The Relationship Between Nazi Ideology and Hitlers Foreign Policy
From the day Adolf Hitler was appointed German Chancellor on the 30th of January 1933 to the outbreak of the second world war on the 1st of September 1939 Nazi Ideology played a highly significant role in shaping Germanys foreign policy. Almost every move Hitler made in foreign policy is connected to Nazi Ideology and the National Socialist program (Hitlers 25 points.) Although closely linked to the highly immoral Ideology of the Nazis Hitlers foreign policy program was an amazing success. He reached many of the goals he had planned for the short term by late 1938 and had managed to avoid another war. If he had been allowed to continue his long term plans also would have been achieved.
Nazi Ideology revolved primarily around a few key points. It is most infamous for its beliefs that some races, primarily Aryan, Whites, Germanic and Nordic were superior to other races. The Nazis were strongly against Semitism and Slavism. They considered both Jewish and Slavic people “sub-human.” They also believed that the treaty of Versailles was both humiliating and unjust and sought its destruction. They were against most other political systems, especially Democracy, Communism, Marxism and Bolshevism. They believed in the “Fuhrerprinzip,” or leader principle. They were for Social Darwinism or survival of the fittest. They had strongly Nationalistic beliefs and were devoted to creating a Greater Germany. They believed that for Germany to become a great nation they would need to expand her borders and create a nation large enough to support a unification of all German people.
After Germany lost World War One they were forced to sign the treaty of Versailles. Signing the treaty meant that Germany lost all of its overseas colonies, gave up sections of land to Poland, was unable to unite with its old ally Austria, enormously reduce the size of its armed forces, pay large reparations of both money and goods and shoulder the blame of the war. The treaty was seen by most Germans as unjust and humiliating. Hitler and the Nazis despised this treaty and sought to destroy it. They believed only by ending the restrictions on Germany could their nation thrive once again and become a Greater Germany. By 1939 Hitler had all but demolished what was left of the Treaty of Versailles.
One of the Key points of Nazi Ideology is “Blut und Boden” or the defence of blood and soil. So Hitlers plans for German re armament are also closely linked to Nazi Ideology. As well as that for Germany to regain International status and to begin its long term expansion goals (both Integral parts of Nazi ideology) an adequate army would be necessary. However the restrictions and limitations placed on Germany after World War One made this legally impossible. The Treaty of Versailles stated Germanys army had to consist of no more than 100,000 soldiers. Tanks, submarines and an air force were not allowed and everything else had very tight restrictions enforced. If Germanys army violated the limits that the Treaty of Versailles allowed it could provoke a war or an invasion of Germany from one of their enemies and without a sizeable army Germany would not be able to defend herself. Despite his precarious situation in March 1935, using the excuse that France was lengthening its conscription time Britain was increasing its air force capacity Hitler reintroduced conscription to Germany. Hitler boldly announced to the world his intentions of enlarging his peace time army to a considerable 36 divisions or approximately 600,000 men. Even though Hitler had directly breached the Treaty of Versailles nothing was done to stop him. In June 1935 the Anglo-German Naval Agreement allowed Germany to even further expand its armed forces by allowing a German Navy that was limited to only 35% of the capacity of the British Navy. By the end of 1938 Germanys army had grew to a formidable force of 51 battalions or approximately 800,000 men, it had 21 large watercraft, 47 submarines and an air force consisting of over 2000 aircraft.
The Nazis believed that in order for Germany to become great it was necessary to expand her boarders by regaining land that previously belonged to them but was lost at the end of World War One and to take new land from neighbouring countries. This was referred to as “Lebensraum” or Living space. Land with a significant population of native German speakers was considered particularly valuable. These same beliefs are reflected in Hitlers eastern expansion program. Hitler began the expansion of Germany by making a risky attempt to regain control of the demilitarised Rhineland. Troops had orders to withdraw at the first sign of French opposition but the amount of resistance that came was minimal and Hitler consoled the French by offering them a 25 year peace treaty. Once again this was a breach of the Treaty of Versailles. After his success with the Rhineland Hitler carried out his long term plan to unite Austria with Germany. Within Austria huge demonstrations were carried out by Austrian Nazis. When Hitler and the German Nazis marched into Austria they were warmly welcomed and Austria became a part of the third Reich. After his triumphs with both Austria and the Rhineland Hitler set his sights on the Sudetenland. These were areas of land on the Czech border whose primary residents were ethnic Germans. Because of this Hitler demanded the Sudetenland become a part of Germany. However this area of land was of great strategic importance to the Czechs. It contained the majority of Czechoslovakias border defences and also a significant number of banks. On the 29th of September 1938 at the Munich Agreement, it was to be decided whether the Sudetenland would become a part of Germany. Czechoslovakia was not even invited to the conference and the Sudetenland became an official part of Germany. However for this agreement to go ahead there was a condition. This was to be the last territorial gain for Germany within Europe. Germany later broke this promise by making an attempt to invade Poland and so the Second World War began.
The Nazis had very strong beliefs that Germans and the Aryan race were superior to all other races. They believed that Germany should become a large and fruitful country capable of supporting a large population. They strived for Voldeutsche a term describing the unification of all German people living together in a larger, greater Germany. Hitler went through great efforts on his quest to create Voldeutsche through his foreign policy and expansion plans. All of the early territorial gains he made for Germany when he came into power was land that previously belonged to Germany and therefore had a large population of German speaking people. His later attempts to gain land that had not initially belonged to Germany were made to create a greater and larger nation for Germans to live in.
Although the link between Nazi Ideology and Hitlers foreign policy was very strong there were some moves Hitler made in Foreign policy that did not follow Nazi Ideology. In particular Hitlers alliances with Russia, Italy and Japan. Although the Nazis despised all forms of communism Hitler still made an alliance with communist Russia. Even more surprisingly Hitler made alliances with Italy and Japan. Although Hitler admired the Fascist dictator of Italy, Mussolini, Italians and Japanese were certainly not considered a part of the superior Aryan race. In fact according to Nazi ideology they were considered “sub-human” because on racial terms they are more closely related to Eastern Europeans and Slavic people then they are to Germans. However Hitler desperately needed allies especially if he was up against Britain, France and America arguably the worlds strongest military powers of the time.
Nazi Ideology played an extremely important role in the shaping of Hitlers foreign policy. The two were almost always closely associated. Although Hitler made decisions like alliances with Russia, Italy and Japan he needed these countries to form alliances to successfully challenge the allies. Besides this Hitlers foreign policy religiously followed the ideas, beliefs and concepts behind Nazi Ideology.
http://www.johndclare.net/RoadtoWWII1_IGCSEnotes.htm – This website was fantastic. It provides a detailed yet straightforward overview of Hitlers foreign policy.
http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~semp/origins.htm – This website didnt provide all that much information and what it did provide was highly opinionated and hard to understand.
http://ibmick.posterous.com/analyse-the-relationship-between-national-ide – Although this website focuses on both Maos China and Hitlers Germany meaning some of the information is irrelevant the information that is provided on Germany was very useful.
http://www.nazism.net/about/nazi_ideology/ – This is a rather lengthy overview of Nazi Ideology. It covers all of the main points about Nazi ideology and was a useful source.
http://hsc.csu.edu.au/modern_history/national_studies/germany/4024/nazi.htm – This was another useful website which focuses on Hitlers foreign policy but includes some information on Nazi ideology as well.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Socialist_Program – This website is relatively useful in itself and also provides a link to what Hitlers 25 points actually were.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_II – I didnt really get much information from this website but I used it just to make sure I had it right when I was talking about Germanys allies.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aryan_race – I didnt actually use any of the information I found on this site but I wanted to do a little background research on the Aryan race and found it useful.