Extract 8 and 9 are different viewpoints Essay

Published: 2020-02-20 12:41:42
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Category: Mussolini’s

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Analyse and evaluate Extracts 8 and 9 and use your own knowledge of the issue to explain your answer to the following: How far do you agree with the view that Hitler carefully planned out Germanys foreign policy years before he came to power?

Watt writes in extract 9, that Hitler did not have a set programme of foreign policy and that Mein Kampf is simply his political ideas and methodologies. He says that Hitler was incapable of devising a long-term plan. Whilst Hildebrand believes that Hitlers set programme for foreign policy can be seen clearly in Mein Kampf.

Generally, historians take two different viewpoints. Structuralists point out how external factors significantly affected Nazi foreign policy and how Hitler appears to be an opportunist who simply took advantage of events and timed his actions carefully. They would say that whilst Hitler had some vague ideology and aims for the Nazi party, these were not the main driving force in his decision making. On the other hand, Intentionalists believe in a master plan behind Hitlers foreign policy that was intended to and was responsible for starting the Second World War. Hildebrand is an intentionalist and Watt is a structuralist.

Hildebrands point of view is that even before coming to power, Hitler had distinct aims and knew how he would achieve them in a set out plan. Hildebrand says that the evidence for this is in Mein Kampf and the fact that Hitler met with the army leaders very shortly after becoming chancellor in 1933. Evidence external to extract 8 supports this idea also. In Mein Kampf Hitler expresses that not only does he want to overturn the Versailles Treaty, but also to expand eastwards and claim lebensraum (living space) for his German empire.

Expansion would most likely require a war, therefore in this way Hitler always intended to go to war. Additionally, Hitler was from the beginning of his rule, focused on rearmament and he seemed to drive the German economy so that it catered to the militarys needs. In Mein Kampf Hitler also expresses his anti-Semitism which he did in fact act on in his policies, for example the Nuremburg laws, the removal of citizenship for all German Jews. In the war itself, he used his Blitzkrieg tactics which he had planned and achieved domination and lebensraum in France, Belgium and other countries.

Watt believes that Hitler was incapable of a long-term plan and could not have had a step-by-step programme because external factors such as the actions of other countries, were unpredictable. For a start, most Germans felt anger towards the Versailles Treaty and all politicians wanted to overturn it, so it could be said that Hitler was just carrying on the same ideology that everyone could relate too. There is support for Watts point of view also in Mein Kampf. For example, Hitler thought the British were racially acceptable and wanted to form an alliance with them.

However when he tried to do so Britain declined so he had to adapt and change his foreign policy around this. Another of his intentions written in Mein Kampf was to claim Poland as lebensraum. However in 1934 Nazi Germany and Poland signed a non-aggression pact. This shows Hitler as an opportunist because he did what he could to create an advantage for Germany at the time, to have Poland as a satellite would be very useful because of its geographical location between Germany and its Hitlers biggest threat, the USSR.

The actions of other countries, predominantly Britain and France was a big driving force behind Hitlers decision making. When Hitler took advantage of political unrest in Czechoslovakia by seizing the country in 1939, he had already promised not to take any more land. Despite this, and despite the pact between France and Czechoslovakia which promised protection during an invasion, neither France, nor Britain had done anything in response. This made Hitler think that the western powers were weak and so he took more chances, taking advantage of other weakening countries even if they were not places he had intended to invade.

In the months leading up to Germanys invasion of Poland which started the war in 1939, Hitler was indecisive. He was weighing up the chances of the western powers going to war over Poland. Which suggests that maybe he did not intend for war at that time. During the Pact of Steel signed with fascist Italy in 1939, Mussolini agreed to supply Germany with his military forces in the event of a war but not until at least 1934. So this suggest that Hitler was not expecting a war so soon, nor was he as ready for one as he had hoped.

Overall, there is more evidence that backs up Watts opinion in extract 9 than to support Hildebrands view in extract 8. However I think that there are elements of both that are true. Hitler was not incapable of long-term planning but rather he was incapable of following it.

External factors were too significant in German foreign policy for Hitler to, as Hildebrand suggests, follow a programme he wrote in his autobiography Mein Kampf. Instead of following his aims through he had to change his plan almost all the time as he was reacting to external factors which were most probably the biggest factors he had to consider when making decisions.

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