To what extent can Hitler be held responsible for the outbreak of world war two?
It seems that Hitler did have consistent aims and plans which would be carried out when he came to power. His dream was to build a ˜new Germany' under his own leadership, to overturn the treaty of Versailles and to establish Germany as a major European power.
His book Mein Kampf lays out his four foreign policy aims which were:
1.The destruction of the Treaty Of Versailles. This would allow Germany to rearm and regain lost territory.
2.To gain territory (living space) for Germany in eastern Europe. This would a war in order to defeat Soviet Bolshevism.
3.To include all German-speaking people in his proposed ˜Third Reich', especially those living in Austria, the Sudeten area of Czechoslovakia and Danzig.
4.To create a ˜racially pure' German state that would be the most dominant power in Europe.
It is clear from these four points that he was very opportunistic, he was willing to go to war to achieve these aims. It would appear that at this point, he was aiming at European domination. He knew that these aims could not be achieved without a war. In this policy alone, we see that Hitler is prepared to fight in order achieve his objectives. Many of Hitler's policies were achievable only through war; he knew that for him to succeed, Germany must become involved in a European conflict of some sort.
Probably the best-known exposition of the lebensraum policy is the Hossbach memorandum of November 1937. It is not an official document but a second or even a third hand account. But it is a detailed version of how Hitler thought things might go over the next eight years after. He told the meeting that the chief aim of German foreign policy was the conquest of living space, which had to be achieved by force between 1943 and 1945. He also made it clear that Austria and Czechoslovakia would have to be seized. He predicted thEssays Related to To what extent was hitler responsible for the outbreak ww2
Yr 12 English Essay
‘Is there such a thing as “history” which is more objective than memory?’
For many years now there has been a strong debate, as regarding wether or not there is such a thing as ‘history’ that is more objective than memory. Due to memories completely subjective nature, history although also being somewhat subjective, it is a great deal more objective than memory. To discuss such a statement first one must define the terms ‘history’, ‘objective’ and ‘memory’. The Macquarie Dictionary defines the term ‘memory’ as:“ the mental capacity or faculty of retaining and reviving impressions, or of recalling or recognising previous experiences. A mental impression retained; a recollection.” For the purpose of this essay assume history to be; the knowledge of what happened, the record or expression of what occurred.” The term “objective” refers to being free from personal feelings or prejudice, unbiased. The idea of objectivity involves a belief in ‘the reality of the past, and [to] the truth as correspondence to that reality.’ In the light of such definitions memory is entirely subjective, with no elements of objective truth. Laurel Holliday’s book entitled Children’s Wartime Diaries illustrates how memory is composed of and subjective to ones current emotions and circumstances. Caroline Baum in her article The Children’s Ark and Mark Baker in his novel The Fiftieth Gate both use history and memory to reconstruct their parents past. Throughout their journey of discovering their parents’ history both authors discern the subjective elements of memory and discern memories subjective characteristics. Such characteristics as personal recall, bias feelings, fragmentation, gaps, forgetfulness and emotions involved with memory add to its complete subjective nature. History although being more objective than memory, also has a number of subjective characteristics. David Irving’s web site includes a document entitled ‘Did Six Million Really Die?’ This document illustrates how histories foundation on evidence constrains it partially to subjectivity. The Sydney Jewish Museum illustrates how historians know the past to be; not the past as it was in itself but the past as it appears from its traces in the present. Despite such subjective characteristics, history is more objective than memory. The fact that a historian’s view of history can never be completely objective does not mean that descriptions of the world cannot tell anything objective about it. The Fiftieth Gate demonstrates how to some extent the nature of archive documents cause them to reasonably reliable and objective and when the past is well supported by abundant evidence it is reasonable to say that the history being presented is objective. The Sydney Jewish Museum in addition illustrates how history unlike memory has a systematic organised structure, which inevitably adds to its’ objective nature. As a result of memories complete subjectivity, history although also being somewhat subjective; it is a great deal more objective than memory.
Memory unlike history is completely subjective. Memory is composed of personal feelings or prejudice and bias. Memory privileges the private and the emotional. Against histories officialism and rationalism, memory reveals the hidden pasts, the lived and the local, the ordinary and the everyday. Memory dreams in fragments and gaps. It values representation and the remember, rejecting factualism and objectivity. Diary entries are such a text type where these characteristics are considerably evident. Laurel Hollidays’ book ‘Children’s Wartime Diaries, Secret Writings from the Holocaust and WW2’ is a collection of exerts from diaries written by twenty-three young people living in Nazi occupied Europe and England. The children are aged between ten and eighteen and recount the horrid experiences they lived through during the Holocaust and WW2. It is evident throughout Hollidays’ book that memory is composed of personal feelings and bias, making it completely subjective. It is apparent that each of the children wrote about what was important to them at the time. Adolf Hitler may have been executing thousands of Jews a block away, but Janine Phillips was more intent on writing about her sister’s movement from one concentration camp to another. It is a fact that one recalls experiences differently according to their current state of emotions and feelings. Hollidays’ book gives a number of different contradicting accounts of the Holocaust. Dirk Van der Heide, a twelve-year-old boy living in Holland recounts a German bombardment in his hometown of Rotterdam. He describes how there were four hundred Germans attacking with guns and other such weaponry. Sarah Fishkin was another child living in Rotterdam at the time of this exact bombardment. Unlike Dirk Van der Heide, she recounts the bombardment as being reasonably small and undisruptive, with only sixty Germans attacking. Such contradicting accounts of the same event show how memory is subjective, to ones current situation. Diary entries are usually written immediately after an event has occurred and such immediate response may cause an under or over exaggeration of the situation, adding to memories subjective nature. Laurel Hollidays’ book has been composed in such a way so as to resemble a diary. The cover is a mottled blue design and the corners and the spine have been coloured red, so as to give the impression of being bound. Each of the diary entries is dated and separated by a single line, again, so as to resemble a diary. Such a layout gives the impression that they are real diary entries and personal, therefore subjective accounts of the holocaust. The variable emotions and feelings surrounding an event makes memory completely subjective.
‘The Children’s Ark’ written by Caroline Baum is an article accounting a daughters (Caroline Baum) discovery and investigation into her fathers childhood experiences during the Holocaust. Throughout this article the subjective characteristics of memory are evident. Within the text there is a strong use and interaction between both memory and history, as Baum tells of her father’s journey from Jewish oppression to freedom. Baum discovers that memory alone is insufficient as its’ characteristics lend it to subjectivity. At the times when Baums’ fathers’ memories lapsed she relied on history to tell what her father was unable to recall. Towards the end of the article Baum comments on the aging of the kinder and the results this was having on their memories; ‘…Suddenly, as the kinder grew older and more frail, their memories more unreliable, there was a realisation that if it was not told now, this story could never be told…’ As people age it is a fact that their memory deteriorates and becomes overall less reliable. Such an element of memory adds to its completely subjective nature. Due to this subjectivity, throughout the text history is often used to confirm and fill in the ambiguous memories expressed.
‘The Fiftieth Gate’ by Mark Baker, is a true story, where he uses history and memory to explore and reconstruct his parent’s experiences during the Holocaust. He discovers the subjectivity of memory and thus repeatedly recognises and speaks about the limitations and weaknesses with the use of it. When he asks his father to recall the weather conditions on the day of his liquidation, he finds that his fathers’ memories contradict the records. Bakers father recalls the time as being winter and very cold, but the records record his time of liquidation as being a warm Autumn. On the following pages Baker explores the reliability of his fathers memory, and begins to understand the flaws in memory. His fathers’ memories are just experiences without any chronological order, so it makes sense that all his memories don’t line up. The Fiftieth Gate has been structured in such a way so as to express such ideas. The content expressed throughout the book is very disconnected and there is little evidence of any chronological order. These structural elements actively develop the idea that memory is overall fragmented, with no real begging, middle or end. The issue of his fathers’ correct age is one of the many other events in the book where his fathers’ narrative has surrendered to forgetfulness and therefore subjectivity. The modern historian Michel Foucault’s stated “…. with its moments of intensity, its lapses, its extended periods of feverish agitation, its fainting spell, memory fails to be objective…” It is at such points in The Fiftieth Gate where memory falls short, that Baker has sufficed to let the logical, more so objective option, of history, rule over his parents’ completely subjective memories. At a number of stages throughout The Fiftieth Gate, when Bakers father feels he can remember no more, Baker is forced to interact by telling his father a part of history which inturn triggers another memory. Such a responsive characteristic of memory insinuates that memory is subjective to the current situation.
History is considerably more objective than memory but due to its’ basis on evidence it too contains elements of subjectivity. History is founded upon evidence and, despite preconceptions, evidence is not always objective. There is a bias in the creation of evidence and a bias in the survival of evidence. During the Nazi regime the German government had tight control over the survival of evidence that proved to their actions. Such political power meant that this century’s perspective of history has been significantly altered. G.R.Elton said; ‘that which is deliberately preserved by observers is a drop in the bucket compared with what is left behind by action and without thought of selection for preservation purposes.’ Subjective evidence means subjective history.
Historical evidence is limited as to the amount of information it can ultimately provide. Such a limitation to a degree forces history to be subjective. Historical descriptions are like the theories of physics, theoretical constructions designed to account for the available evidence. There is a limit to the amount of knowledge one can gain from evidence, as it is impossible to cover and account for everything with historical facts. There are not records detailing every moment of every day, and as history is often based upon evidence history can be little more than a theory. David Irving, in his article ‘Did Six Million Really Die?’ discusses his belief that ‘there were no gas chambers used for mass murder at Auschwitz and Other Camps.’ Irving argues that there is no objective, truthful evidence suggesting that there were gas chambers. He believes that the “gas chamber tragedy” is just an over exaggerated theory, with no factual grounding. Wether or not Irvings’ argument is correct is debatable, but what is evident through his article, is that history is not always completely objective, as it is often only a theory based upon limited evidence. The idea that historical evidence does not prove the truth of all elements of the past seems to be supported by the fact that historians are sometimes unable to agree among themselves over what happened. The restrictions involved with historical evidence inevitably mean that it is subjective, and subjective evidence means subjective history.
The subjectivity of science, consequently lends history to an element of subjectivity. Much of today’s history has been established from science. For instance many people today believe that the world was created by the “big bang”, such a historical theory has been developed from and is based around scientific concepts. Many people today believe that science is factual but this is not the case. After all, scientific theories employ scientific concepts, which have been seen to change from time to time, so they seem better described as representations of reality, of whose real nature we remain mostly ignorant, rather than a mirror of its essential nature. This subjective nature and unreliability of science, infers that history developed on science is consequently partially subjective as well.
A historian’s personal bias unavoidably influences their choice in material. In many ways a historian’s job is to fill in the gaps memory leaves, making their role an ideological and political one. This role of a historian inevitably lends history to elements of subjectivity. Historians both conform to and help erect structures by which their society functions around. Over the past century it has been seen how history has the ability to strategically ‘forget’ some aspects of the past while ‘remembering’ others. For instance, in Australia the Aboriginal identity for many years was suppressed by history. Historians and the white European society denied and concealed the facts that the Aboriginals were the original inhabitants. It was only through the objections and challenges brought about by memory; the truth of the issue was uncovered. Historians naturally prefer some interpretations of historical evidence to others for all sorts of cultural, social or personal reasons. The majority of historians use and search for evidence that will support and help them construct their account of what happened. David Irving, a British historian and author, is one of the very few who has openly denied the Holocaust. On his web site he has written a document entitled ‘Did Six Million Really Die?’ Irving discusses a number of “facts” which deny Adolf Hitlers role in the Holocaust. Whether or not his argument is correct is irrelevant, what is relevant is the fact that it is obvious that Irving has privileged some evidence over other evidence. Throughout the document Irving places much emphasis on the evidence that supports his argument, while scarcely mentioning and denying contradictory evidence. Consequently, it is evident that a historian’s personal bias inevitably affects their choice and use of evidence, therefore adding an element of subjectivity to history.
A historian’s personal bias not only shapes their choice in material but also inevitably affects their interpretation of the evidence. R.G.Collingwood put forward his view in the essay ‘The Limits Of Historical Knowledge.’- “…historical thinking means nothing else than interpreting all the available evidence with the maximum degree of critical skill. It does not mean discovering what really happened, if ‘what really happened’ is anything other than ‘what evidence indicates.’ The interpretation of evidence inevitably means the inference of personal bias and as a result subjectivity. Keith Jenkins uses the uncertainty about Hitler’s intentions after gaining power as evidence of the unreliability and subjectivity of historical evidence. The significance of the Hossbach Memorandum, in which Hitler outlined his plans to acquire extra territory for Germany, has been under considerable debate in the past few years. Some have interpreted Hitler’s plans as an honest declaration of intent; while others, notably A.J.P. Taylor, have doubted its genuineness, suggesting that it was a plan which Hitler hoped would justify increased expenditure on armaments. Analysing documents is simply interpretation, and the process of interpretation is always subjective.
History can never be completely objective due to the cultural relativism involved. History is just a representation of a historian’s way of conceptualising things that have happened. Every culture views the world differently through the lenses of its own concepts and interests, events and experiences are both seen and interpreted differently. The fact that interpretations of past events vary with cultural prejudices, personal interests, and standards of rationality, implies that nobodies’ interpretation of the past can be true or objective. An illness, which a person in one culture blames on an evil spirit, a person in another might describe in terms of a medical theory. Our perceptions of things in the world are a function of our culture, of its practices and concepts. Even within ones own culture there are differences in the way people view things. A common person may see the sun rise over the horizon, but the scientist thinks of the earth turning toward the sun instead. Everybody shapes what he or she sees according to the concepts with which they have learned to structure the world. Keith Jenkins has denied the objectivity and truth of history in his book Re-thinking History (1991). Although agreeing to the idea that historians study sources he remarks that “…the historians viewpoint and predilections still shape the choice of historical materials, and our own personal constructs determine what we make of them. The past that we ‘know’ is always contingent upon our own views, our own ‘present’….” The Sydney Jewish Museum is such a piece of historical memorabilia that has been obviously been significantly shaped by cultural relativism. The Jewish people of today, have established such a museum to recognise the thousands of Jews who were slaughtered during the Holocaust. Their personal interests, cultural prejudices and concepts forced them to shape and mould their perspective of the past. The Sydney Jewish Museum informed that during the Holocaust a total of 5,860,000 Jewish people were slaughtered, but what the museum failed to inform was that a further 5,000,000 were also killed. This further 5,000,000 consisted of Polish Christians and Catholics, the well educated and anyone physically or mentally handicapped. The composition of the museum also played an important part in the representation of the Holocaust. The entrance and the whole of the bottom floor was made from a grey mottled marble type of material. Such a choice, in the colour and material of the floor set the solemn mood and tone that was to follow. In the front foyer there were a number of large plaques with the names on those Jews who were either killed or went missing during the Holocaust and numerous stained glass windows depicting scenes from the Holocaust, covered the walls. The solemn mood was carried through the rest of the museum by the use of specific lightening, music, colour, diagrams, choice of achieves, photos and pictures. The composition of the museum has had a major role in the representation of the Holocaust, in that it strongly emphasises the hardships and horrific events many of the Jews experienced. The ‘history’ presented through the Jewish museum, although partly true, it is formed by their present cultural feelings, prejudice, values, beliefs, interests and bias, making it to some extent subjective. There can be no objective history of ‘the past as it actually did happen’ there can only be present day historical interpretations, none of which are final.
Despite histories subjective elements, it is still a great deal more objective than memory. Unlike memory, which is fragmented, full of gaps without any chronological order, history has an organised structure. History is a record. It collects and organises such facts that are available and relevant, provides some sort of framework for them, and lays down the guidelines for their presentation. It supplies order, harmony, and direction, for what might otherwise be a chaotic assemblage of miscellaneous facts. The history presented through The Sydney Jewish Museum reflects some of these objective characteristics. The exterior of the building was a big white sandstone building with a number of steps leading up to two large glass doors. Above these doors in large black writing was the name of the museum “THE SYDNEY JEWISH MUSEUM”. Such a simple but striking exterior immediately gives the impression that the museum and the history presented through the museum, is very serious, solemn and important. The museum itself was designed in a rising spiral shape, where each layer rolled onto the next, systematically going through the Holocaust from the beginning of the Jewish existence to their liberation. Such structural orderliness gives the impression that history is a lot more objective than memory.
Archive documents have a reality and objectivity of their own. The names, numbers and expressions on the pages do not change, no matter who is looking at them. For instance, there is no disagreement among historians that the Hossbach Memorandum is a record, reasonably accurate, of a speech made by Adolf Hitler on the 5th November 1937. The language used throughout the museum in regards to the archives, diagrams, photographs and pictures on display was rather conservative, factual and informative. Such objective language used beside these artefacts emphasised the truth and objectivity of the history being expressed through them. Similarly, throughout the Fiftieth Gate, Baker places great amounts of “truth” on the archives. Numerous times throughout the book when his parents’ memories are not sufficient Baker uses archives to fill in the spaces. Mark’s parents thrive so much of the historical knowledge Mark offers because these “facts” sharpen their stories and add an element of realness and truth to their memories. At one particular point in the book Baker uses the archives to fill in his fathers prayers regarding Leib Bikiermaszyn’s details. The archives give details regarding his full name, place and date of birth and the date of his death. Such documented details offer a sense of unambiguous truth to history, as they do not allow for any interpretation, thus suggesting that certain documentations to some extent are objective.
Although much of history is partially subjective due to its basis on subjective evidence, if a historical statement is well supported by abundant evidence, and much better supported than any alternative account, then the statement can be reasonably accepted as very probably true. For instance, it is by and large undisputed that in 1933 the Nazi party took power in Germany and Adolf Hitler became the chancellor, or prime minister of Germany. Such statements as this, although to a certain extent open to elements of subjectivity, due to the abundance of well supported evidence surrounding them they are generally seen to be objective.
No description of the world can be completely independent of its’ authors point of view, however this does not mean that descriptions of the world can not tell us anything objective about it. The historian C.B. McCallagh has developed what he calls the ‘correlation theory’. The correlation theory says that, “a description of the world is true if there is something in the world that resembles one of the conventional truth conditions of the description.” For example it is true and objective to say that a river runs through Melbourne if there really is something in the world that resembles a-river-running-through-Melbourne. There are a number of problems with the correlation theory that confirm the concept that history can have elements of objectivity but is still to a certain extent subjective. First, scientists say that our perceptions are caused by things in the world that trigger our senses, which finally produce our perceptual experiences. With this concept in mind it is fair to say that our perceptions provide us with information about reality, but do not mirror it exactly. In other words, our perceptions cannot give us a complete objective view of history but can only provide us with some elements of objective truth. Although our perceptions of the past do not reflect the whole truth and consistently correspond with the world because of the subjectivity involved, they do provide some objective information about the world as they were partly caused by it.
The characteristics that make up memory all contribute to its’ complete subjective nature. It is subjective to personal prejudice, emotions and forgetfulness. History is considerably more objective than memory however it still contains elements of subjectivity. History unlike memories complete fragmentation has a systematic structure. Histories basis on archives means that to a certain extent it can be objective and if history is abundantly supported by unambiguous evidence or reflects part of the current world it is reasonable to say that history is more objective than memory. Though this is not to say that history is completely objective as it too has elements of subjectivity. History is neither scientific nor mechanical, the ideal history, completely objective and dispassionate, is an illusion; as there is bias in the choice of a subject, bias in the selection of material, bias in its organization and presentation, and, inevitably, bias in its interpretation. Consciously or unconsciously, all historians are biased. Due to memories completely subjective nature, history although also being somewhat subjective, it is a great deal more objective than memory.
Popper, R. The Poverty Of Historicism, Routledge and Kegan Paul Inc, 1961.
Holliday, L. Children’s Wartime Diaries, Judy Piakus Ltd, 1995.
Baker, M. The Fiftieth Gate, HarperCollins Publishers, 1997.
Yates Francis, A. The Art Of Memory, Routledge and Kegan Paul Inc, 1966
Adams, C.K. A Manual Of Historical Literature, Harper and Brothers, 1882.
McCallagh, C. Justifying Historical Description, Cambridge University Press, 1984.
Beards, A. Objectivity and Historical Understanding, Ashgate Publishing, 1997.
Jenkins, K. Re-thinking History, Routledge, 1991.
Many of Hitler's policies were achievable only through war; he knew that for him to succeed, Germany must become involved in a European conflict of some sort.
Probably the best-known exposition of the lebensraum policy is the Hossbach memorandum of November 1937. It is not an official document but a second or even a third hand account. But it is a detailed version of how Hitler thought things might go over the next eight years after. He told the meeting that the chief aim of German foreign policy was the conquest of living space, which had to be achieved by force between 1943 and 1945. He also made it clear that Austria and Czechoslovakia would have to be seized. He predicted that these actions might provoke a war with Britain and France. Some historians view it as a firm plan for war against Britain and France.
Hitler's first move was rearmament. Germany was the only great power disarmed in the treaty. But Hitler went against the treaty and by 1935 the German army was 550,000 strong, he over-ruled the advice of his economic minister, Schacht, he had advised a slow build-up of arms but Hitler insisted on a speedy build-up which in the long run, caused more economic problems.
Hitler's next step was the German
The Hossbach Memorandum was the summary of a meeting on November 5 1937 between German dictator Adolf Hitler and his military and foreign policy leadership. The meeting marked a turning point in Hitlers foreign policies, which then began to radicalise. It outlined Hitler's plans for expansion in Europe. Contrary to a common misconception, Hitler did not want war in 1939 with Britain and France. What he wanted was small wars of plunder to help support Germany's struggling economy (although the Nazis never let on about their financial problems). Hitler wanted a full-scale European war with Britain and France between 1941-1944/5. The memorandum was where Hitler's future expansionist policies were outlined. The memorandum was named for the keeper of the minutes of the meeting, Hitler's military adjutant. Colonel Count Friedrich Hossbach. Besides Colonel Hossbach and Hitler, those attending the meeting were the Reich Foreign Minister Baron Konstantin von Neurath. the Reich War Minister Field Marshal Werner von Blomberg. the Wehrmacht Commander General Werner von Fritsch. the Kriegsmarine Commander Admiral Erich Raeder and the Luftwaffe Commander Hermann Göring.
Intentionalist and Structuralist Arguments
The Memorandum is often used by intentionalist historian s such as Gerhard Weinberg. Andreas Hillgruber and Richard Overy to prove that Hitler planned to start a general European war, which became the Second World War. as part of a long-range master plan. However functionalist historians such as Timothy Mason. Hans Mommsen. and Ian Kershaw argue that the document shows no such plans, and instead contend that the Hossbach Memo was an improvised "ad hoc" response by Hitler to the growing crisis in the German economy in the late 1930s.
The conference of November 5, 1937 had been called in response to complaints from Admiral Raeder that the "Kriegsmarine" was not receiving sufficient allocations of steel and other raw materials, and as a result, the entire "Kriegsmarine" building program was in danger of collapse. Neither the Luffwaffe or the Wehrmacht were willing to see any reductions of their steel allocations, and as the conference had been called in response to resolve the dispute. Hitler took the opportunity afforded by the conference to provide a summary of his assessement of the foreign policy situation. Hitler stated that in the event of his death, the contents of the conference were to be regarded as his "political testament" [Aigner, Dietrich “Hitler’s Ultimate Aims” pages 251-266 from "Aspects of the Third Reich" edited by H.W. Koch, Macmillan Press: London, United Kingdom, 1985 page 264 ]. In Hitler's view, the German economy had reached such a state of crisis that the only way of stopping a drastic fall in living standards in Germany was to embark on a policy of aggression sooner rather than later to provide sufficient " Lebensraum " by seizing Austria and Czechoslovakia [Messerschmidt, Manfred “Foreign Policy and Preparation for War” from "Germany and the Second World War" pages 636-637; Carr, William "Arms, Autarky and Aggression" pages 73-78 ]. Moreover, Hitler announced it was imperative to act sometime within the next five-six years before "two hate-inspired antagonists", Britain and France closed the gap in the arms race. which Hitler noted that Germany was already falling behind in [Messerschmidt, Manfred “Foreign Policy and Preparation for War” from "Germany and the Second World War" pages 636-637; Carr, William "Arms, Autarky and Aggression" pages 73-78 ].
A striking change in the Hossbach Memorandum is Hitler's new evaluation of Britain. From the prospective ally of 1928 in the " Zweites Buch " to the "hate-inspired antagonist" of 1937, unwilling and unable to accept an strong Germany marked an total volte-face in Hitler's view of Britain [Robertson, E.M. "Hitler's Pre-War Policy and Military Plans" page 106 ]. The German historian Klaus Hildebrand has argued that the Memorandum marked the beginning of an "ambivalent course" towards Britain [Hildebrand, Klaus "The Foreign Policy of the Third Reich" page 42. ]. Likewise, the late Andreas Hillgruber contended that Hitler was embarking on expansion "without Britain", preferably "with Britain", but if necessary "against Britain" [Hillgruber, Andreas "England's Place In Hitler's Plans for World Dominion" pages 5-22 from "Journal of Contemporary History", Volume 9, 1974. pages 13-14 ].
The first part of the document minuted Hitler's wish that Germany become an autarkic state, reasoning that a reliance on others makes a state weak. This has been labelled by some historians as a way of preparing Germany for conflict, by ensuring that it was not economically reliant on states with which it could soon be at war. The memorandum's suggestion that certain types of autarky were not possible can thus be considered reasons for regarding the war as something of a necessity. Autarchy:
*Achievement only possible under strict National Socialist leadership of the State, which is assumed; accepting its achievement as possible, the following could be stated as results:-
*A. In the field of raw materials only limited, not total, autarchy.
*1) In regard to coal, so far as it could be considered as a source of raw materials, autarchy was possible;
*2) But even as regards ores, the position was much more difficult. Iron requirements can be met from home resources and similarly with light metals, but with other raw materials -copper,tin- this was not the case.
*3) Synthetic textile requirements can be met from home resources to the limit of timber supplies. A permanent solution impossible.
*4) Edible fats-possible.
*B. In the field of food the question of autarchy was to be answered by a flat "No."
*With the general rise in the standard of living compared with that of 30 to 40 years ago, there has gone hand in hand an increased demand and an increased home consumption even on the part of the producers, the farmers. The fruits of the increased agricultural production had all gone to meet the increased demand, and so did not represent an absolute production increase. A further increase in production by making greater demands on the soil, which already, in consequence of the use of artificial fertilizers, was showing signs of exhaustion, was hardly possible, and it was therefore certain that even with the maximum increase in production, participation in world trade was unavoidable. The not inconsiderable expenditure of foreign exchange to insure food supplies by imports, even when harvests were good, grew to catastrophic proportions with bad harvests. The possibility of a disaster grew in proportion to the increase in population, in which, too, the excess of births of 560,000 annually produced, as a consequence, an even further increase in bread consumption, since a child was a greater bread consumer than an adult.
*It was not possible over the long run, in a continent enjoying a practically common standard of living, to meet the food supply difficulties by lowering that standard and by rationalization. Since, with the solving of the unemployment problem, the maximum consumption level had been reached, some minor modifications in our home agricultural production might still, no doubt, be possible, but no fundamental alteration was possible in our basic food position. Thus autarchy was untenable in regard both to food and to the economy as a whole." [ [http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/imt/document/hossbach.htm Hossbach Memorandum Berlin, November 10, 1937 ] ]
Indeed, the economic arguments appear to all but guarantee a war-as a result of fears for food supplies being reliant upon foreign trade in a world dominated by British-policed sea trade lanes:
"There was a pronounced military weakness in those states which depended for their existence on foreign trade. As our foreign trade was carried on over the sea routes dominated by Britain, it was more a question of security of transport than one of foreign exchange, which revealed, in time of war, the full weakness of our food situation. The only remedy, and one which might appear to us as visionary, lay in the acquisition of greater living space - a quest which has at all times been the origin of the formation of states and of the migration of peoples."
The second part of the document detailed three 'contingencies' that Hitler would take if certain situations prevailed in Europe, purportedly in order to ensure the security of the "Reich". Beyond that, Hitler claimed that two “hate-inspired antagonists", namely Britain and France. were blocking German foreign policy goals at every turn, and sometime in the next five years or so, Germany would have to achieve autarchy by seizing Eastern Europe to prepare for a possible war with the British and the French.
After the conference, three of the attendees, Blomberg, Fritsch and Neurath, all argued that the foreign policy Hitler had outlined was too risky—Germany needed more time to rearm. Additionally, they stated that the "contingencies" Hitler described as the prerequisite for war were too unlikely to occur: such as the apparent certainty expressed in the document, of the Spanish Civil War leading to an Franco-Italian war in the Mediterranean or that France was on the verge of civil war. Moreover, it was argued any German aggression in Eastern Europe was bound to trigger a war with France because of the French alliance system in Eastern Europe, the so-called " Cordon sanitaire ", and if a Franco-German war broke out, then Britain was almost certain to intervene rather than risk the prospect of France’s defeat [Weinberg, Gerhard "The Foreign Policy of Hitler's Germany Starting World War II" University of Chicago Press: Chicago, Illinois, United States of America, 1980 pages 39-40 ]. Thus, any German attack on the states of Eastern Europe. like Czechoslovakia. was likely to embroil Germany in war not only with the Czechoslovaks, but also with the British and the French before Germany was fully rearmed and ready for war with the other "Great Powers". As such, Fritsch, Blomberg and Neurath advised Hitler to wait until Germany had more time to re-arm before pursing a high-risk strategy of pursuing localized wars that was likely to trigger a general war before Germany was ready for such a war (none of those present at the conference had any moral objections to Hitler’s strategy, with which they were in basic agreement; only the question of timing divided them ) [Weinberg, Gerhard "The Foreign Policy of Hitler's Germany Starting World War II" University of Chicago Press: Chicago, Illinois, United States of America, 1980 pages 39-40. ] By February 1938. Neurath, Fritsch and Blomberg had been removed from their positions. Some historians, such as Sir John Wheeler-Bennett and William L. Shirer. believed that Blomberg, Fritsch and Neurath were removed because of their opposition to the plans expressed in the Hossbach memorandum.
The accuracy of the Hossbach memorandum is in question, as the minutes were drawn up five days after the event by Hossbach, partially from notes he took at the meeting and partially from memory. Also, Hitler did not review the minutes of the meeting, instead insisting, as he commonly did, that he was too busy to bother with such small details. The British historian A.J.P. Taylor contended that the manuscript used by the prosecution in the Nuremberg Trials appeared to be a shortened version of the original, as it had passed through the US Army prior to arriving at the trial. Taylor drew attention to one thing that the memorandum can be used to prove; “Goering. Raeder and Neurath had sat by and approved of Hitler’s aggressive plans,” but this does not necessarily mean that Hitler laid down his plans for the domination of Europe: there was no active decision to start a war made in the memorandum, just a decision about when war would be practical. However, Hitler did make mention of the wish for increased armaments.
Taylor attempted to discredit the document by using the fact that the future annexations described in the 'contingencies' were unlike those which occurred in 1939, but opposing historians, such as Taylor's arch-rival, Hugh Trevor-Roper. have pointed out that the memorandum still demonstrated an intention for adding Austria. Czechoslovakia. Lithuania and Poland to the "Reich". Taylor also stipulated that the meeting was most likely a piece of internal politics, pointing out that Hitler could have been trying to encourage the gathering's members to put pressure on Reich Minister of Economics and President of the "Reichsbank", Dr. Hjalmar Schacht. to release more funding for Germany's rearmament. In fact Schacht soon resigned in protest at the preeminence of rearmament in Nazi economics. Contending historians have also pointed out that rearmament is an integral part of preparation for conflict. In response, Taylor argued that Hitler's policy was one of bluff—he wished to re-arm Germany so as to frighten and intimidate other states to allow him to achieve his foreign policy goals without going to war.
In addition, Taylor argued that most of the 'contingencies' Hitler listed as the prerequisite for war, such as an outbreak of civil war in France or the Spanish Civil War leading to a war between Italy and France in the Mediterranean. did not occur. Trevor-Roper countered this criticism by arguing that Hitler expressed an intention to go to war sooner rather than later, and it was Hitler's intentions in foreign policy in late 1937 as opposed to his precise plans at this moment in history which really mattered.
*Taylor, A.J.P. "The Origins of the Second World War", Greenwich, Conn. Fawcett Publications, Inc. 1965 (see especially pages 266-68 & 278-93.
*Trevor-Roper, Hugh "A. J. P. Taylor, Hitler and the War" pages 86-96 from "Encounter", Volume 17, July 1961.
* [http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/imt/document/hossbach.htm The full text of the Memorandum, in English ]
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