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To what extent was Hitler's foreign policy consistent and planned?

Uploaded by abi on Oct 30, 2002

A subject of continuous interest in historical debate is whether Hitler’s foreign policy aims, as outlined in Mein Kampf, was indeed a blueprint for the years to follow or infact a premeditated aversion from genuine foreign policy direction. Some may argue that Hitler’s foreign policy through the inter-war years was merely an extension of Stresemann’s policies and therefore consistent with the German aim. However opposing this belief are those who see a calculating, underhand opportunist whom spectacularly managed to camouflage a developing foreign policy and present it as consistent and ultimately unplanned.

When Hitler was appointed German chancellor on 30th January 1933 Germany was still feeling the effects of the Great War. The military was very weak and the economy was in desperate need of recovery and reform. Many Germans had felt that along with the devastating effects resulting from the war, the Treaty of Versailles had been too harsh a measure. Hitler called for peace and, more significantly, equal treatment of Germany in European affairs, ‘If other nations are not willing to carry out the disarmament stipulations of the Treaty, then Germany must at least maintain her claim to equality’. Britain respected the German grievances and felt sympathy with its cause. Along with most other European countries it was felt that Hitler’s foreign policy appeared to represent continuity rather than an unfavourable and radical approach to post war European affairs.

In contrast to Stresemann’s foreign policy was Hitler’s attitude toward the Soviet Union, ‘ when we speak of new territory we must principally think of Russia and the border states subject to her.’ Since the signing of Rapallo in 1922 Germany and the Soviet Union had been on fairly relaxed terms, to the extent that German armed forces were permitted to engage in secret training on Soviet soil. However, on coming to power Hitler adopted a far cooler approach to the Soviet Union. This supports the notion that Hitler looked to the Soviet Union for his additional ‘living space’ lebensraum. Perhaps more fundamental to the argument is that from as early as 1924 Hitler had envisaged, or even planned, his future invasion of the Soviet Union. This suggests that a blueprint was being put into operation. Further is the fact that in September 1933 the German foreign minister actually questioned the wisdom of Germany adopting an anti-Russian position and suggested it best to maintain favourable relations with Stalin’s regime. Hitler dismissed...

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Uploaded by:   abi

Date:   10/30/2002

Category:   Nazi Germany

Length:   10 pages (2,160 words)

Views:   2541

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