Steve Horowitz
Amy Klose
Gerald McSwiggan
Mariah Wilson

Lebensraum

The main reason for the Nazi expansion into its neighboring western countries was built upon the principle of Lebensraum. Even though it translates literally to mean only living space, Lebensraum carried with it the desire for the Nazis to expand into other countries to provide living space for the growing German race. "Notions of Lebensraum were supported by those seeking to disperse the high-density (and often socialist) urban populations into rural settlements, and by diplomats, who supplied eugenic literature and material assistance to ethnic German communities in Eastern Communities" (Burleigh 72) "The German racial community comprised of over 85 million people and, because of their number and the narrow limits of habitable space in Europe, constituted a tightly packed racial core such as was not to be met in any other country and such as implied the right to a greater living space than in the case of other peoples" (Snyder 264).

The concept of Lebensraum as understood in Nazi ideology included in it the assumption that war was inevitable. Because the Nazi program was based on a large-scale territorial expansion, including countries which Germany could claim neither on the ground of irredenta nor on the basis of her historical rights, no possibility of a peaceful adjustment would be possible in the long run. The only question, after the Nazis seized power was how seriously they would develop sufficient power to enforce it. the building of particular organizations specialized in the acquiring and preparing of living space, indicated from the beginning of Nazi rule that they were serious about their ideological design, but this fact was overlooked by the states concerned. The occupation of Czechoslovakia brought foreign states to the realization that Hitler's territorial claims meant something more than mere adjustment of boundaries or the correction of the injustices of the Treaty of Versaille. But by then it was already too late, and there was no power available to stop his expansion (Hoffmann 18).

"The German people's Lebensraum, Hitler said, was too small; in certain important aspects, particularly that of food, self-sufficiency
could not be achieved. The German Lebensraum must consequently be expanded and this was best done in areas immediately contiguous to the Reich in Europe and not overseas'" (Hoffmann 36). In National Socialist ideology, to which Hitler's personal contribution was greater than anyone else's, anti-Semitism enjoyed pride of place alongside the utopian vision of Lebensraum conquered and settled by racially pure German Aryans. According to Hitler, the ideal war was one of conquest, extermination, and subjugation; the ideal area in which to conduct such a war was in the east, where the German people would win for itself the Lebensraum, necessary for its moral and racial purity, as well as for its ultimate emergence as the master race (Burleigh 126). "Only an adequately large space on this earth assures a nation of freedom of existence" (Hitler 643).

In Hitler's Mein Kampf, he made it known that he believed that state boundaries are made and changed by man. "Much as all of us today recognize the necessity of a reckoning with France, it would remain ineffectual in the long run if it represented the whole of our aim in foreign policy. It can and will achieve meaning only if it offers the rear cover for an enlargement of our people's living space in Europe. For it is not in colonial acquisitions that we must see the solution of this problem, but exclusively in the acquisition of a territory for settlement, which will enhance the area of the mother country, and hence not only keep the new settlers in the most intimate community with the land of their origin, but secure for the total area those advantages which lie in its unified magnitude" (Hitler 653).

During this time, the inferior races who occupied the new Nazi territories, were stripped of their possessions, jobs, and resettled in ghettos or concentration camps. This helped break the people’s will, asserted the strong power of the Nazis, and gave direct benefits to the Nazi regime. The problem at this time is that Germany's population consisted of 82 million people (Hoffmann 142). Hitler believed that battle was the destiny of all creatures, no one could avoid it, and he who did not fight was condemned to ruin beforehand. There could therefore be no thought of adapting the size of the population to its Lebensraum; that was cowardice, weakness, genocide, and ruin. Instead Lebensraum must be adapted to the size of the population.

When the Nazi Army successfully overtook and conquered the surrounding lands of France, Alsace-Lorraine, the Reich immediately began its policy of racial restructuring. The German bureaucracy began by issuing orders for Jews in a particular town or city to submit an announcement of their possessions. This property was then gathered and confiscated, and the money was used directly by the bureaucracy. The Nazis basic intent was to make survival for the Jews more difficult and to create a loss of identity for the Jews. For the most part, the Nazis were successful in accomplishing their two goals as well as devastating the lives of the four letters stating that their jobs no longer existed or that their possessions were to be handed over to the German Reich (Hoffmann 92). The Nazis occupying the towns asserted that the consequence of dissension was severe punishment or death.

As the Jews were stripped of their belongings, they also were stripped of their purpose and their identity. By taking their positions at work, their personal possessions, and their money, the Nazis ensured a supreme hold on the Jewish population that allowed them to expand and exploit the Nazi’s power. Most of the deportees were shipped to concentration camps throughout Europe for slave labor or to be put to death. The Nazis maintained their clear purpose of cleansing Europe of the Jews, Gypsies, criminals, and foreign nationalists, and they carried these goals into the occupied territories for implementation. Through the goals of Lebensraum and resettlement, the Nazis tried to restructure the racial content of Europe and deeply scarred the lives of many Jews living in the occupied regions. The Nazis stripped away their lives and their identities in an effort to expand their own race at the expense and exploitation of the Jewish race.


Works Cited

Burleigh, Michael. Confronting the Nazi Past: New Debates on Modern German History. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1996.

Hitler, Adolf. Mein Kampf. Trans. Ralph Manheim. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1971.

Hoffmann, Peter. The History of the German Resistance 1933-1945. Trans. Richard Barry. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 1979.

Snyder, Louis L. Hitler's Third Reich: A Documentary History. Chicago: Nelson-Hall, 1981.

Works Consulted

Hildebrandt, Klaus. The Third Reich. Trans. P.S. Falla. New York: Routledge, 1984.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Hitler propaganda on invasion of Poland, 5 meg Quicktime movie