Karl Haushofer provided the Nazi Party with a great deal of its philosophical beliefs. Many people believe that ‘Mein Kampf’ states alone what the Nazi Party stood for and that the thoughts in it are Hitler’s alone. However, others influenced Hitler and Haushofer was one of these people.
Haushofer was born in Munich on August 27th 1869. He claimed that he was the founder of geopolitics. In 1921, he was appointed professor of geography at Munich University where he started the Institute for Geopolitics. One of his students was Rudolf Hess. He was highly influenced by Haushofer’s teachings and passed on the ideas of Haushofer to Hitler.
Haushofer believed that it was perfectly possible to merge together geography and politics – geopolitics. His was not a new idea as others had supported such a move in the past – the American Alfred Mahan and the Scotsman Sir Halford John. Some of his colleagues at Munich criticised his work while some did support it.
Geopolitics of the time believed that the world was made up of continental powers and oceanic powers. Haushofer believed that the British Empire (an oceanic power) was in decline and that the time was ripe for a continental power to assert its power and authority. He also believed in what later was to be called lebensraum – living space. Haushofer saw the Ukraine as being the bread basket of Germany and that it was under used by those who lived there and only a major power could fully utilise its food producing capability. However, Haushofer was very clear on one issue – Germany had to remain on good terms with Great Britain.
Hitler certainly supported the thoughts Haushofer had with regards to the Ukraine. Rudolf Hess was taken in by him. When he flew to Scotland, he carried with him the visiting card of Haushofer and told his captors that Haushofer had told him in a dream to fly to Great Britain to save both nations from destroying each other.
Hess proved a useful ally to Haushofer as he used his power as deputy leader of the Nazi Party to protect the wife of Haushofer who was part Jewish but under Nazi German law a Jew. It seems highly likely that Haushofer was embarrassed by the fact that Hitler took up so much of his work and even quoted him.
His disillusionment reached a peak when his son was shot by the Gestapo for his involvement in the July 1944 Bomb Plot – though it seems highly likely that he had nothing to do with it – just like so many other innocents who were executed but played no part in the plot.
Karl Haushofer committed suicide on March 13th 1946.
"Karl Haushofer". HistoryLearningSite.co.uk. 2012. Web.