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Do we have any indication what Hitler's plans would have been had the Allies continued to appease him? If the invasion of Poland had been allowed, do we know what he would have done next? Some planning document or minutes from a meeting, perhaps, where they discussed what their next steps might be?

It seems pretty clear from his rhetoric and later actions that Hitler was, to some degree, picking a fight. That is, he wanted to go to war, if not against the world then at least against certain enemies like Russia so he could get his much-discussed "breathing room."

But was that the only purpose of the remilitarization of the Rhineland, the Anschluss, the occupation of Czechoslovakia, the invasion of Poland, etc? To get as much as he could before the bullets inevitably started flying? Or was there an end goal, some ultimate phase that he was aiming for, in lieu of (or in advance of) outright war?

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3 Answers

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Hitler wanted Germany to take a place on the world scene which was appropriate to the nation of Ubermenschen.

This required 3 stages:

  1. Taking Alsace-Lorain from France
  2. Taking lebensraum from the Slavs in the East
  3. Taking colonies in Africa from Britain and France

Obviously,

  1. 1 and 2 could be achieved in any order, but 3 probably required 1 & 2.
  2. Both 1 & 2 required a war.

Thus Hitler did not much care whether his actions would bring a war or not, he, apparently, believed his own ideology and thus thought that Germany would win any war. Thus he was trying to strengthen his position ahead of the inevitable conflict, and if that lead to immediate hostilities, so much for the better.

I don't think he had a very clear understanding of the British and French attitudes, and he did not realize that after he took the non-German parts of Czechoslovakia, the Entente had resolved to go to war. However, even if he did, that would probably not have changed his policies.

Note that he always pretended to be a peacemaker and claimed the Entente to be the warmongers (the line repeated by the Soviet propaganda until 1941).

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Nice answer, thanks! Out of curiosity, Have you ever heard of a list or discussion of other territories he might have tried to take, had Britain and France not declared war? Hitler seemed more than content to keep taking territories without jumping straight into a war with the major powers of Europe, so he must have thought about where to go next. Unless Poland was his last play before getting the war started himself. Ever found any discussions around that topic? –  Alexander Winn Dec 16 '13 at 22:28
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He would not have attacked Poland without a Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, and Stalin would not have agreed to it unless he knew that Entente would go to war over Poland. I don't think he created new plans before swallowing the previous prey. –  sds Dec 16 '13 at 23:22
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The two are not mutually exclusive.
The "apeasement" had the purpose (and effect) to blunt and slow the military readiness of Germany's future enemies, while allowing Germany to build up its own armed forces to the levels needed for the upcoming campaigns.
It also gave Germany, through diplomatic means, access to the industrial capability and natural resources of Austria and the Sudetenland, important for her war industry, without having to fire a shot (and especially in case of Austria with overwhelming support from the local population).
It allowed Germany to pick and choose the moment to unleash the war it was seeking, was sure would be inevitable in the end, rather than have that moment dictated to them by outside forces.
And having the treaty with the USSR ensured both that there'd be no second front until such a time as Germany chose there to be one (though in the end suspicions about possible Soviet buildup may have sped up the plans for operation Barbarossa) and Soviet support during Germany's build up, both in the form of supplies (Ukrainian grain and Russian steel) and logistics (many German troops were trained in the USSR, especially those that would fall foul of the Versaille restrictions).

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Good answer. I'd like to add, in fairness, though, that the Versailles-bypassing training of German troops in the USSR actually predated the Nazis and was a key project of the old Reichswehr. The Nazis actually put less emphasis on it since they openly flouted the Versailles treaties anyway from some point. –  Felix Goldberg Dec 17 '13 at 7:40
    
@FelixGoldberg yes, it started under Weimar, but was still going on under the Nazi regime for a period, and their reliance on Soviet food and other imports only grew for several years, itself releasing parts of the German population from their farms and businesses and into the (para)military. –  jwenting Dec 17 '13 at 7:45
    
Yes, you are quite right that generally speaking the Soviet assistance was very important and useful for Nazi Germany, especially during 1939-1941, in particular with the food imports. Just pointing out that the military training angle was less prominent than one may think based on the overall pattern, being a bit of a stickler for the facts, that's all. –  Felix Goldberg Dec 17 '13 at 8:29
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Hitler's foreign policy goals were best spelled out in "Mein Kampf" "If we speak of the soil of Europe, we speak of the soil of Russia and her vassal border states...Never tolerate the establishment of two continental powers in Europe. See an attack on Germany in any such attempt to organize a military power on the frontiers of Germany."

Apart from Russia, he saw France as the greatest obstacle to German rearmament, and expansion, and sought alliances with England and Italy (France's historical enemies). Only Italy "bought in." But Hitler sought to destroy Russia and neutralize England and Italy so that Germany could be the dominant European power.

Some people see the so-called Hossbach Memorandum as a description of Hitler's attempts to annex Austria and the Czech Republic, while France was "otherwise engaged." But this is a document kept of a meeting between Hitler and his generals by a staff colonel, while "Mein Kampf" is Hitler's autobiography/life philosophy.

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