Date

2013

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

Master of Arts

Department

History

First Adviser

Simon, Roger

Abstract

This essay seeks to take the broad historiographical issue of teleology and apply it to a specific historical event, namely, the rise of Hitler and the establishment of the Third Reich. The common narrative of this period typically follows a set structure: the Nazis come to power in Germany, begin agitating on the European continent, slowly expand their territory, oppress the Jews of Europe, and finally begin a military contest that precipitates the Second World War. This chronology reinforces the notion that not only was the Second World War an inevitable result of the Nazi policies that preceded it, but also that contemporary observers should have come to the same conclusions. In this study, the argument is advanced that while both the American government and general public were indeed aware of what we would now deem as warning signs of the trouble to come, at the time there was no reason to believe that Hitler's ascension to the German Chancellorship presented any imminent threat to the world, much less the United States. By exploring contemporary media reports, this essay contextualizes the events of early 1933 and attempts to arrive at contemporaneous, rather than present-day, understandings of the perceived implications of a Nazified Germany.

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History Commons

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