How much was made of the German economic situation? I recall reading previously that the eceonomy was becoming a real issue for the Nazi leadership - but I was too young to fully appreciate the arguments and have never seen a book since that covers this aspect.
The German economy was a key driver of Hitler's vision for his Third Reich. Russia (and lands East) was generally seen as Germany's future stomping grounds for their implementation of the Monroe Doctrine. (Hitler drew parrarels with early US expanionist history). This also tied in to the spectre of WWI because while as long as Russia helped out Germany with imports, a similar economic blockade of Germany would not be as decisive as in WWI, it would still hurt. There was also the time factor. Germany got a head start in rearmament but this head start was even as early as 1939 shrinking rapidly as both the West and Russia began to awaken and prepare for possible conflict. Even if no actual conflict ensued the newly revitalized opposing nation's would be able to influence events by the threat of intervention along with economic sanctions.
By 1940 per the author, despite Germany's conquest of areas rich in skilled labor and tech. (industrial plants), Germany still found itself starved of food, coal and oil. They retained the need to import food for 25+Million people and the UK Blockade would exaserbate this situation. The fear was that one bad harvest in Germany would cause civil unrest similar to what occured in 1917-18. Its interesting that we tend to assume that the German population was with Hitler step by step but in reality this was a careful balancing act that depended not only on German "victories" but also on the need to keep the civi population 'content'......not an easy thing to do. With their import situation already precarious, the Germans quickly found that the occupied territories increased task of having to supply and help feed said areas. They actually ended up having to export coal, oil and foodstuffs to these areas to keep them running.
In summary, the conquests of 39-40 did not make Germany's resource totals comprable to those of the British Empire much less the United States while also leaving Germany dangerous beholden to Stalin's Russia for grain imports as well as creating a quandry given that ideologically, racially and economically speaking that same country was to be the target of future German conquest. Meanwhile while all this is going on, the geopolitical 'clock' continues to tick. Britian's refusal to come to terms became even more signifigant as the perinial spanner in the works. An Alliance with the US was considered but largely viewed with deep skepticism and suspicion because of WWI and Hitler's believe that FDR's goverment was part of a greater Jewish consipiracy meant to keep Germany from achieiving it's full potential.
All in all, the book does a great job of eliminating hindsight and presenting the reader with the tangled multi tiered web that was 1940-41 in particular and how it was never a simple matter of either attacking or not attacking one country (the USSR in this case)
All makes sense except the conclusion in the last sentence. From what I've read Lebensraum was Hitler's raison d'etre. The fact that subsequent economic realities made that attack a necessity does not alter that fact. In addition, the conquests of 39-40 were not done because Hitler ideally wanted to - Poland aside - but in response to Britain and France standing up to him. The fact that they did not make Germany better off resource wise? - well they weren't supposed to. He would have preferred Britain and France butt out and leave him to tackle Russia.
The subsequent conquering of Denmark, Norway, Holland, Belgium and France was due to what Hitler felt he had to do - and in the case of Yugoslavia (to a lesser extent) and Greece, because of the actions of that buffoon Mussolini. The goal, at least in Hitler's mind, was always the Soviet Union, wasn't it?
England expects that every man will do his duty.
Horatio Nelson - October 1805