Assess the Importance of Ideology in the Formulation of Nazi Foreign Policy to 1939

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ASSESS THE IMPORTANCE OF IDEOLOGY ON THE FORMULATION OF NAZI FOREIGN POLICY to 1939 From Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor on January 30 1933 to the beginning of WWII on Sept 3 1939, the Nazi state pursued an aggressive foreign policy that contributed largely to the outbreak of war. This foreign policy was largely reflective of the goals Hitler had set out in his 1924 autobiography “Mein Kampf”, particularly Germany’s easterly moving aggressions. However, although Nazi ideology played a dominant role in structuring foreign policy to 1939, it was also greatly influenced by the response of the Allies to aggressions and therefore Hitler’s perception of which foreign policies could be most successful. Hence, whilst Nazi ideology surmises the ultimate goals of Nazi foreign policy to 1939, the role of events from 1933-1939 played a significant detail in determining Germany’s actions. Hitler’s understanding of politics and race can be summed up in “Weltanschauung” (world view), as described in Mein Kampf. Written in 1924 after Hitler had been arrested for an attempted coup, the autobiography deals with the issues plaguing Germany at the time, including the instability of the Weimar Republic and the problem of WWI reparation payments as set out in the 1919 Treaty of Versailles. Hitler, as a member of nationalist Nazi party, despised democracy, and believed that it undermined Germany’s success. Further, Hitler gave validity to the “stabbing in the back” myth, claiming that WWI’s loss had been unnecessary, and had been caused as a result of the “scheming” Jewish population. Using these understandings, Hitler believed that should Germany be expanded into a grossdeutschland by creating Lebensraum (living room) in the resource-rich East, wherein the superior Aryan race could reside. All other races, particularly Slavs & Jews, were denoted as racially inferior, and were intended by Hitler to be used as slaves. Throughout Mein Kampf, Hitler euphorically and openly describes his war intentions for Germany, in quotes such as “Any alliance whose purpose is not the intention to wage war is useless”. However, when Hitler came to power in 1933, Germany was unfit to pursue Hitler’s aims, and required a great deal of restructuring in order to increase output and production. Therefore, despite Hitler’s ultimately war goals, he was forced to delay aggressions until the German military could be rebuilt. This began in 1935, when Hitler announced open plans for rearmament and introduced conscription, in order to strengthen and prepare the Wehrmacht. This was a direct violation of the Treaty of Versailles, however the Allies chose not to act. At this stage, Hitler’s popularity as a leader was large, seen by the success of the Saar plebiscite in January 1935 in which the Saarland’s population chose to rejoin Germany, as before the Treaty. Even by the end of 1935, it was clear that Nazi Germany was expanding, and intended to continue. On March 7th 1936, Hitler ordered the invasion of the Rhineland. This foreign policy was incredibly aggressive, and showed even greater disregard for the terms of treaty. The Rhineland had been established by the Treaty as buffer between France and Germany, in order to ensure France’s safety after the German invasion of WWI. By invading it, Hitler directly threatened France, and demonstrated his serious intent to expand Germany, as outlined in Mein Kampf. However, although this invasion coheres to the ideologies outlined in Mein Kampf, namely the reversal of the Treaty of Versailles, the invasion was largely experimental, and based on the previous non-action of the Allies to Hitler’s defiance of the treaty. A mere 22,000 German troops entered the Rhineland, and could have easily been suppressed by Allied forces, Hitler himself admitting that had the French resisted, Germany would be forced to retreat immediately. Despite this, the Allies chose not to respond yet again. This was a critical point in structuring future Nazi...
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