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The Second World War. History of Germany Lecture 12. Schedule. The Road to War: German Foreign Policy 1933 – 1939 The Lessons of the Great War German Warfare on the Eastern Front Total War and Society Conclusion. German Foreign Policy 1933-1937. German Foreign Policy 1938-1939.

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The Second World War

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the second world war

The Second World War

History of Germany

Lecture 12

  • The Road to War: German Foreign Policy 1933 – 1939
  • The Lessons of the Great War
  • German Warfare on the Eastern Front
  • Total War and Society
  • Conclusion
  • The Road to War: German Foreign Policy 1933 – 1939
  • The Lessons of the Great War
  • German Warfare on the Eastern Front
  • Total War and Society
  • Conclusion
avoid a two front war 23 august 1939 nazi soviet non aggression treaty

Avoid a two-front war23 August 1939 Nazi Soviet Non-Aggression Treaty

Molotov signs the German-Soviet non-aggression pact. Behind him are Ribbentrop and Stalin.


Text of the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact

Article I. Both High Contracting Parties obligate themselves to desist from any act of violence, any aggressive action, and any attack on each other, either individually or jointly with other Powers.

Article II. Should one of the High Contracting Parties become the object of belligerent action by a third Power, the other High Contracting Party shall in no manner lend its support to this third Power.

Secret Additional Protocol.

Article I. In the event of a territorial and political rearrangement in the areas belonging to the Baltic States (Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania), the northern boundary of Lithuania shall represent the boundary of the spheres of influence of Germany and U.S.S.R. In this connection the interest of Lithuania in the Vilna area is recognized by each party.

Article II. In the event of a territorial and political rearrangement of the areas belonging to the Polish state, the spheres of influence of Germany and the U.S.S.R. shall be bounded approximately by the line of the rivers Narev, Vistula and San.

The question of whether the interests of both parties make desirable the maintenance of an independent Polish States and how such a state should be bounded can only be definitely determined in the course of further political developments.

In any event both Governments will resolve this question by means of a friendly agreement.

Article III. With regard to Southeastern Europe attention is called by the Soviet side to its interest in Bessarabia. The German side declares its complete political disinterestedness in these areas.

Article IV. This protocol shall be treated by both parties as strictly secret.

Moscow, August 23, 1939.

For the Government of the German Reich v. Ribbentrop

Plenipotentiary of the Government of the U.S.S.R. V. Molotov


The ‘Blitz’


prevent the collapse of the home front
Prevent the collapse of the Home Front
  • Food and consumption
  • Leisure and entertainment
  • Forced labour by Jews and inmates of concentration camps, Slavs, prisoners of war, Ostarbeiter
  • Exploitation of occupied territories
  • Intimidation and Terror
  • Intensification of propaganda and Führer cult
  • The Road to War: German Foreign Policy 1933 – 1939
  • The Lessons of the Great War
  • German Warfare on the Eastern Front
  • Total War and Society
  • Conclusion

“The acquisition of new soil for the settlement of the excess population possesses an infinite number of advantages, particularly if we turn from the present to the future…

If land was desired in Europe, it could be obtained by and large only at the expense of Russia…

Germany will either be a world power or there will be no Germany...“

Hitler, Mein Kampf 1925


17 October 1941, Hitler Monologue, Führer Headquarters, in Madajczyk, Generalny, pp. 69-70.

“The [eastern] region must lose the character of the Asiatic steppe, it must be Europeanized!  … The two or three million people we need [for this program] can be found quicker than we think.  We will take them from Germany, the Scandinavian lands, Western Europe, and America.  Chances are that I will not live to see this, but in twenty years twenty million people will inhabit this territory.  In three hundred years we will have a blossoming parkland of extraordinary beauty!

As for the people indigenous to the area, we will be sure to select those [of importance].  We will remove the destructive Jews entirely. … We will not enter Russian cities, they must die out completely.

There is only one task: Germanisation through the introduction of Germans [to the area] and to treat the original inhabitants like Indians. … I feel myself to be the executor of the will of History.  What people think of me at present is all of no consequence.  Never have I heard a German who has bread to eat express concern that the ground where the grain was grown had to be conquered by the sword.  We eat Canadian wheat and never think of the Indians.”


“The Führer told me that the implementation of German policy In Poland is a matter for the men who are in charge of the General Government to deal with themselves. He put it this way: We must liquidate those people whom we have discovered from the leadership of Poland; all those who follow in their footsteps must be arrested and then got rid of after an appropriate period.”

Hans Frank, Governor General of the General Government, in May 1940


“The Slavs are to work for us. In so far as we don’t need them, they may die. Therefore compulsory vaccination and German health services are unnecessary. The fertility of the Slavs is undesirable. They may use contraceptives or practise abortion, the more the better. Education is dangerous. It is enough if they can count up to one hundred. Every educated person is a future enemy… As for food, they won’t get any more than is absolutely necessary. We are the masters. We come first.”

Letter from Martin Bormann, 1941


“We must be honest, decent, loyal and comradely to members of our own blood, but no nobody else. What happens to a Russian or to a Czech does not interest me in the slightest. What the nations can offer in the way of good blood of our type, we will take, if necessary by kidnapping their children and raising them here with us. Whether nations live in prosperity or starve to death interests me only in so far as we need them for slaves for our Kultur; otherwise, it is of no interest to me.”

Himmler to SS officers at Posen in 1943


Oradour sur Glane: 1944 the Waffen-SS killed in Oradour 197 men, 240 women, 205 children

Men, massacred in Lidice, 10 June 1942. 192 men, 60 women, 88 children were killed


ans Baumann

"If all the world lies in ruins,What the devil do we care?We still will go marching on,For to-day Germany belongs to usAnd to-morrow the whole world."

  • The Road to War: German Foreign Policy 1933 – 1939
  • The Lessons of the Great War
  • German Warfare on the Eastern Front
  • Total War and Society
  • Conclusion

Fritz Todt, 1891-1942

Albert Speer, 1905-1981


“I ask you: do you believe with the Führer and with us in the final victory of the German people? I ask you: Are you determined to follow the Führer through thick and hin in the struggle for victory and to put up even with the heaviest personal burdens?...

I ask you: Do you want total war? Do you want it, if necessary, more total and more radical than we can imagine it today?“

Goebbels in the Berlin Sport Palace, February 1943

Berlin, 1943

DHM, Berlin

  • The Road to War: German Foreign Policy 1933 – 1939
  • The Lessons of the Great War
  • German Warfare on the Eastern Front
  • Total War and Society
  • Conclusion
the german historikerstreit
The German Historikerstreit
  • Ernst Nolte: Vergangenheit, die nicht vergehen will (The Past That Does Not Want To Pass). Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, June 6, 1986

Were the crimes of Nazi Germany uniquely evil in history?

Were Nazism and Nazi crimes a reaction to Bolshevism, Red and Stalinist terror?

Did German history follow a special path (Sonderweg) leading inevitably to Nazism?

  • Jürgen Habermas: Recent Apologetic Tendencies In Our History; Die ZEIT, July 11, 1986)
the myth of the saubere wehrmacht
The myth of the “saubere Wehrmacht“
  • The SS is responsible for the war crimes, the Wehrmacht has kept its honour
  • Justification strategy after WWII
  • Andreas Hillgruber: Zweierlei Untergang (Two Kinds of Ruin)
  • Contra: Omer Bartov: Hitler´s Wehrmacht
  • Contra: Wehrmacht exhibition of the Institut for Sozialforschung, Hamburg
  • Question : Why did so many ordinary Germans as SS men, as policemen, as Wehrmacht soldiers participate in the crimes of the Nazi regime?