Unfortunately for Germany, Europe and very probably for the whole world, in addition to achieving genuinely miraculous and astounding successes, Adolf Hitler committed several fundamental blunders in 1933-39 (i.e. between obtaining the absolute power in Germany and plunging into the Second World War).
Which ultimately doomed the very civilization that he worked so hard to create. It was because of those blunders (and, of course, those committed during World War II) that the Third Reich lasted for only twelve years instead of a planned millennium.
His crimes committed in 1933-39 (Night of the Long Knives, persecution of the Jews, way too brutal treatment of his political opponents) were, obviously, worse than crimes – they were blunders (I will prove it beyond the reasonable doubt in the section on Hitler’s crimes – all of them). However, none of them made a crucial, fundamental, deadly impact on the Third Reich.
The first blunder that did (and ultimately killed the Third Reich and its Führer almost singlehandedly) was a fundamental lack of a proper risk management system in Nazi Führerstaat.
In other words, Hitler failed to equip his carefully engineered Nazi State the absolutely vital component – a subsystem that would have prevented him from committing a disastrous mistake (especially the one that would be lethal for the whole Nazi System).
Why didn’t he do it? Because of two deadly sins – pride and incompetence (yes, the latter is a very much deadly sin, as is the related one – ignorance). After his astounding and genuinely miraculous political success – obtaining the absolute power in Germany (handed to him by the Enabling Act of March 23rd, 1933) – he definitely began to believe in his own infallibility, that he simply could not make the wrong decision.
And having no formal management education or even training (and an experience that never forced him to even consider developing such a system) he had no idea how to do it.
Another fundamental blunder had to deal with economics and finance – more precisely, with the way Adolf Hitler financed the genuinely miraculous Quantensprung of Germany in 1933-39.
He did it by running runaway budget deficits without thinking about the future whatsoever. And to prevent others from thinking about it, in 1935 he made the budget of Germany Streng Geheim – top secret.
Due to Hitler’s reckless (to put it mildly) economic and financial policies, by the beginning of 1938, Nazi Germany got perilously close to bankruptcy. To make the ends meet, Hitler had to either declare default on domestic debt (out of the question), start printing money (ditto)… or go to war.
To a colonial war. Hence, Götz Aly (author of the best-selling Hitlers Volksstaat Hitler’s People’s State) and some other historians proposed another explanation for Nazi Lebensraum objective and Drang nach Osten strategy. And for the Holocaust as well.
Financial. Purely financial. Nothing personal, strictly money. As defaulting on their financial obligations (let alone printing money) was absolutely unacceptable for the Nazis, the only way to fill the government coffers and to continue to increase the living standards of Germans (fundamentally, the Third Reich was all about the latter) was to rob other nations.
And that’s exactly what Nazis did. Either by brutal force (standard operating procedure in dealing with the Jews and in some cases with the population of the Soviet Union) or by using creative financial “weapons” (not only in German-occupied territories but with their supposed allies as well), they obtained enough cash to cover the astounding budget deficits (no less astounding than their miraculous successes).
However, I do not completely agree with Götz Aly and his fellow-thinkers. Adolf Hitler was never guided by financial motives, but almost always by ideological and/or military ones.
His Lebensraum objective and Drang nach Osten strategy were driven by security considerations (make Germany self-sufficient in foodstuffs and basic raw materials to make sure that horrors of the hunger of 1917-19 never happen again and that Germany never faces shortage of natural resources in wartime). And by the desire to radically improve the well-being of Germans.
He fought different wars for different reasons – he attacked Poland to get back territories taken from Germany at gunpoint by the “Versailles Criminals”, to obtain Lebensraum in the East and to get a common border with the Soviet Union – to deliver a devastating pre-emptive strike on the Red Army.
He did not declare the war on France – the latter declared war on Germany. His conquests of Benelux countries, Denmark and Norway were prompted by purely military considerations – winning war with France and preventing Britain from getting a foothold in Europe.
So were his attacks on Yugoslavia and Greece (and his ill-fated North African Campaign) – although requests for help from his Italian allies did play an important part as well.
True, the Nazis robbed occupied territories to the maximum extent possible, but it was the result, not the cause of invasion and occupation (i.e. of a successful war). And they robbed their allies out of desperation – not because they initially planned to do so.
Although money, gold, precious stones and other valuables stolen from persecuted and murdered Jews in Germany and Europe did account for a sizeable part of German military budget (according to different estimates – from 5% to 15%), this persecution (and the subsequent Holocaust) were driven by ideological and perceived military considerations – the need to fight and win an existential racial war with the “Jewish race” (both the war and the race were but figments of Nazi imagination, of course). Financial gain was the result, not the cause.
However, irresponsible financial recklessness was still a major blunder committed by Adolf Hitler. Especially given the fact that in Germany at that time there was no shortage of very competent, skilled and creative financiers who definitely could have found a far more solid way to finance the Quantensprung.