Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Senior Lecturer in Lebensraum

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Senior Lecturer in Lebensraum

Article excerpt

Jörg Michael Dostal on whether one German thinker directly influenced Hitler's geopolitics

The Demon of Geopolitics: How Karl Haushofer "Educated" Hitler and Hess

By Holger H. Herwig

Rowman & Littlefield, 292pp, £54.95 ISBN 9781442261136 and 1143 (e-book) Published 10 March 2016

Karl Haushofer is remembered as the founding father of a German school of geopolitical thinking that gained influence after the end of the First World War. His major goal was to turn geopolitics - a term invented in 1899 by Rudolf Kjellén, a Swedish professor of politics - into an academic discipline. Closely aligned with this effort was Haushofer's insistence that geopolitics should provide practical guidelines for German politicians to revise the conditions of the Versailles Treaty of 1919.

In the history of geopolitical thought, Haushofer belongs to a second generation of thinkers inspired by figures such as Friedrich Ratzel and Halford Mackinder. In line with Mackinder, Haushofer argued that sea power and land power gave rise to different types of geopolitical strategy. Unlike Mackinder, he suggested that the main sea powers, principally the UK and the US, constituted "pirates of the sea", interested in putting their control of trade routes in the service of political domination. Thus, the sea powers were keen to keep land powers divided among themselves - to control the balance of power.

Haushofer argued in 1925 that Germany and Russia, as land powers, should form a counter-alliance. He also hoped to add China, then another land power, and Japan, the weakest of the three sea powers, to what he termed the "East Eurasian Continental Bloc". He also called for German alignment with anticolonial nationalists in order to put pressure on Britain and the other colonial powers. Anglo-American thinkers were not amused. …

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