The Outbreak of the Second World War: Design or Blunder?

By John L. Snell | Go to book overview

DID Hitler HAVE A DESIGN?

ADOLF HITLER

( 1928)

The author of this reading needs no introduction; the book from which it is taken does. In 1928 Hitler dictated a manuscript that was revised but for some reason not published during the Nazi era. This manuscript was among the millions of German documents captured by the United States Army at the end of World War II and brought to a great depository at Alexandria, Virginia. There it was found by Professor Gerhard L. Weinberg of the University of Michigan and published in Germany in 1961 by him and Professor Hans Rothfels of Tübingen and the Institut für Zeitgeschichte (Institute for Contemporary History) as Hitlers zweites Buch ( "Hitler's Second Book"). The Hitler manuscript of 1928 is of particular interest in this booklet because it was devoted almost entirely to a discussion of foreign policy. The views expressed are much the same as those Hitler set forth in 1924 in his famous published book, Mein Kampf ( My Struggle), which was cited in the Nuremberg judgment as proof of Nazism's deliberate, aggressive intentions. In his "book" of 1928 Hitler branded as insufficient any foreign policy that aimed merely to undo the Treaty of Versailles and restore Germany's frontiers of 1914. A. J. P. Taylor had not read "Hitler's Second (or Secret) Book" when he wrote his history of The Origins of the Second World War. Had he done so, would it likely have changed his interpretations? Was aggressive war inherent in the whole political philosophy of Nazism? How relevant is proof of Hitler's expansionist ambitions in 1924 or 1928 to the question of responsibility for war against Poland in the specific circumstances of 1939?

POLITICS is history in the making. History itself is the presentation of the course of a people's struggle for existence. I deliberately use the phrase "struggle for existence" here because in truth that struggle for daily bread, equally in peace and war, is an eternal battle against thousands upon thousands of resistances just as life itself is an eternal struggle against death. For men know as little why they live as does any other creature of the world. Only life is filled with the longing to preserve itself. The most primitive creature [could not without it]1 knows only the instinct of the self-preservation of its own "I," in creatures standing higher in the scale it is transferred to wife and child, and in those standing still higher to the entire species. While, apparently, man often surrenders his own instinct of self-preservation for the sake of the species, in truth he nevertheless serves it to the highest degree. For not seldom the preservation of the life of a whole people, and with this of the individual, lies only in this renunciation by the individual. Hence the sudden courage of a mother in the defense of her young and the heroism

____________________
From Hitler's Secret Book, introduction by Telford Taylor, trans. by Salvator Attanasio ( New York, 1962), pp. 5-6, 7, 44-45, 88, 139, 142-145, 210. Copyright © 1961 by Grove Press, Inc. Reprinted by permission of Grove Press, Inc.
1
Words in brackets appeared in the original manuscript but were crossed out in favor of the revised wording as given herein. [Editor's Note]

-98-

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