Structuralist and Intentionalist approaches to Nazi Germany Essay

Structuralist and Intentionalist approaches to Nazi Germany Essay

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Historians are often divided into categories in regard to dealing with Nazi Germany foreign policy and its relation to Hitler: 'intentionalist', and 'structuralist'. The intentionalist interpretation focuses on Hitler's own steerage of Nazi foreign policy in accordance with a clear, concise 'programme' planned long in advance. The 'structuralist' approach puts forth the idea that Hitler seized opportunities as they came, radicalizing the foreign policies of the Nazi regime in response. Structuralists reject the idea of a specific Hitlerian ideological 'programme', and instead argue for an emphasis on expansion no clear aims or objectives, and radicalized with the dynamism of the Nazi movement. With Nazi ideology and circumstances in Germany after World War I influencing Nazi foreign policy, the general goals this foreign policy prescribed to included revision of Versailles, the attainment of Lebensraum, or 'living space', and German racial domination. These foreign policy goals are seen through an examination of the actions the Nazi government took in response to events as they happened while in power, and also through Hitler's own ideology expressed in his writings such as Mein Kempf. This synthesis of ideology and social structure in Germany as the determinants of foreign policy therefore can be most appropriately approached by attributing Nazi foreign policy to a combination as both 'intentionalist' and 'structuralist' aims. Nazi foreign policy radicalized with their successes and was affected by Hitler pragmatically seizing opportunities to increase Nazi power, but also was based on early a consistent ideological programme espoused by Hitler from early on.
Nazism in Germany was a response to World War I, the Treaty of...


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...logy and goals, and also a opportunist and exploitative man in regard to opportunities within foreign policy as they were presented him.
Examinations of Hitler's role in the formulation of Nazi foreign policy and his goals of that foreign policy leads to questions of the limits of his goal of Lebensraum. This introduces the debate between 'globalists' and 'continentalists'. Expanding on Trevor-Roper's emphasis on Hitler's goals of Lebensraum, historian Gunter Moltmann argued that Hitler's aims were not confined to Europe but at world domination. Andreas Hillgruber expands on this idea with his concept of a three-stage plan he calls the Stufenplan as the basis for Nazi foreign policy. This plan involved Germany gaining mastery over Europe, followed by the Middle East and British colonial territory, and later the USA and with that the entire world.




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