Every phase of the Third Reich s foreign policy was determined by its authoritarian leader, Adolf Hitler. Following his rise to power, his political acuity and utter lack of scruple enabled him to achieve numerous diplomatic successes against the well-intentioned but largely ineffectual Anglo-French democracies. First by duplicity, then by bluff and bluster, and finally by brinkmanship, Hitler succeeded in establishing a strengthened and united Greater Germany (Grossdeutschland) in preparation for a Second Great War. This book examines in depth the revanchist foreign policy of Hitler s Germany from 1933 to 1939.
The German revanchist movement developed in response to the losses of World War I. Pan-Germanists within the Weimar Republic called for the reclamation of the property of a German state due to pre-war borders or because of the territory’s historical relation to Germanic peoples. The movement called for the reincorporation of Alsace-Lorraine, the Polish Corridor and the Sudetenland (see Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia—parts of the Austrian Empire and Austria-Hungary until its dismemberment after World War I). Those claims, supported by Adolf Hitler, led to World War II, with the invasion of Poland. This irredentism had also been characteristic of the Völkisch movement in general and of the Pan-German League (Alldeutscher Verband). The Verband wanted to uphold German ‘racial hygiene’ and were against breeding with, in their eyes, inferior races like the Jews and Slavs.