Adolf Hitler 4 Essay, Research Paper
Adolf Hitler s rearmament of Germany and formation of alliances combined with aggressive foreign policies were clear and calculated moves to achieve the goals of the new German state which eventually pushed the world into another war. Some historians will argue that Hitler did not plan to involve Germany in a full European war; but rather was an opportunist in the events leading up to the outbreak of war. On the contrary, by examining his published works in which Hitler envisioned a plan for the rise and expansion of Germany through warlike policies one can see that Adolph Hitler was not an opportunist but rather one who took necessary steps to achieve his goals. The rearmament of Germany allowed Hitler to proceed with his calculated aggressive foreign policy. In addition, Germany s ability to establish alliances allowed Hitler to continue to rebuild the army and implement his aggressive policies in Europe. The occupation of the Rhineland, the crisis in Czechoslovakia and the invasion of Poland, are clear examples of Hitler s calculated statesmanship that would eventually become known as the origins of World War II.
Adolf Hitler expressed his ideas of German supremacy in his book Mein Kampf, my struggle, while spending time in a prison in Germany. In this book Hitler offered a vision for German expansion into Eastern Europe through a policy known as Lebensraum. In 1922, Hitler stated, We should attempt the carving up of Russia with English help (Chodorow, 1990, p.839). In Mein Kampf, Hitler criticized William II s over-ambitious foreign policy for separating Germany from Britain, France and Russia all at the same time. Hitler believed the only way to achieve world domination was in stages. Though he realized that conflicts would arise he did not want to get Germany involved in a war on two fronts as William II had in the First World War. Instead Hitler believed in forming an alliance with Britain to isolate Germany s constant enemy, France, and then to move against Russia to achieve Lebensraum. In 1928 in an unpublished second book, Hitler named the United States as the final obstacle in the quest for German world domination. It is clear that though his plans may not have been specific in detail Hitler was planning and calculating his moves in Europe.
After becoming the new German chancellor in 1933, Hitler stressed the rearmament of the German army and the formation of a strong Werchmacht was a top priority. Germany s new army would serve for the conquest of the new Lebensraum in the East and its ruthless Germanization (Chodorow, 1990, p.842). Germany s rearmament was a clear move to allow her to proceed with her foreign policies, which eventually led to the outbreak of war.
At the conclusion of the First World War, the allies made a huge mistake by not allowing Germany to have representatives present on Germany s behalf at the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. This provided Hitler an excuse that he would later use to justify Germany s rearmament. The League of Nations first attempted to prevent Germany s rearmament during the Disarmament Conference of 1933. Hitler answered the league by withdrawing Germany s membership all together. In March of 1935, Germany declared her self-free of all disarmament provisions outlined by the Treaty of Versailles after both France and England began to rearm themselves. Next Hitler created the Luftwaffle, a new German airforce that was challenged by British and French protests. Hitler, a great statesman of his time silenced the protests caused by his violations of the Treaty of Versailles by signing the Anglo-German Naval Agreement of 1935. This agreement allowed, Hitler a fleet of 1/3 the size of Britain s (Chodorow, 1990, p.843). Hitler hoped that as long as Britain s naval and colonial supremacy was unchallenged, it would tolerate his defeat of France and the conquest of European Russia, (Hiden, 1977, p.85). Western powers were not eager to attempt to stop Hitler s rearmament in fear of another world war. After reintroducing conscription in 1935, Hitler appointed Herman Goring, Chief of the Luftwaffe and second in command of the new Nazi state. Hitler gave him the power over the Nazi economy with simple orders, Within four years the German Wehrmacht must be ready to fight; within four years the German economy must be ready for war (Chodorow, 1990, p.843). This statement alone reinforces the idea that Hitler calculated his moves for the outbreak of a Second World War. Hitler s memorandum centered on the problem of creating enough living space and solving the economic problems caused by rearmament. He proclaimed, if we do not succeed in bringing the German Army as rapidly as possible to the rank of premier army in the world so far as its training, raising of units, armaments, and above all, its spiritual education also is concerned, then Germany will be lost (Adamthwaite, 1977, p.163). It is pretty clear that Hitler was calculating his moves and creating opportunities for German aggression in Eastern Europe.
Continuing with his push for rearmament Hitler developed a new concept of warfare known as Blitzkrieg. This concept of warfare involved quick and aggressive victories followed by the assimilation of all conquered resources. This would hopefully obviate the need to mobilize the entire national energies; the price of war would be paid by the defeated and the Germans would not be asked to sacrifice too much (Hiden, 1977, p.56). Rearmament itself proceeded rapidly taking up more and more of Germany s national gross product (Chodorow, 1990, p.844).
It is quite clear by examining the figures in the graph that Hitler was preparing for the day when the German army would put his plans for Lebensraum into effect. Hitler and his aggressive rearmament policies were very much successful, as he was able to build the most powerful airforce and army in the world. The German Army was indeed tailored to the needs of Germany s geographical position and the sort of war this entailed; namely, an army that could fight a lightning campaign on one front while conducting a holding operation of the other (Hiden, 1977, p.58).
After neutralizing Poland with a non-aggression treaty Hitler made his first move in Europe by occupying the Rhineland, which lead to the future alliance with Italy. While Britain, and France were occupied with the war in Abyssinia Hitler alleging a conflict between the Treaty of Locarno and the Franco-Soviet Pact, sent forces of 22,000 men into the demilitarized Rhineland, violating both the Versailles and Locarno treaties (Adamthwaite, 1977, p.52). Germany believed that Britain and France would not attempt to stop her and risk war. Hitler also believed that France would not dare to act alone against him. This enabled Hitler to, fortify Germany s western boarder and prevent France from defending its Polish and Czechoslovak allies by threatening to attack Germany (Chodorow, 1990, p.846). When Belgium proclaimed herself neutral, Hitler was at an advantage because the Maginot Line did not extend to France s unprotected northeastern border. When the Spanish Civil War broke out Hitler supported the attempt to overthrow the republic, which brought him closer to the future alliance with Mussolini and diverted attention away from his moves in Europe. In the fall of 1936, Germany and Italy were brought together in an alliance by the formation of the Rome-Berlin Axis. Germany and Japan signed, the Anit-Comintern Pact, which involved a secret military commitment against the Soviet Union and an unspoken hostility to Britain (Chodorow, 1990, p.848). Italy soon joined the German-Japanese alliance and also left the League of Nations. Hitler s occupation of the Rhineland and formation of alliances proved to be critical in allowing Germany to proceed with her new foreign policy.
By now Hitler had successfully violated treaties, rebuilt the German army and secured important allies in the process. All of these moves allowed Hitler to go forward with his foreign policies, which were designed to push Germany into future conflicts. November 5th, 1937 Hitler announced that Germany might have the opportunity to seize Austria and Czechoslovakia or both in the near future and that war with Britain and France must in any event come before 1943-45, (Chodorow, 1990, p.848). This statement seems to prove that Hitler was calculating his moves in Europe. Hitler with the support of Mussolini marched troops into Austria in 1938 and signed an agreement giving Germany control over all of Austria s foreign and domestic affairs. Hitler s Anshluss of Austria into Germany was justified by claiming that this was an internal German affair. Once again France and Britain made no attempt to stop Hitler s Germany.
Adolf Hitler s next course of action was to turn his efforts to the Sudetenland, a part of Czechoslovakia. Hitler instructed the leaders of the Sudetenland, which were primarily Germans, not to drive things to the limit, but always demand so much that we can never be satisfied (Adamthwaite, 1977, p.77). Hitler had not changed his mind on his plans for Eastern Europe but rather realized that being over-aggressive would eventually bring about international panic. On March 11th, Germany promised that it would respect the borders of Czechoslovakia. Two weeks prior Hitler remarked that Germany would do everything in her power to protect the millions of oppressed Germans around her borders. Czechoslovakia like Austria had treaties in place to protect its borders from foreign invasions but lacked Western commitment to honor them. British government made it crystal clear to the Germans, Czechs, French and Russians that appeasement was better than another world war. Granting autonomy to the Sudetenland would leave the Czech s without many important industries and especially leave it defenseless against future possible invasions. On May 30th, 1938 Hitler changed his policy towards Czechoslovakia and issued a new directive Plan Green a code name for an attack on Czechoslovakia. It was his, unalterable decision to smash Czechoslovakia in the near future, military preparations were to be completed by 1st, October. 1938 (Adamthwaite, 1977, p.77). Although the Czech government was taking necessary steps to maintain peace, it was clear that the future of Czechoslovakia lay in the hands of Hitler. German military preparations were rapidly increasing and German threats were becoming bolder. The Goodesberg Memorandum, issued by Hitler was a lot closer to an ultimatum than anything else, it stated:
Czech territory with a 55% German majority was to be ceded immediately and was to be occupied by German troops not later than the 1st of October. Czechoslovakia was to guarantee that those areas so hastily evacuated would be left in their present condition, meaning that all civilian and military services and establishments would be completely sacrificed to Germans (Louis, 1972, p.513).
As the outbreak of war seemed closer than ever on September 27th, the Western allies urged Nazi Germany to participate in a conference to find a peaceful solution to the issues at hand. Hitler made it quite clear that he would not attend any conference with the Czechs present. Britain and France quickly accepted Hitler s counterproposal with the thought of avoiding a war at any cost. The Munich Pact involved the Czech relinquishment of the Sudetenland in return for Hitler s promise not to take anymore Czech territory. The British government and Prime Minister Chamberlain believed they had achieved peace for Europe. In reality the Munich agreement, was an immense moral, political and strategic defeat for the West (Chodorow, 1990, p.850).
Hitler continued to follow an aggressive, calculated foreign policy as he invaded Poland. This indeed would be the final straw, as the Western powers would soon declare war on Germany. On April 3rd, he set September 1st, as the planning date for an attack on Poland (Chodorow, 1990, p.852). The allies had guaranteed to support Poland if Germany invaded her borders. In May, Hitler addressed his military leaders stating that Germany will, attack Poland at the first suitable opportunity (Hiden, 1972, p.215). Given Adolf Hitler s overconfident and aggressive style of politics he revoked the English-German Naval Treaty and the peace treaty between Poland and Germany. As he had removed all the pawns standing in his way, he now wanted to checkmate Poland, either forcing her to accept his hegemony or destroying her (Hiden, 1977, p.34). Hitler s clear commitment for action against Poland resulted in a complete reversal of his foreign policy towards the British government. Instead of striving to achieve an alliance with Britain against Russia he signed a treaty with Russia so he could concentrate with the Western threat. Hitler stated,
Everything I do is directed against Russia, if the West is too stupid and blind to grasp this I shall be forced to reach an agreement with the Russians, to attack the West and then, after its defeat, turn against the Soviet Union with my combined forces. (Adamthwaite, 1977, p.106).
This again reinforces that Hitler is calculating his moves against his European neighbours. Stalin s and Hitler s non-aggression pact solidified the eastern wall for Germany and allowed Hitler to move on Poland. Hitler ordered the attack on Poland for August 26th , but was delayed briefly because of the military alliance signed by England and Poland and the fact that, Mussolini shamefacedly confessed that Italy was too weak to fight (Chodorow, 1990, p.853). On the morning of September 1st, 1939, at 4:45 am the mobilized Wehrmacht invaded Poland from all possible directions. The English ultimatum to Germany expired at 11:00 am on September 3rd. The world was thrown into the Second World War twenty years after the, War to End All Wars had finished.
Germany s massive rearmament prior to the outbreak of war was a result of Hitler s calculated plans to be ready for war by the 1940 s. In addition Germany s alliances against the West only confirm the idea that Hitler was taking the necessary steps required to realize his vision of a new powerful Germany. Also Adolf Hitler s confident and arrogant style of statesmanship proved to be the final blow to the attempts of the allies to keep Europe at peace. Finally a memorandum from Adolf Hitler to professor A. J. P. Taylor only confirm the thesis that Hitler s bold foreign policies were calculated moves in achieving Lebensraum and pushing toward another war. You sum up that, Hitler did not make plans for world conquest or for anything else. Here I must take exception, Herr Professor. Surely, you must grant that I made at least some plans! I was a statesman, not an idiot (Louis, 1972, p.29).
Adamthwaite, Anthony. (1977). The Making of the Second World War. New
York, NY: George Allen and Urwin Ltd.
Chodorow, S., Gatzke, H., Knox, M., Schirokauer, C., Strayer, J. (1990). The
Mainstream of Civilization Since 1500. New York, NY: Harcourt Brace
Hiden, John. (1977). Germany and Europe 1919-1939. New York, NY: Longman
Louis, Roger. (1972). The Origins of the Second World War: A. J. P. Taylor
and his Critics. New York, NY: American Heritage Publishing Inc.