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(C) GERMANY IN THE SECOND WORLD WAR, 1939–42

When Hitler unleashed his war against Poland on 1 September 1939 the objective, according to Nazi propaganda, was the recovery of Danzig and the Corridor. However, Hitler had made it clear to his military commanders on 23 May 1939 that ‘Danzig is not the subject of the dispute at all. It is a question of expanding our living space in the East, of securing our food supplies and also of solving the problem of the Baltic States. Food can only be got from sparsely populated areas.’ However, the decision to invade Poland, which provoked the British and French to declare war on 3 September, worsened Germany’s situation in international terms, in sharp contrast to Hitler’s foreign policy triumphs of 1938-9. This fact could not be obscured even by the annihilation of Poland in a four weeks’ campaign. Instead of being allied with the British Empire as he had intended, Hitler found himself at war with it.