Examine the evidence for and against the view that Hitler had no clear long-term plans for war.
Published: March 19, 2017
Hitler’s aim when he came to power was to make Germany great again. He hoped to achieve this by:
- Reversing hated treaty of Versailles
- Strengthening army
- Recovering lost territory.
- Bringing all German speaking people under Reich.
Now there is some disagreement whether Hitler intended to go beyond these aims. Some historians believe that the Anschluss with Austria and annexing part of Czechoslovakia and Poland was just the beginning. Next step was seizing rest of Poland and Czechoslovakia; and then conquering Russia as far as the Ural mountain. According to Hitler, natural boundaries are man-made thus can be changed by man. The motive behind all this was Lebensraum (living space). He believed that German population was too large to be constrained in the current available space. Thus more land was needed to meet the demand for food and future colonization by the German population. Another reason for the destruction of Russia was his hatred toward ‘Jewish Bolshevism’. The war with Russia was inevitable. Then the next stage was colonization of Africa and naval bases in and around the Atlantic. Evidence of this can be seen in his book ‘Mein Kampf’ and Hossbach Memorandum.
Other historians disagree with these claims. Most prominent among these was A. J. P. Taylor. He claimed that Hitler never had any detailed plans for Lebensraum. All he wanted was a limited short war with Poland. He went this far due to the indecisiveness of other powers like Britain and France. They had no idea as for how to handle Hitler. Another historian Mark Mazower in his book said the there is little evidence that Hitler gave a serious thought for creating and organizing a Nazi Empire in Europe.
He might not have clear step by step plan but the basic vision was clear. The vision of German domination over Europe can only be achieved by war. Hitler had never doubted that the German future can only be determined through war. The only issues were timing and direction as the war was inevitable.
Model Questions Month: unclassified