Why Did A.J.P Taylor’s Analysis of the Origins of the Second World War Cause Such Controversy Among Historians?

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Why did A.J.P Taylor’s analysis of the origins of the Second World War cause such controversy among historians? It was broadly considered that the Second World War began in 1939 because of Hitler’s plan for world domination; many historians validated this view at the time until A.J.P. Taylor published his book ‘Origins of the Second World War’ in 1961. A. J. P Taylor was the first historian to examine the war with a completely open mind, forcing people to view the origins not as a moral issue but as a political history. Taylor regards the start of the war as a blunder on both sides, stating that “Hitler had no clear-cut plan and instead was a supreme opportunist, taking advantages as they came.” From this Taylor suggests that neither…show more content…
“Hitler did not act alone in the conduct of foreign policy in the 1930’s neither did he dictate its course exclusively.” In the early years of Hitler’s reign Taylor was correct to identify him as an ordinary statesman because during this time there was a different formation of Government compared to the later years in the war. However, it is difficult in retrospect to dispute that Hitler was a normal statesman when looking at atrocities of his domestic policies such as; the extermination of Jews in concentration camps. The war was still in the public memory when ‘Origins’ was published and the myth created about Hitler that he was a madman with brutal policies was strongly embedded in society, therefore to argue against this would obviously create much controversy. The fact that A. J. P. Taylor does not utilise Mein Kampf or other memorandums as a valid source provides historians such as; Hugh Trevor-Roper and Richard Overy a means to pick apart his argument. Overy states that “the 1936 memorandum... was developed as the basis for a complex and far reaching transformation of German foreign, economic and military policy.” This in essence argues that it is apparent that Hitler had premeditated the ways in which Germany would move forward to achieve greater power in the world. When considering the part that Western statesmen played, A. J. P. Taylor believes that the policy of ‘appeasement’ was

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