I’m continuing my WWII Timeline series with a look at October – December 1937 in this post.
A Timeline of WWII, Fall 1937
November 5, 1937
Adolf Hitler held a secret conference in the Reich Chancellery to reveal his plans for the acquisition of Lebensraum, or living space, for the German people (at the expense of other European nations).
Attending the conference were:
- German War Minister, Werner von Blomberg
- Commander in Chief of the Army, Werner von Fritsch
- Commander in Chief of the Navy, Erich Raeder
- Commander in Chief of the Luftwaffe, Hermann Göring
- Foreign Minister, Constantin von Neurath
- Colonel Friedrich Hossbach
Colonel Hossbach took the minutes of the conference which resulted in the meeting being known as the Hossbach Conference, and his record of minutes the Hossbach Memorandum.
At the conference, Hitler swore the men to secrecy and told them that his words should be regarded as his last will and testament. Hitler expressed his view of and vision for Germany with these arguments and reasons:
- Germany had a tightly packed racial core and was entitled to greater living space than in the case of other peoples.
- History proved that expansion could only be carried out by breaking down resistance and taking risks, there had never been spaces without a master, and the attacker always comes up against a possessor. Where could Germany achieve the greatest gain at the lowest cost?
- Germany’s two biggest problems, two hate inspired antagonists, Britain and France, to whom a German colossus in the center of Europe was a thorn in the flesh.
- Germany’s problem could only be solved by means of force, but when and how remained to be seen.
- Military action must be taken by 1943-1945 at the latest, to guard against military obsolescence and the aging of the Nazi movement. Germany must take the offensive while the rest of the world was still preparing its defenses.
- The primary objective would be to seize Czechoslovakia and Austria to protect Germany’s eastern and southern flanks.
- Hitler envisioned three different strategies (see Cases 1 – 3 in the Hossbach Conference link below) designed to capitalize on the present and future military and political problems of France and England.
Following the conference, Foreign Minister Constantin von Neurath suffered several heart attacks and asked to be relieved from his post.
Hitler’s vision and casual acceptance of the immense risks of starting a war in Europe shocked his colleagues and conference attendees, especially German War Minister Werner von Blomberg and Commander in Chief of the German Army Werner von Fritsch. Both repeatedly emphasized that Britain and France must not appear as Germany’s enemies. Blomberg and Fritsch’s continuing opposition to Hitler’s war plans resulted in their removals via trumped up scandals within three months.
With the removal of the top echelon of the Army, Hitler assumed supreme command with Wilhelm Keitel as chief of the high command.
November 6, 1937
Italy joined the Anti-Comintern (Communist International) Pact. Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan previously signed the pact, which was directed against the international Communist movement, in November 1936.
November 8, 1937
Chinese resistance in Shanghai ended. The Japanese victory claimed 100,000 Chinese troops and as many as 200,000 civilians.
In Munich, Germany, a traveling exhibit called “The Eternal Jew” opened which promoted stereotypes of Jews and the Nazi perceptions of their danger to the world.
December 11, 1937
Italy withdrew from the League of Nations.
December 12, 1937
Japan bombed the US gunboat Panay on the Yangtze River in China.
December 13, 1937
Nanking fell to the Japanese. During the following “Rape of Nanking” more than 200,000 Chinese civilians were slaughtered.
More detail on the Hossbach Conference and Hossbach Memorandum from The History Place
This series of posts is based on a compilation of timelines from:
The History Place:
Most recent post from the series:
© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019