How far was Adolf Hitler the cause of World War II
World War II (WWII), the deadliest conflict of human history, stems from the following major causes—Adolf Hitler, appeasement, the Treaty of Versailles, the weakness of the League of Nations, and world economic depression. All of such factors stand amid heated historical debates between two sets of conflicting schools of thought—structuralism, otherwise known as functionalism, against intentionalism, and orthodoxy against revisionism. Although all five reasons possess significant weight in causing the Second World War, the Adolf Hitler factor exceeds the others in its importance.
To begin with, Adolf Hitler is considered to be the main factor that led to the outbreak of WWII firstly due to his desire for German expansion. At the Hossbach Memorandum (1937), a meeting that involved German Commanders-in-Chief, Foreign Ministers and War Ministers, Hitler stated that the overriding aim of Germany was to obtain Lebensraum (living space) within Europe at the latest by 1943-5. The meeting is seen as an important piece of evidence of Hitler’s expansionist aspiration, and William Carr, an intentionalist historian further backs up this point by describing how Hitler warned his generals ‘that a more adventurous and dangerous foreign policy was imminent’. This view also gains more weight from the fact that a month after the memorandum, General Jodl, the German Chief of the Operations Staff, formulated plans for an offensive rather than defensive war against Czechoslovakia. However, structuralist historians challenge the Hossbach Memorandum as a crucial piece of evidence; A.J.P. Taylor, for example, contends that Hitler’s exposition was mostly ‘day dreaming unrelated to what followed in real life’. Overall, Hitler’s expansionist desires contributed in heightening international tension, especially more so as nations regarded the issue of imperialism, which provided them with vast economic benefits from markets and...
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