Lebensraum - Policy or Propaganda?
What did Hitler mean by Lebensraum? Did he attempt to translate theory into reality? Martyn Housden 'unpacks' the term and puts it into historical context.
When the Germans talked of Lebensraum, that is to say ‘living space’, they used the term to denote a perceived need to have enough physical room to provide for themselves comfortably. In particular, it identified the possession of enough land to feed a population large enough to ensure Germany a place on the world stage. Adolf Hitler and those around him did not just start talking about the need to conquer Lebensraum in 1941, when they were preparing to invade Russia. Although the term was used with increasing frequency in the months leading up to the assault on Poland, its origins lay much further back than even 1939. Anti-Nazi newspaper columnists (for example in Der Deutsche in Polen) observed during the late 1930s that Hitler’s foreign policy involved something more than just planless initiatives, improvisation and contradictory imperatives. They said that its main direction had been well-established during the mid-1920s.