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Pre-Hitler Foreign Policy:

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Emerson Goldstein

on 6 September 2013

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Transcript of Pre-Hitler Foreign Policy:

The foreign policy of Nazi Germany was a unique departure from the more traditional policies that preceded it.
Orthodox Interpretation:
Orthodox Historians:
Revisionist Historians:
Evaluating these Interpretations:
Revisionist Interpretation:
Hitler’s foreign policy was not unique: the ideas of lebensraum, domination of the Slavs, and restoration of the German army had been present since the 1800s.
Ian Kershaw:
“Hitler became impervious to the advice of all those who wished him to exercise moderation in his foreign policy” (Kershaw 83).
“He had moved from a position of a foreign policy supported by Great Britain to one where he was prepared to act without Britain and, if need be, against Britain” (Kershaw 93).
“ . . . all his steps in foreign policy (though not their precise timing) had followed a carefully preconceived plan” (Kershaw 168).
Woodruff D. Smith
“Successive German governments from Bismarck to Hitler are held to have followed expansionary policies in response to the demands of organized big business for assistance in solving the crises and contradictions that arose within industrialized capitalism” (Smith 4)
Revisionist:
Strengths: Acknowledges the continuation of expansionism, pandering to big businesses, and the pursuit of Lebensraum

Weaknesses: Fails to acknowledge that although Hitler's policies were in some ways similar, they varied in method and scope
Orthodox:
Strengths: Acknowledges that Hitler's policies, while similar in aim to those of Weimar and WWI Germany, varied in the tactics through which they were obtained; acknowledges Hitler's personal motives and how these translated to policy

Weaknesses: fails to acknowledge clear continuations in Hitler's foreign policy: Lebensraum, expansionism in the name of business, etc.
AJP Taylor:
"In principle and doctrine, Hitler was no more revolutionary than many a contemporary statesman. He was a traditional German Statesman who pursue traditional German objectives"

"It is equally obvious that Lebensraum always appeared as one element in these blueprints. This was not an original idea of Hitler's. It was commonplace at the time"



Geoffrey Eley
Suggested that, "Nazism was more extreme in every way from the traditional German political right wing because Germany did not have a clear anti-semitic policy (systematic killing) prior to 1933"

"Hitler's foreign policy coupled expansion and extermination in a way which represented a sharp break with the past"
Our Position:
Because the actions that stemmed from Hitler's foreign policy came from previously held ideas(Lebensraum, anti-Semitic actions), Nazi foreign policy was not a departure from the traditional foreign policies that preceded it.
Because Hitler used more violence, intimidation, and racial discrimination, his foreign policy was unique, regardless of similarities to precedents.
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