The Hossbach Conference met on November 5th 1937. The conference gets its name after Friedrich Hossbach who wrote what was to be called the ‘Hossbach Memorandum’ after the conference had ended – Hossbach was at the time Adolf Hitler’s military adjutant.
Some historians such as Richard Overy tend to believe that it was at the Hossbach Conference that Hitler announced his plans for war in Europe if he could not achieve by peace the living space in the east he believed Nazi Germany merited and that he had “a duty to war”. When Hitler used the word “attacker” it is believed that he specifically meant Nazi Germany. However, some historians such as Timothy Mason believe that the memorandum was no more than Hitler testing out the thoughts of those who surrounded him and that it was vague and that the final memorandum available to historians had been carefully edited before the start of the Nuremberg Trials by the Allies and as a result its contents have to be treated cautiously.
Those at the conference understandably were sworn to secrecy and the conference itself was held in secret and only Hitler’s closest advisers were invited to attend.
The Hossbach Conference was held at the Reich Chancellery. Hitler outlined the steps he wanted to take for Nazi Germany to achieve ‘Lebenraum’ in Eastern Europe and the steps required so that the conquered land was ‘Germanised’.
Those who attended the meeting were:
Col Friedrich Hossbach, military adjutant to Hitler – he wrote the minutes
Field Marshal Werner von Blomberg – Minister of War
General Werner Freiherr von Fritsch – Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces
Admiral Erich Raeder – Commander-in-Chief of the Navy (Kriegsmarine)
Colonel General Hermann Goering – Commander-in-Chief of the Luftwaffe.
Constantin Freiherr von Neurath – Foreign Minister
The meeting started with Hitler ordering complete secrecy. He then outlined his decisions and told those there that they were to view his words as a political testament in the event of his death.
The Hossbach Memorandum was written on November 10th, 1937, five days after the conference had occurred. It is sometimes known as the Hossbach Protocol or the ‘Hossbach Niederschrift’. Hossbach made notes during the conference and used them to compile the memorandum. It was used as evidence to support the charge of planning for war in the Nuremberg Trials on November 24th 1945.