The Hossbach memorandum (1937)

The Hossbach memorandum was a written summary of a November 1937 meeting between Adolf Hitler and several of his ministers and military commanders. During this meeting, the Fuhrer discussed his motivations and intentions for a war of expansion in Europe.

“Berlin, November 10th 1937.
Reich Chancellery, Berlin, November 5th 1937.
Present: The Fuhrer and Chancellor
Field Marshal von Blomberg, War Minister
Colonel General Baron von Fritsch, Army
Admiral Dr HC Raeder, Navy
Colonel General Goring, Luftwaffe
Baron von Neurath, Foreign Minister
Colonel Hossbach, adjutant.

The Fuhrer began by stating that the subject of the present conference was of such importance that its discussion would, in other countries, certainly be a matter for a full Cabinet meeting… He wished to explain to the gentlemen present his basic ideas concerning the opportunities for the development of our position in the field of foreign affairs…

The aim of German policy was to make secure and to preserve the racial community [Volksmasse] and to enlarge it. It was, therefore, a question of space. The German racial community comprised over 85 million people and, because of their number and the narrow limits of habitable space in Europe, constituted a tightly packed racial core, such as was not to be met in any other country, and such as implied the right to a greater living space than in the case of other peoples…

Germany’s future was therefore wholly conditional upon the solving of the need for space, and such a solution could be sought, of course, only for a foreseeable period of about one to three generations…

The only remedy, and one which might appear to us as visionary, lay in the acquisition of greater living space – a quest which has at all times been the origin of the formation of states and of the migration of peoples … It is not a matter of acquiring population but of gaining space for agricultural use.

Moreover, areas producing raw materials can be more usefully sought in Europe in immediate proximity to the Reich, than overseas; the solution thus obtained must suffice for one or two generations. Whatever else might prove necessary later must be left to succeeding generations to deal with.

The question for Germany ran: where could she achieve the greatest gain at the lowest cost? German policy had to reckon with two hate-inspired antagonists, Britain and France, to whom a German colossus in the centre of Europe was a thorn in the flesh, and both countries were opposed to any further strengthening of Germany’s position either in Europe or overseas; in support of this opposition they were able to count on the agreement of all their political parties. Both countries saw in the establishment of German military bases overseas a threat to their own communications, a safeguarding of German commerce, and, as a consequence, a strengthening of Germany’s position in Europe … Britain, France, Russia, and the smaller states adjoining them, must be included as factors in our political calculations.”