4/ THE ROAD TO WAR, 1938


On November 5, 1937, Hitler summoned a select group of ministers and military leaders to a meeting in the Reichschancellery. In the history of Nazi Germany, this meeting has come to have a great deal of significance because it seems to have indicated deliberate planning for another world war. If Hitler had plans for European conquest, his staff needed to be informed, for they were not simply party hacks but included Hermann Goering, Commander-in-Chief of the Luftwaffe; General Werner von Fritsch, Commander-in-Chief of the army; Konstantin von Neurath, Foreign Minister; Field Marshal Werner von Blomberg, Minister of War; Admiral Erich Raeder, Commander-in-Chief of the navy; and Colonel Friedrich Hossbach, Hitler’s military adjutant. Hossbach has contributed to our knowledge of this meeting by making an unofficial record reconstructed from notes made during the meeting. Hitler called the conference because of a quarrel among his staff: Blomberg had complained about Goering’s rapacity in acquiring raw materials for the Luftwaffe. The conference gave Hitler the opportunity to push his personal plans by discussing the expansion of the armed forces and rearmament within the context of foreign policy. In addition, he resolved to use the conference to prod Fritsch into accelerating the expansion of the army. Hitler also sought to impress on his audience, particularly Fritsch and Blomberg, that Germany’s future in Europe demanded an increased speed-up in rearmament.

To impress his audience, Hitler announced that his words were to be considered his last will and testament. He asserted that the problem of German living space had become a crisis; complete self-sufficiency would not supply all Germany’s needs for raw materials and food. He insisted that the solution to this problem lay in acquiring living space in the countries surround


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The Origins of World War II


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