A Blueprint for World War? Hitler and the Hossbach Memorandum

Jonathan Wright and Paul Stafford examine the origins and significance of the document which has been claimed as the Fuhrer's premeditated masterplan for European domination.

On November 5th, 1937, Hitler’s Minister of War, Field Marshal von Blomberg, summoned the Commanders-in-Chief of the three services, General von Fritsch, Admiral Raeder and General Goring to a meeting with the Fuhrer. They had been expecting this for some days. Indeed, the initiative came from their side not Hitler's. The reason was their frustration at the shortage of steel for rearmament which meant that it was falling rapidly behind its planned targets. There were many reasons for the shortage. At the simplest level, the German economy was being asked to produce more than it could. The demands of domestic consumers, of exports to pay for essential imports, of the prestige projects of the Nazi party, and of rearmament could not all be met simultaneously. This made it a question of political choice. In the Fuhrer state that meant – or should have meant – a matter for decision by the Fuhrer. And this was what Hitler's service chiefs expected from the meeting on November 5th.

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