Chapter 7 - Karl Haushofer "Continental Block"

7.1 War and Thought

It was Karl Haushofer (1869-1946) that geopolitics owed much to the fact that for a long time it was considered not only as a "pseudoscience", but also as a "hateful", "fascist", "cannibalistic" theory.

Karl Haushofer was born in Munich in a professorial family. He decided to become a professional military man and served in the army as an officer for more than twenty years. In 1908-1910, he served in Japan and Manchuria as a German military attache. Here he met the family of the Japanese emperor and the highest aristocracy.

Poor health forced Haushofer to abandon a rather successful military career, and he returned to Germany in 1911, where he lived until the end of his life. He took up science, receiving the title of "doctor" at the University of Munich. Since that time, Haushofer regularly publishes books on geopolitics in general, and in particular, the geopolitics of the Pacific region. His first book was Dai Nihon (33), devoted to the geopolitics of Japan.

Through his student Rudolf Hess, Haushofer meets Hitler immediately after being imprisoned due to an unsuccessful coup. There is an unconfirmed opinion by historians that Haushofer participated in the writing of Mein Kampf in places devoted to certain geopolitical categories. But conceptual analysis shows a significant difference between Haushofer's geopolitical views and Hitler's simplistic racist propaganda passages.

For 20 years, starting in 1924, Haushofer published the most important geopolitical magazine, which had great international significance, "Geopolitik", later renamed "Zeitschrift fur Geopolitik".

He published most of his texts in this edition. Haushofer's relationship with Nazism was complicated. In some points, his views converged with those of the National Socialists, in some they radically diverged. Depending on the periods of Nazi rule and on personal relations, the position of Haushofer in the Third Reich also changed.

Until 1936 he was favored (the patronage of his younger friend Hess had a special effect), and later cooling began. After Hess's flight to England, Haushofer fell out of favor, and after the execution of his son Albrecht on charges of participating in the assassination of Hitler in 1944, Haushofer himself was considered almost an "enemy of the people."

Despite the similar ambiguity of his position, he was ranked by the Allies as "prominent Nazis." Unable to withstand so many blows of fate and the collapse of all hopes, Karl Haushofer and his wife Marta committed suicide in 1946.

7.2 New Eurasian Order

Haushofer carefully studied the work of Ratzel, Chellen, Mackinder, Vidal de la Blach, Mahan and other geopoliticians. The picture of planetary dualism “sea forces” versus “continental forces” or thalassocracy (“power by the sea”) against tellurocracy ("power through the land") was for him the key that revealed all the secrets of international politics, to which he was directly involved. (In Japan, for example, he dealt with the forces that made the most responsible decisions regarding the picture of space.) It is significant that the term "New Order", which was actively used by the Nazis, and nowadays in the form of the "New World Order", is Americans, it was first used in Japan specifically in relation to the geopolitical scheme of redistribution of influences in the Pacific region, which Japanese geopoliticians proposed to implement.

The planetary dualism of Sea Force and Ground Force confronted Germany with the problem of geopolitical self-identification. Advocates of the national idea, and Haushofer belonged, without a doubt, to their number, sought to strengthen the political power of the German state, which implied industrial development, cultural expansion and geopolitical expansion. But the very position of Germany in the Center of Europe, the spatial and cultural Mittellage, made it a natural adversary of the western, naval powers of England, France, and in the future the USA. The "thalassocratic" geopoliticians themselves did not hide their negative attitude towards Germany and considered it (along with Russia) one of the main geopolitical opponents of the sea West.

In such a situation, it was not easy for Germany to count on a strong alliance with the powers of the “external crescent,” especially since England and France had historical claims of a territorial order against Germany. Consequently, the future of national Great Germany lay in a geopolitical confrontation with the West and especially the Anglo-Saxon world, with which Sea Power was actually identified.

The whole geopolitical doctrine of Karl Haushofer and his followers is based on this analysis. This doctrine is the need to create a "continental bloc" or axis Berlin-Moscow-Tokyo. There was nothing accidental in such a bloc; it was the only full and adequate response to the strategy of the opposite camp, which did not hide the fact that the creation of a similar Eurasian alliance would be its greatest danger. Haushofer wrote in the Continental Block article:

"Eurasia cannot be strangled while the two largest nations are Germans and Russians in every possible way trying to avoid an internecine conflict like the Crimean War or 1914: this is an axiom of European politics." (34)

There he quoted an American Homer Lee. "The last hour of Anglo-Saxon politics will strike when the Germans, Russians and Japanese unite ."

Haushofer carried this idea in different ways in his articles and books. This line is called Ostorientierung, i.e. "Orientation to the East", since it assumed the self-identification of Germany, its people and its culture as a Western continuation of the Eurasian, Asian tradition. It is no accident that the British during the Second World War derogatoryly called the Germans "Huns." For the geopolitics of the Haushofer school, this was perfectly acceptable.

In this regard, it should be emphasized that the concept of "openness to the East " by Haushofer did not mean at all "the occupation of Slavic lands." It was a joint civilizational effort of two continental powers, Russia and Germany, which would establish the New Eurasian Order and restructure the continental space of the World Island in order to completely remove it from the influence of the Sea Force. The expansion of the German Lebensraum was planned by Haushofer not due to the colonization of Russian lands, but due to the development of giant uninhabited Asian spaces and the reorganization of the lands of Eastern Europe.

7.3 Compromise with thalassocracy

However, in practice, everything did not look so straightforward. The purely scientific geopolitical logic of Haushofer, which logically led to the need for a “continental bloc” with Moscow, was confronted with numerous tendencies of a different nature, also inherent in German national consciousness. It was a purely racist approach to history, which Hitler himself was infected with. This approach considered racial proximity as the most important factor, and not geographical or geopolitical specificity. In this case, the Anglo-Saxon peoples of England and the USA were seen as natural allies of the Germans, since they were ethnically closest to them. The Slavs, and especially the non-white Eurasian peoples, turned into racial opponents. To this was added ideological anti-communism, implicated in many respects on the same racial principle, Marx and many communists were Jews, which meansin the eyes of anti-Semites, communism itself is an anti-German ideology.

National Socialist racism was in direct contradiction with geopolitics or, more precisely, implicitly pushed the Germans towards a reverse, anti-Eurasian, thalassocratic strategy. From the point of view of consistent racism, Germany should have initially entered into an alliance with Britain and the United States in order to jointly oppose the USSR. But, on the other hand, Versailles' humiliating experience was still too fresh. From this duality, all the ambiguity of the Third Reich’s international politics follows. This policy constantly balanced between the thalassocratic line, outwardly justified by racism and anti-communism (anti-Slavic attitude, attack on the USSR, the promotion of Catholic Croatia in the Balkans, etc.), and Eurasian tellurocracy based on purely geopolitical principles (war with England and France, Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact, etc.).

Since Karl Haushofer was engaged, to some extent, in solving specific political problems, he was forced to tailor his theories to political specifics. Hence his contacts in the higher spheres of England. In addition, the conclusion of the Anticommintern Pact, i.e. The creation of the Berlin-Rome-Tokyo axis, Haushofer outwardly welcomed, trying to present it as a preliminary step towards creating a full-fledged "Eurasian bloc." He could not fail to understand that the anti-communist orientation of this union and the appearance instead of the center of the heartland (Moscow) of a peninsular minor power belonging to rimland is a contradictory caricature of a genuine "continental bloc."

But still, such steps, dictated by political conformism, are not indicative of the totality of Haushofer's geopolitics. His name and ideas were fully embodied precisely in the concepts of the "eastern fate " of Germany, based on a strong and long-term Eurasian Union.