Although it is never only one country that is fully responsible for the outbreak of a war, it can be agreed that the pre-war expansionist foreign policy of Germany was the triggering act behind the start of the Second World War. Therefore it is important to understand what affected German foreign policy, what role Nazism played in it and what other forces could have had impact on the decisions taken in these matters. In this essay I am going to introduce the main doctrines of Nazi ideology, then examine how these doctrines actually reflected themselves in Hitler's foreign policy and discuss whether it was ideology-driven or whether ideology was only a smokescreen in the party's policy, arguing for the fact that it was to a greater extent ideology-driven. Then I will briefly give an overview of other important facts that could have influenced foreign policy besides Nazism and finally I will discuss the originality of Nazi ideas.
[...] Although we do not know whether he really believed in the Lebensraum idea, it is undeniable that it had an effect on his foreign policy. He wanted to expand towards the east, it did not really matter what ideology he applied to ‘feed' the masses with as long as it was successful. There have been different approaches to this aspect of Nazi ideology. Some historians claim that Hitler did not have any concrete design worked out for the carrying out of the Lebensraum theory, Broszat even says that it was only an ‘ideological metaphor' Broszat as cited in I.Kershaw, The Nazi Dictatorship, Problems and Perspectives of Interpretation (London, by Arnold, a member of the Hodder Headline Group 4th edition) p However, other historians, like Hildebrand and Hillgruber believe that Lebensraum was ‘only a prerequisite for world domination' J. [...]
[...] The political atmosphere where Hitler and his party managed to emerge was not completely void of communist sentiments, the Communist Party did actually win 15 percent of the votes, communism was just as much apparent as everywhere in Europe. Therefore, Hitler's anti-Bolshevism can partly be derived from the same grounds as that of other politicians in power in other countries. Furthermore, Hitler also demonstrated his anti-Bolshevism to that extent in order to appeal to Britain, whose alliance he was craving for. [...]
[...] Another historian, Franz Neumann, argued in his book Behemoth that decisions of the regime were the product of compromise between the foregoing leading groups‘ Hiden and Farquason, 'Explaining' p Thus, it can be said that German foreign policy was partly based on Nazi ideology in the period 1933-39, however there were other factors playing part in it, these being social and economic. Finally it is necessary to look at the originality of the basic doctrines of Nazi ideology in order to understand whether it was really Nazism, the Nazi party and Hitler forming the doctrines of the ideology, or whether these sentiments were already present in German society and would have risen to the surface without the Nazi regime. [...]
[...] Finally we have to consider the question of anti-Semitism, which strongly influenced German foreign policy in the period 1933-39. Actually, this was the doctrine which Hitler emphasized the most, and the case where his ideology was indeed put into action. The major part of his work, Mein Kampf, was dedicated to the inferiority of the Jewry. His aim was to purge the Jews out of Europe and the Judeo- Bolsheviks from Russia (he associated Bolsheviks with the Jews) in order to make space or ‘Lebensraum' for the Aryan master race. [...]
[...] In the case of foreign policy the doctrines we have to consider are anti-bolshevism, anti-Semitism and most importantly racial superiority and the Lebensraum theory which are strongly interconnected. The idea of ‘Lebensraum' is one of the most substantial principles of Nazism, articulated in Mein Kampf. Hitler claimed that German people being the master race need more living space, therefore after uniting Germany with the other German-speaking territories (Austria and Sudetenland) they should further conquer territories in Eastern-Europe and the Soviet Union as well, acquiring the necessary living space for the Aryan race. [...]
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