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This is something I've always wondered but couldn't imagine what the answer could be and haven't found much material elsewhere. Nazi Germany, paired with Italy and Japan, was waging war on the world during WWII. Germany, for its part was focusing on Europe, North Africa, and later on Russia.

But what was Nazi Germany's end goal? Let's say the US had never got involved when and how it did and let's say things had gone better for the Germans in Russia. Would they have continued expanding? Were they trying to establish a new world order and dominance?

That plan seems foolhardy to me in the extreme. There's no possible way a small country like Germany could possible keep the entire world under check. As it expands, it decreases its influence and ability to control any one area.

It seems their defeat was inevitable no matter the course of events. At the very least, they would have found attacking and destroying the Americas (especially the United States), even with the help of Japan, a nearly insurmountable goal given its sheer size, population, and technical/military abilities. So, just how was Nazi Germany hoping WWII would end?

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    To an extent, yes the Axis powers planned to partition Afro-Eurasia and the Pacific. It is easy to say it was foolhardy in hindsight, but an ideologically motivated struggle can seem necessary and even feasible because of the limits of the human imagination to assess the obstacles which must be overcome. – called2voyage Sep 16 '16 at 16:03
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    About the "small country" part, please keep in mind that in Germany wasn't small in 1939. It wasn't smaller or less populated than Britain, which ruled most of the world, and its population wasn't actually very small compared with the USA. Fortunately, nazis failed at establishing a new world order, it wasn't evident to expect they would fail. – Pere Sep 16 '16 at 16:56
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So just how was Nazi Germany hoping WWII would end?

You may be looking at this from a wrong perspective. Nazi Germany never had a master plan to conquer the world. It never had a plan to wage war on a world scale.

Nazi Germany certainly had military plans ready on how to conquer their neighbors. Because that's what the military gets paid for. And those plans got executed after the war started.

But Hitler was no great strategist. He was a lousy strategist. He was a gambler. Or Hazardeur. He occupied, annexed or conquered Rhineland, Austria, Sudentenland, the rest of Czechoslovakia and Memel hoping that the major powers would not react. Hoping their fear of another great war would let them stand by twiddling thumbs while Nazi Germany grew in power. And as yet another gamble, Hitler attacked Poland, counting on the Allies to back down just as they had the 5 times before. But he ran out of luck. Britain and France finally stood up. Another great war started.

Hitler had never wanted that great war. He had wanted to conquer Poland and expand eastwards to claim "Lebensraum im Osten" (room to live in the east). Probably by attacking and defeating Russia in a single, one-front war.

So Hitler's goal had been to conquer Poland and large parts of Russia. Maybe the Baltic states, too. Britain and France had declared war on Germany. And while conquering a nation is not exactly a defensive move, Denmark and Norway were more of a defensive move to protect The Reich and it's important resource trade. Yugoslavia and Greece were basically a big mess that was never planned. The low countries, Belgium and Luxembourg weren't exactly a target on their own right, more of an easy way into France. And even defeating France, while certainly a brilliant military planned and executed piece of warfare, had never been a strategic goal in Hitlers plan.

TL;DR

Hitler was no scheming mastermind plotting world domination. He had no vision of how the war against the worlds major powers would successfully be brought to an end, because he had never wanted that total war. He had wanted a series of limited wars to build a thousand year Reich and have "Lebensraum im Osten".

Disclaimer: just because he did not want a global war, does in no way diminish the fact that he was a criminal, aggressive, expansionist, evil dictator. I'm just saying he would have preferred it if he had waged a war he had a chance of winning.

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  • There could be no political solution to the "Eastern Question" so the defeat of Nazi Germany by Soviet Russia ended any theoretical "end game." If after the Barbarossa campaign had begun in June 1941 Hitler had ordered a halt as he had with Great Britain then it's doubtful Russia had the resources to mount a major counter offensive probably well into 1942. Nazi Germany would have been almost uninvadable with the Tiger Tank coming off the assembly line and a massive buffer area to be patroled by the Luftwaffe. Instead the End Game became a War of Annihilation. – Doctor Zhivago Sep 16 '16 at 20:51
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    Germany could not have fortified a short front line against Russia because Germany was in dire need of the oil fields in Kazachstan as Germany was simply running out of fuel to sustain its war machinery. So any theory crafting here is a moot point if not considering the shortage of raw materials Germany had to face during WWII. – Adwaenyth Dec 14 '16 at 15:40
  • But this is plainly false. Even more important to Hitler than a Lebensraum for the Germans taken to the slavs and other "inferior" peoples in the East, was unifying all German lands in one single Reich. And for Hitler, the French regions of Alsace and Lorraine, the German and Flemish-speaking part of Belgium, the whole Luxembourg and the whole Netherlands were German lands. Thus the war against France and other counties in the West may have begun too early for Hitler, but it was certainly a part of his end goal. – Joël Dec 16 '16 at 7:29
  • Yugoslavia and Greece were big messes of Mussolini's that Germany had to go clean up. – Spencer Apr 29 at 20:02
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There was no end goal of Nazi Germany but there was a end goal of Hitler for his lifetime. He wanted to conquer Lebensraum from the USSR and settle the area with Germans. He said that it would take 50 to 100 years for Germany to digest these territories, so this would far exceed his own lifetime. The territory after the conquest would resemble the USA settled by the British or Prussia formerly colonized by Teutonic knights. The indigenous peoples would either be totally eradicated, assimilated or locked in reservations like native Americans without the right to leave them, and provide Germans with what the Germans would demand.

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    This answer would benefit from some references. – Schwern Sep 16 '16 at 23:58
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    @Schwern: "Mein Kampf" would do... – DevSolar Dec 14 '16 at 15:22
  • This is a lie: "locked in reservations like native Americans without the right to leave them" – CWill Apr 30 at 22:37
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In "Mein Kampf," Hitler opined: "If we speak of soil in Europe today, we can primarily have in mind only Russia and her vassal border states."

This idea was supported by the Heartland Theory of Britain's HJ Mackinder and Germany's Karl Haushofer.

Basically, of Germany got control of at least eastern Europe (Poland, the Baltic states, Belarus, and the Ukraine), she would dominate the "heartland" (central Europe, eastern Europe, Russia) of "world island," the Eurasian landmass. The "heartland" itself was key to dominating world island (although an alliance with Japan wouldn't hurt either), and controlling world island could lead to domination of the world.

Hitler wanted to take at least the first step, and possibly all four steps in this sequence.

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The concept that large social organisations like an entire modern nation state and its apparatus had singular end goals, and that these were intentionally mapped is refuted in the debates over NSDAP and German racial policy in the "intentionalist / functionalist" debates in the historiography of German racial policy in the East.

In particular works like Christopher Browning's Ordinary Men confound the idea of a central state intention, based on persuasive archival evidence of broad and common functional aims shared amongst ordinary Germans of punishing Jews and Slavs and other minorities in every day life. These aims had no "end," but were rather a process.

As a result of these debates, genocide studies have retreated to a more constrained single incident level of study.

We do know that the functional relationships of the German state in practice tended towards racial annihilation, whether by pogrom and massacre, confinement or execution camp, or death march. What we do not know is the limit of these shared social aims and processes, except as historically limited by the actions of, primarily, the Soviet Union, United States and United Kingdom.

While large documentary archives of NSDAP or Junker-General Staff fantasism exist, these fantasies were demonstrably unrelated to on the ground processes of infighting or murder.

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    "Unrelated" is imo much too strong. ('Not equivalent'?) But otherwise, despite a certain parsimony of srcs, a much welcome perspective re:other answers. Those read like developments/processes 1920–45 could be condensed into one goal expressed in 1 sentence. There is no spoon, but 'goals', which have to be described for different times as different goals, if we don't want to have it 'too simple' & inadequate. – LаngLаngС Apr 29 at 17:31
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Question: What was Nazi Germany's end goal?

Short Answer:
Hitler had a long history of advocating for multiple wars and stated so in both his books. His best selling Mein Kampf and his uncirculated unreleased "The Zweites Buch". In both he discusses step by step plans for escalating wars ultimately becoming global war and genocide. Hitler's endgame changed with respect to the United States between books, and was altered by reality with regards to the UK. Hitler was consistent that Germany would become a larger player on the world stage through war at the expense of eastern Europe, the Soviet Union, and France. He was also consistent in both book with regards to Genocide against what he called inferior races.

Detailed Answer: Hitler wrote 2 books ("Mein Kampf" and "The Zweites Buch") and in each he discussed the need for Germany to pursue multiple wars. In both books he outlines what later became known as Stufenplan ("stage by stage plan") for conquest and genocide in Eastern Europe, and then the world.

In the First "Mein Kampf", Hitler expresses his "passionate belief" since youth, that Germany must obtain a larger place in the sun with the help of the sword wielded so efficiently by Prussian kings. Hitler responds to people who claim that a second European great war would mean the end of Europe, saying it was only "eternal peace' which destroyed peoples and that "neither the individual nor society could escape Nature's decree that the fittest alone survive".

Three major themes of "Mein Kampf" or My Struggle all deal with the need for War.
(1) To avenge Germany against France for the harsh treatment after WWI through renewed military conflict.
(2) Germany's need for "living space" and the military expansion into the eastern slavic countries.
(3) The need for a bloody crack down on jews and other groups he considers inferior.

Now alternatively Hitler does famously allude to his plans for the UK and the US. He calls the UK a "stabilizing influence on the world" and basically a net positive so no need to destroy them. He alludes to the UK as a natural ally for Germany against France. He calls the US a "country of Mongrels", no threat to Germany and thus, no need to destroy the "American Union".

Hitler Second Book, "The Zweites Buch",

War was definitely on Hitler's mind..

He downplays the costs of wars and paints them as inevitable, desired and necessary, as long as they aren't "eternal".

The Zweites Buch
"Indeed, the losses which arise directly from a war are in no way proportionate to the losses deriving from a Folk's bad and unhealthy life as such. Silent hunger and evil vices in ten years kill more people than war could finish off in a thousand years."

and

"Therefore, wise political leaders of a Folk will never see in war the aim of the life of a Folk, but only a means for the preservation of this life."

In this book he doubles down on the UK as a natural ally and writes them in along with Italy as his allies against France and the Soviet Union. Also in this book he changes his position on the United States. In this book he observes that a million Germans immigrated to the United States. That they were among the best Germans, the risk takers. Those who gave up everything and risked leaving the Fatherland. So he reclassifies the U.S. as an existential threat to Germany's future, which will need to be taken out. As in Mein Kampf, The Soviet Union remains Germany's greatest near term threat, here Hitler claims the US is now Germany's greatest long term threat.

Zweites Buch :The "Fourth Stage"
In contrast to Mein Kampf, in Zweites Buch Hitler added a fourth stage to the Stufenplan. He insinuated that in the far future a struggle for world domination might take place between the United States and a European alliance comprising a new association of nations, consisting of individual states with high national value. Zweites Buch also offers a different perspective on the U.S. than that outlined in Mein Kampf. In the latter, Hitler declared that Germany's most dangerous opponent on the international scene was the Soviet Union; in Zweites Buch, Hitler declared that for immediate purposes, the Soviet Union was still the most dangerous opponent, but that in the long-term, the most dangerous potential opponent was the United States.

Hitler's endgame changed, but was consistent that Germany would become a larger player on the world stage through multiple wars escalating to global conflict. His principle targets for expansion would be, but not limited too, eastern Europe, the Soviet Union, and France.

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Hitler's life goal was to right the wrongs of the hated Versaille Treaty. Historians and history buffs revel in the idea that Hitler's claim for lebensraum was a prefix for world domination. You need only look at a map of Europe in 1917 after the Red Army signed the Treaty of Brest-Litosk to see the extent of what's now greater Germany. Hitler in Mein Kampf refers to the thousands of German soldiers that died securing Germany's lebensraum in the east. Now look at map of Europe in 1919 after the Treaty of Versaille, Greater Germany has disappeared. The answer to the question is the Nazi end game was the return of greater Germany's borders as living room for the German population.

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But what was Nazi Germany's end goal?

The military goal in World War II for Germany was the successful completion of Operation Barbarossa (breaking the backbone of Soviet Russia, reaching an easily defensible position like the Arkhangelsk-Astrakhan line). This would remove the Soviet Union as a political and military threat, and win the "Lebensraum" Hitler postulated in "Mein Kampf" as early as 1925.

This in turn would remove the threat of Germany being starved by naval blockade in any upcoming power struggle, and also the threat of another two-front war in the future.

At first, Hitler believed Britain would sit still during this German - Russian power struggle. Because they were a "Germanic" people, because they couldn't want Bolchevism to take over, because they might be happy with their overseas possessions and turn a blind eye on Germany shifting the balance of power on the continent. Then (when Britain and France declared war over the invasion of Poland) he believed Britain could be forced out of the war.

We know how that went, but that's hindsight.

The "end goal", as Hitler quite clearly states in "Mein Kampf", his "political testament", was, and I paraphrase,

"never to endure a second military power at Germany's border, to prohibit its development, or -- if already existing -- destroy it with any means necessary, including force of arms."

Right after that paragraph, he goes on (in his usual, rambling, all-over-the-place style) about how only Italy and England (!) would provide worthwhile alliances, and how an alliance with England would isolate France.

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  • Downvote without a hint as to why this was considered "not helpful". The bane of Stackexchange strikes again... – DevSolar Apr 29 at 14:46
  • Had I, I'd rationalise it thusly: Q asks for Germany, you infer from AH's book his goals. These need not be identical. Also I'd say that from 33–39, and also from 39–45, those darned goalposts kept on moving. (Cf also JR's answer). There were pipe dreams (conquer world), 'realistic goals' (AA) & both waxing & waning according to situation. Endsieg in fall 39 is different from Sep 42. We can't start in 59 and look at 1 book and mistake it for 'the masterplan'. In hindsight, a lot reads like a script, but AH wasn't the puppetmaster for all strings. Your "at first" para is best expanded? – LаngLаngС Apr 29 at 17:25
  • @LangLangC: Well, I gathered from past discussions with you that a) you and I differ significantly in our take on German history in general and this part of it in particular, and b) that you tend to be so wordy in discussions about it that I'd rather not get into details at this point. "Those darned goalposts" were short-term strategic considerations; the Q was about the "end goal". And by Sep. 1942, the war was lost. – DevSolar Apr 29 at 20:39
  • @LаngLаngС: I consider it a very dangerous mistake to chalk up any part of that era to "world domination / delusional", or "not having a plan in the first place". Because that renders one blind for how (comparatively) easy it is for an individual plus some impressionable associates to drive nations to devilish extremes. The Nazis didn't blunder into this war blindly; they wanted it to happen, pretty much exactly as it unfolded, with the exception of Britain's involvement (and Italy's blunders). – DevSolar Apr 29 at 20:55

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