I was thunderstruck when I read a comment at OTB to the effect that Hitler had no grand strategy. I think precisely the opposite is quite evident. Here’s one blogger’s thoughts on the subject:
Given the overwhelming coalition formed to thwart German ambition not twenty years before 1933, was Hitler mad to think that he had a shot at gaining mastery in Europe? Was his grand-strategy fatally flawed? Here are the salient facts about the German decision to go to war. Documentary evidence overwhelmingly shows that Hitler was firmly in control of German foreign policy; that he wanted to go to war to ensure German supremacy on the continent; that he made his plans clear to the Wehrmacht as soon as he assumed power in 1933; that the military brass shared his strategic vision (despite what they claimed at Nuremberg); and that Germany immediately began war preparations in earnest.
So the evidence supports the ‘intentionalist’ school – the Second World War was single-handedly precipitated by Adolf Hitler. However, it is one thing for a statesman to seize opportunities afforded by the system structure and geopolitical reality, and quite another to do so in defiance of the same. Did the structure of the system “shove” the Third Reich to act aggressively on the world scene? Did Hitler’s grand-strategy make sense? Could the Nazis have won the Second World War?
I argue that Hitler’s grand-strategy was firmly grounded in geopolitical realism, his war-plans were realistic, and mastery in Europe was an achievable goal for Germany. Moreover, the Second World War was a very close thing. Germany came within a hair’s breadth of achieving supremacy. Furthermore, I argue that the system structure “shoved” Germany towards making a run on the system. That is, instability was inherent in the inter-war system.