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23. Nazism in Germany

"The driving force of the most important changes in this world have been found less in scientific knowledge animating the masses but rather in a fanaticism dominating them and in a hysteria which drives them forward." — Adolph Hitler

•    Nazi Germany, also known as the Third Reich, is the common name for Germany when it was a totalitarian state ruled by Adolf Hitler and his National Socialist German Workers' Party (NSDAP).
•    On 30 January 1933 Hitler became Chancellor of Germany, quickly eliminating all opposition to rule as sole leader. The state idolized Hitler as its F├╝hrer ("leader"), centralizing all power in his hands.
•    The Nazi movement arose among angry young veterans in the early 1920s; they rejected the Treaty of Versailles (1919), the Weimar republic, and democracy generally. They called for a revival of the Aryan race and blamed the Jews for Germany's troubles.
•    Hitler served in the German army with distinction, was wounded twice (once by poison gas) and decorated for bravery.  Being a loner, he actually enjoyed the war and the comradeship of the army, since it gave him a sense of belonging. 
•    Hitler felt especially disappointed and betrayed when Germany surrendered in November 1918.  The Treaty of Versailles the next year merely added to this bitterness.  Not surprisingly, he conveniently blamed the Jews for Germany's plight.
•    After the war, Hitler served as a reservist, spying on political parties to make sure they did not add to the chaos then besetting Germany.  One such party was the National Socialist, or Nazi, Party.  This right wing group attracted Hitler with its racist ideas about a master Aryan race and the so-called "inferior" races, such as the Slavs and especially the Jews who must be destroyed.  Hitler became the Nazis' seventh member and soon afterwards its leader.  His speeches attracted large audiences and funds to the new party's treasury.
•    Membership in the Nazi party grew rapidly in the early 1920s, prompting Hitler to try to overthrow the government in 1923.  His Putsch, as it was called, was a total disaster, but the resulting trial earned Hitler a good deal of publicity as a national hero defending German honor against domestic violence and foreign humiliation.  While in prison for nine months, he wrote Mein Kampf ("My Struggle"), which outlined his political beliefs and strategies for seizing power.
•    While its racist ideas were just rehashed versions of older ideas, Mein Kampf did provide a blueprint for modern politics through the use of radio, posters, mass rallies, lies, and catchy slogans which appealed to the emotions without really telling anything of substance in order to manipulate the political process.  Nazism was a negative philosophy that thrived on Germany's miseries.
•    By the mid 1920's, the illusion of prosperity and the apparently fading hostility toward Germany caused Nazi membership to stagnate.
•    All that changed in the 1930's, as other two effects of World War I created conditions favoring the Nazis.  The Depression with its higher tariffs raised international tensions, which Hitler could exploit to gain popularity. The war had created an unstable economy that was overly dependent on financial support from the United States.

•    The stock market crash in 1929 dragged Germany down with the American economy.  By 1932, six million Germans were unemployed, which played right into Hitler's hands.  This time he would use the democratic process to gain power and then use that very democratic process to destroy itself.
•    The Nazis reacted to these conditions in two ways. 
•    Nazi thugs, known as Brownshirts in imitation of Mussolini's Blackshirts, started riots with opposing groups, especially Communists, while blaming them for the disorder, embarrassing the government for failing to keep order and portraying themselves as the defenders of the peace. 
•    They bolstered their popularity with free food and festivals, making them look like nice concerned Germans, and by staging huge mass rallies to display their popular support.
•    In late 1932, rich German industrialists, prompted by fear of a Communist takeover, pressured the government to make Hitler chancellor (prime minister), hoping they could control him while he contained the Communists.  Little did they suspect that this was just the beginning for Hitler.
•    Hitler worked to increase his own power and German national pride in three ways: destroy any possible rivals to his position, rearm Germany, and launch a campaign of violence against the Jews.
•    In August, 1934, President Hindenburg, symbol of the old Prussian orderdied.
•    To symbolize the dawn of a revolutionary new order and the 1000-year reign of the Third Reich, Hitler demanded a loyalty oath from the army, not to Germany, but to himself, and became the Chancellor of Germany.
•    Hitler did rearmament of Germany through massive arms build-up (in direct defiance of the Treaty of Versailles) and public works projects (such as highways for moving armies from front to front). The huge expenditure on arms put a growing strain on the German economy, which led to the German aggression and World War II.
•    Hitler attacked the Jews, whom he imagined had kept him out of art school and betrayed Germany in the war.  His Nuremberg Laws in 1935 subjected Jews to an ever-growing number of restrictions and acts of violence.  The climax of this stage of persecution was the Kristallnacht, or Crystal Night (11/9-10/38), named after the shattered windows of Jewish merchants' shops that were looted that night. 
•    Many Jews, including Albert Einstein, left Germany, costing it many of its brightest minds.  The horror stories they took with them led to growing fears of Nazi aggression and eventually World War II. 
•    Hitler was the Dictator of Germany, he committed defeated in Second World War and died on April 30, 1945. The death of Hitler ended the Nazism in Germany.

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