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Against the German Revisionist Interpretation as a Preventive War of German-Soviet War in 1941

Yun Yong Seon 1

1한성대학교

Candidate

ABSTRACT

Most of German scholars and people interpret the attack of the Soviet Union by Hitler as a failed attempt to expand the “Lebensraum” for German people, regarding the soᐨcalled Ethnic Imperialism as the main cause of the war. Hitler or the Nazis thought that, for the continuation and dominance of the Aryan people, it is absolutely needed to increase the number of the race, hence to obtain more than enough Lebensraum for them to thrive. The problem as far as Hitler understood it, was that the Slavic people, one of inferior races on earth, had even more territories than they deserved. He found there the ideological justness of the war against the Soviet Union. Based on the wide and deep studies and researches by most scholars for a long period, this interpretation has been accepted as just and dominant both in the academic and general society of German. But, in 1986, by opening the possibility of comparing the Nazi War with any other aggressive ones of the past, Ernst Nolte, History professor of Free University of Berlin, caused so-called “Historical Dispute" between scholars, and finally made meaningful the conservative attempts to interpret the war as “Präventivkrieg” (a preventive war). After all, now that Stalin had been preparing to invade German and the Western Europe, it was an inevitable choice for Hitler to attack the Soviet Union first, hence a kind of preventive war. Despite the dominant opinion that the Invasion resulted from the Nazi ideologies, it is true the discourse as Präventivkrieg has been evoking unbelievably great responses in German Society. If we want to understand this unintelligible phenomena we first have to see into the meaning of the Invasion. First of all, The attack means that German one-sidedly broke the Nonaggression Pact of 1938 between two nations, inevitably imposing a severely heavy burden on itself. Second, the war had a decisive effect on the result of the Second World War, which caused the tremendous after- effect of the division and reunion of German. For those reasons, J. Fest, historian and journalist, declared in a critical biography of Hitler that the invasion must be interpreted as one of the most self-destructive decisions in the German history. The article begins with analyzing the meaning of Präventivkrieg, focusing on the background from which the new theory stems out and also on what it stands based. This also compares and examines the differences between the old and the new standpoints. The final goal of the article is to inquire into the ideological aspects surrounding the new interpretation of the Invasion, especially trying to analyze and estimate the understructure of Präventivkrieg in the light of the current political situations in Germany.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.