement of which, partly on the ground of the security of the crews, can no longer be postponed.

The budget of the Air Ministry cannot be regarded as an armament budget. It consists of a budget for air transport and a budget for air protection. The estimated expenses for air transport amount to 160 million reichsmarks, whereas in the budget for the previous year some 77 million reichsmarks were provided for this purpose. The increase is due to the replacement of the obsolete aeroplane material of the private German air transport company (Lufthansa), which, as in other countries, receives Government subsidies; in this respect it is principally a question of replacing single-motored aeroplanes by two or three-motored aeroplanes; further, in the case of the Lufthansa, with a view to improving the conditions of transport, the long-distance lines are to be operated in winter as well, and night flying considerably increased. On account of the last measure, considerable expenses will become necessary for increased security in the air, and for the installation of lighting and wireless direction-finding systems. In addition, the increase is occasioned by the development of oversea air transport and of scientific investigation in the sphere of air transport generally.

The estimates for air protection amount to 50 million reichsmarks. In last year's budget only 1.3 million reichsmarks were provided for this purpose, since the organisation of air protection was at that time only in its first stage. The newly-developed organisation is devoted to the protection of the civil population against air attack; its activity consists in the erection of splinter and gas-proof cellars, the training of squads for the rendering harmless of poisonous gases, the development of the fire extinguishing system, the training of special squads (for warnings, technical repairs and the rendering harmless of poisonous gases) and other similar measures.

I avail, etc.,


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