In Mein Kampf as well as in Zweites Buch, Adolf Hitler advocates the idea of securing Lebensraum ("living space") at the expense of other nations in wars of aggression. His substantiation, as far as I remember, is that the ultimate goal of any Volk (a people/nation) is to survive and that land is needed for better development of a Volk and, in particular, to improve its resources and population, which are needed for survival. Hitler goes to great lengths in his attempts to free the reader from moral objections against wars of aggression. In particular, he says that borders between states are not drawn in accordance with some sacred idealistic principles of justice, but are outcomes of past wars, thus simply refelect past balances of power, and hence do not need to be respected much, especially if balances of power changed. He also says that although people die even in successful wars of aggression, the losses will be quickly recovered in peace times. To put it simply, the sword is the path-breaker for the plow.

It seems to me that the best argument against such an ideology is that if you attack and annex countries for no good reason, then nations are likely to ally against you rather than to sit on their hands and watch you absorbing them one by one. Even if you are stronger than any given nation of such an alliance, you are likely to be defeated and lose land in the end (which is what actually happened to Germany in WWII).

Did Hitler attempt to rebut such an argument, in Mein Kampf, Zweites Buch, in speeches, or elsewhere? If so, what did he say?

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    Hitler wanted to avoid two front war situation from WW1 (nevertheless he did repeat this mistake) , and advocated forming alliances with Germanic nations (where he included Britain). During the war itself Germany did have allies, and Hitler expected that many would fall in line with "New European Order" which actually did happen. One thing that didn't happen was quick collapse of "judeo-bolshevik Russia " and because of that Axis alliances started to crumble. And for further research it is best to actually read Mein Kampf and make your own conclusions - book is available online freely.
    – rs.29
    Jan 8, 2020 at 18:37
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    Note that Germany absorbed both Czechoslovakia and Austria, and other nations just sat on their hands and watched.
    – user15620
    Jan 8, 2020 at 20:32
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    How can a question on whether someone said something in his (limited) writings -- a completely fact-based question -- be voted to close as "opinion based"? And if you downvote, leave a note on why. Right now this looks like a knee-jerk reaction to the author the question is about.
    – DevSolar
    Jan 10, 2020 at 11:23
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    @rs.29: To be fair, it's an awful read. Asking for some kind of summary on this particular subject is fair IMHO. And the first and most important thing that didn't go "according to plan" was that England actually went to war over Poland (Hitler did not expect that to happen, possibly not even over France), and steadfastly refused to bow out of the war again. That is the crucial point IMHO; without Germany getting entangled with the British at sea, in the air, in Africa and Greece, and without lend-lease convoys, Russia might have collapsed. And the USA might not have gotten involved...
    – DevSolar
    Jan 10, 2020 at 13:29
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    (ctd.) That's not to say that I consider Britain sitting on their hands to be a likely option, given that Germany was going to rearrange the power balance on the continent completely. Just that this was where Hitler's "master plan" (as outlined in Mein Kampf) started to fall apart. Russia holding its own, eventually, benefited greatly from that. (Just picture Germany being able to purchase oil on the world market and have it shipped to German ports without the Royal Navy opposing, and industry being able to ramp up production without German cities getting carpet-bombed by the RAF.)
    – DevSolar
    Jan 10, 2020 at 13:32

2 Answers 2


In Mein Kampf as well as in Zweites Buch, Adolf Hitler advocates the idea of securing Lebensraum ("living space") at the expense of other nations in wars of aggression. His substantiation, as far as I remember, is that the ultimate goal of any Volk (a people/nation) is to survive and that land is needed for better development of a Volk and, in particular, to improve its resources and population, which are needed for survival.

That is, in so far, a good summary. However, it is not complete, and lacking some crucial observations.

Hitler didn't talk about ever-increasing "Lebensraum" per se, as in "total world domination". An oft-repeated, but quite limited and flawed interpretation of Hitler's geostrategic outlook. He might have been somewhat crazy by our modern standards, but he wasn't a raving lunatic (...at that point...). He had quite clear ideas of what the "sunny path" of his politics would look like, and that was "limited" (if one could use that word in this context) to Europe.

The idea was

  1. winning "Lebensraum", and
  2. defeating the "jewish Bolshevization of the world".

Both goals were to be achieved in the east, i.e. Russia, specifically.

Let's dig through his ramblings in "Mein Kampf" and shine some light on a couple of key points.

Talking about pre-WWI politics, he notes that there are only two ways Germany could achieve power (page 154, translation and emphasis mine):

Wollte man in Europa Grund und Boden dann konnte dies im großen und ganzen nur auf Kosten Rußlands geschehen [...]. Für eine solche Politik allerdings gab es in Europa nur einen einzigen Bundesgenossen: England.

"If one would want land in Europe, this could only happen at the expense of Russia. [...] For such a policy there was, however, only one ally in Europe: England."

He rambles on a bit, and then posits the other possibility (page 156f.):

So blieb also noch die vierte Möglichkeit: Industrie und Welthandel, Seemacht und Kolonien. [...] Nein, wenn wir diesen Weg beschritten, dann mußte eines Tages England unser Feind werden.

"So what remained was the fourth way: Industry and global trade, power at sea and colonies. [...] No, if we went down this road, England had to become our enemy one day."

He concludes on page 157:

Wenn europäische Bodenpolitik nur zu treiben war gegen Rußland mit England im Bunde, dann war aber umgekehrt Kolonial- und Welthandelspolitik nur denkbar gegen England mit Rußland.

"If european land policy was only achievable against Russia, allied with England, then on the other hand colonial and world trade policy was only thinkable against England, allied with Russia."

This, however, were reflections on the pre-WWI situation. Later on, with Russia ruled by Bolshevism, Hitler only saw one option remaining. Page 753:

...trotz alledem hätte es vor dem Kriege auch noch den zweiten Weg gegeben, man hätte sich auf Rußland zu stützen vermocht, um sich gegen England zu wenden. Heute liegen die Verhältnisse anders. Wenn man vor dem Kriege noch unter Hinabwürgen aller möglichen Gefühle mit Rußland hätte gehen können, so kann man dies heute nicht mehr.

"...for all that, prior to the war there would have been the second path, one could have relied on Russia to turn on England. Today the situation is different. While, prior to the war, one could have swallowed all kinds of emotions to ally with Russia, this is no longer possible today."

At this point (and quite a bit later still), Hitler was under the impression that he might win England as an anti-Bolshevism ally. Page 755:

Ich möchte diese Betrachtungen nicht beenden, ohne nochmals auf die alleinige Bündnismöglichkeit hinzuweisen, die es für uns augenblicklich in Europa gibt. Ich habe schon im vorhergehenden Kapitel über das deutsche Bündnisproblem England und Italien als die beiden einzigen Staaten in Europa bezeichnet, mit denen in ein engeres Verhältnis zu gelangen für uns erstrebenswert und erfolgverheißend wäre.

"I do not want to finish these observations without pointing out one more time the only alliance open to us in Europe at the moment. I have already mentioned in the previous chapter, about the German alliance problem, England and Italy as the only states in Europe with which a closer relationship would be desirable and promising for us."

He then goes on with a bit of wishful thinking how such an alliance with England would put an end to the entente and isolate France.

Damit aber würde der Bund Deutschland die Möglichkeit geben, in aller Ruhe diejenigen Vorbereitungen zu treffen, die im Rahmen einer solchen Koalition für eine Abrechnung mit Frankreich so oder so getroffen werden müßten.

"This alliance would give Germany the opportunity to make those preparations at leisure which would be necessary either way in the context of such a coalition to settle the score with France."

He summarizes on page 757:

Nicht West- und nicht Ostorientierung darf das künftige Ziel unserer Außenpolitik sein, sondern Ostpolitik im Sinne der Erwerbung der notwendigen Scholle für unser deutsches Volk. Da man dazu Kraft benötigt, der Todfeind unseres Volkes aber, Frankreich, uns unerbittlich würgt und die Kraft raubt, haben wir jedes Opfer auf uns zu nehmen, das in seinen Folgen geeignet ist, zu einer Vernichtung der französischen Hegemoniebestrebung in Europa beizutragen.

"Our future foreign policy may not be western or eastern orientation, but eastern policy in the sense of acquiring the necessary land for our German people. As this requires strength, but the mortal enemy of our people, France, is strangling us remorselessly and robbing us of strength, any sacrifice is necessary that would contribute to an annihilation of the French hegemonic ambition in Europe."

He believed that England would be willing to abandon its Entente allies, indeed that England would not be that interested in defending France (let alone Poland). Page 764f.:

In England war mit der Vernichtung Deutschlands als Kolonial- und Handelsmacht und dessen Herunterdrückung in den Rang eines Staates zweiter Klasse der Krieg wirklich siegreich beendet. Ein Interesse an der restlosen Ausmerzung des deutschen Staates besaß man nicht nur nicht, sondern hatte sogar allen Grund, einen Rivalen gegen Frankreich in Europa für die Zukunft zu wünschen.

"With the destruction of Germany as a colonial and commerce power, and its suppression into a second-class state, the war had indeed ended victorious in England. There was not only no interest in destroying the German nation root and stem, there was reason to wish for a future rival to France in Europe."

We know this turned out to be wishful thinking.

To summarize in my own words:

Hitler's idea was to win Lebensraum at the expense of Russia and its satelites specifically. This, by necessity, required neutralizing France.

Hitler indeed was under the impression that it would be possible to win Italy and England as allies for such an undertaking.

He was expecting France to be opposed to any German rise to power, and planned on taking out that threat to his flank -- while not expecting opposition from England. An assumption mostly based on "they are a Germanic people as well", and "they don't like Bolshevism either".

As for how things would have went on after a successful war, in Hitler's mind, we have to look no further than his "political testament". Page 754:

Duldet niemals das Entstehen zweier Kontinentalmächte in Europa! Seht in jeglichem Versuch, an den deutschen Grenzen eine zweite Militärmacht zu organisieren, und sei es auch nur in Form der Bildung eines zur Militärmacht fähigen Staates, einen Angriff gegen Deutschland und erblickt darin nicht nur das Recht, sondern die Pflicht, mit allen Mitteln, bis zur Anwendung von Waffengewalt, die Entstehung eines solchen Staates zu verhindern, beziehungsweise einen solchen, wenn er schon entstanden, wieder zu zerschlagen.

"Never suffer a second continental European power to arise! Consider any attempt at organizing a second military power at Germany's borders, even if just the formation of a state capable of generating military power, an attack on Germany; and see in it not only the right, but the duty, to prevent the formation of such a state, or if already formed, its annihilation, with all available means, including force of arms."

So, the idea was to neutralize France, smash Russia (and everything in the way of that goal, like Poland), annex whatever eastern territories might be deemed necessary, and then make sure that Germany remained the only significant power in Fortress Europe -- assuming that England would be satisfied to retain its overseas empire.

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    As for quoting Mein Kampf directly, I find this to be the best way imaginable to dispel any notions by neonazis that Hitler didn't "want" the war, that it was somehow all not his fault. This was 1925, and his belligerent outlook could not be made more plain.
    – DevSolar
    Jan 10, 2020 at 13:39
  • Wow, thanks a lot for such a detailed answer
    – Mitsuko
    Jan 10, 2020 at 13:43
  • @Mitsuko: To be fair, I had most of those quotes earmarked from earlier discussions with neonazi apologists. :-D
    – DevSolar
    Jan 10, 2020 at 13:44
  1. Hitler advocated alliances with the nations he considered superior race. This included primarily Germanic nations (including the UK and the USA), and Italy, basically the most developed nations in Europe and the world, with notable exception of France. So if his ideas worked, the only countries to make an alliance against Germany would be much less-developed countries of Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa. And, according his ideology the subhumans respected force and power, so those remaining nations also would voluntarily subordinate to Germans because they would naturally feel that Germans are superior.

  2. Hitler counted that various nations would compete to not be considered sub-humans and to earn respect of Germany. This system was introduced throughout the whole empire, including the concentration camps. In Poland for instance there were special shops for Ukrainians and for mountain Poles who were singled from the rest. In German law they intentionally made the definition of "Aryan" vogue. According the law an Aryan was a descendant of Aryans, a circular definition, with an exception of Jews who were the only nation named as non-Aryan explicitly.

  3. He took example of various cases of colonialism and genocides of the past. For instance, conquest of the Americas, colonialism in Africa, genocide of Armenians by Turkey etc. He noticed that in most cases other countries did not unite against the aggressors, and if they stepped against such aggression, it was due to competing interests. In many cases genocide of peoples considered inferior race was not noticed at all.

  4. Hitler outlined only one primary target: Russia. This means that in theory all other countries could either ally with Germany or subdue to it without much fear at least as long as Russia was yet not fully conquered. And to make Russia look special he claimed that even Tsarist Russia could be in certain circumstances an ally, but it was Judeo-Bolshevism that was a plague that threatened all other nations.

  5. Due to massive anti-Semitic propaganda, it was made highly uncomfortable for any politician in other countries to advocate anti-German measures or alliances: they would be instantly accused of being secretly Jewish or working for the Jews, or being bribed by the Jews, etc, which would play in favor of their political enemies. This technology was employed in other countries and in other circumstances as well, for instance in Russia during the anti-pedophile hysteria started in 2008. If any politician would air a concern that the hysteria went too far, he would be accused of being a pedophile himself or working for the "pedophile lobby". In other circumstances it was used against Communists, witches, suspected followers of other religions, suspected enemies of communism etc.

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