Lebensraum: Policy or Rhetoric?
Martyn Housden tries to unravel what Hitler really meant when he talked about living space for the German people.
When the Germans talked of Lebensraum, or ‘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. Hitler did not just start talking about the need to conquer Lebensraum in 1941; 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.