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“Hitler’s single aim in foreign policy was to expand in the East” - How far do you agree with this view?

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Introduction

"Hitler's single aim in foreign policy was to expand in the East." How far do you agree with this view? Hitler was appointed chancellor in January 1933, after dissolving the Weimar Republic, and he quickly established himself as a dictator. Hitler was still full of hatred from the First World War, and wanted revenge for how Germany had been treated over the last two decades. To do this and as F�hrer, he created three main foreign policy aims. As an introduction to his territorial ambitions, Hitler wanted to reverse the treaty of Versailles and the restraints on rearmament. He also wanted to bring all Germans together in a 'greater Germany' (Gross Deutschland), which represented continuity with the pan-German tradition and policies of the nineteenth century. His other obsession in foreign policy was the conquest of 'living space' (Lebensraum) in the east largely at the expense of Russia. Expansion in the east was one of Hitler's three main foreign policy objectives. Hitler believed that Germany needed to expand in the east in order to increase the Lebensraum of the Nazi Herrenvolk [the living space of the Nazi master race]. This could be used as both agricultural and industrial land. Hitler saw the aim of lebensraum, coined as the soil policy, as the solution to the 'unhealthy relationship between rural and city population1.' He went on to argue that 'the aim of our political activity must be... ...read more.

Middle

This proved highly beneficial to Hitler. Such a step by Britain was a direct denial of Versailles, by one of its own participants, significantly undermining both the League of Nations and the Stresa Front. The remilitarization of the Rhineland in March 1936, furthered the disregard for the Treaty of Versailles, as the Treaty forbade German armed forces or fortifications on the left bank of the Rhine or within a fifty kilometer deep zone on the right bank. The Rhineland was a valuable asset to Hitler having great geographical importance, as it allowed greater German assertion in the East, having economic value and holding 15 million Germans. A Wood sees Gross Deutschland as Hitler's fundamental aim; Hitler aimed at the "Germanization of Eastern Territories" (Eindeutschung der Ostgebiete) and the creation of an empire (Reich) to include all Germans nationals, including those of Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Sudetenland and the German communities along the Baltic coast. In Mein Kampf he says, 'people of the same blood should be in the same Reich.' There were lots of German people living in Austria and as Hitler was a fierce nationalist, he saw it as a matter of pride to unite all Germans under one country, one flag, and one leader. However. The Treaty of Versailles forbade the Anschluss of the two countries. On March 13 1938, Austria was declared a province of the German Reich. ...read more.

Conclusion

He dreamed of a Greater Germany, a superpower capable of competing with the British Empire and the United States. Such an objective could be achieved only by territorial expansion on a grand scale. As 'Hitler can be seen both as an fixated ideologue, and a man with a particular talent for exploiting the needs of opportunities, which were presented to him in foreign affairs7', he did have more than one aim. Although lebensraum was a major component in Hitler's foreign policy, it was not his single foreign policy aim. Hitler had 3 main foreign policy objectives. The first priority was the reversal of the Versailles Treaty; this meant building up Germany's military might through conscription and four year plans, developing an air force, remilitarizing the Rhineland. It also meant winning Germany's right to rearm and recovery of lost land in 1919 - the Saar, Alsace-Lorraine, German colonies and areas lost to Poland. He wanted to embrace into a Gross Deutschland, a greater Reich, all people of German origin currently living beyond Germany's frontiers. He had in mind Austrians, Germans living in Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia, Poland and the minorities living in Hungary & the Baltic states. The third and final aim was lebensraum. The first two were the steps to this real goal which was to make Germans the dominant race in Europe at the expense of the racially "inferior" peoples in the east. Germany had to expand for survival as she was surrounded by inferior races that might combine to destroy her. ...read more.

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