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pallen123's avatar

What was Hitler's true ambition in conquering other nations?

Asked by pallen123 (1511 points ) December 2nd, 2012

I think I understand the basics of WWII but what was Hitler intending to accomplish by attempting to conquer so much territory? Denmark? France? Russia? Was he truly attempting to bring those countries under the German flag? On a practical level what precedent if any was there of one country being able to conquer so much territory and govern so many unwilling citizens?

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24 Answers

dabbler's avatar

It’s almost impossible to govern unwilling citizens.
From their point-of-view, I suspect the Germans expected their obvious superiority to appeal to the conquered folks. Clearly they overestimated this effect.

Bill1939's avatar

Mankind’s history is replete with nations seeking the economic benefits of empire building. Each believed that their culture was superior to all others and that by exporting it they would make the world a better place. To accomplish this goal they had to either subsume existing governmental structures or destroy them.

Using carrot and stick techniques, they controlled conquered countries by instilling fear in the populace and rewarding those (usually the wealthy) who cooperate. However, every nation eventually overreaches their ability to impose their way of life. In more recent times the use of economic power had proven more effective than military power, but dependance upon sources of energy has made using force to control commodity access more attractive.

Because most people want to simply have a life with sufficient means to raise their family in relative comfort and security, they will adapt to whatever regime rules their world. However, a few who find the constraints upon their freedoms to be unacceptable will become the source of movements to resist and eventually overthrow the existing power structure.

bookish1's avatar

It was things that Germany was deprived of and deserved thanks to its obvious superiority! Invade a country, use its resources for the Nazi war machine, invade more countries.

For some examples:

France: heavy industry and grain
Czechoslovakia: Lebensraum (natural “living space” for the Aryan people who didn’t have enough room in Germany) and slave labor
Ukraine: grain
Romania: oil

A book that really helped me understand the big picture of the Nazi war machine/war economy and how Hitler envisioned his takeover of Europe, was The Wages of Destruction by Adam Tooze.

The Mongols had the largest contiguous land empire the world has ever seen. But they ruled mostly through indirect rule and taxes.

JLeslie's avatar

Maybe it was similar to Europe taking over the Americas? I mean there is a history of nations wanting to acquire land and expand countries. And, a history of people who feel superior, wanting to help show others the right way. Hitler felt superior, he loved power, he probably convinced himself everyone would want to be German if they could be, that is as long as they were alive and not killed by Nazi’s. I also think Hitler truly believed he was doing good; helping the German economy and Europe. And, I agree with @bookish1 the resources in the other countries were attractive.

FutureMemory's avatar

In one word, Lebensraum.

He didn’t really care what happened to the populations he conquered, he just wanted their raw materials and living space. He wanted to expand Germany more than anything.

ETpro's avatar

@FutureMemory Has it exactly right. Hitler explained in his diary how he intended to conquer the entire world. He would keep the non Aryan people alive and working as slaves to serve the racially superior Germans till a high speed breeding program could churn out enough of his blond, blue eyed paragons of virtue and all that is holy that he could then exterminate the rest of mankind and cleanse the world of the curse of otherness. Same crap today’s white supremacists really want. And just like Hitler, they have sense enough not to widely publish their intentions.

LostInParadise's avatar

It is the same old story, a country conquering others for wealth and power while deluding themselves that the conquered nations would be better off under their rule. The Nazi contribution was to bureaucractize the practice of genocide on those considered inferior, performing it on an unprecedented level while keeping careful records .

It is all the same -Nazis spreading Aryan rule, Americans bringing civilization to Native Americans, Europeans Christianizing Africans, Romans civilizing barbarians. Among tribal civilizations, the belief was that the tribe with the superior gods would prevail. The conquered tribes perpetuated this belief by throwing away their old gods and embracing the new and obviously superior ones. Nobody could understand how the Jews could hold on to their one God even after being conquered multiple times.

bookish1's avatar

@LostInParadise: To say that Nazi domination, settler colonialism in the Americas, and Christian missionary activity in Africa is “all the same” is a vast overgeneralization.

Crashsequence2012's avatar

His aim was to create a state with a genetically superior peoples.

A quite ballsy notion and ambition in a time before genetics and DNA were as understood as they are today.

dabbler's avatar

That whole genocidal thing in the Nazi agenda is an important twist to consider, and far from unique, but I’d agree it’s the same basic imperialist paradigm as Roman, Persian, Turk, British Imperialism, and in effect American economic imperialism facilitated by trade agreements.
The folks in control make sure they are on the sweet end of resource distribution.

The ethnic cleansing aspect of Hitler’s ideal leaves out : how do you select folks to do the work of the ‘slaves’ when you get around to exterminating them. There will be new ways to chose the slavish worker bees, and keep the elite at the top.

Crashsequence2012's avatar

We shouldn’t forget that his ultimate aim was to write himself into history.

I mean, if you have the means and personnel…

LostInParadise's avatar

@bookish1 , If you have not already seen it, I highly recommend watching the film Schindler’s List. Schindler engaged in a bit of trickery to save lives, but he did so from within the system, and the film provides an inside view of the way that the Germans treated prisoners. What makes it all so horrifying is how credible it all is. You can see how, once the system is in place, it could perpetuate itself. Everyone was just doing a job, so totally wrapped up in the details as not to see what was really going on. It is easy to see how the same kind of thing could happen repeatedly throughout history.

WestRiverrat's avatar

His conquest of France and the western European countries was an attempt to secure his rear areas for the real goal of destroying Russia. He got sucked into North Africa and the Balkans trying to prop up Italy. He laid out his goals in Mein Kampf.

BBawlight's avatar

I’ve always wanted to read Mein Kampf. I agree with “Lebensraum” and I also think he wanted world domination. It was quite obvious what he wanted. I think he also desired to create a ‘pure’ world. Full of only one race: German. Much like the Skinheads want to get rid of the ‘minority’ and ‘take America back’. They pretty much worship Hitler.

jaytkay's avatar

@BBawlight I’ve always wanted to read Mein Kampf.

Mein Kampf in English is available free online.

BBawlight's avatar

@jaytkay I know… I just haven’ t gotten around to reading it yet. They might even have it in my library…

cheebdragon's avatar

World domination….?

lightsourcetrickster's avatar

@cheebdragon seems to have got it in less than a coherent sentence – which is probably all it will ever take.

Hitler was particularly keen on exacting revenge against France for their part in the drawing up of the Versailles Treaty, but ultimately, regardless of who Hitler decided to strike out against and for whatever other possible reason, it was world domination.

josie's avatar

Wealth, privilege, perks. The universal goal of power mongers. No different than the current crop of US politicians. Same old story.

Paradox25's avatar

Authoritarian leaders who play an extreme version of the patriotism/nationalism card usually use this to their advantage to get the support that they need from their authoritarian followers. The motive of authoritarian followers is usually the same: greed, power, ignorance, etc like others have said here. Authoritarian followers are a bit more difficult to cover here in the sense that you would have to ask “why would so many people just go along with such an ahole”. That is a good link with a quality free ebook on the upper left corner of the page. Maybe you’ll get your answer there, and there are many more authoritarian leaders/followers who fit this bill too.

hiphiphopflipflapflop's avatar

@bookish1 beat me to the book I was going to recommend.

One trap you can fall into is taking various verbal and written pronouncements by Hitler too seriously, as he was prone to extreme flights of fancy and telling people what he thought they wanted to hear (for hours and hours on end, continuously). As a politician he had no qualms about contradicting himself when it was expedient to do so. Tooze’s book delves into the work of Nazi bureaucrats who actually had to make detailed plans for how to go about exploiting European Russia’s resources (foodstuffs in particular).

jaytkay's avatar

No different than the current crop of US politicians

Actually, it’s very different.

Take a peek into Mein Kampf.

Overt racist/ethnic hatred hasn’t been allowed in the US for a few decades.

bookish1's avatar

@jaytkay: Yeah, if I were grading this thread, most of it would receive a B-/C+ and a sternly worded written warning.

cheebdragon's avatar

@bookish1 Well, la…te…da…..~

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