As the Allies Closed in on Hitler, They Jockeyed for Future World Dominance

As the Allies Closed in on Hitler, They Jockeyed for Future World Dominance

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In the final months of World War II, as Nazi Germany began to crumble, capturing Berlin had become the ultimate political and military prize. For the Allies—Britain, the United States and the Soviet Union—this was the chance to take the symbolic seat of Hitler’s expansionist, and genocidal, regime.

But there was another objective. Though much of Germany’s advanced research and development around atomic weaponry had by this point been evacuated to points outside the city, many of the nation’s greatest scientific minds remained in or around the capital. Harnessing their expertise might be the key to future world dominance—something both the Americans and the Soviets were keen to seize.

Who would be the victor, and at what cost? As the war wound down in early 1945, British and American forces began to close in on Berlin from the West, while Russia approached from the East. The Allies' uneasy partnership was growing increasingly strained: This was not just a race for the city, so much as for the upper hand in the coming postwar world order. Two mighty nations were on the cusp of becoming opposing superpowers—whose ability to “drop the big one” drove the stakes for humanity ever higher.

READ MORE: The Secret World War II Mission to Kidnap Hitler's A-Bomb Scientists

Eisenhower decides to forgo Berlin

A year before, in early 1944, U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower, supreme commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force, had been all in on the idea of capturing the German capital: “Berlin is the main prize,” he wrote to his British counterpart, Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery. “There is no doubt whatsoever, in my mind, that we should concentrate all our energies and resources on a rapid thrust to Berlin.” But by the end of 1944, rapid Soviet advancement began to throw this objective into question. By early 1945, the Red Army was barely 40 miles out of Berlin. British-American forces, set back by the Battle of the Bulge in Ardennes, had yet to cross the Rhine.

In late March, even as British and American forces got closer, Eisenhower telegrammed Soviet Premiere Joseph Stalin to say Berlin was no longer the objective, and that the Americans would stand pat at the Elbe River. Stalin seemed to agree—but ordered a massive Soviet offensive to capture the city by April 16, just three days later.

But by contacting Stalin directly, without first consulting the other two “Big Three” Allied political leaders, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Eisenhower had angered the British leader. In a series of telegrams at the end of March, Churchill fervently objected to Eisenhower’s decision—and urged him to press on.

READ MORE: How Gen. Eisenhower Spun a Humiliating Military Defeat into a Winning Military Strategy

WATCH: How Close was Hitler to Launching an A-Bomb?

They had good reasons to keep the Soviet army from reaching Berlin first. Given Stalin’s interest in extending his Communist sphere of influence in Europe, it was likely his armies would secure Vienna, and from there, all of Austria. Churchill also worried about political ramifications—in particular, how Russia would perceive its role in the war effort if it captured Berlin, and what that could mean for their future dealings. And to top it off, he was irritated that the British Army had been relegated “to an unexpectedly restricted sphere.”

Churchill reiterated this point to Roosevelt, writing: “If [the Soviets] also take Berlin, will not the impression that they have been the overwhelming contributor to our common victory be unduly imprinted on their minds?”

Roosevelt died of a cerebral hemorrhage less than two weeks later. And Eisenhower, who had been keeping his options open, even after the telegram to Stalin, ultimately decided that beating Russia to the finish line was simply too costly. General Omar Bradley had warned that it might cost the U.S. military upward of 100,000 American lives to make its way to Berlin—a price Eisenhower wasn’t willing to pay for territory he would ultimately have to cede to the Soviets, per the terms of postwar occupation already drawn up by the Big Three at the Yalta Conference months earlier. Berlin was looking to him like more a prestige get than a strategic one.

Years later, speaking to the British journalist Alistair Clarke in the late 1960s, Eisenhower justified his decision—one many historians considered the most controversial of his career. With Germany already divided into two occupation zones, “there was no possibility of the Western Allies capturing Berlin and staying there,” he said. The U.S. army would have had to retreat 125 miles back into its own zone as quickly as the fighting was over. “When my final plans were issued, we were about 200 miles to the westward of Berlin. The Russians, ready to attack, were 30 miles off Berlin, eastward, but with a bridgehead already west of the Oder River,” he said. “It didn’t seem like good sense to try, both of us, to throw in forces toward Berlin and get mixed up—two armies that couldn’t talk the same language, couldn’t even communicate with each other. It would have been a terrible mess.”

The race for nuclear assets

Allowing the Russians first passage into Berlin, however, had other costs. Since September 1943, America’s top-secret Alsos Mission had been working avidly to uncover the German nuclear energy project and find its facilities and brain trust. Scientists in that country had discovered nuclear fission in 1938 and had been stockpiling uranium and other nuclear raw materials in anticipation of an A-bomb breakthrough. U.S. forces had already taken key Italian scientists into custody after the fall of Rome. After rolling into Berlin, the Russians would be in prime position to do the same in Germany.

Adolf Hitler had fortified Berlin to the very best of his ability, declaring it a Festung, or fortress, in February 1945. German defenses proved so tenacious, in fact, that Russian troops would take nine days to break into the city, on April 24. On April 30, Hitler, hiding in his private bunker deep beneath the Reich chancellery, committed suicide. the Germans defending Berlin surrendered to the Soviets—though fights between German units and the Red Army continued to smolder in the city’s suburbs.

A few days before Berlin was officially captured, a leading Soviet general, who was also a chemist, arrived in an armored vehicle at the castle of Baron Manfred von Ardenne, a prominent applied physicist and inventor who had designed Hitler’s radio system. He handed von Ardenne a protective letter, or “schutzbrief”—an overture to a formal request, days later, to continue his research on isotope separation in the USSR. Von Ardenne, as well as many of his peers, jumped at the opportunity.

READ MORE: What Was Operation Paperclip?

Others, such as the top scientist Wernher von Braun, who was in hiding in Austria, opted to surrender to U.S. forces. “We knew that we had created a new means of warfare, and the question as to what nation, what victorious nation we were willing to entrust this brainchild of ours was a moral decision more than anything else,” he told the press. “We felt that only by surrendering such a weapon to people who are guided by the Bible could such an assurance to the world be best secured.”

In the months that followed, thousands of German scientists, engineers and technicians would be rounded up and recruited by these two sides. Through America’s Operation Paperclip, more than 1,600 German scientific minds were resettled to the U.S. between 1945 and 1959. The USSR, meanwhile, had a plan of its own: Operation Osoaviakhim, as it was called, resulted in the deportation and forcible recruitment of more than 2,200 German specialists in a single night in October 1946.

In both the U.S. and the USSR, these thinkers would be put to work developing terrifying weapons of the sort the world had never seen—ushering in the half-century Cold War.

Watch full episodes of World War II: Race to Victory.


At the 1943 Moscow Conference, the Soviet Union, United States, and the United Kingdom had jointly decided that the German annexation of Austria in 1938 would be considered "null and void". As well, all administrative and legal measures since 1938 would be ignored. The conference declared the intent to create a free and independent Austria after the war, but also stated that Austria had a responsibility for "participation in the war at the side of Hitlerite Germany" which could not be evaded. [1]

Soviet rule and reestablishing Austrian government Edit

On 29 March 1945, Soviet commander Fyodor Tolbukhin's troops crossed the former Austrian border at Klostermarienberg in Burgenland. [2] On 3 April, at the beginning of the Vienna Offensive, the Austrian politician Karl Renner, then living in southern Lower Austria, established contact with the Soviets. Joseph Stalin had already established a would-be future Austrian cabinet from the country's communists in exile, but Tolbukhin's telegram changed Stalin's mind in favor of Renner. [3]

On 20 April 1945, the Soviets, without asking their Western allies, [4] instructed Renner to form a provisional government. Seven days later Renner's cabinet took office, declared the independence of Austria from Nazi Germany and called for the creation of a democratic state along the lines of the First Austrian Republic. [4] Soviet acceptance of Renner was not an isolated episode their officers re-established district administrations and appointed local mayors, frequently following the advice of the locals, even before the battle was over. [5]

Renner and his ministers were guarded and watched by NKVD bodyguards. [6] One-third of State Chancellor Renner's cabinet, including crucial seats of the Secretary of State of the Interior and the Secretary of State for Education, was staffed by Austrian Communists. [4] The Western allies suspected the establishment of a puppet state and refused to recognize Renner. [4] The British were particularly hostile [4] even American President Harry Truman, who believed that Renner was a trustworthy politician rather than a token front for the Kremlin, denied him recognition. [7] But Renner had secured inter-party control by designating two Under-Secretaries of State in each of the ministries, appointed by the two parties not designating the Secretary of State.

As soon as Hitler's armies were pushed back into Germany, the Red Army and the NKVD began to comb the captured territories. By 23 May they reported arrests of 268 former Red Army men, 1,208 Wehrmacht men, and 1,655 civilians. [8] In the following weeks the British surrendered over 40,000 Cossacks who had fled to Western Austria from Soviet authorities and certain death. [9] In July and August, the Soviets brought in four regiments of NKVD troops to "mop up" Vienna and seal the Czechoslovak border. [10] [11]

The Red Army lost 17,000 lives in the Battle of Vienna. Soviet troops engaged in systematic sexual violence against women, beginning in the first days and weeks after the Soviet victory. Repression against civilians harmed the Red Army's reputation to such an extent that on 28 September 1945 Moscow issued an order forbidding violent interrogations. [12] Red Army morale fell as soldiers prepared to be sent home replacement of combat units with Ivan Konev's permanent occupation force only marginally reduced 'misbehaviour'. [13] Throughout 1945 and 1946, all levels of Soviet command tried, in vain, to contain desertion and plunder by rank and file. [14] [15] According to Austrian police records for 1946, "men in Soviet uniform", usually drunk, accounted for more than 90% of registered crime (in comparison, U.S. soldiers accounted for 5 to 7%). [16] [17] At the same time, the Soviet governors resisted the expansion and arming of the Austrian police force. [18]

French, British, and American troops Edit

American troops, including the 11th Armored Division, crossed the Austrian border on 26 April, followed by French and British troops on 29 April and on 8 May, respectively. [19] [2] Until the end of July 1945 none of the Western allies had first-hand intelligence from Eastern Austria (likewise, Renner's cabinet knew practically nothing about conditions in the West). [20]

The first Americans arrived in Vienna in the end of July 1945, [7] when the Soviets were pressing Renner to surrender Austrian oil fields. [21] Americans objected and blocked the deal [21] but ultimately the Soviets assumed control over Austrian oil in their zone. The British arrived in September. The Allied Council of four military governors [22] convened for its first meeting in Vienna on 12 September 1945. It refused to recognize Renner's claim of a national government but did not prevent him from extending influence into the Western zones. Renner appointed vocal anti-communist Karl Gruber as Foreign Minister and tried to reduce Communist influence. On 20 October 1945, Renner's reformed cabinet was recognized by the Western allies and received a go-ahead for the first legislative election. [23]

Occupation zones Edit

On 9 July 1945 the Allies agreed on the borders of their occupation zones. [24] Movement of occupation troops ("zone swap") continued until the end of July. [20] The French and American zones bordered those countries' zones in Germany, and the Soviet zone bordered future Warsaw Pact states:

    and North Tyrol were assigned to the French Zone
    and Upper Austria south of the Danube were assigned to the American Zone.
    , Carinthia, and Styria were assigned to the British Zone.
  • Burgenland , Lower Austria, and the Mühlviertel area of Upper Austria, north of the Danube, were assigned to the Soviet Zone.
  • Vienna was divided among all four Allies. The historical center of Vienna was declared an international zone, in which occupation forces changed every month.

In determining the occupation zones, the administrative changes made after the Anschluss were applied in the western zones (Steirisches Salzkammergut to Lower Austria and East Tyrol to Carinthia) and were disregarded in the Soviet zone (Vienna not enlarged and Burgenland re-established).

First general elections after the war Edit

The election held on 25 November 1945 was a blow for the Communist Party of Austria which received a bit more than 5% of the vote. The coalition of Christian Democrats (ÖVP) and Social Democrats (SPÖ), [25] backed by 90% of the votes, assumed control over the cabinet and offered the position of Federal Chancellor to Christian Democrat Julius Raab. [26] The Soviets vetoed Raab, [26] because he had been a member of the austrofascist Fatherland Front during the 1930s and the Soviets, unlike the West, favored a policy of denazification. Instead President Karl Renner, with the consent of parliament, appointed Leopold Figl, who was just barely acceptable to the Soviets. [23] They responded with massive and coordinated expropriation of Austrian economic assets. [23]

The Potsdam Agreement allowed confiscation of "German external assets" in Austria, and the Soviets used the vagueness of this definition to the full. [27] In less than a year they dismantled and shipped to the East industrial equipment valued at around US$500 million. [7] American High Commissioner Mark W. Clark vocally resisted Soviet expansionist intentions, and his reports to Washington, along with George F. Kennan's The Long Telegram, supported Truman's tough stance against the Soviets. [28] Thus, according to Bischof, the Cold War in Austria began in the spring of 1946, one year before the outbreak of the global Cold War. [21]

On 28 June 1946, the Allies signed the Second Control Agreement that loosened their dominance over the Austrian government. The Parliament was de facto relieved of Allied control. From now on its decision could be overturned only by unanimous vote by all four Allies. [29] Soviet vetoes were routinely voided by Western opposition. [29] For the next nine years the country was gradually emancipated from foreign control, and evolved from a "nation under tutelage" to full independence. [30] The government possessed its own independent vision of the future, reacting to adverse circumstances and at times turning them to their own benefit. [31] The first allied talks on Austrian independence were held in January 1947, and deadlocked over the issue of "German assets" in Soviet possession. [32]

In late 1945 and early 1946 the Allied occupation force peaked at around 150,000 Soviet, 55,000 British, 40,000 American, and 15,000 French troops. [33] The costs of keeping these troops were levied on the Austrian government. At first, Austria had to pay the whole occupation bill in 1946 occupation costs were capped at 35% of Austrian state expenditures, equally split between the Soviets and the Western allies. [33]

Coincidentally with the Second Control Agreement, the Soviets changed their economic policy from outright plunder to running expropriated Austrian businesses for a profit. Austrian communists advised Stalin to nationalize the whole economy, but he deemed the proposal to be too radical. [3] Between February and June 1946, the Soviets expropriated hundreds of businesses left in their zone. [21] On 27 June 1946, they amalgamated these assets into the USIA, a conglomerate of over 400 enterprises. [34] It controlled not more than 5% of Austrian economic output but possessed a substantial, or even monopolistic, share in the glass, steel, oil, and transportation industries. [35] The USIA was weakly integrated with the rest of the Austrian economy its products were primarily shipped to the East, its profits de facto confiscated and its taxes left unpaid by the Soviets. The Austrian government refused to recognize USIA legal title over its possessions in retaliation, the USIA refused to pay Austrian taxes and tariffs. [36] This competitive advantage helped to keep USIA enterprises afloat despite their mounting obsolescence. The Soviets had no intention to reinvest their profits, and USIA assets gradually decayed and lost their competitive edge. [37] The Austrian government feared paramilitary communist gangs sheltered by the USIA [38] and scorned it for being "an economy of exploitation in colonial style." [39] The economy of the Soviet zone eventually reunited with the rest of the country.

South Tyrol was returned to Italy. The "thirty-second decision" of the Council of Foreign Ministers to grant South Tyrol to Italy (4 September 1945) disregarded popular opinion in Austria and the possible effects of a forced repatriation of 200,000 German-speaking Tyroleans. [40] The decision was arguably motivated by the British desire to reward Italy, a country far more important for the containment of world communism. Renner's objections came in too late and carried too little weight to have effect. [41] Popular and official protests continued through 1946. The signatures of 150,000 South Tyroleans did not alter the decision. [42] South Tyrol is today an Italian autonomous province (Bolzano/Bozen) with a German-speaking majority.

In 1947, the Austrian economy, including USIA enterprises, reached 61% of pre-war levels, but it was disproportionately weak in consumer goods production (42% of pre-war levels). [43] Food remained the worst problem. The country, according to American reports, survived 1945 and 1946 on "a near-starvation diet" with daily rations remaining below 2000 calories until the end of 1947. [44] 65% of Austrian agricultural output and nearly all oil was concentrated in the Soviet zone, complicating the Western Allies' task of feeding the population in their own zones. [45]

From March 1946 to June 1947, 64% of these rations were provided by the UNRRA. [46] Heating depended on supplies of German coal shipped by the U.S. on lax credit terms. [47] A 1946 drought further depressed farm output and hydroelectric power generation. Figl's government, the Chambers of Labor, Trade and Agriculture, and the Austrian Trade Union Federation (ÖGB) temporarily resolved the crisis in favor of tight regulation of food and labor markets. Wage increases were limited and locked to commodity prices through annual price-wage agreements. The negotiations set a model of building consensus between elected and non-elected political elites that became the basis of post-war Austrian democracy, [48] known as Austrian Social Partnership and Austro-corporatism. [49]

The severe winter of 1946–1947 was followed by the disastrous summer of 1947, when the potato harvest barely reached 30% of pre-war output. [46] The food shortages were aggravated by the withdrawal of UNRRA aid, spiraling inflation, and the demoralizing failure of State Treaty talks. [46] In April 1947, the government was unable to distribute any rations, and on 5 May Vienna was shaken by a violent food riot. [50] Unlike earlier protests, the demonstrators, led by the Communists, called to curb the westernisation of Austrian politics. [51] In August, a food riot in Bad Ischl turned into a pogrom of local Jews. [52] In November, the food shortage sparked workers' strikes in British-occupied Styria. [51] Figl's government declared that the food riots were a failed communist putsch, although later historians said this was an exaggeration. [32] [51]

In June 1947, the month when the UNRRA stopped shipments of food to Austria, the extent of the food crisis compelled the U.S. government to issue $300 million in food aid. In the same month Austria was invited to discuss its participation in the Marshall Plan. [53] Direct aid and subsidies helped Austria to survive the hunger of 1947 while simultaneously depressing food prices and discouraging local farmers, thereby delaying the rebirth of Austrian agriculture. [46]

Austria finalized its Marshall Plan program in the end of 1947 and received the first tranche of Marshall Plan aid in March 1948. [54] Heavy industry (or what was left of it) was concentrated around Linz, in the American zone, and in British-occupied Styria. Their products were in high demand in post-war Europe. Naturally, the administrators of the Marshall Plan channeled available financial aid into heavy industry controlled by the American and British forces. [55] American military and political leaders made no secret of their intentions: Geoffrey Keyes said that "we cannot afford to let this key area (Austria) fall under the exclusive influence of the Soviet Union." [56] The Marshall Plan was deployed primarily against the Soviet zone but it was not completely excluded: it received 8% of Marshall plan investments (compared to 25% of food and other physical commodities). [57] The Austrian government regarded financial aid to the Soviet zone as a lifeline holding the country together. This was the only case where Marshall Plan funds were distributed in Soviet-occupied territory. [58]

The Marshall Plan was not universally popular, especially in its initial phase. [59] It benefited some trades such as metallurgy but depressed others such as agriculture. Heavy industries quickly recovered, from 74.7% of pre-war output in 1948 to 150.7% in 1951. [60] American planners deliberately neglected consumer goods industries, construction trades, and small business. Their workers, almost half of the industrial workforce, suffered from rising unemployment. [61] In 1948–1949, a substantial share of Marshall Plan funds was used to subsidize imports of food. American money effectively raised real wages: the grain price was about one-third of the world price, while agriculture remained in ruins. [62] Marshall Plan aid gradually removed many of the causes of popular unrest that shook the country in 1947, [63] but Austria remained dependent on food imports.

The second stage of the Marshall Plan, which began in 1950, concentrated on productivity of the economy. [64] According to Michael J. Hogan, "in the most profound sense, it involved the transfer of attitudes, habits and values as well, indeed a whole way of life that Marshall planners associated with progress in the marketplace of politics and social relationships as much as they did with industry and agriculture." [65] The program, as intended by American lawmakers, [66] targeted improvement in factory-level productivity, labor-management relations, free trade unions and introduction of modern business practices. [67] The Economic Cooperation Administration, which operated until December 1951, distributed around $300 million in technical assistance and attempted steering the Austrian social partnership (political parties, labor unions, business associations, and government) in favor of productivity and growth instead of redistribution and consumption. [68]

Their efforts were thwarted by the Austrian practice of making decisions behind closed doors. [69] The Americans struggled to change it in favor of open, public discussion. They took a strong anti-cartel stance, appreciated by the Socialists, and pressed the government to remove anti-competition legislation. [70] But ultimately they were responsible for the creation of the vast monopolistic public sector of the economy (and thus politically benefiting the Socialists). [71]

According to Bischof, "no European nation benefited more from the Marshall Plan than Austria." [72] Austria received nearly $1 billion through the Marshall Plan, and half a billion in humanitarian aid. [33] [73] The Americans also refunded all occupation costs charged in 1945–1946, around $300 million. [74] In 1948–1949 Marshall Plan aid contributed 14% of national income, the highest ratio of all involved countries. [75] Per capita, aid amounted to $132 compared to $19 for the Germans. [33] But Austria also paid more war reparations per capita than any other Axis state or territory. [76] Total war reparations taken by the Soviet Union including withdrawn USIA profits, looted property and the final settlement agreed in 1955, are estimated between $1.54 billion and $2.65 billion [76] (Eisterer: 2 to 2.5 billion). [77]

The British had been quietly arming gendarmes, the so-called B-Gendarmerie, since 1945 and discussed the creation of a proper Austrian military in 1947. [78] The Americans feared that Vienna could be the scene of another Berlin Blockade. They set up and filled emergency food dumps, and prepared to airlift supplies to Vienna [79] while the government created a backup base in Salzburg. [80] The American command secretly trained the soldiers of an underground Austrian military at a rate of 200 men a week. [81] The B-Gendarmerie knowingly hired Wehrmacht veterans and VdU members [82] the denazification of Austria's 537,000 registered Nazis had largely ended in 1948. [83]

Austrian communists appealed to Stalin to partition their country along the German model, but in February 1948 Andrei Zhdanov vetoed the idea: [3] Austria had more value as a bargaining chip than as another unstable client state. The continuing talks on Austrian independence stalled in 1948 but progressed to a "near breakthrough" in 1949: the Soviets lifted most of their objections, and the Americans suspected foul play. [84] The Pentagon was convinced that the withdrawal of Western troops would leave the country open to Soviet invasion of the Czechoslovak model. Clark insisted that before their departure the United States must secretly train and arm the core of a future military. Serious secret training of the B-Gendarmerie began in 1950 [80] but soon stalled due to US defense budget cuts in 1951. [85] Gendarmes were trained primarily as an anti-coup police force, but they also studied Soviet combat practice and counted on cooperation with the Yugoslavs in case of a Soviet invasion. [82]

Although in the fall of 1950 the Western powers replaced their military representatives with civilian diplomats, [29] strategically, the situation became gloomier than ever. The Korean War experience persuaded Washington that Austria might become "Europe's Korea" [80] and sped up rearmament of the "secret ally". [86] International tension was coincident with a severe internal economic and social crisis. The planned withdrawal of American food subsidies spelled a sharp drop in real wages. The government and the unions deadlocked in negotiations, and gave the communists the opportunity to organize the 1950 Austrian general strikes which became the gravest threat since the 1947 food riots. [87] The communists stormed and took over ÖGB offices and disrupted railroad traffic but failed to recruit sufficient public support and had to admit defeat. [88] The Soviets and the Western allies did not dare to actively intervene in the strikes. [89] The strike intensified the militarization of Western Austria, with active input from France and the CIA. [80] Despite the strain of the Korean War, by the end of 1952 the American "Stockpile A" (A for Austria) in France and Germany amassed 227 thousand tons of materiel earmarked for Austrian armed forces. [90]

The end of the Korean War and the death of Joseph Stalin defused the standoff, and the country was rapidly, but not completely, demilitarized. After the Soviet Union had relieved Austria of the need to pay for the cost of their reduced army of 40,000 men, [74] the British and French followed suit and reduced their forces to a token presence. [91] Finally, the Soviets replaced their military governor with a civilian ambassador. The former border between Eastern and Western Austria became a demarcation line. [74]

Chancellor Julius Raab, elected in April 1953, removed pro-Western foreign minister Gruber and steered Austria to a more neutral policy. [92] Raab carefully probed the Soviets about resuming the talks on independence, [93] but until February 1955 it remained contingent on a solution to the larger German problem. The Western strategy of rearming West Germany, formulated in the Paris Agreement, was unacceptable to the Soviets. They responded with a counter-proposal for a pan-European security system that, they said, could speed up reunification of Germany, and again the West suspected foul play. [94] Eisenhower, in particular, had "an utter lack of confidence in the reliability and integrity of the men in the Kremlin. the Kremlin is pre-empting the right to speak for the small nations of the world". [95]

In January 1955, Soviet diplomats Andrey Gromyko, Vladimir Semenov and Georgy Pushkin secretly advised Vyacheslav Molotov to unlink the Austrian and German issues, expecting that the new talks on Austria would delay ratification of the Paris Agreement. [96] [ page needed ] Molotov publicly announced the new Soviet initiative on 8 February. He put forward three conditions for Austrian independence: neutrality, no foreign military bases, and guarantees against a new Anschluss. [96] [ page needed ] [97]

In March 1955, Molotov clarified his plan through a series of consultations with ambassador Norbert Bischoff: Austria was no longer hostage to the German issue. [96] [ page needed ] Molotov invited Raab to Moscow for bilateral negotiations that, if successful, had to be followed by a Four Powers conference. By this time Paris Agreements were ratified by France and Germany, although the British and Americans suspected a trap [98] of the same sort that Hitler had set for Schuschnigg in 1938. [99] Anthony Eden and others wrote that the Moscow initiative was merely a cover-up for another incursion into German matters. [100] The West erroneously thought that the Soviets valued Austria primarily as a military asset, when in reality it was a purely political issue. [101] Austria's military significance had been largely devalued by the end of the Soviet-Yugoslav conflict and the upcoming signing of the Warsaw Pact. [102]

These fears did not materialize, and Raab's visit to Moscow (12–15 April) was a breakthrough. Moscow agreed that Austria would be free no later than 31 December. [103] [104] Austrians agreed to pay for the "German assets" and oil fields left by the Soviets, mostly in kind [105] [106] "the real prize was to be neutrality on the Swiss model." [103] [107] Molotov also promised the release and repatriation of Austrians imprisoned in the Soviet Union. [96] [ page needed ]

Western powers were stunned Wallinger reported to London that the deal "was far too good to be true, to be honest". [103] But it proceeded as had been agreed in Moscow and on 15 May 1955 Antoine Pinay, Harold Macmillan, Molotov, John Foster Dulles, and Figl signed the Austrian State Treaty in Vienna. It came into force on 27 July and on 25 October the country was free of occupying troops. [108] The next day, Austria's parliament enacted a Declaration of Neutrality, whereby Austria would never join a military alliance such as NATO or the Warsaw Pact, or allow foreign troops be based within Austria. The Soviets left in Vienna the large Soviet War Memorial and to the new government a symbolic cache of small arms, artillery, and T-34 tanks the Americans left a far greater gift of "Stockpile A" assets. [109] The only political spokesman who was publicly upset about the outcome was West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, who called the affair die ganze österreichische Schweinerei ("the whole Austrian scandal") and threatened the Austrians with "sending Hitler's remains home to Austria". [108]

Hitler: Genius or Madman?

Friend or foe. Axis or ally. Right and wrong. Though many throughout history have been judged on their actions and their thoughts, none have been more debated over than the decisions and actions of Adolf Hitler. The speculations that have occurred before, during and after his taking of power and the war in which he can arguably take responsibility for are vast and varied. While most claim him to be terrifying, evil, and even insane, in reality this may not be the case. In fact, most who claim this do not even know Hitler at all. Like most people, Hitler’s upbringing and experiences along the way shaped him into the monster that the majority of the world sees him as today. Unlike many others, however, Adolf Hitler fought relentlessly in pursuit of his goals and never gave in to those that could have potentially destroyed him and his work. Because of his undeniable drive and determination, his ascension to leadership was guaranteed. There is a question that rises about Hitler as not just a leader, but as a man. Should the world view him as nothing more than a monster bent on destroying the Jews, gaining control over Europe and quite possibly the world given enough time, and a blood-thirsty lover of war, or should the world view him through a different spectrum? While answering this question is by no means an easy task, nor will the answer be definitive, it nevertheless must be attempted. Therefore, I make the claim that the world and all of its inhabitants from now and forever view the man known as Adolf Hitler, as both.

Before unpacking who Adolf Hitler was as a leader both militarily and politically, a thorough background knowledge of his life pre-power days must be understood. Adolf was born in 1889 to Alois Hitler and Klara Pölzl, near the city of Linz, which was located in the Austrian part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

During World War II, many opposed to Hitler in Britain called him Corporal Schicklgruber. This name, while completely inaccurate for a couple of reasons, is the result of Adolf’s father, Alois, legally changing his surname from Hiedler to Hitler a number of years before Adolf was born.

Adolf was one of six children and only one of two to survive childbirth. His younger sister Paula lived until 1960.

The Hitler family were by all means a comfortably middle class family.

As a child growing up, Hitler possessed no extraordinary skills, nothing outstanding in his character or physical makeup to suggest he was destined for greatness. He never worked hard at anything, and never possessed any job of considerable strain or work at all. He had no superior intellect that spoke to any of his teachers throughout his years in school. In fact, he showed little effort in his schooling at all. If it were not for his father, with whom he constantly bickered and resented, Adolf would not have been in school. Adolf would constantly say how he wanted to be an artist, while his father resented the very idea, saying how that was not a real job. When Alois Hitler died in 1903, this was all Adolf needed. He left school in 1905 and went to live with his sister and mother. For two years, Hitler still knew nothing of hard work, as his sister and mother made anything and everything for him that he needed. It was not until his mother Klara, became sick and passed away in 1907 that Adolf began looking for a future.

He moved to Vienna that same year with the intention of becoming a student at the Academy for art. Still not aware of the world nor how it worked, he presumed he would be accepted after passing the entrance exam with ease. Instead, Adolf failed the exam and was rejected from entering the academy.

He stayed in Vienna for almost seven years, which he claims in his book Mein Kampf, “hardened me, and enabled me to be as tough as I now am.”

In 1914, Adolf Hitler was accepted into a Bavarian infantry unit, known as the List Regiment, which was named after its first commander, Colonel Julius von List. Hitler has tried to claim that he personally petitioned King Ludwig III to be allowed to enlist and enter the regiment. However, this is nothing more than a lie, as many Austrians were being accepted to many different Bavarian regiments, including the List Regiment.

After seeing action in the early years of the war, Hitler was promoted to Private first class. Soon after his promotion, however, he was reassigned to the position of a dispatch runner, in which his duties included often running messages back and forth, far behind the front lines.

From this point in the war, Hitler never rose above the rank of private, which is very odd considering the loss of soldiers sustained by the German army and the need for officers. A possibility for this could be Hitler’s social awkwardness and unwillingness to befriend any of the other soldiers. While his job was such that he did not see battle for most of the war, he was present at the Battle of Somme in 1916, where he was injured and taken to Berlin for medical care.

Hitler detested his time in Germany however, saying “Wherever I went, I now saw Jews, and the more I saw, the more sharply they set themselves apart in my eyes from the rest of humanity.

It was here that accounts tell of his first anti-semitic thoughts and feelings. Though he never was promoted beyond the rank of private, he did receive the Iron Cross award in 1918. Later Nazi party accounts tell of Hitler holding off 12 French soldiers single-handedly, while in reality, he was awarded this medal for his work as a messenger.

There are many accounts of Hitler’s bravery and of the struggles through difficulties that he overcame, but these are mostly fabrications either Hitler falsely claimed or the Nazi party created to bolster Hitler’s political platform.

As the Great War finally came to a close, the Bavarian Monarchy was overthrown and for a time, power passed between a few parties. Though the information was hushed by the Nazi’s, Hitler had at one point supported the leadership of the Communists which had taken control in the south. However, when they were dismantled and he joined the German Worker’s Party, he quickly denied ever having ties to them at all.

While many think of Hitler as the leader and face of the Nazi party, this was not always the case. The signing of the Versailles Treaty and Wilson’s 14 points in 1919 marks a significant starting point to Hitler’s eventual highly distinguished political career. For Germany, the Versailles Treaty meant many restrictions on the once glorious and expansive empire. The treaty’s purpose was to restrict Germany as a European power. To do so, many of the bordering lands that Germany had were taken from them, and with it around four million people. Germany was still allowed to maintain a military, but one that could not exceed 100,000 troops and conscription was prohibited. In addition, all overseas colonies and all warships and aircraft were taken. As the Austro-Hungarian Empire fell after the Great War, Austria was banned from joining with the German nation. Germany was forced to take sole responsibility and blame for the war and incurred massive war debts.

However, through all of this, the worst was that Germany and its people were given no say in any of this. Instead they were told to sign or be prepared for further occupation of their country.

As a war-hardened Hitler learned of these events, he became disgusted with both the west and their bullying, and with his Germany for not standing up for herself. Because of this, shortly after the communists lost control of Germany, Adolf became interested in military techniques and enrolled at Munich University. While there, he was able to attend other lectures of different topics. Among other things, it was at Munich University in which he was taught, however inadvertently, that Jews were the sources of most of the problems that Germany now faced.

While living in Munich, Hitler happened to meet a group of four individuals who were part of what were known as the White Russians: a fiercely anti-semitic group whose ideals belonged to the far right of the political spectrum. It was these four men- Dietrich Eckart, Alfred Rosenberg, Max von Scheubner-Richter and Erich Ludendorff- that became Hitler’s mentors in his newly developing political views.

Later that year, Hitler attended and lively participated in a German Worker’s party meeting. The party’s head, Anton Drexler, saw talent in Hitler and asked him to join. In September of 1919, Hitler did just that.

Throughout the next few years, Hitler quickly became the face of the German Worker’s Party and changed its name to the National Socialist German Worker’s Party (NSDAP). Then in 1933, Hitler and his agents successfully overthrew Chancellor Kurt von Schleicher and installed Hitler as the new chancellor.

Finally, through deception and blindness of others, Hitler was able to secure the presidency as well in 1934. He was now a presidential chancellor with the ultimate powers and makings of a dictator.

While Hitler’s rise to power did indeed come with a great amount of luck for Hitler and his followers, he did not rely solely on this luck to take what he wanted. Adolf Hitler, while not a physical specimen, found his gift in public speaking. As many have described him, his approach was simple, yet elegant. He was not afraid to pose the biggest questions of the day nor did he conceal any horrors or despair that faced Germany. Emotionally driven, his messages came from the heart and he was able to seemingly connect with every member of the audience. As evidence of this, the major primary source used for this involved study of Hitler is both a video and a transcript of a speech that Adolf Hitler gave on the seventh anniversary of his taking of power of Germany. While this was a definite rallying type of speech, it is a wonderful example of the aura in which Hitler displayed his genius. In the video, we witness Hitler both enter and exit center stage and are left with the feeling that he almost feels more comfortable speaking to the masses than he does almost anywhere else. And through his daring and clever rhetoric, such as stating his place among the German people by saying, “Because, at the end of the day, what am I? I am nothing, my German people, but your spokesperson. Therefore I am the representative of your rights,” it is easy to see how persuasive he could be.

Hans Frank, the nineteen year old would-be governor general of occupied Poland, stated, “I was convinced that if one man could do it, Hitler alone would be capable of mastering Germany’s fate.”

Through his messages and his deliverance, he was able to gather an extremely devoted following. Of those, none placed Hitler on more of a pedestal than Georg Schott, who referred to Hitler as “The Prophetic Person, the Educator, and the Awakener.”

Even others, who needed more convincing, Hitler was able to bring to his side, such as Ernst Graf zu Reventlow, a former critic of Hitler, who in 1927 stated, “I subordinate myself without further ado to Herr Adolf Hitler. Why? He has proved that he can lead on the basis of his view and his will, he has created a party out of the united socialist idea, and leads it. He and the party are one, and offer the unity that is the unconditional premiss of success.”

There are many instances in which Hitler, through careful planning and a bit of luck, was able to gain power and defy western rules (mostly French and British). In May 1933, Hitler proclaimed that if Germany was not allowed to expand its armed forces, it would withdraw from the League of Nations. Thanks to knowledge of a joint French-Anglo counteraction against Germany, in October of 1933, Hitler did just that.

In addition, Hitler began to make alliances, starting with Mussolini in Italy, as Hitler made his first visit to another country by spending a few days in Venice talking with the fascist Italian leader. Hitler’s next step was to forge a connection with Great Britain in what would be known as the Anglo-German Naval Agreement of June 18, 1935, in which Germany would be allowed to redevelop its navy at a capacity of 35:100 of Britain’s. Hitler was able to do this by stressing the desire for security and adhering to Britain’s dominance at sea.

After this victory for Germany and for Hitler, he turned his focus to the Rhineland. Though slow at first, Hitler began gaining confidence and finally on March 7, 1936, Germany had reoccupied the Rhineland with only 30,000 troops. As Hitler feared, this angered France, but due to economic and political distractions, they simply protested and did not resist.

Though rearmament was going well, Germany needed allies, which he found first in Italy in 1936, as Mussolini declared that their two countries were destined to have a special bond that they have “Created a Rome-Berlin axis around which the peace and stability of Europe could grow.”

Soon after, the growing Asian power of Imperial Japan, who wanted to show itself as eager to fight against communism, joined the axis. Finally in 1939, the signing of the Nazi-Soviet Pact left Germany looking almost completely invincible. While this may have come as a shock to many, on paper, this was a brilliant strategic move. Since coming to power in the 1920’s, Stalin had forbidden the idea of aligning with non-communistic western powers or even socialist groups within these powers, which he denoted as “social-facists.”

But in the 1930’s, Stalin realized that he had underestimated the Nazi’s ability to realize their goals, and began to search for a way to avoid conflict from the power-growing Nazi Germany. On the other side, this meant that Germany no longer had to worry about a massive onslaught from the enormous armies of the Soviets and could now turn its full attention to the west.

With the years of rebuilding Germany, readying her for war, and the initial years of war may have shown Hitler in the most positive of lights in terms of militaristic brilliance, but why was it then that Germany eventually lost the war? As Michael Lynch states, “The war was [Hitler’s] to lose and he lost it.”

While there was certainly more than one unifying reason as to why the war was lost in the minds of the axis, there are a number of things that stand out. Operation Barbarossa- the military attack of Germany against the Soviet Union- is seen by many scholars to be one of them. Though Hitler felt strongly that this was a step of utmost importance for Germany, it ultimately became devastating for Germany. By breaking the Nazi-Soviet pact, Hitler’s Germany now had to face conflict from both sides. In the attack itself, Hitler made the mistake of spreading out his forces to both Leningrad and Moscow. Had he simply taken Moscow, the Soviet Union would have not been able to regain enough power to push back. But instead, he laid siege to both cities simultaneously, which ultimately led to his downfall, as neither city fell and the following winter was one of the worst recorded in Russian history.

Next, by backing Imperial Japan and declaring war on the United States, Hitler sealed the fate of Germany. A Japanese task force attacked the United States’s naval base at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, with the intention that they would recognize Japanese supremacy in Asia.

Instead, the reverse happened, and America declared war on Japan. Hitler, who miscalculated once again the enemy’s ability to fight back, declared war on America a few days later, and in doing so, he overextended Germany’s capabilities of fighting and their reaching capacity. In addition, Hitler had just challenged the strongest military and economic power in the world. His thoughts, which proved to be a gamble in which cost him dearly, was that the United States would be too intertwined with struggle against Japan to have any strength to fight back against Germany. What Hitler did not count on was not only the Americans’s willingness to fight, but to not stop the fight until they had an unconditional surrender. This misjudgment on the part of Hitler cost him the war, if not more.

Finally, the destruction of the Jewish people and Hitler’s thoughts on them as a race, eventually led to his complete destruction. For much of the war, the allies knew nothing of the truth of the atrocities committed behind German lines towards some six million Jews. While there are people in the present day who believe quite avidly that the Holocaust never occurred, the proof cannot be denied.

In Poland, the extermination of the Jews was a process of three steps. To begin, every Jew was marked with the star of David on their shoulder of their clothes. Next, they were sectioned off into ghettos. And finally, they were disposed of in concentration camps, such as Auschwitz.

When the horrifying realizations set in of the torturous and incredibly despicable events that occurred with the Jewish populations in Eastern Europe, the world became outraged at the Germans for their racial biases and cruel treatments, which led to an even more unified assault on the German homelands.

Overall, Hitler’s leadership was both great and terrifyingly evil. Memory of him is a tricky topic to discuss, because there was so much about this man that one simple sentence or phrase could not possibly do him justice. Therefore, I believe that he should be remembered as both the brilliant political and military leader, for he unlike so many others, was able to capitalize on the cards dealt to him, but also as the man with evil in his heart, for the extermination of a people based solely on their religion as a basis for inferiority. Yet for all the evil that may be placed upon him, we must remember that like so many other great leaders of the time, he strove to follow his heart and his beliefs, and craft what he believed was a new and better Germany. Therefore, the question is can we really say we are any different? Like Hitler, we all must be allowed to dream. The question is: when do dreams become too real?

This source is both a link to a video and a transcript of one of the many speeches that Hitler gave during his reign of power. Within it, we are able to clearly see many examples of how Hitler was so effective and persuasive as a leader.

Hitler, Adolf. Mein Kampf. Mumbai, Jaico Publishing House English Version, 1988.

This is an autobiography written by Adolf Hitler himself in 1924. Within this work, he describes his life up to this point and points out reasons for certain aspects of his life. He also describes what some of his hopes are for the future.

Lynch, Michael. Hitler. New York, Routledge, 2013.

This is an biography of Adolf Hitler which covers much of Hitler’s life, from his childhood through much of World War II. Within it, the author makes the claim that the war was completely Hitler’s fault and that Germany’s defeat can also be blamed on this man.

Kershaw, Ian. Hitler. New York, W.W. Norton & Co., 1998.

This is another biography of Adolf Hitler, but this one covers from birth until his early years of power in the 1930’s. Within this literary work, Kershaw states that the seeds of war had already been planted and that it was just around the corner.

Turner Jr., Henry. Hitler’s Thirty Days to Power. Reading, Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, Inc., 1996.

This is a book that describes the events that lead up to the taking of power by Hitler. Within it, the coup is described that effectively dethrones the old chancellor and puts Hitler in his place. It also tells of how Hitler turned the position into a presidential chancellory.

Reinhold Hanisch, ‘I was Hitler’s Buddy’ in New Republic (New York, 1939) p. 240.

This source is one that describes the building of a new Germany by Hitler, starting with the humble beginnings of Adolf joining the Nazi party and their lead up to taking power. Hanisch was a onetime business partner of Hitler, and published articles about him in the paper. However, after Vienna he was never again close to Hitler and died in a Vienna jail in 1937.

Yelland, Linda M. and Stone, William F.“Belief in the Holocaust: Effects of Personality and Propoganda.” Political Psychology. Vol. 17, #3 (Sept. 1996).

This is a journal article that describes the thoughts of many in Europe and the United States who deny the existence of the Holocaust. It also describes certain happenings of the Holocaust, such as the finding of Auschwitz.

Engelking, Barbara. “Murdering and Denouncing Jews in the Polish Countryside, 1942-1945.” East European Politics and Sciences. Vol. 25, #3 (August 2011).

This source gives accurate details of the extermination of the Jewish population in Poland. It talks of the different steps in which Jews were dealt with and of the happenings in the concentration camps.

The Nazi Party

The Nazi Party, which rose to prominence in Germany in the late 1920s and early 1930s, was a right-wing political party that sought to improve the stock of the Germanic people through racial purity and eugenics, broad social welfare programs, and a collective subordination of individual rights, sacrificed for the good of the state and the “Aryan master race.”

Learning Objectives

Analyze the reasons for the success of the Nazi Party

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • The Nazi Party, officially the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, was founded in 1920 by Anton Drexler, an avid German nationalist.
  • It evolved out of Drexler’s earlier party, the German Workers’ Party (Deutsche Arbeiterpartei DAP), started in 1919.
  • Drexler followed the typical views of militant nationalists of the day, such as opposing the Treaty of Versailles, having antisemitic, anti-monarchist and anti-Marxist views, and believing in the superiority of Germans, whom nationalists claimed to be part of the Aryan “master race.”
  • Adolf Hitler joined the DAP in 1919 and quickly became their main orator and spokesperson.
  • Around that time, the party only had around 6o members.
  • During 1921 and 1922, the Nazi Party grew significantly, partly through Hitler’s oratorical skills, partly through the SA’s (party militia) appeal to unemployed young men, and partly because there was a backlash against socialist and liberal politics in Bavaria as Germany’s economic problems deepened and the weakness of the Weimar regime became apparent.
  • In 1923, Hitler and other Nazi Party members attempted a coup, which landed Hitler in prison for one year.
  • Upon his release, Hitler continued to expand the Nazi base and by 1929, the party had 130,000 members.
  • Despite its growth in popularity, the Nazi Party might never have come to power if not for the Great Depression and its effects on Germany.

Key Terms

  • Nuremberg Rally: The annual rally of the Nazi Party in Germany, held from 1923 to 1938. They were large Nazi propaganda events, especially after Hitler’s rise to power in 1933.
  • eugenics: A set of beliefs and practices that aims at improving the genetic quality of the human population.
  • Hitler Youth: The youth organization of the Nazi Party in Germany, which originated in 1922. From 1933 until 1945, it was the sole official youth organization in Germany and was partially a paramilitary organization.
  • Aryan: A racial grouping term used in the period of the late 19th century to the mid-20th century to describe multiple peoples. It has been variously used to describe all Indo-Europeans in general (spanning from India to Europe), the original Aryan people specifically in Persia, and most controversially through Nazi misinterpretation, the Nordic or Germanic peoples. The term derives from the Aryan people from Persia, who spoke a language similar to those found in Europe.

The National Socialist German Workers’ Party (German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, abbreviated NSDAP), commonly referred to in English as the Nazi Party, was a political party in Germany that was active between 1920 and 1945 and practiced the ideology of Nazism. Its precursor, the German Workers’ Party (Deutsche Arbeiterpartei DAP), existed from 1919 to 1920.

The party emerged from the German nationalist, racist, and populist paramilitary culture, which fought against the communist uprisings in post-World War I Germany. The party was created to draw workers away from communism and into populist (German: völkisch) nationalism. Initially, Nazi political strategy focused on anti-big business, anti-bourgeois, and anti-capitalist rhetoric, although such aspects were later downplayed to gain the support of industrial entities. In the 1930s the party’s focus shifted to anti-Semitic and anti-Marxist themes.

Pseudo-scientific racism theories were central to Nazism. The Nazis propagated the idea of a “people’s community.” Their aim was to unite “racially desirable” Germans as national comrades, while excluding those deemed either to be political dissidents, physically or intellectually inferior, or of a foreign race. The Nazis sought to improve the stock of the Germanic people through racial purity and eugenics, broad social welfare programs, and a collective subordination of individual rights, sacrificed for the good of the state and the “Aryan master race.” To maintain the supposed purity and strength of the Aryan race, the Nazis sought to exterminate Jews, Romani, and the physically and mentally handicapped. They imposed exclusionary segregation on homosexuals, Africans, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and political opponents. The persecution reached its climax when the party-controlled German state organized the systematic murder of approximately six million Jews and five million people from the other targeted groups in what has become known as the Holocaust.

The party’s leader since 1921, Adolf Hitler, was appointed Chancellor of Germany by President Paul von Hindenburg on January 30, 1933. Hitler rapidly established a totalitarian regime known as the Third Reich. Following the defeat of the Third Reich at the conclusion of World War II in Europe, the party was “declared to be illegal” by the Allied powers, who carried out denazification in the years after the war.

Origins and Early History

The party grew out of smaller political groups with nationalist orientation that formed in the last years of World War I. In 1918, a league called the Freien Arbeiterausschuss für einen guten Frieden (Free Workers’ Committee for a good Peace) was created in Bremen, Germany. On March 7, 1918, Anton Drexler, an avid German nationalist, formed a branch of this league in Munich. Drexler was a local locksmith who had been a member of the militarist Fatherland Party during World War I and was bitterly opposed to the armistice of November 1918 and the revolutionary upheavals that followed. Drexler followed the typical views of militant nationalists of the day, such as opposing the Treaty of Versailles, having antisemitic, anti-monarchist and anti-Marxist views, and believing in the superiority of Germans, whom nationalists claimed to be part of the Aryan “master race.” He also accused international capitalism of being a Jewish-dominated movement and denounced capitalists for war profiteering in World War I. Drexler saw the situation of political violence and instability in Germany as the result of the new Weimar Republic being out-of-touch with the masses, especially the lower classes.

Though very small, Drexler’s movement did receive attention and support from some influential figures. Supporter Dietrich Eckhart brought military figure Count Felix Graf von Bothmer, a prominent supporter of the concept of “national socialism,” to address the movement. On January 5, 1919, Drexler created a new political party, the German Workers’ Party (Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, DAP). To ease concerns among potential middle-class supporters, Drexler made clear that unlike Marxists, the party supported the middle-class, and that the party’s socialist policy was meant to give social welfare to German citizens deemed part of the Aryan race. The DAP was a comparatively small group with fewer than 60 members. Nevertheless, it attracted the attention of the German authorities, who were suspicious of any organization that appeared to have subversive tendencies.

Adolf Hitler joined the DAP in 1919 and quickly became the party’s most active orator, appearing in public as a speaker 31 times within the first year. Hitler’s considerable oratory and propaganda skills were appreciated by the party leadership as crowds began to flock to hear his speeches.

To increase its appeal to larger segments of the population, on February 24, 1920, the same day as the biggest Hitler’s speech to date, the DAP changed its name to the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (National Socialist German Workers Party). That year, the Nazi Party officially announced that only persons of “pure Aryan descent” could become party members if the person had a spouse, the spouse also had to be a “racially pure” Aryan. Party members could not be related either directly or indirectly to a so-called “non-Aryan.”

The SA (“storm troopers”, also known as “Brownshirts”) were founded as a party militia in 1921 and began violent attacks on other parties.

During 1921 and 1922, the Nazi Party grew significantly, partly through Hitler’s oratorical skills, partly through the SA’s appeal to unemployed young men, and partly because there was a backlash against socialist and liberal politics in Bavaria as Germany’s economic problems deepened and the weakness of the Weimar regime became apparent. The party recruited former World War I soldiers, to whom Hitler as a decorated frontline veteran particularly appealed, as well as small businessmen and disaffected former members of rival parties. Nazi rallies were often held in beer halls, where downtrodden men could get free beer. The Hitler Youth was formed for the children of party members, although it remained small until the late 1920s.

After a failed coup (Beer Hall Putsch) in 1923, Hitler was arrested and the Nazi Party was largely disbanded.

Nazi Party Rises to Prominence

Adolf Hitler was released from prison on December 20, 1924. In the following year he re-founded and reorganized the Nazi Party with himself as its undisputed leader. The new Nazi Party was no longer a paramilitary organization and disavowed any intention of taking power by force. In any case, the economic and political situation had stabilized and the extremist upsurge of 1923 had faded, so there was no prospect of further revolutionary adventures.

In the 1920s the Nazi Party expanded beyond its Bavarian base. The areas of strongest Nazi support were in rural Protestant areas such as Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg, Pomerania, and East Prussia. Depressed working-class areas such as Thuringia also produced a strong Nazi vote, while the workers of the Ruhr and Hamburg largely remained loyal to the Social Democrats, the Communist Party of Germany, or the Catholic Centre Party. Nuremberg remained a Nazi Party stronghold, and the first Nuremberg Rally, a large annual propaganda rally, was held there in 1927. These rallies soon became massive displays of Nazi paramilitary power and attracted many recruits. The Nazis’ strongest appeal was to the lower middle-classes – farmers, public servants, teachers, small businessmen – who had suffered most from the inflation of the 1920s and thus feared Bolshevism more than anything else. The small business class was receptive to Hitler’s antisemitism, since it blamed Jewish big business for its economic problems. University students, disappointed at being too young to have served in the War of 1914–1918 and attracted by the Nazis’ radical rhetoric, also became a strong Nazi constituency. By 1929, the party had 130,000 members.

Despite its growth in popularity, the Nazi Party might never have come to power if not for the Great Depression and its effects on Germany. By 1930 the German economy was beset with mass unemployment and widespread business failures. The Social Democrats and Communists were bitterly divided and unable to formulate an effective solution. This gave the Nazis their opportunity Hitler’s message, blaming the crisis on the Jewish financiers and the Bolsheviks, resonated with wide sections of the electorate. At the September 1930 Reichstag elections, the Nazis won 18.3% of the votes and became the second-largest party in the Reichstag after the SPD. Hitler proved a highly effective campaigner, pioneering the use of radio and aircraft for this purpose. His dismissal of Strasser and appointment of Goebbels as the party’s propaganda chief were major factors. While Strasser used his position to promote his own leftish version of national socialism, Goebbels was totally loyal to Hitler and worked only to improve Hitler’s image. Over the next several years, Hitler’s Nazi Party would continue to gain power and influence.

Nazi Party: Hitler with Nazi Party members in 1930. By 1929, the party had 130,000 members.

Why Hitler's grand plan during the second world war collapsed

Two years into the war, in September 1941, German arms seemed to be carrying all before them. Western Europe had been decisively conquered, and there were few signs of any serious resistance to German rule. The failure of the Italians to establish Mussolini's much-vaunted new Roman empire in the Mediterranean had been made good by German intervention. German forces had overrun Greece, and subjugated Yugoslavia. In north Africa, Rommel's brilliant generalship was pushing the British and allied forces eastwards towards Egypt and threatening the Suez canal. Above all, the invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941 had reaped stunning rewards, with Leningrad (the present-day St Petersburg) besieged by German and Finnish troops, Smolensk and Kiev taken, and millions of Red Army troops killed or captured in a series of vast encircling operations that brought the German armed forces within reach of Moscow. Surrounded by a girdle of allies, from Vichy France and Finland to Romania and Hungary, and with the more or less benevolent neutrality of countries such as Sweden and Switzerland posing no serious threat, the Greater German Reich seemed to be unstoppable in its drive for supremacy in Europe.

Yet in retrospect this proved to be the high point of German success. The fundamental problem facing Hitler was that Germany simply did not have the resources to fight on so many different fronts at the same time. Leading economic managers such as Fritz Todt had already begun to realise this. When Todt was killed in a plane clash on 8 February 1942, his place as armaments minister was taken by Hitler's personal architect, the young Albert Speer. Imbued with an unquestioning faith in Hitler and his will to win, Speer restructured and rationalised the arms production system, building on reforms already begun by Todt. His methods helped increase dramatically the number of planes and tanks manufactured in German plants, and boosted the supply of ammunition to the troops.

US military might

But by the end of 1941 the Reich had to contend not only with the arms production of the British empire and the Soviet Union but also with the rapidly growing military might of the world's economic superpower, the United States. Throughout 1941, rightly fearing the consequences of total German domination of Europe for America's position in the world, US President Franklin D Roosevelt had begun supplying Britain with growing quantities of arms and equipment, guaranteed through a system of "lend-lease" and formalised in August by the Atlantic Charter. When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in early December, Hitler saw the opportunity to attack American convoys without inhibition, and declared war on the US in the belief that Roosevelt would be too preoccupied with countering the Japanese advance in the Pacific to trouble overmuch with events in Europe.

Yet such was the economic might of the Americans that they could pour increasing resources into the conflict in both theatres of war. Germany produced 15,000 new combat aircraft in 1942, 26,000 in 1943, and 40,000 in 1944. In the US, the figures were 48,000, 86,000 and 114,000 respectively. Added to these were the aircraft produced in the Soviet Union – 37,000 in 1943, for example – and the UK: 35,000 in 1943 and 47,000 in 1944. It was the same story with tanks, where 6,000 made in Germany each year had to face the same number produced annually in Britain and the Dominions, and three times as many in the Soviet Union. In 1943 the combined allied production of machine-guns exceeded 1 million, compared with Germany's 165,000. Nor did Germany's commandeering of the economies of other European countries do much to redress the balance. The Germans' ruthless requisitioning of fuel, industrial facilities and labour from France and other countries reduced the economies of the subjugated parts of Europe to such a state that they were unable – and, with their workers becoming ever more refractory, unwilling – to contribute significantly to German war production.

Above all, the Reich was short of fuel. Romania and Hungary supplied a large proportion of Germany's needs. But this was not enough to satisfy the appetite of the Wehrmacht's gas-guzzling tanks and fighter planes. Rommel's eastward push across northern Africa was designed not just to cut off Britain's supply route through the Suez canal but above all to break through to the Middle East and gain control over the region's vast reserves of oil. In mid-1942 he captured the key seaport of Tobruk. But when he resumed his advance, he was met with massive defensive positions prepared by the meticulous British general Bernard Montgomery at El Alamein. Over 12 days he failed to break through the British lines and was forced into a headlong retreat across the desert. To complete the rout, the allies landed an expeditionary force further west, in Morocco and Algeria. A quarter of a million German and Italian troops surrendered in May 1943. Rommel had already returned to Germany on sick leave. "The war in north Africa," he concluded bitterly, "was decided by the weight of Anglo-American material." If he had been provided with "more motorised formations", and a more secure supply line, he believed, he could still have driven through to the oilfields of the Middle East. But it was not to be.

By the time of Montgomery's victory, it had become clear that the Germans' attempt to compensate for their lower levels of arms production by stopping American supplies and munitions from reaching Britain across the Atlantic had also failed. In the course of 1942, a determined construction campaign increased the number of U-boats active in the Atlantic and the Arctic from just over 20 to more than 100 in November 1942 alone they sank 860,000 tonnes of allied shipping, aided by the Germans' ability to decipher British radio traffic while keeping their own secret.

Battle of the Atlantic

But from December 1942, the British could decode German ciphers once more and steer their convoys away from the waiting wolf-packs of U-boats. Small aircraft carriers began to accompany allied convoys, using spotter planes to locate the German submarines, which had to spend most of their time on the surface in order to move with any reasonable speed and locate the enemy's ships. By May 1943 the allies were building more ship tonnage than the Germans were sinking, while one U-boat was being sunk by allied warships and planes on average every day. On 24 May 1943 the commander of the U-boat fleet, Admiral Karl Dönitz, conceded defeat and moved his submarines out of the north Atlantic. The battle of the Atlantic was over.

The most dramatic and most significant reversal of German fortunes came, however, on the eastern front. The sheer scale of the conflict between the Wehrmacht and the Red Army dwarfed anything seen anywhere else during the second world war. From 22 June 1941, the day of the German invasion, there was never a point at which less than two-thirds of the German armed forces were engaged on the eastern front. Deaths on the eastern front numbered more than in all the other theatres of war put together, including the Pacific. Hitler had expected the Soviet Union, which he regarded as an unstable state, ruled by a clique of "Jewish Bolsheviks" (a bizarre idea, given the fact that Stalin himself was an antisemite), exploiting a vast mass of racially inferior and disorganised peasants, to crumble as soon as it was attacked.

But it did not. On the contrary, Stalin's patriotic appeals to his people helped rally them to fight in the "great patriotic war", spurred on by horror at the murderous brutality of the German occupation. More than three million Soviet prisoners of war were deliberately left to die of starvation and disease in makeshift camps. Civilians were drafted into forced labour, villages were burned to the ground, towns reduced to rubble. More than one million people died in the siege of Leningrad but it did not fall. Soviet reserves of manpower and resources were seemingly inexhaustible. In a vast effort, major arms and munitions factories had been dismantled and transported to safety east of the Urals. Here they began to pour out increasing quantities of military hardware, including the terrifying "Stalin organ", the Katyusha rocket-launcher. In the longer run, the Germans were unable to match any of this even if some of their hardware, notably the Tiger and Panther tanks, was better than anything the Russians could produce, they simply could not get them off the production lines in sufficient quantities to make a decisive difference.

War in the snow

Already in December 1941, Japan's entry into the war, and its consequent preoccupation with campaigns in the Pacific, allowed Stalin to move large quantities of men and equipment to the west, where they brought the German advance to a halt before Moscow. Unprepared for a winter war, poorly clad, and exhausted from months of rapid advance and bitter fighting, the German forces had to abandon the idea of taking the Russian capital. A whole string of generals succumbed to heart attacks or nervous exhaustion, and were replaced Hitler himself took over as commander-in-chief of the army.

Hitler had already weakened the thrust towards Moscow by diverting forces to take the grainfields of the Ukraine and push on to the Crimea. For much of 1942, this tactic seemed to be succeeding. German forces took the Crimea and advanced towards the oilfields of the Caucasus. Here again, acquiring new supplies of fuel to replenish Germany's dwindling stocks was the imperative. But Soviet generals had begun to learn how to co-ordinate tanks, infantry and air power and to avoid encirclement by tactical withdrawals. German losses mounted. The German forces were already dangerously short of reserves and supplies when they reached the city of Stalingrad on the river Volga, in August 1942.

Three months later, they had still not taken the city. Stalingrad became the object of a titanic struggle between the Germans and the Soviets, less because of its strategic importance than because of its name. When the Germans moved their best troops into the city, leaving the rear to be guarded by weaker Romanian and Italian forces, the Soviet generals saw their chance, broke through the rearguard and surrounded the besieging forces. Short of fuel and ammunition, the Germans under General Paulus were unable to break out. As one airfield after another was captured by the Red Army, supplies ran out and the German troops began to starve to death. On 31 January 1943, refusing the invitation to commit suicide that came with Hitler's gift of a field marshal's baton, Paulus surrendered. Some 235,000 German and allied troops were captured more than 200,000 had been killed. It was the turning point of the war.

Last great counter-attack

From this moment on, the German armies were more or less continuously in retreat on the eastern front. The Red Army around Stalingrad was threatening to cut off the German forces in the Caucasus, so they were forced to withdraw, abandoning their attempt to secure the region's oil reserves. In early July 1943 came the last great German counter-attack, at Kursk. This was the greatest land battle in history, involving more than four million troops, 13,000 tanks and self-propelled guns, and 12,000 combat aircraft. Warned of the attack in advance, the Red Army had prepared defences in depth, which the Germans only managed partially to penetrate. A tragi-comic incident happened when an advancing Soviet tank force fell into its own side's defensive ditches nearly 200 tanks were wrecked, or destroyed by the incredulous Waffen-SS forces waiting for them on the other side. The local party commissar, Nikita Khrushchev, covered up this disaster by persuading Stalin that they had been destroyed in a huge battle that had eliminated more than 400 German tanks and won a heroic victory. The legend of "the greatest tank battle in history" was born.

In fact it was nothing of the kind. So enormous were the Russian reserves that the loss of the tanks made little difference in the end, as fresh troops and armour were moved in to rescue the situation. More than one million soldiers, 3,200 tanks and self-propelled guns, and nearly 4,000 combat aircraft entered the fray on the Soviet side and began a series of successful counter-offensives. The Germans were forced to retreat. The missing German tanks had not been destroyed they had been pulled out by Hitler to deal with a rapidly deteriorating situation in Italy. After the war, German generals claimed bitterly they could have won at Kursk had Hitler not stopped the action. In reality, however, the Soviet superiority in men and resources was overwhelming.

And the tanks really were needed in Italy. Following their victory in north Africa, the allies had landed in Sicily on 10 July 1943 to be greeted in Palermo by Italian citizens waving white flags. A fortnight later, reflecting the evaporation of Italy's will to fight on, the Fascist Grand Coalition deposed Mussolini and began to sue for peace. On 3 September an armistice was signed, and allied forces landed on the Italian mainland. German troops had already invaded from the north, taking over the entire peninsula. Following the armistice, they seized 650,000 Italian soldiers and shipped them off to Germany as forced labourers to join millions of others drafted in from Poland and the Soviet Union to replace German workers sent to the front to replenish the Wehrmacht's rapidly diminishing manpower. In a daring commando raid on the Alpine hotel where Mussolini was being held prisoner, SS paratroopers liberated the former dictator, who was put in charge of a puppet regime based on the town of Salò. But as the allied armies made their way slowly northwards towards Rome, nothing could disguise the fact that Germany's principal ally had now been defeated.

German morale

These events had a devastating effect on German morale at home. In particular the catastrophe of Stalingrad began to convince many Germans that the war could not be won. Worse was to come. Meeting at Casablanca in January 1943, Churchill and Roosevelt decided on a sustained campaign of bombing German cities. A series of massive raids on the industrial area of the Ruhr followed, backed up by the destruction of key dams by the famous "bouncing bombs" on 16 May 1943. Arms production was severely affected. And in late July and early August 1943, the centre of Hamburg was almost completely destroyed in a firestorm created by intensive incendiary bombing that killed up to 40,000 people, injured a further 125,000, many of them seriously, and made 900,000 homeless. Refugees from the devastated city spread a sense of shock and foreboding all across Germany. In Hamburg itself, anger at the Nazis' failure to defend the city led to crowds tearing party badges off officials' coats amid cries of "murderer!" The chief of staff of the German airforce committed suicide. German air defences were still able to inflict serious losses on allied bombing expeditions, but they were not strong enough to prevent the devastation continuing.

By the end of 1943, German forces were retreating all along the line in the east and in Italy. The spectacle of German defeat and the brutal requisitioning of millions of forced labourers from occupied countries fuelled the rise of resistance movements right across Europe. The Reich had lost command of the skies and the seas. Ever more devastating bombing raids on a growing range of towns and cities were making people's lives unbearable. Ordinary Germans knew by the end of 1943 that the war was lost. Terror began to replace commitment as a means of keeping people fighting on. More than 20,000 German troops were executed by courts-martial during the war for varieties of defeatism. At home, people faced a similar escalation of terror from the Nazi party and the SS. Retreating into their private and family worlds, they began to focus increasingly on simply staying alive and waiting for the end.

Richard J Evans is regius professor of modern history at Cambridge University. His trilogy on Nazi Germany, The Coming of the Third Reich, The Third Reich in Power, and The Third Reich at War, is published in paperback by Penguin

The Decline of the West: Why America Must Prepare for the End of Dominance

Those of us who write about foreign policy--or any topic, for that matter--yearn for the day when the president of the United States lauds our work. That is exactly what happened in January to Robert Kagan, a fellow at the Brookings Institution and an adviser to the Romney campaign. Just before delivering the State of the Union address, President Obama told a collection of news anchors that his thinking had been influenced by Kagan's recent cover essay in The New Republic, "Not Fade Away: The Myth of American Decline." It is not often that a president running for reelection praises his chief rival's counselor.

Kagan's article, which draws on his new book, The World America Made, contests the emerging consensus in foreign-policy circles that American primacy is eroding thanks to the shift in global power from the West to the "rising rest." China and other nations are steadily ascending, this view holds, while the United States and its allies are stuck in an economic rut. The long era of Western hegemony seems to be coming to an end.

Kagan begs to differ. He contends that U.S. primacy is undiminished and that Americans, as long as they set their minds to it, are poised to sit atop the global pecking order for the indefinite future. The nation's share of global economic output has been holding steady, and its military strength "remains unmatched." China, India, Brazil, Turkey, and other emerging powers are certainly on the move, Kagan acknowledges, but he maintains that only China will compromise U.S. interests. The others will either align with the United States or remain on the geopolitical sidelines. The biggest threat to U.S. hegemony is that "Americans may convince themselves that decline is indeed inevitable"--and choose to let it happen. Kagan wants to persuade them otherwise and to call forth the political energies needed to ensure that the United States remains "the world's predominant power."

Although it sounds reassuring, Kagan's argument is, broadly, wrong. It's true that economic strength and military superiority will preserve U.S. influence over global affairs for decades to come, but power is undeniably flowing away from the West to developing nations. If history is any guide, the arrival of a world in which power is more widely distributed will mean a new round of jockeying for position and primacy. While it still enjoys the top rank, the United States should do its best to ensure that this transition occurs peacefully and productively. The worst thing to do is to pretend it's not happening.

By overselling the durability of U.S. primacy, Kagan's analysis breeds an illusory strategic complacency: There is no need to debate the management of change when one denies it is taking place. Even worse, the neoconservative brain trust to which Kagan belongs chronically overestimates U.S. power and its ability to shape the world. The last time that like-minded thinkers ran the show--George W. Bush's first term as president--they did much more to undermine American strength than to bolster it. Neoconservative thinking produced an assertive unilateralism that set the rest of the world on edge led to an unnecessary and debilitating war in Iraq, the main results of which have been sectarian violence and regional instability and encouraged fiscal profligacy that continues to threaten American solvency. Kagan would have us fritter away the nation's resources in pursuit of a hollow hegemony.

Instead, it is time for thrift: Washington should husband its many strengths, be more sparing with military force, and rely on judicious diplomacy to tame the onset of a multipolar world.

American primacy is not as resilient as Kagan thinks. His most serious error is his argument that Americans need not worry about the ascent of new powers because only Europe and Japan are losing ground to them the United States is keeping pace. It's true that the U.S. share of global output has held at roughly 25 percent for several decades. It's also the case that "the rise of China, India, and other Asian nations . has so far come almost entirely at the expense of Europe and Japan, which have had a declining share of the global economy." But this is not, as Kagan implies, good news for the United States.

The long run of Western hegemony has been the product of teamwork, not of America acting alone. Through the 19th century and up until World War II, Europe led the effort to spread liberal democracy and capitalism--and to guide Western nations to a position of global dominance. Not until the postwar era did the United States take over stewardship of the West. Pax Britannica set the stage for Pax Americana, and Washington inherited from its European allies a liberal international order that rested on solid commercial and strategic foundations. Moreover, America's many successes during the past 70 years would not have been possible without the power and purpose of Europe and Japan by its side. Whether defeating communism, liberalizing the global economy, combating nuclear proliferation, or delivering humanitarian assistance, Western allies formed a winning coalition that made effective action possible.

The collective strength of the West is, however, on the way down. During the Cold War, the Western allies often accounted for more than two-thirds of global output. Now they represent about half of output--and soon much less. As of 2010, four of the top five economies in the world were still from the developed world (the United States, Japan, Germany, and France). From the developing world, only China made the grade, coming in at No. 2. By 2050, according to Goldman Sachs, four of the top five economies will come from the developing world (China, India, Brazil, and Russia). Only the United States will make the cut it will rank second, and its economy will be about half the size of China's. Moreover, the turnabout will be rapid: Goldman Sachs predicts that the collective economic output of the top four developing countries--Brazil, China, India, and Russia--will match that of the G-7 countries by 2032.

Kagan is right that the United States will hold its own amid this coming revolution. But he is certainly misguided to think that the relative decline of Europe and Japan won't matter. Their falling fortunes will compromise America's ability to maintain global sway. Indeed, Kagan seems to admit as much when he acknowledges, "Germany and Japan were and are close democratic allies, key pillars of the American world order."

Kagan is ready to gloss over the consequences of the West's diminishing clout because he thinks that most emerging nations will cast their lot with the United States rather than challenge American hegemony. "Only the growth of China's economy," he writes, "can be said to have implications for American power in the future." Kagan is confident that the rise of others--including Brazil, India, and Turkey--"is either irrelevant to America's strategic position or of benefit to it."

But Washington simply can't expect emerging powers other than China to line up on its side. History suggests that a more equal distribution of power will produce fluid alignments, not fixed alliances. During the late 19th century, for example, the onset of a multi­polar Europe produced a continually shifting network of pacts. Large and small powers alike jockeyed for advantage in an uncertain environment. Only after imperial Germany's military buildup threatened to overturn the equilibrium did Europe's nations group into the competing alliances that ultimately faced off in World War I. As the 21st century unfolds, China is more likely than other emerging nations to threaten U.S. interests. But unless or until the rest of the world is forced to choose sides, most developing countries will keep their options open, not obediently follow America's lead.

Already, rising powers are showing that they'll chart their own courses. Turkey for decades oriented its statecraft westward, focusing almost exclusively on its ties to the United States and Europe. Now, Ankara looks primarily east and south, seeking to extend its sway throughout the Middle East. Its secular bent has given way to Islamist leanings its traditionally close connection with Israel is on the rocks and its relations with Washington, although steadier of late, have never recovered from the rift over the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.

India is supposedly America's newest strategic partner. Relations have certainly improved since the 2005 agreement on civilian nuclear cooperation, and the two nations see eye to eye on checking China's regional intentions. But on many other fronts, Washington and New Delhi are miles apart. India frets, for instance, that the U.S. will give Pakistan too much sway in Afghanistan. On the most pressing national security issue of the day--Iran's nuclear program--India is more of a hindrance than a help, defying Washington's effort to isolate Iran through tighter economic sanctions. And the two democracies have long been at loggerheads over trade and market access.

Nations such as Turkey and India, which Kagan argues will be either geopolitically irrelevant or solid American supporters, are already pushing back against Washington. And they are doing so while the United States still wields a pronounced preponderance of power. Imagine how things will look when the playing field has truly leveled out.

Despite his faith that rising powers (save China) will be America's friends, Kagan at least recognizes that their ascent could come at America's expense. Will not the "increasing economic clout" of emerging powers, he asks, "cut into American power and influence?" He offers a few reasons not to worry, none of which satisfies.

For starters, he claims that the growing wealth of developing nations need not diminish U.S. sway because "there is no simple correlation between economic growth and international influence." He continues, "Just because a nation is an attractive investment opportunity does not mean it is a rising great power."

True enough. But one of the past's most indelible patterns is that rising nations eventually expect their influence to be commensurate with their power. The proposition that countries such as India and Brazil will sit quietly in the global shadows as they become economic titans flies in the face of history. Other than modern-day Germany and Japan--both of which have punched well below their weight due to constraints imposed on them after World War II--a country's geopolitical aspirations generally rise in step with its economic strength. During the 1890s, for instance, the United States tapped its industrial might to launch a blue-water navy, rapidly turning itself from an international lightweight into a world-class power. China is now in the midst of fashioning geopolitical aspirations that match its economic strength--as are other emerging powers. India is pouring resources into its navy its fleet expansion includes 20 new warships and two aircraft carriers.

To support his thesis that emerging powers are not rising at the expense of U.S. influence, Kagan also argues that pushback against Washington is nothing new. He then cites numerous occasions, most of them during the Cold War, when adversaries and allies alike resisted U.S. pressure. The upshot is that other nations are no less compliant today than they used to be, and that the sporadic intransigence of emerging powers is par for the course.

But today's global landscape is new. By presuming that current circumstances are comparable with the Cold War, Kagan underestimates the centrifugal forces thwarting American influence. Bipolarity no longer constrains how far nations--even those aligned with Washington--will stray from the fold. And the United States no longer wields the economic influence that it once did. Its transition from creditor to debtor nation and from budget surpluses to massive deficits explains why it has been watching from the sidelines as its partners in Europe flirt with financial meltdown. The G-7, a grouping of like-minded democracies, used to oversee the global economy. Now that role is played by the G-20, a much more unwieldy group in which Washington has considerably less influence. And it is hardly business as usual when foreign countries lay claim to nearly 50 percent of publicly held U.S. government debt, with an emerging rival--China--holding about one-quarter of the American treasuries owned by foreigners.

Yes, U.S. leadership has always faced resistance, but the pushback grows in proportion to the diffusion of global power. China may prove to be America's most formidable competitor, but other emerging nations will also be finding their own orbits, not automatically aligning themselves with Washington. America's most reliable partners in the years ahead will remain its traditional allies, Europe and Japan. That's why it spells trouble for the United States that these allies are on the losing end of the ongoing redistribution of global power.

Finally, Kagan's timing is off. He is right that power shifts over decades, not years. But he underestimates the speed at which substantial changes can occur. He notes, for example, "The United States today is not remotely like Britain circa 1900, when that empire's relative decline began to become apparent. It is more like Britain circa 1870, when the empire was at the height of its power." After two draining wars, an economic crisis, and deepening defense cuts, this assertion seems doubtful. But let's assume that the United States is indeed "at the height of its power," comparable with Britain circa 1870.

In 1870, British hegemony rested on a combination of economic and naval supremacy that looked indefinitely durable. Two short decades later, however, that picture had completely changed. The simultaneous rise of the United States, Germany, and Japan altered the distribution of power, forcing Britain to revamp its grand strategy. Pax Britannica may have technically lasted until World War I, but London saw the writing on the wall much earlier--which is precisely why it was able to adjust its strategy by downsizing imperial commitments and countering Germany's rise.

In 1896, Britain began courting the United States and soon backed down on a number of disputes in order to advance Anglo-American amity. The British adopted a similar approach in the Pacific, fashioning a naval alliance with Japan in 1902. In both cases, London used diplomacy to clear the way for retrenchment--and it worked. Rapprochement with Washington and Tokyo freed up the fleet, enabling the Royal Navy to concentrate its battleships closer to home as the Anglo-German rivalry heated up.

It was precisely because Britain, while still enjoying preponderant strength, looked over the horizon that it was able to successfully adapt its grand strategy to a changing distribution of power. Just like Britain in 1870, the United States probably has another two decades before it finds itself in a truly multipolar world. But due to globalization and the spread of new manufacturing and information technologies, global power is shifting far more rapidly today than it did in the 19th century.

Now is the time for Washington to focus on managing the transition to a new geopolitical landscape. As the British experience makes clear, effective strategic adjustment means getting ahead of the curve. The alternative is to wait until it is too late--precisely what London did during the 1930s, with disastrous consequences for Britain and Europe. Despite the mounting threat posed by Nazi Germany, Britain clung to its overseas empire and postponed rearmament. After living in denial for the better part of a decade, it finally began to prepare for war in 1939, but by then it was way too late to stop the Nazi war machine.

Even Kagan seems to recognize that comparing the United States to Britain in 1870 may do his argument more harm than good. "Whether the United States begins to decline over the next two decades or not for another two centuries," he writes, "will matter a great deal, both to Americans and to the nature of the world they live in." The suggestion here is that the United States, as long as it marshals the willpower and makes the right choices, could still have a good 200 years of hegemony ahead of it. But two decades--more in line with the British analogy--is probably the better guess. It strains credibility to propose that, even as globalization speeds growth among developing nations, a country with less than 5 percent of the world's population will run the show for two more centuries.

Whether American primacy lasts another 20 years or another 200, Kagan's paramount worry is that Americans will commit "preemptive superpower suicide out of a misplaced fear of their own declining power." In fact, the greater danger is that the United States could head into an era of global change with its eyes tightly shut--in denial of the tectonic redistribution of power that is remaking the globe. The United States will remain one of the world's leading powers for the balance of the 21st century, but it must recognize the waning of the West's primacy and work to shepherd the transition to a world it no longer dominates. Pretending otherwise is the real "preemptive superpower suicide."

World War II Test Study Guide

Italy: In July 1943, a British and American Army landed in Sicily and then southern Italy, defeating the Italian forces in a month. Italians later overthrew Mussolini and signed an armistice, which Hitler resisted. For 1 ½ years, Allies pushed slowly up the Italian Peninsula, weakening Hitler's Army by forcing them to fight on another front.

Soviet Union: In the Battle of Stalingrad, the Soviets encircled the Germans and November. Trapped, without food or ammunition and no hope of rescue, the German commander surrendered in January 1943. After the battle, the Red Army took the offensive and drove Hitler's Army out of Russia. By 1944, Soviet soldiers were advancing into Eastern Europe.

By 1944, the US Navy was blockading Japan and bomb Japanese cities and industries. the British pushed back Japanese forces into the jungles of Burma and Malaya. later, Allied scientist conducted the Manhattan Project.

In July 1945, they successfully tested the first atomic bomb in Alamogordo, New Mexico. President Truman decided to use the atomic bomb in Japan.

Totalitarian governments have complete control over:
1. Religion
2. Economy
3. Education
4. Family
5. Media

His idea was that the Soviet state would just control "the commanding heights" of the economy like major industry, while allowing ordinary citizens to operate business and property ownership as normal.

Joseph Stalin ended this in 1928 and replaced it with greater state ownership, collectivization, and a series of Five-Year Plans.
A recovery followed under Lenin's New Economic Policy, which allowed a degree of market flexibility within the context of socialism, but Stalin stopped the NEP after Lenin's death.

To do so, he created a series of "Five-Year Plans" starting in the late 1920s.

These plans set high production goals for industries like mining, railroads, electric plants and manufacturers.

The Five Year Plans used a policy called "forced collectivization" which was intended to increase agricultural output from large government-owned farms created through the integration of smaller private farms

Farm owners and peasants had to give up their land, tools, and even homes, and work on the new collectivized farms instead. It was meant to bring the peasantry under more direct political control, to facilitate the collection of taxes and provide more food for people living in Soviet cities.

One famine, called Holodomor, occurred during 1932-1933 in Ukraine and the Kuban region.

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“New World Order Pledged to Jews,” in the New York Times (1940)

“In the first public declaration on the Jewish question since the outbreak of the war, Arthur Greenwood, member without portfolio in the British War Cabinet, assured the Jews of the United States that when victory was achieved an effort would be made to found a New World Order based on the ideals of ‘justice and peace.'”

Did Adolf Hitler serve the New World Order Agenda?

The answer is clearly, NO HE DID NOT! However, what does serve the NWO agenda are the endless lies and the “bogeyman” image being promulgated and promoted by disinfo agents in the so-called “truth movement” who claim to be “fighting the New World Order agenda” !

Ask yourself, “who benefits” from the perpetuation of these lies?

In closing, I will add that, while military operations were (officially) halted in 1945 and victory declared by the ALL LIES, the war against Hitler, against Germany and against the Germans did NOT end, but continues unabated to this day. Germany is still, for all intents and purposes, an occupied and foreign controlled nation, and is still being held for ransom in an extortion racket which had it’s roots in 1933. We are still waiting for “justice and peace” which obviously did NOT come out of World War II as advertised.

Only the truth will set us free!

PS I will be Deanna Spingola’s guest on Wednesday, April 10th, 2013. I hope you will tune in if you can, and we will welcome your calls in the 2nd hour too.

U.S. And Its Allies Try to Split the World in Two

America has on its side Saudi Arabia, Israel, Qatar, UAE, and all four of the fascist nations during World War II: Germany, Japan, Italy, and Spain — as well as many other nations.

Russia and China were both allies of the United States during the war against Hitler and his allies, but Franklin Delano Roosevelt had to fight against considerable American support for the fascist powers (overwhelmingly coming from Republicans) during the years before Japan’s Pearl Harbor attack on 7 December 1941. (In fact, on 23 November 1937, Hitler’s agents Kurt von Tippleskirch and Manfred von Killinger, two Barons, were secretly negotiating with top Republicans — including the racist Irénée du Pont — what would have been the Duponts’ second coup-attempt against FDR, but neither attempt succeeded.) As soon as Harry S. Truman (whom the Democratic Party’s billionaires chose to be FDR’s VP in 1944) became President on FDR’s death on 12 April 1945, the alliance with the Soviet Union ended, and the Cold War gelled in Truman’s mind on 25 July 1945 because of advice from General Dwight Eisenhower, whom Truman practically worshipped. On 19 June 1945, Truman wrote to his wife, Bess, “He’s done a whale of a job. They are running him for President, which is O.K. with me. I’d turn it over to him now if I could.” And, on 25 July 1945, Ike told Truman that either the Soviet Union would conquer the world or else America would — and this apparently convinced Truman to go for global empire and to conquer the Soviet Union.

If the EU does break away from the U.S., then it will also be able to relocate the U.N. out of NYC to Europe and reform the U.N. in what had been its inventor’s, FDR’s, intention, that the U.N. become the democratic global federation of nations controlling all nuclear and other geostrategic weapons and forces.

America’s increasingly used method for conquest is the method that was first employed against Iraq starting in 1991: international sanctions, followed by coup-attempts that, if unsuccessful, are then followed by an outright military invasion — with or without U.N. approval. More recently, this stepwise method (sanctions, failed coup, then invasion) is being used against Syria, but America no longer applies its own troops for its invasions, and instead uses hired proxy-forces (mercenaries), such as, in Syria, jihadists who are hired from around the world and paid for by the Sauds, and also uses separatist Kurds are hired who have long wanted to break away from Iraq, Syria, and Turkey in order to establish their own Kurdistan nation, and who are controlled more directly from Washington (since the Sauds don’t control Kurdish forces). America’s troops in Syria train and arm (usually with money being supplied by the royal families of Saudi Arabia and Qatar) the jihadists (who are Al Qaeda-affiliated) and the Kurds.

Right now, America is using its post-WWII position of being the world’s hegemon or globally dominant nation, so as to, basically, compel every other nation either to join them (as a banana republic or vassal nation) or else to become their enemy by destroying them, as Washington and its allies have done to Syrians, Yemenis, Palestinians, Ukrainians, Venezuelans, Bolivians, Ecuadorans, and, before that, Hondurans, Guatemalans, El Salvadorans, Argentinians, Chileans, Iranians, and many others in what Washington calls “The Free World.” Ideology is no longer the excuse. Now the excuses are “democracy,” “human rights,” “fighting against corruption,” and, of course “national defense” (which likewise was Hitler’s main excuse).

In other words: America is trying to do everything it can to avoid becoming downgraded to the world’s #2 nation, in terms of power. America’s billionaires are behind this America’s Government is controlled by them.

The best single statement of America’s position is the speech that Barack Obama gave to the graduating cadets at West Point Military Academy on 28 May 2014, saying:

The repugnant hypocrite Obama—still darling to legions of clueless liberals— whipping up war fever at West Point. This is what passes for great statesmanship in the US empire.

The United States is and remains the one indispensable nation. That has been true for the century passed and it will be true for the century to come. … Russia’s aggression toward former Soviet states unnerves capitals in Europe, while China’s economic rise and military reach worries its neighbors. From Brazil to India, rising middle classes compete with us, and governments seek a greater say in global forums. … It will be your generation’s task to respond to this new world.

America “responds” to the rising power of nations that formerly had been colonies, by means of offering them this choice: Join with us, or else be destroyed.

As the U.S. Establishment presents and promotes this, it is ‘justified’ because only America is “indispensable”: all other nations are “dispensable.” (Hitler, too, felt that way about all other nations — and most Germans endorsed that supremacism then, just like most Americans support it today.) FDR had planned a non-fascist future for the world, but then he died and (because of whom FDR’s successor was) we got a fascist future, instead, and that’s what we have. Mussolini called fascism “corporationism.” And America is more and more corporationist every decade that passes.

Under the bigoted Hindu-nationalist Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India is now clearly part of the U.S.-UK-led alliance. On 4 March 2021, Munira Lokhandwala headlined “Google Invests Billions in India as Modi and Allies Stage Corporate Takeover of Agriculture” and reported that

In particular, Google’s multi-billion dollar investment in the telecommunications company owned by oil and gas billionaire Mukesh Ambani shows how US Big Tech will stop at nothing to make a bigger profit, even if this includes legitimizing a key supporter of the authoritarian-leaning government that is now a target of mass revolt. Ambani is India’s richest man and a strong corporate ally to BJP leadership, perceived by many as a major beneficiary of the hated agricultural reforms.

In September 2020, the Indian Parliament approved the Indian Agriculture Acts of 2020, also known as the “Farm Bills.” In response, Indian farmers who opposed these bills launched one of the largest protests and series of cross-sectoral strikes that the world has ever seen.

It’s estimated that over 250 million people have participated in protests against the passage of these bills that Indian farmers see as another phase in the continued attack on their livelihoods and an attempt to deregulate the farming industry to allow for greater private-sector control of food distribution. These changes would favor large corporations like Ambani’s Reliance Industries, who would thrive under the free market conditions that these Farm Bills would create.

India, in the Rhodesist plan, would be a major counter-weight to China.

Japan is another. On 23 April 2021, Craig Mark bannered “From Five Eyes To Six? Japan’s Push To Join The West’s Intelligence Alliance”, and he reported that

As tensions with China continue to grow, Japan is making moves to join the “Five Eyes” intelligence-sharing alliance. This week, Japan’s ambassador to Australia, Shingo Yamagami, told The Sydney Morning Herald he was “optimistic” about his country coming on board. “[I] would like to see this idea become reality in the near future.”

This comes as New Zealand voices its concerns over using the Five Eyes process to pressure China.

What is this spy alliance? And what are the benefits and risks to bringing Japan on board?

What is the Five Eyes?

Beginning as an intelligence exchange agreement between the United States and United Kingdom in 1943, it formally became the UKUSA Agreement in 1946. The agreement then extended to Canada in 1948, and Australia and New Zealand in 1956.

UK has gotten Japan’s Ambassador to Australia to assist Australia to pressure progressive New Zealand to remain in the Rhodesist alliance and thereby help to bring Japan into the Rhodesist core as being the first-ever non-English-speaking country to be admitted into the Rhodes-core (and thereby turn the “Five Eyes” into six). That would achieve what David Rockefeller and his sidekick Zbig Brzezinski (who was a member of Poland’s nobility) had been attempting to do by means of their Trilateral Commission, which was intended to expand beyond the Bilderberg group of NATO countries so as to include also Japan.

On 30 April 2021, the geostrategic analyst Alexander Mercouris headlined a video “Blinken Goes To Ukraine With A Tough Message For Zelensky” and explained that because Putin recently established “red lines” that would provoke a direct military conflict between Russia and the United States if violated by the U.S., Biden has refocused America’s top target to be conquered as being no longer Russia but instead now China. Mercouris says that Ukraine’s U.S.-stooge President Volodmyr Zelensky will probably now be forced to stop threatening to invade the breakaway formerly Ukrainian Donbas region.

However, whereas the U.S. aristocracy’s main medium-term objective is to retain control over Ukraine so as to become enabled to blitz-launch missiles from there to eliminate Moscow’s ability to retaliate against America’s first-strike hit (the U.S. alliance’s updated version of the Nazis’ Operation Barbarossa), the UK’s main medium-term objective is for the U.S.-UK-Saud-Qatar alliance to arm and train jihadists and separatist Kurds to conquer Syria so that the Sauds will control that country. The long-term objective, both of America’s and UK’s aristocrats, is their shared dictatorship over all nations.

On 30 April 2021, the international investigative journalist Finian Cunningham interviewed at Strategic Culture the former UK Ambassador to Syria, the astoundingly courageous Peter Ford, and headlined “Syria Regime Change Still on Western Agenda – Ex-Ambassador Peter Ford”. This whistleblowing former UK Ambassador opened his comments by saying:

The Western powers are like dogs with an old bone on the subject of alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria. There is no meat on it but they continue to gnaw away. Why? Because the trope that “Assad gasses his own people” has become a cornerstone of the whole Western propaganda narrative on Syria. Without it, justifying the cruel economic war on Syria, largely through sanctions, would be harder to justify. And with military efforts at regime change having failed, economic warfare is now the last hope for the Western powers of destabilizing Syria enough to topple the government. For this strategy to work the Western powers are more than ready to undermine the credibility of the OPCW by abusing their ability to manipulate it in the Syrian context.

The interview closed with:

Question: Finally, Syria is holding presidential elections on May 26 in which incumbent Bashar al-Assad is running for re-election. The Western powers disparage Syria as an “undemocratic regime”. How do you view Syria’s polity? Is Assad likely to win re-election?

Peter Ford: Of course Assad will win and of course the Western powers will try to disparage his victory. But I can state with certainty that if you could offer the Conservative party in Britain a guarantee of achieving in the next general election anything anywhere near Assad’s genuine level of support, albeit some of it reluctant from a war-weary people, the Tories would bite your hand off for such an electoral gain. Much of the current Western propaganda effort against Syria is geared at trying to spoil Assad’s victory and deny it legitimacy. But inside Syria itself, the people will see the election as setting the seal on 10 years of struggle, and Assad will emerge strengthened as he faces the next phase in the Western war on Syria.

Furthermore, just the same as the U.S. and their allies were funding, training, and arming jihadists (technically called “Salafist Muslims”) in order to bring about regime-change in Syria, they’re doing the very same thing in order to bring about regime-change in China — in that instance by propagandizing ‘human rights’ for Uyghur Chinese who have been indoctrinated with the Sauds’ extremist-Sunni variant of the Islamic faith (Salafism). (Many of those Salafists, because of their Turkic culture, have recently become more favorable to Turkey than to Saudi Arabia, and therefore on 18 July 2019, Reuters headlined “Saudi Arabia defends letter backing China’s Xinjiang policy”, and reported that the Sauds “defended signing a letter along with 36 other countries in support of China’s policies in its western region of Xinjiang, where the United Nations says at least 1 million ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims have been detained.” The U.S. and UK were now backing pro-Turkish jihadists, instead of pro-Saudi ones. Turkey is a NATO nation and, so, the Rhodesists don’t care which brand of jihad they are backing in order to break up, or bring regime-change to, China.)

So, even if the U.S. regime might be placing Ukraine onto the back burner, the UK regime, apparently, is unwilling to place the conquest of Syria onto its back burner. And, for both American billionaires and UK billionaires, China is unrelentingly in the gunsights of both aristocracies, to conquer. In fact, on 10 April 2021, Strategic Culture issued an editorial, “Ukraine, Taiwan… Two-Prong U.S. Aggression Toward Russia, China”, which noted:

Biden is advancing the same policy under the previous Trump and Obama administrations of military buildup near China’s territory. This week saw the fourth U.S. guided-missile destroyer passing through the Taiwan Strait since Biden took office. That narrow sea separates the breakaway island from China’s mainland. Beijing has sovereign territorial claim to Taiwan which is recognized by the vast majority of nations, including up until recently the United States under its so-called “One China” policy. Biden, like his predecessor Donald Trump, is deliberately eroding the One China policy by sending delegates to the island on official visits, increasing weapons sales and most provocatively making public declarations that the U.S. will “defend” Taiwan in the event of “an invasion” by Chinese forces.

Similar to the Ukraine, the Biden administration’s rhetoric and conduct is serving to fuel an ever-more provocative stance by the Taiwanese leaders. This week, a senior official warned that the island’s forces would shoot down Chinese aircraft that approach the territory. This is nothing but a flagrant challenge to China’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. As in the case of the Ukraine and Russia, it is Washington’s words and actions that are inflaming the tensions between Taiwan and China. Yet the Americans accuse others of “aggression” and claim to be providing “defense”.

The only entity that could possibly stop all this would be the U.S.-created European Union. Either they will turn against their creator, and join with Russia and China against U.S. and UK (which would put an end to the Rhodesist team’s insanity), or there will be World War III (though probably not in the near-term future), in which the U.S. regime will blitz-nuclear attack Russia, though that would destroy the planet.

If the EU does break away from the U.S., then it will also be able to relocate the U.N. out of NYC to Europe and reform the U.N. in what had been its inventor’s, FDR’s, intention, that the U.N. become the democratic global federation of nations controlling all nuclear and other geostrategic weapons and forces, and that serves as the sole and authoritative executive, legislative, and judicial, authority for all international-relations issues throughout the world, the democratic federal world government. That’s what Truman and Churchill prevented, and what would produce a world that will have no future world wars, no future wars between empires, because there would no longer be any empires, nor any imperialism.

Either there will be FDR’s intention, or there will be nuclear annihilation. The EU will decide. For the EU to impose FDR’s intention would be for the EU to turn against its creator, which was Truman and all subsequent U.S. Presidents (and their Congresses, which likewise have been controlled by America’s billionaires). However, a likelier alternative would be for some nations to do as UK did and break away from the EU, but for them to do it as UK did not, to realign themselves with Russia, China, and Iran, and away from the U.S. That, too, might prevent WWIII and enable the U.N. to be reformed as FDR had been intending it to be: as the global democratic federal republic and sole source and judge and enforcer of international laws — the post-imperialist world, which FDR had planned for. If FDR’s plandoesn’t happen, then WWIII will happen, and this was the reason why he had been planning the U.N. as he did. But as soon as he died, on 12 April 1945, the billionaires’ agents worked on Truman, who finally, on 25 July 1945 (based on General Eisenhower’s advice), decided to go for America’s global conquest and, so, the ceaseless string of subversions, coups, and invasions, by the U.S. (the permanent-warfare state), started. The first coup was 1948 in Thailand, in order to install rulers who would let the OSS-CIA skim from the international narcotics traffic so as to supply the needed off-the-books funding for the CIA’s Special Operations.

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of Christ's Ventriloquists: The Event that Created Christianity. Zuesse is also a reporter and commentator for Huffington Post, Businsess Insider, The Greanville Post and other leading alternative sites.

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