GHDI logo

Summary of Hitler’s Meeting with the Heads of the Armed Services on November 5, 1937 (Hossbach Protocol of November 10, 1937)

On November 5, 1937, Hitler and the most important representatives of the military leadership held a secret conference at the Berlin Reich Chancellery. During this meeting, Hitler outlined his foreign policy goals for the near future. Depending on the state of the German economy, the status of rearmament, and the diplomatic situation, Hitler foresaw a German war of conquest as early as the following year (1938) and no later than 1943. His National Socialist conception of race and his belief in the need for additional German "living space" [Lebensraum] provided the justification for his war plans, which he regarded as absolutely necessary. Present at the conference were: Commander-in-Chief of the Army Werner von Fritsch, Commander of the Navy Admiral Erich von Raeder, Minister of Aviation Hermann Göring, Foreign Minister Konstantin von Neurath, and Minister of War Werner von Blomberg. The following record of the secret conference was issued by Hitler’s military adjutant, Colonel Friedrich Hossbach, on November 10, 1937. The so-called Hossbach Protocol reveals Hitler’s incontrovertible intention to launch a European war as soon as possible.

print version     return to document list previous document      next document

page 1 of 8

Berlin, November 10, 1937

Minutes of the Conference in the Reich Chancellery, Berlin, November 5, 1937, from 4:15 to 8:30PM

The Führer and Chancellor
Field Marshal von Blomberg, War Minister,
Colonel General Baron von Fritsch, Commander in Chief, Army,
Admiral Dr. h.c. Raeder, Commander in Chief, Navy
Colonel General Göring, Commander in Chief, Luftwaffe,
Baron von Neurath, Foreign Minister,
Colonel Hossbach.

The Führer 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, but he – the Führer – had rejected the idea of making it a subject of discussion before the wider circle of the Reich Cabinet just because of the importance of the matter. His exposition to follow was the fruit of thorough deliberation and the experiences of his 4½ years of power. 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 and its requirements, and he asked, in the interest of a long-term German policy, that his exposition be regarded, in the event of his death, as his last will and testament.

The Führer then continued:

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, it 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. If territorially speaking there existed no political result corresponding to this German racial core, that was a consequence of centuries of historical development, and in the continuance of these political conditions lay the greatest danger to the preservation of the German race at its present peak. To arrest the decline of Germanism [Deutschtum] in Austria and Czechoslovakia was as little possible as to maintain the present level in Germany itself. Instead of increase, sterility was setting in, and in its train disorders of a social character must arise in course of time, since political and ideological ideas remain effective only so long as they furnish the basis for the realization of the essential vital demands of a people. 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.

Before turning to the question of solving the need for space, it had to be considered whether a solution holding promise for the future was to be reached by means of autarky or by means of an increased participation in world economy.

first page < previous   |   next > last page