Lebensraum, Genocide and Nazi Racial Colonial Utopianism

Hitler, a cautious dictator for the first couple of years of his rule, had become reckless by 1941, and had gambled everything on a swift victory in the USSR. If Stalin’s regime could be crushed and thirty million Russians starved to death as a result, then there would be enough living space for Aryan German settlers and the resources to defeat any enemy in the west. The defeat of the USSR would have to be swift and decisive, an outcome that was only possible in the racial imaginings of Hitler and his inner circle. The first three to four months of the campaign looked propitious, and there was every reason to imagine in August 1941 that the USSR would soon collapse, but by December a decisive counter attack that nearly overwhelmed the German Army at the gates of Moscow saw these dreams crumble. As a result the imagined racial utopias began to seem faint and distant, but a more achieveable racial goal, the murder of all of Europe’s Jews became the number one objective. Hitler had always intended some major action against Europe’s Jews and between 1939 and 1941 a general policy of mass killing was carried out in territories occupied by the Nazi regime, but it was the collapse of colonial dreams in Russia that made the final solution a necessity, as Hitler’s lieutentants sought to please him and work towards the vision he had articulated.

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