ManyHistorians see this document as a absolute proof of Hitler’s responsibility forWar in Europe. It is true to say, with hindsight that the Memorandum was usedat the Nuremberg trials to .
It has, however, limited credibility as theminutes were drawn up many days after the event, therefore he was recallingfrom his memory, and not by his secretary directly at the meeting, as wasusually done. On the other hand, it still give a rare glimpse into the order ofprocession for no minutes of this meeting were meant to be taken as Hitler’sclosest advisers had been pledged to secrecy. Therefore there are no otherdocuments like it. Nevertheless, the reliability of this document is in doubtfor looking back at the context, Hitler would certainly have ordered them to?bedestroyed if he had become aware?of their existence. Therefore, it could ?be suggestedthat either his opinions were more freely expressed than if he had been at anormal minute meeting, or that he was more concerned about being restricted byhis generals and foreign minister because of their concerns?about the strainsof rearmament. In fact, historians are divided over the purpose of the meetingas to whether it was planning for war or a political power struggle.
For some Historians consider the Hossbachmeeting was more to do with internal political quarreling than Hitler wastesting out his ideas on his generals. Overall, it is very clear tosee that Hitler’s Foreign Policy was the most Responsible for War in Europe,for her aggressive demand for Lebensraum in Poland is what clearly triggeredthe outbreak of full-scale “Calamitous War” 1in Europe. Even though A J P Taylor argues that Hitler’s Foreign Policy wasjustifiable because it was only reversing the Treaty of Versailles, this isstill clear provocation of War and therefore Hitler is wholly responsible.
According to A J P Taylor, “Thewar had little to do with Hitler and the vital question was why did GreatBritain and France fail to resist Germany before 1939.”2 It is commonly asked when looking at theresponsibility about war in Europe to why did Chamberlain appease a man whomade no secret of his aim to dominate Europe??the ineffectiveness of eachsurrender gave Germany and Hitler more land, more defenses, more men, morearmaments and more confidence. The real critic of appeasement was the Group ofmen who called themselves Cato.
In 1940, Cato wrote a book called “Guilty Men”3, in which they presented the argument that the”Cast” of Neville and Stanley Baldwin, to name a few, had made decision so “shameful and harmful tothe Commonwealth”. However, one has to take a pinch of salt with this source,for it was written in a time of great National pain. For the great disaster ofDunkirk had just occurred causing outrage by certain members. While it is trueto say that some saw the warning signs of War earlier than others. Forinstance, Winston Churchill’s “we must arm4″fell on deaf ear.
Furthermorethere is also the argument of why 1939? For evidence suggested that Germany wasmilitarily far weaker in September 1938 than she turned out to be in September1939. The Luftwaffe could not reach Britain, the French army was larger and theCzech border defences were very strong. Hitler was short on tanks, fuel,ammunition, trained officers and reserves. Michael Foot argues that, War in1938 with Czechoslovakia, on Britain’s side would have been far better than warin 1939. Some historians blame Chamberlain for not following his policy throughto the end. He should not have made a deal with the Polish right wingdictatorship.
They were not worth risking a major war over and Poland would nothave made Germany any stronger. The takeover of Poland would have just boughtGermany face to face with Russia. Chamberlain could have encouraged Hitler toexpand towards Russia and then declare war.
On the other hand, Anthony PAdamthwaite argues that “far from being a policy of fear and Cowardice” TheBritish and the French Foreign Policy was “a realistic search for Europeandétente, propelled by a deep detestation of War and the conviction that Germanyhad real grievance”5This is further supported by fellow Historian Laurence Rees, who claims thatGreat Britain and France’s Foreign Policy are less to blame than Hitler’sbecause “Conventional Politician like Neville Chamberlain, were working on thebasis that nobody wanted a war.’ Theevidence for widespread support for peace in the mid-1930s is to be found inthe results of the so-called ‘Peace Ballot’ conducted by the League of Nations Union,with the support of 34 further organisations, in the winter of 1934-35. Theresult in 1935 was that 96% of the ballot voted to remain the League ofNations. This outcome was perceived to mean that to go to war would be a veryunpopular decision. Thus why when Chamberlain gave his infamous “peace in ourtime”6.
Most recent historians see Chamberlain as helpless rather than guilty. IfHitler was as reasonable as Chamberlain then the appeasement might have worked.It was Hitler’s ambition not Chamberlain’s mistakes that caused the war.1 Hitler page 9692The Making of 2nd World War page 25 3 ‘CATO’,Foot, M., Howard, P.
, & Owen, F. (2010). Guilty men. London: Faber.4 https://www.loc.gov/exhibits/churchill/wc-hour.html5 Making of 2nd world warpage 256http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/september/30/newsid_3115000/3115476.stm