The two years from the occupation of the Rhineland in March 1936 to Anschluss with Austria in March 1938 saw the Third Reich move from defence to offence. Having removed the sanctions imposed by Versailles, the next decision was whether to go for expansion or stability. It was a moment of truth. Was Hitler serious about the conquest of an empire with all the risks involved? Or would he settle for a process of negotiation to achieve gradually those limited gains which could be justified by self-determination — Austria, revision of the Polish frontier, the acquisition of the mainly German Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia — and perhaps some colonies?
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