Guest Author - Rebecca Graf
Adolf Hitler rose to power after a bitter defeat in World War I. Germany felt slighted and oppressed by the winning nations. The people yearned to feel pride again. Unlike Bismarck, Hitler rose up with a unified though defeated Germany. The only fight he had with fellow Germans was in his rise to power, but that was still minor compared to Bismarck moves. Like Bismarck, he made strategic alliances with and moves against European powers in order to bring to Germany the power of being the empire that all the world would honor.
He began with an alliance with Poland where he promised not to make any aggressive move toward the other nation. In the end, it was all a ploy as Hitler had no plans to follow through with the alliance. Secretly, he had been building a military force to make his move. Like Bismarck, he saw the military as the backbone to the powerful German Empire. He built up the army as he began his political game of chess. He played his cards with alliances and with the hearts of many Europeans. With the British, Hitler played on the regrets the nation had from the punishment it helped to impose on Germany. Britain gladly agreed to work with Germany, an act they would later regret.
Hitler waited until he had all of Europe lulled into a false sense of security when he moved into the Rhineland surprising the entire world. As one country failed to react in protest, others followed suit. The many alliances began to work in Hitler’s favor. From their lack of action against his aggression, Hitler surmised that “Britain and France were weak and that he could get away with more aggressive actions.” The game was now becoming deadly.
Hitler took Bismarck’s actions and built upon them. He used the same of idea of political strategy to make each move. They were successful in the beginning. As he was making his move against Europe, he took nationalism further than Bismarck by not only making the empire great but also pure.
In his speech in January 1937, Hitler announced that “the noblest and most sacred [task] for mankind is that each racial species must preserve the purity of the blood which God has given it.” He believed that other nations would understand his desire and stand with him on it though he still planned on attacking them and bringing them under German control. His targets for purity were the Jews who he saw as the downfall of Germany and the cancer it needed to cut out. He acknowledged that the German people had created a “united front towards the outside world.” Though he made many declarations in the speech that the world should have stood up and taken notice of, they focused more on the reassurance that he would uphold all treaties made as “there are no grounds for quarrel that are humanly thinkable.” It would be just a few years later that he would break every one of those agreements and tear Europe apart.
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