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When Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany in 1933, he became the leader of a people beleaguered by the affects of World War One and the sanctions placed against their homeland at its conclusion.  This sentiment, coupled with Hitler’s charisma and apparent aim to embody continuity within the world theatre while providing opportunity for growth within German borders, lead to a favorable world view of his leadership in those early years of his reign.  Other European nations even felt a kind of sympathy for the hardships endured by the German people due to the constraints placed upon them by the Treaty of Versailles, especially when other portions of that Treaty were not being followed.  What the German people, and the nations of the world, did not realize was that Hitler’s goals for the German nation came from a time nine years before he was to come to power, and were outlined in his autobiography, Mein Kampf.  These goals would eventually lead to his defeat.History is divided as to the aims Adolf Hitler embraced while developing and employing his foreign policies.  Some historians argue that Hitler made up his policies as he went along and thus had no cohesive aim.  Historian AJP Taylor said that Hitler “…did not make plans for world conquest or anything else. He assumed that others would provide opportunities and that he would seize them.”  (Taylor, 134)  Taylor expounds that Hitler’s foreign policy, like Stresemann’s before him, was continental in nature.  He did not wish to form a “great battle-fleet”, he did not wish for colonization outside of Europe and the Middle East was not a consideration.  Hitler, says Taylor, realized that he had been soundly defeated by Western powers, but wished for the League of Nations “to acknowledge that Germany had been victorious in the East.”  (Taylor, 70)Other historians argue that, “Although Hitler did not possess detailed blueprints for conducting Germany’s foreign policy, he did hold consistently to certain ideological beliefs.”  (Shore, 14)  His efforts, his writings and his speeches indicate that he had three main objectives:  to abolish the Treaty of Versailles, to expand German territory and to defeat Communism.  (Clare)  In addition to these primary objectives, Hitler also spelled out eight additional principles for Germany’s foreign policy, including regaining military strength, avoiding conflict with the French alliance that surrounded Germany, and avoiding forming alliances with states whose ideology was not consistent with that held by Germany.  (Shore, 14-15)By abolishing the Treaty of Versailles, the German motherland would be able to reunite with the portions of Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland, where many Germans were forced to live after being separated by national borders from their homeland.  Hitler had no patience for the separation of the German people by the borders indicated by the Treaty, or the scaling back of what he saw as a superpower, stating, “In an era when the earth is gradually being divided up among states, some of which embrace almost entire continents, we cannot speak of a world power in connection with a formation whose political mother country is limited to the absurd area of five hundred thousand square kilometers.”  (Hitler, 644)The end of the Treaty would also give the opportunity to build up their armed forces, and militarize the Rhineland.  In addition, the German population was expanding in leaps and bounds.  Hitler’s people needed more lebensraum (living space), and he intended to gain this space through the annexation of Eastern Europe.  “For it is not in colonial acquisitions that we must see the solution of this problem, but exclusively in the acquisition of a territory for settlement, which will enhance the area of the mother country, and hence not only keep the new settlers in the most intimate community with the land of their origin, but secure for the total area those advantages which lie in its unified magnitude.” (Hitler, 653)  By adding additional territory, Germany would also become more economically self-sufficient, through the addition of food and raw material resources.  This independence would be crucial to forming the superpower Hitler believed Germany to be.Finally, the political beliefs of the Nazi party were Fascist in nature, opposite of the Communists who Hitler blamed for Germany’s fall in World War One.  He believed the Communists were intent upon taking over Germany, and he would accept any cost to defeat them.  Believing that the Jewish people in Russia were the greatest enemy, Hitler wrote, “For centuries Russia drew nourishment from this Germanic nucleus of its upper leading strata. Today it can be regarded as almost totally exterminated and extinguished. It has been replaced by the Jew. Impossible as it is for the Russian by himself to shake off the yoke of the Jew by his own resources, it is equally impossible for the Jew to maintain the mighty empire forever. He himself is no element of organization, but a ferment of decomposition. The Persian Empire in the east is ripe for collapse. And the end of Jewish rule in Russia will also be the end of Russia as a state.”  (Hitler, 655)Having put forward his ideologies and having successfully come to power, Hitler set about in 1933 to satisfy his aims.  Although Germany had previously enjoyed relaxed relations with the Soviet Union after the signing of Rapallo in 1922, Hitler approached this relationship in a much cooler manner.  In September 1922, the German foreign minister expressed concerns over the adopting of an anti-Soviet policy and urged the continuation of a favorable relationship with Stalin’s government.  Hitler ignored this concern, as he felt a continued favorable relationship to be directly at odds with his own aims and with the ideology of the Nazi party.Hitler’s next major step in the world theatre was to withdraw Germany from the League of Nations in October 1933, seeing that body as the cause of all troubles for the German homeland.  At the same time, Hitler also withdrew from the World Disarmament Conference, and with Germany now acting independently of these bodies, began to grow the army as well as revives an arms program.  In the months following this step, Hitler also signed a non-aggression pact with Poland, again against the wishes of his advisors, who saw this step as a blow to the goal of a reunified German people.  While inconsistent with his aims, this act did serve as a “sign” to Europe that Hitler desired to be a peacemaker, not a warmonger.In 1935, Hitler gave Europe insight into what the aims of his future foreign policy might be, by announcing that he had actively defied terms of the Treaty of Versailles by building the amount of German troops to two-and-a-half the amount allowed, with future plans for many more conscriptions.  Rather than being forced to disband troops in order to come into compliance with the Treaty, the nations of Europe instead pledged to guard against future breaches.  Shortly afterwards, Hitler signed a naval agreement with Great Britain, further undermining the treaty.  Hitler aimed to maintain good relations with Great Britain, seeming to realize that his future success lay in disallowing a closer bond between Great Britain and France.  France, within the same time period, signed a treaty with the Soviet Union, pledging mutual assistance with one another, but further straining relations in Western Europe.Hitler found a natural ally in Mussolini’s Italy.  With similar ideologies in their fascist governments, Hitler was also aided by the confusion caused in the world theatre when Mussolini invaded Abyssinia, as a part of Italy’s African territorial expansion.  This paved the way for Hitler’s next move – reoccupation of the Rhineland in March 1936, a territory that became part of France after 1919.  Although other nations, including Great Britain, believed that Germany had only rightly reunited with territory they deserved, this show of power in the guise of occupation also opened the door to future defeat, theorized Taylor.  “There was in fact no sense in opposing Germany until there was something solid to oppose, until the settlement of Versailles was undone and Germany rearmed.  Only a country which aims at victory can be threatened with defeat.”  (Taylor, 101)Recalling Taylor’s pronouncement that Hitler waited for opportunities and seized them instead of proactively advancing his own policy, it is ironic that the timing of the Spanish civil war served as a worthy diversion of attention from the continued build-up of the German military and remilitarization of the Rhineland.  Hitler seized upon this initial success to draw together a four-year plan, during which Germany would become self-sufficient and ready for war.  Towards this end, Hitler succeeded in achieving a strengthened economy and a decrease of unemployment.  Thus strengthened within his borders, and bolstered by the unification with the Rhineland, Hitler again prepared to bring other German peoples back within German borders.Many of the German people living in what became other countries were in favor of reunification of their homeland, but were anxious over the threat of war, having experienced its terrors so recently in World War One.  When the march into in 1938 Austria went smoothly and with little bloodshed, “…the initial war psychosis [gave] way to a tumult of jubilation.”  (Kershaw, 120)  Germans residing outside of German borders also heard the “call of Nationalism”. (Taylor, 152)  Those living in Czechoslovakia, conscious of the Austrian reunification with German, gave Hitler another opportunity to satisfy his aims.  After a meeting with Britain, France and Italy in 1938, an agreement to give Hitler the Sudetenland was signed, with the caveat that should Hitler march into any other country, war would be declared.As tension grew, Germany remained bold – they’d been appeased before, they’d broken their own agreements before, and they hadn’t been punished since the Treaty of Versailles two decades earlier.  This system of appeasement is best summarized by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum:  “The objective of this policy was to maintain peace in Europe by making limited concessions to German demands. In Britain, public opinion tended to favor some revision of the territorial and military provision of the Versailles treaty. Moreover, neither Britain nor France in 1938 was militarily prepared to fight a war against Nazi Germany.”  (USHMM) Knowing that Western Europe was not yet prepared to fight a war emboldened Germany, and in a seeming break from his foreign policy aims, Hitler took over the remainder of Czechoslovakia in March 2003.  “Significantly this was the first non-Germanic land that Hitler had seized. This occupation outraged public opinion in Britain and marked the end of appeasement.”  (Tonge)In another move that surprised both Germans and other Europeans, Hitler signed a ten-year agreement of non-aggression with the Soviet Union in August 1939.  Thus assured they would not face a two-front war, Hitler invaded western Poland on September 1, 1939, stating, “Further successes can no longer be attained without the shedding of blood… there is no question of sparing Poland.”  (Tonge)  This move not only violated the non-aggression pact he had signed with Poland in 1933, but provided the necessary impetus to generate a response from Great Britain and France, who declared war on Germany in support of Poland on September 3, 1939.   As agreed to by Germany, Russian then invaded eastern Poland on September 17, 1939.  Poland, without major support from France and England, surrendered eleven days later.  Directly annexing the formerly Polish territories that bordered Germany, occupation forces organized a General Government with a civilian governor in the remaining land.  (USHMM)Having satisfied two of three foreign policy objectives, including the reunification of German peoples and the addition of land to ensure Lebensraum for its citizens, any evidence of cohesion in Hitler’s aims deteriorated.  He waited several years before furthering his last goal – the destruction of the Soviet Union – and in the interim, advanced aggression against countries his initial objectives showed no interest in.  Taylor states, “There was a ‘new order’ in Europe; it was dominated by Germany.”  His initial dominance depended on ensuring the isolation of Europe from the rest of the world.  “He gratuitously destroyed the source of this success.  In 1941, he attacked Soviet Russia and declared war on the United States, two World Powers who asked only to be left alone.  In this way a real World War began.”  (Taylor 278)   And in this way, Hitler’s foreign policy, initially based on three main aims, lead to his ultimate defeat.Clare, John D. “Road to War – Hitler’s Aims.” Greenfield History Site. 2002. 9 June 2006 <>.Hitler, Adolph. Mein Kampf. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1971. 644, 653. 655.Kershaw, Ian. The “Hitler Myth”: Image and Reality in the Third Reich. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987. 120.Shore, Zachary. What Hitler Knew: the Battle For Information in Nazi Foreign Policy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003. 14-15.Taylor, A.J.P. The Origins of the Second World War. New York: Touchstone, 1961. 70, 101, 134, 152, 278.Tonge, Stephen.  “Hitler’s Foreign Policy.”  A Web of English History.  2005.  9 June 2006 <>.United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. “Invasion of Poland, Fall 1939.” Holocaust Encyclopedia. 9 June 2006 <>. 

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