The Holocaust - A direct result of Nazi Foreign Policy.

A Nazi soldier stands ready to shoot a parent holding their small child.Following the Nazi’s rise to power, the party conducted a number of exorbitant events which solely aimed to incorporate foreign Germans into the new and powerful Reich, attempt German domination of Europe, acquire more “living space” and resources for the German people and lastly, revise the hazardous Treaty of Versailles; all these events of which are categorized under the infamous title of “Foreign Policy”. However, unpredictable to the leading party, it would turn out that these assumably well thought out policies, rather than benefiting her substantially, would actually lead to Germany’s downfall, in more ways than one. As we already know, the Foreign policy did have some contributing factor to the cause of WW2, however what is seemingly less obvious is the fact that if it wasn’t for the existence of the Nazi’s foreign policy, then Hitler and his party would have never pursued with the mass extermination of the Jewish community throughout Europe. These mass exterminations would see to not only severely tarnish the Nazi parties internationally recognized image forever, but also that of the German country and to some extent even its people. These events are collectively known as the “Holocaust”, and although as unpleasant and disturbing as it truly was, even its image has been somewhat fabricated by historians and everyday members of our society. It is common belief that the Nazi’s killed each and every Jew out of pure malicious spite; however the true situation was much less sinister. Whilst carrying out their Foreign Policy, in particular the invasion of Russia, the Nazi’s were forced to make an unforseen change to their plans for the Jewish community in order to keep pursuing with their party’s ideologies and beliefs, which came in the form of the Holocaust. However previous to this change, and despite popular belief, NO Jews or other undesirables were ever systematically killed by the Nazi’s, which is clearly supported by the fact that even in the bleakest of ghettos or concentration camps, these undesirables were kept alive. The Nazi’s were never faced with such a significant reason to pursue with mass extermination until this time, and therefore it is relatively safe to say that the Holocaust would have never occurred without the presence of such Foreign Policy.

As previously stated, the Foreign Policy was put in motion in order to substantially benefit the German people, and of course to bring more power and wealth to the country and its political representatives. This was to be done through great economic planning, prompt rearmament and careful selection of international relationships through the signing of various treaties. Hitler’s main aims that he hoped would result from these policies was the revision of the Treaty of Versailles, uniting all German-speaking people into one country, expanding German living space (by invading other countries) which would also provide more resources, and Hitler also believed that one day he could also become the ruler of all of Europe, in order to stop it falling apart1 . Hitler is constantly noted for his aggressive approach when it came to dealing with international relations, and whilst discussing the matter of expansion he actually emphasized to his officials that force was the only way2 . However it was force that successfully got the job done, with the Nazis successfully invading over 13 different countries and provinces before and/or during WW2. The most notable of these countries or provinces would have to be the Sudetenland (rich in resources such as coal and copper), the Polish Corridor (contained many German speaking people and was previously dividing Germany in two), Austria (Hitler was Austrian, was banned by Treaty of Versailles), Poland and of course Russia (which will be discussed in more detail later). Treaties such as the New and Four Year plans were used to strengthen the German economy, while pacts such as the Anglo/German Naval agreement and the Non-Aggression pact were used to strengthen Germany’s armed forces and international relations. As you can see, Hitler and the Nazi’s were in fact living up to their promises to the German people in regards to their Foreign Policy, and as a result their living standards were increasing, however at the same the living standards of those considered undesirable to the state, in particular the Jews, were quickly undergoing great change.

On September 1st , 1939, Hitler and the Nazi’s were faced with a large group of foreign Jews and other undesirables when they invaded Poland, which successfully became their property after only a few weeks of fighting. This invasion was the first of many under the instruction of the Nazi’s Foreign Policy, the most prominent reason as to why it was so being that as a result of the aftermath of WW1, Germany was forced to give a section of its country to Poland (Danzig Corridor) after signing the hazardous Treaty of Versailles3 . However, along with the ownership of the country came the problem of the millions of Jewish people situated in it; much more than the 180,0004 situated in Germany at the time. The methods used to outcast Jews in Germany would simply not work in Poland due to their large numbers, and as they had to incorporate the party’s ideologies and beliefs into its newly gained territory, they were forced to come up with a plan as to what to do with them. This plan came to life after months of obvious confusion and debate, when over 3 million Polish Jews were rounded up and placed in overcrowded ghettos where they were forced into labour and isolation5 . In order to survive, these Jews had to buy food from Nazis at inflated prices or from local shop keepers. At first money was used in the transactions; however when all the money was gone jewellery, other belongings then even their clothes was used as currency. Soon enough, all possible types of currency had diminished and people began to starve – to death. More and more people were dying until surprisingly, the Nazi’s intervened. The Nazi’s had not stepped in to finish them off, like the average person would expect, however, but instead intervened in order to keep them alive. This intervention resulted in a system where the Jews could earn food, so that starvation would then only be at the Jews discretion6 . This act goes against popular belief that the Nazis were out to exterminate the Jews from day one, as when they are faced with Jews literally dying in front of them they intervene and keep them alive, instead of allowing them to die in such a way that would be extremely cost effective (it would be free) in comparison to using expensive gas chambers (such as those used in the Holocaust). That being said, it is relatively safe to say that before, and at, this stage of the Foreign Policy the Nazis initially never had, or pursued with, any physical systematic plans to exterminate the Jews. They were faced with many opportunities pursue with such a plan, including this situation and the “Night of Broken Glass” previously, however had never done so. Therefore, it is clearly evident that it would take an event which would severely push the Nazis tolerance of the Jews over the edge in order to enact with such drastic change; and this event would come in the form of an invasion solely instructed by the party’s own foreign policy.

As a result of the invasion of Poland, the Nazis now had just over 3 million Jews under their control, and although the Nazis were under great strain in doing so, this number was still manageable via the use of ghettos. However, by 1941 whilst the Second World War was well underway, the Nazi’s own Foreign Policy was about to give them a large surprise when they built up the courage to finally invade Russia – which therefore broke the previously signed Non-Aggression pact between the two nations. Germany mobilised, invaded and was then faced with something Hitler was unlikely to expect – 5 million Jews. The Nazis struggled to come up with a solution to control the 3 million Jews they found in Poland and now they were faced with an even greater number – a number they simply could not manage officially under the current circumstances (unlike the ghettos, there were too many to force into labour). Faced with the ideologies and beliefs of their party, the Nazis could not just simply leave the Jews as they were, they were forced to take a different course of action. This different course of action was an immense one; a plan that would embed the Nazis mark in History forever. As they knew they couldn’t control the ever-growing (through the Nazis eyes) Jewish community any longer, and probably knew millions more existed, their first part of their solution came in the form of death squads – they were going to bring their numbers down using force. The process, as told by officials at the scene and onlookers, was quite simple. Members of the death squads would lead Jews into the forest where they were forced to dig big ditches, they were then told to remove all clothes and belongings from their body and were then finally told to stand on the edge of the ditches to await their unfortunate fate7. This process was repeated over and over, and on the 20th of January 1942 a much bolder plan was to be established at the Wannsee Conference. At the conference, which was prompted by Reinhard Heydrich, officials tallied the existence of over 11 million Jews across Europe8, and soon after the conference members came up with the Final Solution for these undesirables – the systematically organized mass extermination via the use of extermination camps9. At these camps, Jews were led into large bathroom-like rooms, where they were presented with showers where they were told to wash; however instead they would be gassed to death10. Both the death squads and extermination would soon be known in history as the “Holocaust”. As you can see, the invasion of Russia, encouraged by the Nazis Foreign policy, unleased a whirlwind of events which ultimately led to the beginning of the Holocaust. Before this time, the Nazi’s were never faced with such a significant reason to pursue with such a disturbing act, and as the Soviet Union (Russia) was the last country that Germany invaded, it is relatively safe to say that if it wasn’t for the Nazi’s own foreign policy, the extra Jews would not have been discovered and the Holocaust would have never occurred.  

Despite the abundance of evidence supporting the idea that Nazi Foreign policy was the direct cause of the Holocaust, some sceptics still insist on claiming otherwise. The most outstanding of these claims would have to be that Hitler’s poor health was in fact the direct cause of such an immoral event; that Hitler’s contraction of syphilis at a young age whilst situated in Vienna was the motivation to act with such brutality. According to the claim,
In Vienna Hitler adapted Social Darwinism and the brutal outlook on life, caught the bacillus of anti-Semitism, and got infected with syphilis…Syphilis developed into general paresis that caused his paranoia, detachment from reality, delusions, blurring the moral restrains… seek[ed] solutions to his inner conflicts in limitless brutality and senseless killing. The idea of getting rid of the Jews became the most important aim in life, more important that the winning the war, and the conquest of Europe…all symptoms of extensive paranoia, delusions, megalomania, brutality indicate a mental health problem that abundantly explains the irrationality and absurdity of the Holocaust. 11
Whether or not this debatable claim is true, there is evidence to suggest that the state of Hitler’s health at the time of the Russian invasion and the decision of Final solution was completely irrelevant, as the amount of control he had over the Jew situation at this stage appears to be very little. First of all, Hitler was absent from the Wannsee Conference on the 20th of January 1942, which is extremely significant because it was at this conference that the Final Solution was apparently decided. Instead, other Nazi members attended including Reinhard Heydrich, Heinrich Muller and Adolf Eichmann12. Although Hitler may have had to approve the decisions from the conference, there is no evidence to suggest that he had any input whatsoever. Secondly, there is evidence to suggest that Hitler may have been oblivious to the actual workings behind the Jewish killings. At one point during the war, Hitler asked his officials to get video footage of how the Jewish killings were being carried out 13, which further accentuates the idea that Hitler had little, or possibly no, role in planning, or even pursuing with the mass extermination. With all this being said, it is safe to assume that even if Hitler was sick in a hospital bed, the Holocaust would have still occurred as a result of the party’s Foreign policy as the leader was not as in control of it as most historians would like to think, and therefore the state of his health, and the above claim, should be considered irrelevant in this situation.

 

Another popular claim by historians and members of the public alike is that Hitler would have never chosen to invade Poland under instruction from the Foreign Policy if Germany hadn’t signed a Non-Aggression Pact with Russia, and therefore the Holocaust would have never happened as the foreign Jew problem would have never arisen. On first appearance this claim seems relatively accurate, however what these people fail to look at is Hitler’s attitudes and plans in regards to the issue before the pact was signed. During April of 1939 an Anglo-French guarantee to Poland was put in place which meant that Britain and France would come to Poland’s aid if ever invaded; however Hitler assumed this was a bluff as similar previous pacts had failed. In May of 1939 the “Pact of Steel” was signed between Italy and Germany, whilst around the same time Britain and France unsuccessfully asked Russia for help and later turned down Russia’s similar request of mutual assistance. At this time, Hitler was seriously considering the possibility of a two front war with Russia in the east and Britain and France in the west; however Hitler knew that his army was only ready to invade Poland, not for a war. However he knew a war was coming, in fact he had been planning it for the past 4 years, but before any war was going to start Hitler was determined to isolate and obtain Poland14. With all that being said, Hitler was determined to get what he wanted at any cost, and as you can see there is some evidence to suggest he would go after Poland even without the Non-Aggression Pact with Russia. Hitler was now not taking Britain and France’s claims seriously and was therefore assuming everything was a bluff, he had the backing of Italy, and had seriously considered a two front war anyway; meaning that Hitler was still extremely confident in attacking Poland even without Russia’s aid, as he didn’t think that any other powers would come to its aid in a time of need (which would turn out to incredibly false). As you can see, the said claim has its flaws and therefore cannot be deemed completely credible, and therefore the idea that if it wasn’t for the Nazi’s Foreign Policy, the mass extermination of the Jewish community would have never been pursued throughout Europe is still very well supported.

As you can see, although it was not the Nazi’s initial plan, the invasion of a number of countries, in particular Russia and Poland, encouraged by the party’s foreign policy, led to their obtainment of an uncontrollable number of Jewish civilians across Europe. Bound by their party’s beliefs and ideologies, the party was forced to deal with the situation in their view of an appropriate manner, which ultimately and inevitably led to the mass execution of millions of these innocent people. With that being said, it is relatively safe to say that if it wasn’t for the Nazi’s foreign policy, Germany would never have invaded over 13 areas, the millions of these innocent Jews would have never been “discovered” and therefore, their bloodlines would still be existent to this very day. Despite what sceptics claim, it was therefore indeed this foreign policy that triggered the infamous and cold-hearted Holocaust.

References

1 Kassandra. “Hitler’s Foreign Policy Student Notes” Located at http://www.johndclare.net/RoadtoWWII1_IGCSEnotes.htm

2 “NAZIS – A Bigger Picture” (VHS)

3 “Hitler_Poland_Danzig_WW2” Located at: http://judicial-inc.biz/Broomberg.htm

4 “The Final Solution – Nazi Policy Towards Jews” Located at: http://www.stormfront.org/whitehistory/hwr64iv.htm

5 Perth Holocaust Institute

6“Nazis – A Warning From History” (VHS)

7 Perth Holocaust Institute

8 Perth Holocaust Institute

9 “Wannsee Conference” Located at: http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/GERwannsee.htm

10 Perth Holocaust Institute

11 Alexander Kimel (Holocaust Survivor). “Holocaust – Direct Cause” Located at: http://www.kimel.net/direct.html

12 “Wannsee Conference” Located at: http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/GERwannsee.htm

13The World At War – 1941-45 (DVD)

14 “Wannsee Conference” Located at: http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/GERwannsee.htm


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