To What Extent Was Hitler Responsible for the Second World War

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“To what extent was Hitler responsible for the Second World War?”

‘From the first day that he "seized power," January 30, 1933, Hitler knew that only sudden death awaited him if he failed to restore pride and empire to post-Versailles Germany.’[1] The Second World War was the deadliest battle in History. Figures estimate that over 59 million people were killed during its conflict. German leadership was under Adolf Hitler, a ruthless dictator who was the chancellor of Germany during the majority of the conflict. It is debatable that Hitler was solely responsible for the events in which lead to and occurred during the Second World War. Hitler was responsible to a large degree, however cannot be accountable for every aspect in which the sequence of events unfolded. Lack of effectiveness from situations such as The Treaty of Versailles, the failure of the League of Nations to keep the peace and the failure associated with the Appeasement between European Nations as indictors. Those aspects showed circumstances that were out of Hitler’s complete control, attributed in the overall commencement of war. However Hitler, a ruthless dictator brought much of the conflict upon himself with ideas already stated in his autobiography, Mein Kempf, outlining his ideas for foreign policy such as the destruction of the Treaty of Versailles, gaining territory, to include all German speaking people in his ‘Third Reich’ and to create a ‘radically pure’ German state that would dominate Europe.

Adolf Hitler’s position as Chancellor of Germany in 1933 consolidated his beliefs and ideals and thus wasted no time in the same year when he placed immediate strain of the Treaty of Versailles through his implementation of foreign policy through the Enabling Act in 1933.[2] Those policies were designed to make Germany the most powerful state in all of Europe. This supremacy of power was not a new method by any German government, it had been tried previously. It most recently occurred during World War One when German Generals tried to empower vast regions of Eastern Europe. This time around, Hitler was no different in his desire for domination, but where he differed from previous German governments was his obsession with racial supremacy.[3] His desire to remove whole races of ‘inferior’ individuals set Hitler apart from his predecessors. This racial hatred, in particular of the Jewish people of Germany, would be a major motivator for his desires, policies and overall outlook of Germany.

Hitler’s views toward racialism were already established prior to his chancellorship in 1933. Examples could be found in publications such as Mein Kampf, Zweites Buch, which was Hitler’s second book but unpublished at the time and also his speeches and conversations. Britain and France knew what Hitler’s philosophy entailed, as it was public knowledge, however did not take him seriously enough to warrant strong action, until of course it was too late. Hitler stated that it was Germany’s ‘duty to fulfill its racial mission’[4] regarding the segregation of the pure German race from those of other ethnicities. This would become an issue of major importance to Hitler and he would strive to resolve it until his death in 1945. Britain and France still offered no threats of resolve to Hitler at this stage.

Hitler was keen on abolishing the Treaty of Versailles. He was not at all pleased with the sanctions placed on Germany following the First World War. In Mein Kampf, he made references to the significance of the Treaty in regards to its sanctions hindering the growth of Germany, ‘Versailles was a scandal and a disgrace and that the dictate signified an act of highway robbery against our people.’[5] So while Hitler was testing the waters as to how much he could get away with, Britain and France continued to let Hitler get away with much of his conduct. By March 1935, Hitler declared that Germany was no longer under the sanctions of The Treaty of Versailles.[6] Following...
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