Nazi aggression: planned or improvised?

Historian article

By Hendrik Karsten Hogrefe, published 3rd January 2012

Read more like this:

Since the 1960s, there have been two main schools of thought on this subject. According to the ‘fanatic' view, expressed by historians like Hugh Trevor-Roper, Hitler aimed consistently at expansion and war. His Lebensraum policy has been emphasised since the days of his imprisonment, and naturally struggle and war were seen to be vital to its success. Trevor-Roper believes Hitler had a clear vision that involved a master plan for war and he completely controlled the events that culminated in his attack on Poland in 1939. The evidence for this interpretation comes from Mein Kampf and, according to Trevor-Roper, the ideas expressed in Mein Kampf and the Zweite Buch – Hitler's secret book which was never published are the keys to understanding German foreign policy after 1933. However, some historians suggest that these books only express broad aims that Hitler still held when he became Führer.

The ‘opportunist' view has been expressed most controversially by A.J.P. Taylor. He argues that Hitler had no blueprint for aggression. Instead, he was an astute and cynical politician who took advantage of the mistakes and fears of other leaders and his apparent fanaticism was an act. According to this view, Hitler was in the mainstream of traditional German foreign policy, which had been expansionist since the second half of the nineteenth century. Taylor claims this is a development of the arguments of German historian Fritz Fischer who maintains that Germany was expansionist from before 1914 and that there was continuity in German foreign policy aims up to 1939...

This resource is FREE for Historian HA Members.

Non HA Members can get instant access for £2.75

Add to Basket Join the HA