To properly understand and evaluate (functionally, of course) Hitler’s rearmament program, one must acknowledge and accept the irrefutable fact that it was an unavoidable necessity (as was the priority of guns over butter.
With all his unquestionable economic and financial brilliance, Dr. Hjalmar Schacht (one of the fathers of German economic miracle – together with Adolf Hitler, of course) could not understand a simple and pretty much evident political truth.
That Germany (his Germany) was facing the genuinely existential Bolshevist threat and rather sooner than later will have to fight a genuinely existential war (i.e. for its very existence) with the Bolshevist Soviet Union. Whether it wanted it or not (most Germans didn’t) and whether it liked it or not (ditto).
And that (consequently) rearmament had to be given priority over the welfare of Germans. In other words, Adolf Hitler as the Führer of Germany (and thus responsible for all of its citizens) had to first and foremost make sure that Germany can win this existential war (and thus save itself from being conquered and destroyed by the Bolshevist hordes).
With welfare of Germans (other than being saved from this existential threat) having the secondary priority. Let alone sound economic policies. In the end, victory in this existential war was not everything – it was the only thing that really mattered.
True, Adolf Hitler planned (and prepared for) a brutal colonial war – Drang nach Osten. But it did not matter – he had to fight and win the war with the Bolshevist Soviet Union (Lebensraum or no Lebensraum).
For a very simple reason – the “Red Tamerlane” Joseph Stalin was totally committed to his own colonial war (conquering and colonizing the whole world – a far more ambitious project than Hitler’s). The war that Bolsheviks started to prepare for in 1918 – right after they got absolute power in Russia (and 15 years before Adolf Hitler became the Führer of Germany).
Hence the war with the Soviet Union was inevitable (again, Lebensraum or no Lebensraum). And the only way to win that war (given the total and absolute superiority of the latter in material and human resources) was to destroy sufficient chunk of Soviet armed forces and to occupy sufficient Soviet territory to force the Soviet leader (whoever he might be at that time) to accept peace on German terms. Which would obviously include doing away with the existential Bolshevist threat for good.
To achieve this victory, Adolf Hitler had to develop and implement an enormous (gargantuan even) rearmament program. Which should have taken into account that neither Britain nor France would agree with Germany becoming a dominant power in Europe and a global economic, political and military superpower (the inevitable result of German victory over the Soviet Union).
Which meant that the war with France and Britain was inevitable as well. And, by the way, that’s exactly what happened in 1939. It was Britain and France that declared war on Germany (not the other way around) and thus transformed a short-term military conflict between two neighboring nations into a full-fledged global war (thus World War started on September 3rd, not the 1st, of 1939).
Britain and France did not have to declare war on Germany after the latter invaded Poland. The Polish–British Common Defense Pact only stated that
“.. in the event of any action which clearly threatened Polish independence, and which the Polish Government accordingly considered it vital to resist with their national forces, His Majesty’s Government would feel themselves bound at once to lend the Polish Government all support in their power. They have given the Polish Government an assurance to this effect.”
This statement was sufficiently vague (it was deliberately made that way by British Foreign Office) to NOT require Great Britain to declare war on the aggressor (the French guarantees were vague as well).
But Nazi Germany (Lebensraum or no Lebensraum) had no choice but to invade and occupy Poland. For the only way to save itself from being conquered and destroyed by the Bolshevist hordes was to launch a devastating pre-emptive strike (blitzkrieg-style). Which, obviously, required a common border with the Soviet Union – the border that could be established only by occupying the “buffer state”. Poland.
Likewise, it had no other choice but to occupy the whole Czechoslovakia. For another simple reason – to prepare for and fight the blitzkrieg with the Soviet Union, it needed all industrial capacity it could lay their hands on.
And Czechoslovakia had by far the most powerful (and thus the most valuable and lucrative) armaments industry in Eastern Europe – and one of the most valuable in whole Europe.